New Challenge! #pixlrstylize

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Each week we ask you to make something, and each week you do not disappoint! We think this week’s challenge is going to be a good one. It uses the Stylize feature, which has been in our iOS and Android and PC and Mac apps for some time. Stylize — if you’re not familiar with it — is a set of effects located in the Adjustments menu that turn your photos into sketches, watercolors, lithographs (to name a few). You can really turn a photo into art with the Stylize effects.

Last week’s iOS update added something new to Stylize for iPhone users: opacity control. It’s been that way in Android for a long time, but in the past, iOS users didn’t have much control over how strong the Stylize effect would be. It was just 100% for all of the options. So, your photo turned into a sketch really looked like a sketch. But sometimes you don’t want an effect to be all or nothing. The more control you have over the strength, the more you can make a particular effect work with the light and dark and color in the photo. In fact, sometimes adding just a touch of an effect to a photo can make your image quite unique. Witness this photo of the Statue of Liberty:

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Final image = Adjustments > Stylize > Sketch 35% + 15% Saturation + 25% Vibrance

 

Adding 100% takes away so much of the realism that it’s a lot less compelling. But adding just 35% of the Sketch effect and bumping up the saturation gives it a postcard-like look. That’s some serious style.

One other neat detail about Stylize are the actual details in the effect. By controlling how strong the effect appears you can give your image a very cool texture. For example, check out this smiling visage that we ran though the Lithograph effect at 35%:

 

 

Adjustments > Stylize > Litho 35% + 50% Saturation + 35% Vibrance

 

This lithograph effect is especially beautiful in the areas of gradation. And the way that it works in these sunglasses is unexpected — but very welcome.

Your challenge this week: Subtle use of #pixlrstylize

Your turn. Take your photos and turn them into something pretty using the Stylize effect. But one thing to keep in mind: This week’s challenge is about subtlety. We want to see your use of the opacity controls in Stylize. We want images that are enhanced but not overwhelmed by these options. Tag your photos #pixlrstylize, and we will find them. Make a really neat one, and we’ll feature it. The crowd will go wild, you’ll feel like a million bucks, and the world will be enhanced by art. World peace will surely follow.

 

Pixlr 2.6.3 for iOS: New Compare Button, Expanded Features for All Users

Not too long ago, we updated Pixlr for Android and added and expanded features. Today, we’re bringing those features to iOS.

Compare Button 

Compare the before and after of your effects with the new Compare button. When you’re adding any kind of effect (overlays, borders, stickers, you name it), you can now take a moment to click on a button in the upper-left-hand area of your screen, and the effect will toggle off. You’ve always had the ability to Undo, but this is faster if you’re trying out effects on the fly.

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Double Exposure, Auto Contrast now for everyone

In the past, Pixlr Essentials and Pro members have had extra controls. Double Exposure (add-an-image functionality) and Auto Contrast are now available for everyone who uses the app. If you’ve never tried these before, you’re probably going to like them. Double Exposure has Blending Modes, which really help when you’re adding images.

Stylize opacity controls

Stylize options, which turn your photo into different types of artwork — lithographs, sketches, watercolors, to name a few — now have an opacity control. This is a huge help if you want to just add a subtle treatment to your photo. Sometimes, a full-on sketch effect can be too much when the addition of a more subtle sketchy texture is what you need. As you can see from this example, this kind of control can make a huge difference:

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Instagram friendly backgrounds

As you may know, we run a new Instagram challenge every week, and some of our users have asked us for the ability to share their images to Instagram but without cropping out any of their photo. Essentially, they want their horizontal or vertical photo to fit into a square so they can share on Instagram in their photo’s full glory. Great suggestion, and we’re happy to have added that in this release.

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A few more things: 

  • Less clicks to share: We’ve exposed a one-click share option in more places.
  • Google Chromecast support: If you’ve ever wanted to edit photos on the big screen, now’s your chance.
  • Fixed some bugs in Heal tool and collage

If you haven’t updated yet, stop reading this silly blog post and go get the new version.

New Challenge: #theysaiditbest

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Last month, we ran a Fan Art Challenge that really struck a chord with our users. The response was both great in number and in the quality of what people submitted. Some people used found photos or art from movie posters, and some people used their own personal photos. But what really stuck out was the editing. We saw tons of creative treatments, and one type of edit some people made stuck with us. A few people submitted photos of characters or people  — for example, Don Draper, Scarlett O’Hara — with quotations. We filed that idea away for awhile, and this week we’re pulling it back out of our (ever-expanding) list of weekly challenge ideas.

This week, let’s make images that have famous (or should-be-more-famous) quotations on them. We can almost guarantee that finding a quote will be easy. There are countless databases out there that collect famous quotations (BrainyQuote is a favorite), but we bet you can think of a celebrity or sports star or author or world leader who said something that really resonates with you. So make that this week:

  • Use any photo you want. If it’s yours, great! If it’s someone else’s photo, we always encourage people to include an attribution.
  • Use a photo of the person who said it if you want. If the person is long dead, you could try getting creative with a black-and-white photo like we did with our Mae West photo. We made this one with one of the recent Artmodern overlays to give it a cool splash of paint. Worked out really well with the extreme contrast of this old photo.
  • Use a photo that expresses the quotation creatively like we did with the sunflower photo in this post. It’s a stock photo that, when combined with a clever quote from Margaret Mead, really expresses how the idea of individualism and marching to the beat of a different drummer can become comical if carried to an extreme. Stock photos can be really great for this kind of funny, faux-motivational poster.
  • Use any of our apps to make your #theysaiditbest image. We made the sunflower pic edit in Pixlr for Desktop, which gave us some extra font options (the app uses fonts installed on your computer). But you can just use our phone app if that’s what you have handy.

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Tag ’em so we can find ’em!

Edit your images and tag them #theysaiditbest on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, or Tumblr. We’ll scour these places looking for the absolute best images and share them on our social media channels, garnering you Internet fame and lots of artistic love. We can’t wait to see what wisdom of the ages you share with us.

New Challenge: #pixlr #mirrorimage

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Mirror images are just plain cool. A mirror image of a person’s face can be completely mind-bending. A mirror image of a beautiful landscape can be doubly serene and pretty. You can make otherwise ordinary images surreal. Add a few more extra effects from Pixlr and you can create something truly magical. So let’s do that this week!

Each week, we challenge our community to make something new and different, and we feature the best on our social feeds and madewithpixlr.com. This challenge is all about bending Pixlr tools in an unexpected way to create a mirror image. You might not have ever thought to do this with the collage option, but we hope after trying it you’ll be sold on this kind of experimentation. Tag your photos with both tags #pixlr #mirrorimage, and we’ll find them on Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr. We’ll feature the best through Sunday, with a whole lot of good feelings from the Pixlr community: crazy emojis, thumbs ups, congratulations, and massive amounts of Likes. So how does it work? Follow these simple steps….

Start with a 2-photo collage

The collage option in Pixlr mobile and web gives you upwards of 25 collage formats. For this challenge, you’ll want to choose the 2-photo option. There is a horizontal and vertical 2-photo option, and you can use either one. If your goal is to create a square image (which is our goal this week), it really doesn’t matter which one you choose. We used the horizontal side-by-side option. Upload the same image to each empty collage box.

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Flip one of your images

After you’ve added your two images, you’re going to flip one of them so that it faces the opposite direction from the first photo. You can do this by clicking on the edit icon in the upper-right-hand area. This will open up the image separately so you can edit it as you would any other image in Pixlr. Simply choose Adjustments > Rotate and flip your photo horizontally by choosing the left-right arrow.

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Click Apply and then click Save. You will see your collage now has two opposing photos:

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Squeeze your photo into a square

Here’s the neat part about this technique. You’re going to alter the collage settings so that your collage has no space between the images and ends up being square. You can do this by setting Spacing = 0 and Proportions = 0. Just set everything to zero. Your collage images will be set into a square. If you’re using the mobile version of Pixlr, simply choose a 1:1 ratio.

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Artfully arrange your mirror images

The final step is to move your images around until you’re happy with their positioning. There isn’t a science to this. It’s all about experimenting to get the best reflection. If your original image was extremely horizontal or extremely vertical, you might lose more of the original image, but you’ll just about always end up with something interesting. Once you click Finished, you’re image will be taken out of collage mode. But that doesn’t mean you have to stop. We added some canvas effect and a neat border.

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You can add other effects if you like, as we did with the spaced-out image of the Golden Gate Bridge. A bit of space effects (partially brushed out with the History Brush) and some color saturation and a border — and you’ve got a very unique, cool, mirror image photo.

 

 

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New Pack for Essentials & Pro members: Artmodern

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We’ve been on a tear lately with new content packs, releasing at least one brand-new effects pack for Pixlr Essentials and Pro members every month. It’s that time yet again, so please acquaint yourself with the new Artmodern overlay pack in both Pixlr for iOS and Android and Pixlr Desktop. (A reminder that if you’re not an Essentials member, you can sign up for free.)

This new pack contains 15 overlays that let you add splashes of paint, canvas-like patterns, and broad-brush looks to your photos. If you’re a serious long-time Pixlr user, you may recognize two of these overlays. We’ve included these fan favorites from a SketchBook pack that ran in the app for a brief few weeks way back when. Over time, we’ve actually had requests for these two specific overlays; we thought this was a great time to fit them back in the app.

As with any new pack, we encourage you to experiment. A few tips…

Dial it back — or double down

Every effect you use in Pixlr can be lowered by simply dragging the “Amount” slider. Each overlay looks different on dark photos than it does on bright photos. It all just depends, and you should always use the controls as part of your editing process. Sometimes, you’ll add an overlay and think, “This is good, but I wish it were stronger.” If that’s the case, simply double up and add the same overlay again. For the photo at the top of this blog post, we used the Splash overlay once at 100% and then again at 50%. We really wanted to go extra artsy on that photo because it felt like that big brick wall deserved it.

Don’t forget the History Brush

The History Brush (located in the Adjustments menu) is probably the most helpful tool you’ll ever use in Pixlr apps. Check out our photo of this dreamy book reader below. We started with a canvas effect and then added multiple Artmodern overlays. Each time we added an overlay, we used the History Brush to wipe the effect away from her figure. The end result is a heavily stylized artistic take on a portrait. (Incidentally, if you like this idea, check out the tutorial Make an Illustrated Portrait with the History Brush.)

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Flipping rotate it

You always have the option of flipping your overlays horizontally or vertically, and you can turn them in 45 degree increments. Sometimes, a burst of color or effect in an overlay works so much better in a slightly different location. So turn it or flip it and try it out.

This week’s challenge: #artmodern

Whenever we release a new pack for our members, we want to see what you can do. This week’s challenge will be all about this new content pack. Edit your images and tag them #artmodern on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, etc. If you’re not an Essentials or Pro member, please join in anyway with canvas overlays or any other painting-like effect. We’ll scour the Internet looking for the best images and share them on our social media channels, garnering you Internet fame and lots of artistic love.

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New Pixlr Challenge: #pixlr #toyphotography

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Another week, another challenge. This time around, we want you to tackle a genre of photography you may have never even considered trying out: toy photography. Instagram is chock full of Lego “minifig” enthusiasts, My Little Pony portraitists, and Danbo addicts. This week, we want you to experiment with whatever toys or figurines you can find. Take a lot of photos, edit them in Pixlr using any effects you want (borders, poster effects, and vignetting are always good options), and tag them #pixlr #toyphotography so we can find and feature them.

To make our own #pixlr #toyphotography example, we trolled around our Pier 9 office looking for co-workers who had toys on their desks. Our office is filled with carefree silly people, so we had a lot of toys to choose from. We grabbed Street Fighter Ryu and some plastic dinosaurs and wandered about to find a few scenic spots. We goofed around with a pack of gum in the kitchen, staged a fight on an ironing board, turned a dinosaur into a DJ, and pitted our two main heroes against each other in front of a 3D model of a cityscape. It was tons of fun!

Never done this before? Here are a few simple tips to get started:

  • Try to tell a story, however simplistic: You can take a great photo of a toy as if it were a regular portrait, but the real joy in this kind of photography is playing with context and scale. A photo of a squad of green army men on the attack is good, but a photo of a squad of green army men clambering over the top of a stack of syrupy pancakes is much more satisfying.
  • Put fantastical creatures in mundane, human situations: Unless you have dioramas on hand to stage your miniatures, you’re going to need to use what you have to create scenes. So why not highlight the fish-out-of-water aspect of toy photography. Photos of Stormtrooper Lego guys washing dishes at the sink are pure gold.
  • Try both indoors and outdoors: If you’re only using your phone (like we were), you’ll need to be very cognizant of lighting. Try to stage your scenes in well-lit areas. Using a flash is probably not a good idea. If you don’t have great light indoors, take it outside.
  • Experiment: Toy photography is all about experimentation, creativity, and serendipity. If you set out to take photos of toys, don’t be surprised if you really get into it. It’s fun! And it’s a real challenge to make whatever you have on hand work for you. Best of all, the learning curve here is not steep.

If you grab some toys and spend 15 minutes trying this out, we can almost guarantee you’ll have learned something about how to photograph tiny scenes.

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New Pixlr Overlay Pack Celebrates COLOURlovers Contest Winner Art

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This week, we’ve got special new content for Pixlr users: a pack of COLOURlovers overlays that we’d like you to use in this week’s #pixlrpop challenge.

COLOURlovers is a community of creative people who create spectacular color palettes, patterns, and designs. If you’re a graphic designer, you will instantly understand the convenience of having a record of your favorite color palettes, but really anyone with a creative bent can get something out of the COLOURlovers community. And so many do. The community (also part of Autodesk) has been cranking out color for about a decade. That’s like a century in Internet years.

As a sister site for COLOURlovers, we were thrilled to sponsor a contest in their community last month. For the #PixlrPop contest, we asked COLOURlovers members to make unique, colorful patterns using COLOURlovers tools, with the winning entries being handed over to our designers to inspire a set of overlays for Pixlr users. The results? Some cool overlays you can use to add both pattern and color to your photos. Here are a few of the overlays added to a lovely photo of a Buddha statue:

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Join our #pixlrpop weekly challenge

We’d like you to use these COLOURlovers overlays for this week’s Pixlr #pixlrpop Challenge. You can do it in two ways:

  • Use the COLOURlovers overlays to make something beautiful. Any overlay works. Or, layer on multiple overlays, use the History Brush, add additional effects — whatever you think makes your image pop.
  • Or… make your own patterned overlay and tell us how you did it. A few weeks back, we ran a similar challenge using the Double Exposure feature to make a unique overlay. If you’re extra creative and like a challenge, this option might be for you.

Tag your photos with the hashtag #pixlrpop, and we’ll dig up the best on Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr. We’ll feature the best of the best, with a reward of hand clapping, thumbs up, thousands of hearts pumping red with every click. Creative glory!

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New Challenge: #pixlr #colorsplash

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This week is as good a time as any to join a weekly challenge. We just released a set of Pride 2015 stickers, which are chock full of rainbows. Since these new stickers have put us in a very colorful mood, this week let’s make #pixlr #colorsplash images. Your photos don’t have to be Pride related. We’re just looking for photos that represent true colors shining through.

Color Splash is one of the neatest features in Pixlr apps. Anyone can have their photos take on new meaning and vibrancy by knocking out all the color except for in one location. Your photo doesn’t have to use the new Pride 2015 stickers, but you’re more than welcome to represent if you want. We’re simply looking for any compelling photos that let true colors shine through.

Tag images #pixlr #colorsplash

Use both hashtags #pixlr #colorsplash when you share what you edit for this challenge on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc. We’ll be on the lookout across our social feeds for these hashtags all week long. The reward? Pure glory. We’ll be featuring our favorites on our feeds — and on this blog — through Sunday.

Need some help? Check out this video

Color splash works the same on our mobile app as it does on our web app as it does on our desktop app. So no matter which app you use, you can get something out of this video:

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Pride 2015

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For nearly 45 years, people have been joining together to fight for gay rights and celebrate the gains won from that fight by holding Pride parades. What started out as political marches have evolved over time. Some years, Pride parades have been a massive let-it-all-hang-out party. Years when AIDS took too many lives were more cautious. These days, annual Pride parades are taking on a new importance and visibility. They’re less about “poly” and sex and more about “trans” and gender. They’re more inclusive, inviting in families of all stripes. In many ways, the LGBT movement has gone practically mainstream as support for gay marriage is at an all-time high. And it’s still on the rise.

That mainstream bent is reflected in the San Francisco Pride Parade’s theme this year: Equality without Exception. Everyone is invited. LGBT. Plus Q+A. Plus everyone else. Including you. Everyone is welcome, and everyone is encouraged to represent.

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Autodesk is proud to represent. We’re building a float at our Pier 9 Workshop that shows off San Francisco’s unique topography and trademark fog — all designed with the help of our software, of course. The Pixlr team wanted to join in the celebration, so we designed a brand-new set of Pride stickers that we hope you’ll use to let your Pride flag fly.

They’re not all flags, of course. We’ve got some cute gender symbols, rainbow word quotes, smiley flowers — even a sparkly unicorn. First and foremost, these stickers are designed to be fun. Second, they’re pretty inclusive in their own way. You don’t have to be gay to fall in love with them! If you’ve been a Pixlr user for a long time, you probably know that we’ve had a set of Pride stickers in our app for a number of years, but we thought this was the perfect time to add a big batch of new ones. Look for them in the Stickers area of our mobile app, our web app, and our desktop app.

Let true colors shine through in our weekly challenge: #pixlr #colorsplash

Each week we run a Pixlr Challenge on a new theme, and this week we’re inspired by all of the color in our Pride 2015 stickers. Your photo doesn’t have to use the new Pride 2015 stickers, but you’re more than welcome to represent if you want. We’re simply looking for any compelling photos that let true colors shine through. Read all about this week’s #pixlr #colorsplash challenge.

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New Pixlr Challenge: #mypixlroverlay

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Wouldn’t it be cool if you could make your own overlays? Well, dear user, you can. And we’d like you to do just that this week for our #mypixlroverlay challenge.

You may not have thought about the Double Exposure feature as a way to add a custom overlay, but that’s basically what it does: It adds an image to your current image and gives you blending modes and opacity controls so you can choose how seamlessly you want the two images to blend together.
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