Product Review: PaintCode by PixelCut

I purchased a copy of PaintCode from the Mac Store in March, and have used it in a real production environment. Namely, make resolution-independent images quickly, vector-based, so they look crisp on both Retina and non-retina displays. PaintCode appeared to be a great time-saver. I am happy to say that PaintCode was wildly successful in this regard. Here’s what I experienced.

I started with version 1.0. At the time, there was no support for ARC, which meant that I had to make some adjustments, using __bridge. I sent an email to PixelCut, and got an immediate response, with direct answers to my questions, a promise for ARC, and even a sample. During that time I had already started slapping the code into a storyboard, and liked an addition class in a PaintCode sample I found from David Keegan, which created UIImages with drawing blocks. His solution was small and elegant.

I was able to use the code to create images that I assigned to button states, and various animations. This was easy, and I was very aware of the hours PaintCode had saved me. It’s not going to automatically expand it’s size for you, so you may have to go back in and click Expand/Contract to get the right sizing. If your image is inside something like a CALayer, where sizing is dynamic, you manipulate the layer, and it will expand as you expect.

The feature page from the web site spends a lot of time explaining how to use the drawing tools. This is fairly easy to understand, even if you’re not a designer. As someone who already knows how to use Adobe Illustrator, any designer would find this very simple. Many developers will find it new and moderately challenging. So, they have struck the correct balance, because their audience is likely to be developers. The app is priced for what it is: it’s not a cheap tool, and it’s not a major suite tool, it’s a serious utility.

As for the phrase “The missing bridge between programmers and graphic designers,” every time I think something can bridge the gap, I’m proved wrong. It might be more appropriate to say “For those times when your designer is AWOL and is ignoring you and your deadlines.” Just a reality check. Or perhaps, “When you aren’t going to have a designer, and you have to do you own graphics.” The tutorials seem to have this scenario covered.

The Bezier tool is quite handy, although you have to know to right-click to get handles for curvatures. There are boolean operations on selected objects, which is very handy. Gradients have a finite number of steps to them when you look at the generated code. Fortunately, you have a good enough clue on how to increase this to more steps. However, if you need a ridiculous number of steps, you’re better off looking at Illustrator and SVG exporting. I’d recommend SVGKit for that.


I have to say I’m impressed with PixelCut. PaintCode is a fantastic product, and hits a nice niche. The app is now at version 1.01, and it has ARC support built in, just as their email had promised. I’ve used it in a production app, and I’m sure I will use it again. That’s the sign of a useful tool. PaintCode is certainly that. I highly recommend it!


Category(s): Apple, iOS

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