Best App Ever Awards: Honored to Be Honorably Mentioned
We’re practically the Best App Ever! Or something like that.
If you’re not familiar with it, the Best App Ever awards has been going since the iTunes Store opened and developers started making apps. Each year, the goal of these awards is to honor the best — not just the best-selling.
We’ve won or gotten an honorable mention in past years. We always seem to be on this kind of list, which feels pretty darn good. It feels good because these are user-voted awards. We love knowing that people really use our apps. They took time out of their busy day to vote for us!
This year, Pixlr Express got an honorable mention in the Best Photo App category, and we just wanted to take this opportunity to say THANK YOU to everyone who voted for us. Means a lot!
But that’s not why we’re sharing it with you. We wanted to pass it along because it really does list some great tools that are worth digging into. Standouts include PlaceIt, a clever online tool for placing screenshots inside iPad and smartphone image shells; Pictaculous, a tool from Mailchimp that grabs all of the color information from a specific image to help you create a working color palette; PhotoPin, a site that aggregates Creative Commons images, which is super helpful for bloggers in particular; and Awesome Screenshot, which we’d definitely recommend you check out if you’re missing the Pixlr Grabber tool we retired recently. Even better, Charlie includes a great list of sites to find animated GIFs, which if you’re not careful can provide you with hours of enjoyment (and distraction).
We thought we’d add a few other tools to this list that you may want to check out if you dabble in graphic design:
Morguefile is great source for free images to use in your projects. These are all images that have been given up by their authors for anyone to use.
We get a lot of people in our support forum asking how to identify a particular font they found online. Try What the Font, which lets you upload an image to help identify the font.
The TinEye reverse image search tool has always been one of our go-to sites. Like Google Images, they let you see if an image has any copycats or duplicates out there on the Internet. Unlike Google Images, TinEye has a handy extension you can plug into most browsers.
The little hashtag that could. Even though no one really thought it would. And some people aren’t sure it should. The story of a viral hashtag that’s organically raising millions of dollars for a good cause.
There’s a solid group of people who take spectacular photos and share them to our Flickr group. Today, we’re getting to know one of them a little better, Maria Georgiadou, who hails from Athens, Greece.
Maria is especially good at creating images she calls “Re-Creations.” You can find a great set of these images here on Flickr, and all of them are edited with PIxlr-o-matic. She takes photos of trees, the sea, flowers, whatever and edits them with effects, overlays, and borders to really make them into a different kind of photo art. As she notes in the set, “Some photos just crave to be…something else… I create a photo, then I create something else out of the same photo.”
Many of these photos have the look of an old, faded postcard that was mailed to your grandmother from the Old World. Maria’s Greek locale really shines through in these gorgeously scratched-up scenes.
In addition to these Re-Creations, she’s also great with color, and she takes some excellent macro shots of flowers and nature and everything else she finds along the way. We asked her about her history of taking and sharing photos.
How long have you been taking photos?
2007 was the year I bought my first digital compact camera and started attending photography seminars. Before that I used to take photos on my holidays only, but my family background consists of at least five photographers (cousins, uncles, aunts) plus two of my best friends. So, photography was always there for me, and at some point it became my favorite hobby. I started sharing my photos on the Internet several years later, although my Flickr account was opened in 2009.
Are you a pro or amateur photographer? What kind of equipment do you use?
I consider myself a very enthusiastic amateur photographer, although I’ve done some work with magazines and newspapers. I’m always in search of quality photography jobs, especially when it comes to landscapes or macros or photographing clubs, bars, hotels, etc. I own three digital cameras and 10 analog! I usually work with my Canon EOS 450 SLR camera.
I don’t see many people in your photos or posed settings. Are there any special subjects that regularly catch your eye?
The subjects that usually interest me are landscapes, seascapes, cityscapes, macro, doors and windows, small details of objects, objects like handmade stuff (jewelry, gifts, etc.), animals, theater, street graffiti. I am really shy at photographing people I don’t know in the streets, so I usually do it when they’re not looking, and I have to use all of my zoom to do it!
Do you use many effects, overlays, or filters? What photo apps do you use?
I use Pixlr-o-matic for adding overlays and textures. Other than that, I do the usual corrections in color or in contrast/brightness on programs like Picasa or FastStone.
Uh... This Flappy Bird Inspired Photo Game. It's... Something.
We aren’t sure what to make of this, but on Buzzfeed people are playing a game based on a crude drawing. It’s all about finding your way through a deadly maze to get to some cake, only the deadly maze is about as sophisticated as the ones in Flappy Bird. That love-to-hate-it video game seems to have inspired this silliness and has led to some gallingly crude drawings. But we guess that’s part of the point. We’re thrilled to see the game maker links to Pixlr Editor as a place to edit the game photo if you need a photo editor. And we have to admit a few of these entries are actually pretty clever. Like this one:
Head to Buzzfeed if you think you can make something better. Or worse. Up to you.
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.