Aurora Borealis Effect in Pixelmator (Win a Pixelmator Copy)

A while ago I had the opportunity to be a Pixelmator beta tester, and let me tell you, it sure has been a fun experience. Pixelmator is now on its 1.1.2 version with new features such as the Quark Composer Filter that uses the same image system as the Mac OS Core. It’s now amazingly faster and much more stable; the blurs and filters are in real time; no preview windows, nothing. It has one of the most beautiful interfaces I’ve ever seen, and that’s no exaggeration there, folks .

Pixelmator, the beautifully designed, easy-to-use, fast and powerful image editor for Mac OS X has everything you need to create, edit and enhance your images.

If you’re not looking to spend a lot of money or you just simply want an easy to use application to do some image adjustments on and create very nice effects, then Pixelmator is the tool for you.

No need to search far to get your hands on it though because I have a copy of Pixelmator to give away right here. To win just leave a comment below and don’t forget to leave your email too. You have until Friday, February 15th.

I wrote you guys another tutorial to help you get started using Pixelmator. In this tutorial I’ll show you how easy it is to create the Aurora Borealis effect which I’ve previously created in GIMP and Photoshop. I must say, Pixelmator is by far the fastest of the three though.

Step 1

Open Pixelmator and create a new document. Then select a very dark blue and fill the background layer with it.

Step 2

Create a new layer and select the Gradient Tool (G). If the Gradient box is hidden go to View>Show Gradient or just (shift+command+5) to show it, select the gradient that starts with yellow and go to cyan, pink, and red. Fill the layer with that gradient.

Step 3

Using the Lasso Tool (L), create a selection like I did. After that go to Edit>Inverse and delete the selection.

Step 4

Go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur and add a blur. Then select the Eraser Tool (E) and delete some parts of our shape, like the image below. After that go to Filter>Stylize>Pointilize and apply the filter.

Step 5

Go to Filter>Quartz Composer>Stylize>Zoom Blur and apply the filter. A dialog box will open with a rope and a controller. Move the rope to change the direction of the effect like the image below. After that change the Blend Mode to Hard Light.

Step 6

Create a New Layer, fill it with black, and change the blend mode to Color Dodge. Then select the Brush Tool (B) and open the Brush Box. Create a new Brush with:

  • Diameter 41px,
  • Hardness 13px,
  • Spacing 1px.

After that select white for the color and start creating some stars, it’s not necessary to create lots of stars because we will use a filter to do that. Tip: click 2 or more times without moving the mouse to create bigger stars.

Step 7

Go to Tile>Affine... and apply the filter. This filter will create more stars for us.

Step 8

Now just add your logo to the image and that’s it.


You will need less than 20 minutes to create this image. As I said before the filters in Pixelmator are really fast, and there is good variety of effects you can do. Some of them you won't need to change any property to get amazing results. Even though it lacks some filters and feautures like Render Clouds, the Layer Styles, and non-destrcutive filters, Pixelmator is an excellent tool, and with the price of $59 dollars, it's much more affordable than Photoshop and definitely worth downloading and testing out.

Written by

Fabio Sasso

I'm a Brazilian product designer based in Oakland, California currently working for Google as a Staff Designer. I am also the founder of Abduzeedo, an award-winning digital publication about design and a personal project that has become the source of inspiration for millions of designers and enthusiasts.