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How to Apply Filters and Effects in Pixelmator

This post is part of a series called Introduction to Pixelmator.
How to Make Selections With Pixelmator
Working With Vectors in Pixelmator

Pixelmator is an easy-to-use, fast, and powerful image editing app for the Mac. In this tutorial, we will explain everything you need to know about working with and applying filters and effects to your images using the Effects Browser in Pixelmator. In the process, we will show you how to sharpen your images, how to apply a miniaturization (tilt shift) effect, and much more. Let's get started!

1. Getting to Know the Effects Browser

All filters and effects can be accessed through the Effects Browser. Here you'll find effects for sharpening, color adjustments, blurring, tiles, styling, distortion and more.


Step 1

Make sure the Effects Browser is visible. If you don't see the effects browser, make it visible by going to View > Show Effects or by pressing Command-3.

To show all the effects available click on the pull down menu in the Effects Browser and choose All Effects. You can now browse through all the effects and filters at once.


Step 2

Type the word Pixel in the search field at the bottom of the Effects Browser. All the filters and effects that have to do with pixelating will get shown. Try to search for filters using other keywords as well. Drag with the mouse from left to right over the thumbnail of an effect to get a preview of what a particular effect does.


Step 3

Control-click on one of the displayed filters and choose Add "Filtername" to Favorites. Click on the pull-down menu again and choose Favorites. You'll see that the filter just got added to this section. The Favorites section is ideal for storing your most used filters, so you don't have to browse through the whole effects catalog to find them.


2. Applying Effects

Choosing effects from the Effects Browser is done in two ways. We either drag and drop the desired effect onto the document window or we double-click on the thumbnail of the effect. There are several types of filters that get applied in different ways. We'll take a look at this now.

Step 1

Open an existing image (File > Open…). Find the Light & Dark effect in the Color Adjustments section of the Effects Browser, and double-click on it.


Step 2

The effect we see now is an effect with a window that lets us adjust several settings to fine-tune the effect. Adjust the Lighten Shadows and Darken Highlights sliders to make the shadows a little bit brighter in order to show more detail. And then make the highlights slightly darker to and up with a nicely balanced image. You see that the effect gets shown in real time. Click on the OK button to apply the effect.


Step 3

Find the Edges effect in the Sharpen section of the Effects Browser. Drag it onto the document window or double-click on it.

The Edges effect is an effect that doesn't have any settings. it gets applied to our image right away. If you see that you need a stronger effect you'll have to apply the effect again or sometimes even several times, in order to get the desired result. When you see that you have applied too much of the effect you can go back a step by pressing the key-combination Command-Z or by choosing Undo "filter name" from the Edit menu.


Step 4

Choose the Miniaturize effect in the Blur section of the Effects Browser. The Miniaturize window will show with settings for adjusting the effect.


There is also a rope coming from the window that is attached to a circle with a dot in the middle of the document. By clicking and dragging this circle around we determine where the centre of the effect will be placed. The black circle at the side is for adjusting the size of the effect.


Step 5

Adjust the effects centre, the size and the settings in the settings window in order to create a nice miniaturization effect. Note that this effect works best on images shot from heights, like in our example.


Congratulations! You're Done.

In this tutorial we became familiar with the Effects Browser in Pixelmator. We took a look at how to browse through the effects catalog and how to find specific effects. Now that you have become more familiar with the Effects Browser, open some of your own images and explore the other filters and effects that you find. We hope you have enjoyed this tutorial. Stay tuned for the next part of this series, which will explain a bit about how to work with vectors.

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