Our next-generation photo editor Pixlr Touch Up just got a big update. In addition to adding a few popular effects from Pixlr Express, there’s a handy new addition we know people will love: fonts.
If you’ve not heard of Pixlr Touch Up or don’t know how it differs from our other apps, here’s the scoop: Pixlr Touch Up is a Chrome app that works both online and offline. It’s perfect for Chromebooks, but it’s really great for anyone who does photo editing. You can link it to Google Drive, making it super convenient for people who use Google Drive as a big photo dump. Perhaps not apparent, but quite important, is that this app is not built in Flash like some of our other apps. It’s built for the future.
So, what’s new for this update, exactly? First, we added 20 of the most popular fonts from Pixlr Express. It’s a mix of serif, non-serif, script, and whimsical fonts that will be very welcome to Chromebook users in particular since Chromebooks have limited font options to begin with. With these fonts comes the ability to choose text justification and color, as well as to control opacity.
Liquify lets you realistically adjust shapes in your photos by enlarging, shrinking, or pushing the image. You might not think it, but this is one of the most used features in Pixlr Express. We added something new here, though. You can “Instant-Thin” or “Instant-Tall” an image. Perfect for making yourself look a wee bit slimmer and a little less squat. (Hey, we’re just as vain as the next guy.)
Airbrush is an essential tool for people who want to remove wrinkles and blemishes from faces. It’s handy in a lot of other ways, and you’ll see options to change the size and intensity of the brush, as well as to switch to the erase option if you need to correct some over-airbrushing.
The Smooth option applied to an entire photo will help reduce noise in an image. It’s got a sliding scale so you can control the intensity and fine-tune your smoothing.
That’s it for this update. We’re always keen to hear what people think of this new apps, so share your thoughts with us on our support forum.
Of the many options in Pixlr Express that let you add all kinds of neat effects to your photos, the space overlays are some of the most popular. You can lay on the cosmic feeling thick or dial it down to give just a hint of stars and constellations. One of our favorite ways to use the space overlays are in conjunction with a silhouette or near silhouette to make what looks like a work of art. It’s easy to do, and we’re going to show you how to whip this up in Pixlr Express.
Step 1: Take a good silhouette photo
You can do this by taking a photo of something that’s strongly backlit. If you use a camera, you can play with your exposure settings. If you’re using an iPhone, you can press on one area of the screen, and your iPhone will set the exposure based on where you placed your finger. Hold down for two seconds, and the exposure will lock. Very useful. Other devices may have similar options, but the basic rule here: The more of a contrast you can get between your whitest white and your blackest black, the better. We started with a photo we took at a wedding on the beach of a wedding-goer watching the sun set.
Step 2: Edit the contrast, hue, vibrance, saturation
If you don’t have a strong silhouette, you may want to bump up the contrast of your photo with the contrast tool. We did 100%. Your photo inevitably has some color in it, and you might want to play with this color. For example, you’ll probably want to bump up the vibrance and saturation. We definitely recommend that. Then, you might even want to change the hue to give this photo an even more otherworldly look. A purple sky looks pretty cool, so consider changing the hue.
Another thing to think about here is what’s in the background of your image. If the white or positive space is just plain white, some texture will make your space effects stand out better. Consider adding a bokeh effect. These work great in conjunction with space overlays, and you can control the amount of bokeh by dialing it down if you only want to suggest these lens-flare-like effects. Here, we chose a strong bokeh effect, “citrus.”
Step 3: Add your space effects
Then, start adding your space overlays. There are 40 different space overlays in the app, with a balance of light and dark options that will work better with different types of backgrounds. You can add multiple space overlays, although too many may darken your image too much. Not sure which space overlays are the best for your image? Use the randomizer. It will quickly cycle through the options and save you time. Some of the “stars” won’t show up in your black zone with some of the overlays, some will. Experiment to get the ones you like. Also, you can rotate the overlays and control the intensity, which is very handy in placing constellations of stars in the perfect location. We added three or four in different intensity, including “Ascella” and the very pretty “Enif” overlay.
Finish with a good frame or texture
Those are the basics of space silhouettes, but we like to finish up with a canvas effect to make our image look even more like a work of art. Some of our favorite canvas effects are “weave” and “paper.” We added a 31% weave overlay, lightened the image a tiny bit, and then topped it off with a black-and-white border that works well with the silhouette of the image.
Need some inspiration? Aldrin Gersalia from the Pixlr on Flickr group is one of our favorite people, and he makes some of the most impressive space silhouettes we’ve ever seen. We like his stuff so much we asked him if we could use one of these beauties for a Pixlr event at the Shanghai Library. These types of solid-color images look great blown up as posters.
We made a few extra before-and-after shots to show you how easy this is. One started out as a black-and-white photo of a caricaturist from the same wedding we went to, the other started out as a simple and colorful bird-out-on-a-limb silhouette before we blasted it into space.
Hashtag Hall of Fame: The Pixlr-o-matic "Sandy Bob" #mh_challenge
Cute kids. They make the photo world go ‘round. And who takes all those sweet photos of kids? A whole lot of moms. Dads do it, too. You’ll spot dads on the playground with a fancy dSLR and some wicked cool camera angles, but moms with smartphones probably take and share the lion’s share of kid pics.
Not surprisingly, you’ll find mom groups on Instagram who love capturing special moments with kids and sharing them, and we stumbled upon a hashtag this week that’s chugging along nicely representing daily and weekly photo challenges: the #mh_challenge hashtag created by @Mom_Hub.
Founded by Cheryl (@Momtothreegirls) and Danielle (@Darcadi), @Mom_Hub sponsors a daily challenge. But every week they have a larger challenge around editing photos. We’re thrilled to notice that this week the challenge is all about Pixlr-o-matic. They’re encouraging their community to vintage it up and use some very specific effects from the Pixlr-o-matic app. The image recipe they’re asking everyone to use when editing their photos is what they’re calling “Sandy Bob” — the “Bob” color filter combined with the “Sand” frame. This recipe ends up making something like this:
Of course, we absolutely love this challenge and wanted to spur them on with some extra encouragement and to help get the word out. Want to join in? It’s super easy. Check out this challenge announcement and #tag your Sandy Bob Instagram photos #mh_challenge47.
Thanks, moms, for making us part of your weekly challenge!
Valentine's Day Contest Wrap-Up: Honorable Mentions & Thank You Very Muches
We wrapped up our Valentine’s Day contest this past weekend. Like our past contests for Halloween and the holiday season, this one was also a big success. That tells us something: People like contests! Rest assured we’ll be running more contests in the future, and not just around holidays. It’s clear that people who use our apps like to be challenged to create new things, so we’re working on some new ideas for challenges we think people will love.
For this contest, we asked people to show us something they love about life. Anything, really. The winners were varied and included Mother Nature, books, full-time student-hood, new places, a wife, and a very cute doggie. We’d like to extend our congratulations to all the winners.
But we’d also like to thank all those other people who entered who didn’t win. When people take time out of their day and put their personal creativity toward making something for us — well, that really makes our month. We saw a very wide range of stuff people loved. A few standouts include images that were created to like Valentine’s Day cards or that had specific love-themed messages:
We also, of course, saw a lot of people, of the coupled and uncoupled type. We even saw a few of the please-someone-please-be-my-Valentine-already variety.
Some of our favorites were just plain fun things like a tiny snowman with a broken heart. Someone even loved Math!
All in all, this was an excellent contest that brought out a lot of creativity. Thank you to everyone who entered, and please keep a space on your calendar in the future for more creativity when we run our next contest!
We have a grand prize winner in our Valentine’s Day contest!
This lovely photo from MrsKBad on Flickr really grabbed our attention. First off, it’s a good photo of a big, dewy leaf. Second, it’s got that spirit of love we’ve been on the lookout for throughout this contest. We also appreciate the way MrsKBad uses our apps in a creative way. She’s used the Helena effect from the Creative effects pack in Pixlr Express. That swatch of color lines up nicely and looks attractive. She’s also used a Valentine’s Day sticker and added some text using a nice handwriting font. She even subtly included a trace of a lipstick sticker hidden in the details. And, she chose one of the very stylistic rounded corner borders. Those borders don’t always work with every image, but it works great here, especially in white.
All in all, this is an original photo that MrsKBad took some time to work up with effects, and we of course can get behind the spirit of loving Mother Nature. It wasn’t easy picking a winner because there truly were a ton of excellent photos shared for this contest.
We’re sending her the Instax Mini 90 Instant Camera and two packs of film to get started with. It’s a cute-as-heck camera that should be a lot of fun to play with. We’ll have a wrap-up post about this contest tomorrow, but we wanted to let those who were itching to know who won that we have our grand prize winner.
We have our fifth daily winner this week in our Valentine’s Day contest. We thought this was a truly great sentiment @oneblueangel shared about loving to travel and experience new things.
Well said. Whether you have a special someone this Valentine’s Day or not, you can probably get behind that sentiment. Heck, especially if you DON’T have anyone. Might as well get out there and find some new places and new faces.
For her prize, @oneblueangel chose a 12x12 CanvasPop print, which is always an excellent choice. Great prints and you can make it your own.
This isn’t the last prize we’re giving out, though. Everyone is still entered to win the Grand Prize, the Instax Mini 90 Instant Camera. You still have a few hours to enter, so get going! Deadline for entries is midnight tonight.
Sometimes when we look at the Pixlr on Flickr group we’ll see a photo we immediately recognize for its unique blur-heavy style. Yep, that’s kokorage. He makes some very beautiful stuff out of his photos. We tracked him down to learn a little bit more about him and the wonderful images he shares with us.
For Kai Rennert (aka kokorage on Flickr), photography is a hobby that he continuously experiments with, usually with his dSLR camera. From looking at his Flickr photostream, it’s clear he has a way with moody, blurred out, impressionistic scenes. He loves minimalism, monochrome images, abstractness, the city, nature, trees, and industry — to pick a few themes in his work.
We really love how he can take a photo and use blur in a pretty substantial way to remove all the detail but preserve a whole bunch of feeling.
He’s especially good at using effects to make some of his photos look like impressionistic paintings.
It’s clear that he likes to add a lot of atmosphere to these images, and he says he started doing all that on the computer, which was pretty time intensive. As a father and overall busy person, he found he didn’t always have time to edit images in a time-intensive way, but he’s since moved some of his workflow with editing images to his phone, which of course he can do almost anywhere in his spare time.
Kai told us his two tools of choice are Pixlr Express and Snapseed, which he often uses in combination. In our experience, nearly everyone who is a fan of photo apps has at least four or five of them on their phones at the ready, and we love to see the results of how these apps are combined.
Kai’s photos almost remind us of days past when we used to develop black-and-white photos in a darkroom. His images share some of the looks you might see from grainy, moody, high-speed 3200-speed film.
All these lovely photos are ultimately about how Kai deals with light and detail. Whether it’s dark and grainy and moody or bright and blurry, he takes and shares some lovely photos. He’s totally worth following!
Sohini Kumar loves reading. A lot. So do we, and we’re happy to crown her as today’s winner in our Valentine Day photo contest. We like the casual way she’s chilling out surrounded by all her books. Some great choices in that stack, Sohini. We’re huge Wodehouse fans (and of course Harry Potter fans).
She entered a number of nice photos in our contest this week from her Instagram feed, and we made a collage of some of our favorites from her entries.
Great job all around, Sohini. We’re sending the prize you chose, the Smartphone Film Scanner, to you in Bansberia, India. Like a lot of people (us included), we figure you have a box of old negatives gathering dust somewhere that will benefit from being digitized.
So far this week, we’ve seen winners who love dogs, their wife, being a student — what about you? What do you love? We still have one more every-day prize to give away and the grand prize for the best overall Valentine’s Day photo, so get those entries in.
We have another winner! Derek (@derkdork on Instagram) shows us what he loves — his wife. And to make his point even better, he uses a figurine of that gruff-but-loveable-sad-sack who also loved his wife in the Pixar movie Up, Carl Fredricksen. We don’t know about you, but we can’t make it one minute into the opening montage of that movie before the tears start dropping. Definitely the fastest movie cry in history.
For his thoughtful and sweet Valentine photo to his wife, we’re giving him the prize of his choice from pixlrlove.com, a CanvasPop 12x12 custom print. Nicely done, Derek. Go make something great to hang on the wall.
We’re breaking out the hankies as our contest gets closer to Valentine’s Day. We’ve seen some very touching entries, as well as some super fun and silly ones. We love all of them. Still more prizes to give out, so tag those photos #pixlrlove and show us what you love.
Make Your Own Valentine's Day Card Courtesy of the Pepper Design Blog
We stumbled on the Pepper Design Blog last year and ended up subscribing by email because Morgan always has something interesting to share. She made a few photo overlays for Christmas that were ready-made for Pixlr Editor, and this time around she has two for Valentine’s Day. These downloadable overlays are quite large, making them suitable for printing and making it easy for you to resize to fit your photo.
It’s an easy process. Just copy one of Morgan’s overlays into a landscape photo in Pixlr Editor. Use the free transform option in the Edit menu to resize that layer (remember to always hold down the shift key to keep your photo’s proportions as you resize), and voila — instant Valentine’s Day card. Add some text to personalize it with a special message. It’s incredibly easy and quite good-looking. We made one to show you how it’s done:
Check out Morgan’s post, and dig down into further instructions from her holiday overlays if you need a step-by-step tutorial. Great job, Morgan!
We have a second winner in our Valentine’s Day photo contest. Karyn Fuentes, who hails from Laredo, Texas, shares this fetching photo that shows us what she loves: being a full-time student.
Frankly, we’re a bit jealous. We remember those days fondly. Afternoons relaxing at the library with ten or twelve good books, evenings sipping coffee at a cafe and doodling in a notebook, late nights at our favorite watering hole. Hey, we didn’t say we were full-time studying when we were last full-time students. We were in college, after all. But we totally miss all that time devoted to soaking up new experiences.
In addition to the winner she shared on Flickr, Karyn has already shared a number of great photos with us for this contest, including this gem:
Over the weekend, she also showed us how she has a whole lotta love for Led Zeppelin:
So, naturally, we had to make our own photo response to her:
All of which is to say thank you, Karyn, for helping us have so much fun during this contest. We love seeing this kind of creativity from people using our apps. We’re sending you the The Poppy 3-D photo viewer, per your request. We’re so thrilled that someone is jumping in and trying that prize out. Looks like a totally neat thing to mess around with. We’re sending it from the Photojojo Store, which offers the option of making your package smell like fresh-baked cookies for only a dollar more. So, look for a sweet-smelling package to arrive on your doorstep.
Your turn, everybody else. Tag the things you love #pixlrlove to be entered to win a prize — or even the grand prize of a super-cool instant camera.