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!
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:
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.
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.