A Quick Guide To Selective Coloring in Pixlr Editor
Pixlr Express has a Color Splash option that makes it easy to transform a photo into black and white with areas of color shining through, but you can do this in a more thorough and detailed way in Pixlr Editor. To distinguish between the two processes, we generally think of the more advanced Pixlr Editor process as one of “selective color” rather than “color splash.”
Stacking layers and erasing one layer
The general idea is to double up your layers and then erase part of one layer so that the bottom layer shines through. First, open your image in Pixlr Editor. Then, duplicate the background layer, which you can do by right clicking on the layer itself in your Layers toolbar. Or, look for the Duplicate layer option in the Layers top menu.
Next, simply use the Desaturate option in the Adjustments menu to turn your top (duplicate) layer into a black and white image.
Now, you’re going to simply use the Eraser tool to erase the areas that you want to show up as color. You’ll be erasing the top (duplicate) layer in specific areas with the Eraser, and the Eraser works as a brush. So, choose the best brush tool for the job. If you need to do detail work, consider using a soft brush and increase the hardness. You can also create your own brush if you want.
This image has a fairly clear area we want to color, but if you are working on a more detailed area, try starting with a large brush and working your way to a smaller brush to work on the edging.
That’s it. It’s quite easy once you know how it works. Basically, you create a color and black-and-white layer, stack the black-and-white layer on top, and erase the areas where you want color to shine through. Easy!
A Quick Primer on the Clone Stamp Tool in Pixlr Editor
How does that darn clone stamp in Pixlr Editor work? It’s a good question. If you’ve never used it before, it can be tough to understand. Fear not: We’re going to give you a quick run-down in this post.
The clone stamp tool, as you might imagine, does one simple thing: It copies image details and pastes those details in the place of your choosing on the same layer. But, the clone tool can be used for more than just straight copying. Many people use it to create natural-looking blending when they are touching up a photo they’ve manipulated.
Here are a few instances that illustrate some of its uses:
You want to add a dozen golf balls to the shot of your uncle concentrating on sinking that one golf ball that’s currently on the putting green.
You like the clouds in your landscape shot, but you want more of them — and they need to look authentic.
That close-up of your daughter smiling looks great, but those two scratches on her cheek from the briar patch in the backyard need to seamlessly be painted away.
Using your brushes
What’s handy about this tool is that you have all of the brush options at your disposal. You can even use brushes you’ve created and saved before for other purposes. It’s a good idea to use a soft edge brush unless you want a very hard line where the cloning happens. Likewise, you can lower the opacity for a light blending touch.
A quick note about the “aligned” option
One sometimes confusing detail about the clone tool is how to use the “aligned” option. When aligned is not selected, your sample point will remain where you initially sampled until you sample again. Every time you use your brush, you’ll paste the original area again and again. When align is selected, the sampling point follows your mouse as you move it.
The tool looks like a rubber stamp. Once you choose it, your clone options will appear at the top of your image. Adjust your options if you wish.
Place your pointer in the exact location you want to sample. Hold the Alt (Command on Mac) button down. You’ll notice the mouse pointer has turned to a target to indicate that it’s time to pick the target area you’d like to clone. Click on the location you want to sample. Let go of the Alt button.
Move your brush to the area you want to apply what you’ve cloned and hold down the mouse button to paint. You’ll want to experiment with this tool to get the hang of it. Try small circular motions until you become more confident.
Examples of usage
Let’s say we’d like to add a second “T” next to the one at the bottom of this graffitied oil drum. The radius of 180 pixels is about the right size for our brush, which we can specify in our options.
The background behind the T is relatively solid, so we don’t need to worry about using hard edged brushes. In this simple instance, we can completely copy and paste the T. Very easy.
Now, let’s say we want to remove some of the graffiti — to essentially erase it by pasting over it with the background color of the oil drum. We choose a softer edged brush (50 pixels) and a lower opacity (70 pixels).
If you move your mouse to a new area and paint, you’ll paint on the same thing you originally cloned. You can sample a new clone area at any time, but notice how we can begin to remove the blue-and-white sticker on the oil drum by using the clone stamp tool:
Those are the basics of the clone stamp tool. Now get cloning.
Make a More Gritty, More Intense Portrait with Pixlr Editor
We love grungy street photography, but we don’t always know how to get that look out of just a camera. Here’s a little secret: You usually can’t. Many of the gritty, urban street photos you see have some post-processing work done on them. We don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. In fact, we’re going to show you how to add a little gritty intensity to your portraits using Pixlr Editor.
First, of course, you’ll need a portrait. If your portraits subject looks a little menacing to begin with — even better. Ours certainly does:
Open your image in Pixlr Editor. You’re going to want to duplicate your background layer. You can do this from the Adjustments menu, or just right click on the layer in the Layers toolbar and choose Duplicate layer. Next, we want to knock out the color in this layer. Choose Adjustments > Desaturate and you’ll see that this will turn your layer into black and white:
Next, we’re going to blend these two layers together. This will add intensity to the photo’s details, but the key to getting this right is controlling the intensity. For our image, we want to dial back the opacity of the added layer to about 80%. Then, we’re going to use one of the layer blending modes to give this layer some additional lighting treatment. You’ll see that you have a number of blending modes to choose from, so try them out to see how each works. We’re using Hardlight, which is what we suggest you start with. This blend mode works great with our black and white layer and gives it a deeper tone.
Those are the basics for blending two layers together. As you experiment with these blend modes, you’ll see that you can get some quite good and subtle effects. But what if you want to keep going and not be so subtle? You certainly can.
We wanted our image to be a little lighter in the face and darker at the edges. We changed the exposure from the Exposure option in Adjustments menu to lighten up the bright areas.
One thing that we add that helps our street portrait look dark and gritty is to use a vignette effect to darken the edges of the photo and put the spotlight on this man’s face. We choose Filter > Vignette and set it at 50%. This made our outside edges darker.
Finally, we aren’t satisfied with how grungy this guy is. More, please! We add a little “noise.” You’ll find the Noise option in the Filter menu. If you ever used to shoot with high speed film, you’ll notice that this noise effect can give you that kind of grainy look that really works great for street scenes.
The end result is a pretty grim looking guy, but we like to think he’s a total softie on the inside. Probably just needs a good hug.