Pixen is a professional pixel art editor designed for working with low-resolution raster art, such as those 8-bit sprites found in old-school video games. With features like a unique color palette system, patterns, layers, and high-zoom support, Pixen packs all the tools pixel artists need in an intuitive, Mac-native interface. Pixen also makes creating frame-by-frame animations fun and easy.
Animations – Create and arrange image frames in the filmstrip view to piece together animations. Pixen can import animated PNGs and GIFs, and it can export animations as animated GIFs, QuickTime Movies, or even spritesheets!
Tools – Leverage Pixen's wide array of tools when composing pixel art: Pencil, Eraser, Brightness, Text, Eyedropper, Zoom, Rectangular Selection, Magic Wand, Lasso, Move, Fill, Line, Rectangle, and Ellipse.
Layers – Take advantage of the flexibility layers provide when working with complex pixel art. Change opacity, blending modes, and more to compose creative effects.
Color Palettes – Add and organize commonly-used colors into palettes. Pixen can even import color palettes in the Adobe Color Table, Microsoft Palette, JASC Palette, and GIMP Palette formats.
Patterns – Define custom patterns to use while drawing with the Pencil, Line, or Eraser tool (instead of a single pixel).
Custom Backgrounds – Pick a flat, striped, or checkered background to be drawn beneath the canvas. You can even set a reference image as a background.
Filters - Use filters to adjust colors, create effects, and post-process your artwork.
Grid + Alignment Crosshair – Let the grid and the alignment crosshair guide you in placing pixels just where you want them.
Preview – While editing at high zoom levels, use the Preview window to view the canvas scaled out; play back animations in the Preview window. You can even mirror the Preview window to Pixen on Apple TV.
Left and Right Tools – Assign a different tool to the left and right mouse button. For example: pencil on the left; eraser on the right.
Pressure-sensitive Drawing – Pixen supports pressure-sensitive drawing tablets and Force Touch trackpads, mapping pressure to color opacity.
Hotkeys – Customize tool hotkeys to ease the transition from other image editors.
Wide Format Support - Export your artwork in PNG, JPEG, GIF, ICO, BMP, TIFF, RGF, and SVG file formats.
Sharing - Share your creations quickly and easily using Twitter, Facebook, e-mail, and more!
Full Screen – Work with all your favorite tools in full screen mode.
Pixen is also available for iPad and syncs documents over iCloud!
- Compatibility fixes
Ratings and Reviews
It's okay, just not for me.
This program has a large amount of nifty features, but quite a few things bog it down for me, unfortunately.
For one, I'm generally not a fan of the multi-window design pattern that Mac OS applications have, but I can deal with it. The problem with the multi-window design here is none of the windows snap/lock on to each other. Either getting the windows to snap together or creating a single window mode would greatly improve this aspect of the application.
Two, the right-click tool can be pretty nifty for certain things, like setting the eraser tool while the left-click tool is the pencil. But in others, such as when the left-click tool is the selection tool, I would much rather have a right-click menu . Additionally, it eliminates one of my favorite hidden features of Microsoft Paint, the recolor tool.
Three, it's pretty buggy. I've attempted to use the selection tool to copy a few bits of graphics to modify, and it would only copy the first row of pixels. Everything else was blank. There have been a few spritesheets I've also been unable to open for whatever reason.
Four, they are selling dark mode for $5. I already paid $10 for this application, I'm not shelling out another $5 just so I can darken my screen.
Basically, the workflow doesn't work for me, it's buggy, and they are trying to charge for dark mode. Would not recommend.
This application is GREAT. I've never worked with 8-bit pixel art like this except for Microsoft Paint, which is far less capable. I just spent about an hour and a half transposing a picture of my girlfriend and I -- it looks great! Very very accomplished feeling. One thing I wish you could do is rename your layers. The way I drew it was a basic drawing with grey, then I began to edit the different parts on a different layer for each: hair, clothes, skin, etc.. It started to get a tad confusing when I had more than 4 layers and simply renaming them would've been great for at-a-glance. But it's not a big deal since next to each layer, there is a kind-of preview of the layer in a thumbnail that updates itself in real-time.
I've even made my first animated .gif with this program. Very simple to do -- great GUI. I highly recommend it. What a great app! VERY powerful if you use it to it's full potential. As far as I'm concerned, this was totally worth the purchase.
I will update this review if anything should happen or if there's anything else worth mentioning. In the meantime, get it!
UPDATE: I installed and compiled the version from github, and it works properly without bugs. I hope the profit from this app is distributed fairly, but I have no regrets now.
When I first started using Pixen, it wouldn’t open a few specific PNG images. Worse still, it resized them, erased the colors, and saved them automatically on exiting (turn off autosave!) I contacted customer support, I’ll update if I get help. I’ve been working around that bug by pasting the images into Pixen and saving them in the Pixen format.
As I used it, more irritating bugs started to appear. The color selector is very thorough; it has many methods of selecting colors. The active tool color is only changed about 1/3 of the time by the selector though! Altering a color is a game of luck. The document palette that contains all the colors in the document re-shuffles the color swatches every time you click. This is no good for pixel art, and I’ve resorted to making a palette right on the document as I would in simpler programs.
Tools seem to occasionally hang up or stop working correctly. This has only happened a few times in the three days I’ve used it. I’m compiling the open source version in hopes that it works better...
The concept, tools, and interface are all very nice. If only they functioned as they were supposed to!
I’m not sure why Pixen has so many positive reviews, but be aware that it might be problematic.
With Family Sharing set up, up to six family members can use this app.