Pixlr at Fan Expo Canada: Join Us for Some Cosplay

This week, there will be no Pixlr photo challenge. Sorry, hosers, but we’re headed north of the border for our annual Fan Expo Canada cosplay celebration migration. For us, this entire week will be about fan culture, so if you follow us on Instagram that’s what we’ll be posting about. If you happen to be at Fan Expo (or just have some great cosplay to share) tag your #cosplay #pixlr photos. We might just feature it on our Instagram feed — as well as on our home page and Made with Pixlr feed.

Just as we did last year, we’ll be taking photos of cosplayers in Toronto like one of our favorites from last year, these Umbrella Security Service cosplayers from Resident Evil:


We’ll also be manning a booth with our pals at SketchBook at what you may not know is the third largest con in North America. If you’ve been to a fan convention, you know it’s complete sensory overload and that costumes are the new commerce of fan conventions. Dressing up as if it were Halloween is not nearly enough. If you want to be part of the scene, you need to invest a little time, effort, or money into creating not just a costume — but expert cosplay. When we see people who go all out — like this fellow with his Psycho Bandit character from Borderlands at last year’s Fan Expo — it really makes us smile:


Let us take your photo!

If you happen to be in Toronto, we hope you’ll stop by our booth and say hello. If you’re sporting some cosplay, please let us take your photo! For each convention we attend, we create an online cosplay gallery. We upload the best photos, and you can download them if you want. No cost or anything like that. It’s all for the love of cosplay.

We like all kinds of cosplay, but if you just happen to be doing any kind of TV Head cosplay, I’m a huge fan and will beg you to let me take your photo. TV Heads rule!


In addition to taking photos at our booth, we’ll be roaming around Fan Expo Canada to find the best cosplay at Fan Expo. At the end of each day, we’ll post the best on this blog. We hope you like it!

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Free Downloadable YouTube Banner Template for Pixlr Editor

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If your goal is to become the next YouTube superstar, you know that taking advantage of all of the features of YouTube is vital — and channel art is the most vital detail of them all. Even if your goal is more modest than total world domination, you should still make custom art for your YouTube channel.

To make it easy for you to create compelling YouTube banner art, we’ve created this handy Pixlr downloadable template. It’s designed to be used with our free Pixlr Editor online web app, which has full layer support and lots of graphic design options. Creating a banner is as easy as copying and pasting an image into this template and saving it out as a JPG. In fact, we’ve used this exact same template to create art for our own YouTube channel. The template is designed so you can preview how your banner will look on multiple devices. Simply turn down the opacity of your main image and move your art into place so that it looks great on any device. We chose to put the focus on the eyes and use the very horizontal space YouTube offers.

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How to create your own custom YouTube banner art

  1. Download this .pxd template.
  2. Open up Pixlr Editor, our online graphic design editing program. Open the .pxd template you just downloaded.
  3. Open up a second image that you want to use for the actual art. Copy (Edit > Copy) the image and then paste (Edit > Paste) the image into the .pxd template.
  4. Want to resize this new layer you just pasted in? Choose the Free Transform option (Edit > Free transform), and you’ll see a bounding box appear around the layer. You can drag the corners of this box to resize. Hold down the Shift key when dragging from a corner to have your image retain it’s proportion as you resize (i.e., to not stretch the image).
  5. Once you’ve positioned the image so that it looks good on every device, hide any layers you don’t need by un-checking the boxes next to those layers in the Layers window.
    Save your image as a JPG at the highest quality you can achieve. Note that YouTube has a 4MB file size limit, so just make sure you stay under 4MB in size.

That’s it. Once you’ve created you art you can start working on more important things — like creating great YouTube videos.

A few things to consider

  • Up-to-date template: YouTube has changed their sizing over time, and they’ll surely change it again someday. But as of this writing — in August 2015 — this is the official recommended sizing for YouTube banners.
  • Go big or go blurry: Stretching your image to fit the template could make it blurry, so you’ll want to start with the largest image you can. Don’t get caught up thinking about print-related details like dots per inch. You really only care about the pixel dimensions of the image. Pixlr Editor will automatically output your image as a JPG at 72 dpi, which is the standard for web images.
  • Simple might be better: It may be tempting to add text or calls to action in your banner, but the best banners are often simply great images. Don’t labor too long over making the absolute best banner art ever. You might very well decide you want to change it in 3 months. That said, if you’ve previously created your own professional looking logo, you should definitely use it.
  • Patterns, images, illustrations: If you can afford it, get your images from stock art sites. We’re admittedly biased against Autodesk’s own Creative Market for photos because they don’t charge more for larger images. It’s a flat fee per image. If you simply can’t purchase stock art, there are free resources out there that provide large images like Unsplash. HD desktop wallpaper sites like InterfaceLift are a great place to look for large images and patterns. Colourlovers also offers great patterns at multiple sizes (up to the size of your own screen’s resolution).
  • Respect the creators: Of course, no matter what art you find you should check the license restrictions on the images you use and provide credit where necessary.
  • Don’t be intimidated: If you’ve never used a layers-based editor like this, it may at first seem intimidating. We have some simple and straightforward tutorials that will show you how to work with layers. It’s not hard at all once you learn the basics.

Once you’re done, don’t forget that there are other options like adding links and a site URL that YouTube will place over your banner. Once you have your YouTube page all tricked out, it will be very easy to update later when you have a new design idea.

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Now in Public Beta: HTML5 Version of Pixlr Express

Today, we’re releasing a public beta of our Pixlr Express web app. And we’d like you to try it out.

The web version of our Pixlr app is similar to Pixlr for iOS and Android and Pixlr Desktop. it has a lot of the same functionality. But one thing is very different about the current Pixlr Express that affects how well it will perform in the future: It’s built on Flash, which everyone and their brother agrees is dying quickly. Flash has been a massively useful web standard for Internet users around the world for a very long time. It deserves everyone’s heartfelt salutation as it sails off into the sunset. Rest assured Pixlr Express won’t be stuck on Flash forever. We’ve begun building an updated version of Pixlr Express for the web that is built entirely on HTML5, and you can start using it today if you’d like.

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How to access the public beta

When you open Pixlr Express, you’ll see an option to switch to the public beta in the upper-right-hand area of the window. Click the “Try Now” button, and you’ll open the HTML5 photo editor in a new window. (Whatever you were doing in the old editor will stick around until you decide to close that window.) You’ll immediately notice the difference in the design.

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While the new editor has a different look, eventually the functionality will be the same. Our hope is that while we are updating this Flash app to HTML5 we can also improve the user interface based on things we’ve learned over the years.

How to give us feedback

Of course, our users will be the ultimate judge of whether we are, in fact, improving Pixlr Express while upgrading the technological details. And you can help us determine how well we’re doing by providing feedback during this beta. How to do that? When you save an image, we will prompt you with a message.

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You can also just shoot us an email if you prefer. If you choose to email us we will be able to shoot you a message back to ask more about your feedback if we need to. We don’t plan on using your email for anything else — except to let you know when the app is finalized and out of public beta. Any and all feedback you provide is valuable to us. Not just questions we’ve thought about ahead of time. That’s one of the beauties of public betas: Our users will alert us to details we hadn’t considered. So please try out the new beta and don’t hold back with the feedback.

It’s a work in progress

Of course, we’re building this app as you use it. It’s very much a public beta with a lot of flaws and rough edges. Right out of the gate, these are a few details to know:

  • No Adjustments: You’ll see Effects, Overlays, and Borders, but the Adjustment tools will be coming in a later beta release.
  • Best Browsers: Chrome is your best bet at the moment. Firefox has some minor rendering issues.
  • Safari Not So Goody: if you’re using Mavericks (or an earlier OS), WebGL isn’t enabled by default in Safari. However, you can enable Developer Tools in Safari and then turn on WebGL support for better performance. If you’re on Yosemite (most current OS), it will work without turning anything on. However, you’ll need to save your final image manually to your desktop for now (right click or Command S).
  • Internet Explorer: We’re currently supporting Internet Explorer 11+. (Will we support IE 6? Never!)
  • Desktop only: At this early stage, we don’t recommend trying this on a phone or tablet. But in theory HTML5 can support all kinds of devices. We’ll get there.

We’re updating the app just about every day, so you’ll probably see the app dramatically improve over the course of the coming weeks and months if you use it on a regular basis. We know that a lot of people are hesitant to accept change in apps like these, so rest assured that you’ll be able to keep using the old Flash version even after we finish this HTML5 version. You’ll just have more options on more platforms (if you want or need them).

New Overlay Pack for Essentials & Pro: Solaris


Each month this year we’ve been adding a new content pack for Essentials and Pro members. It’s our way of saying thanks for being a power user. For August, we have a pack that is seasonal in its look: Solaris. This new overlay pack will make your photos look like they’ve been decimated by the dog days of summer.

The 20 overlays in the Solaris pack are all about adding hazy, wavy, shimmery looks to your photos that suggest sunstroke and solar flares. They’ll add a dried out, light-leaked, and overheated spin to your images that can be pretty subtle or pretty overbearing — depending on  how you use them. As with all overlays, you can dial back the opacity to lessen the effect, and you can always add an effect twice if you just aren’t getting enough out of 100%. As with most overlay packs, some of the effects work best on lighter images, and some only really make themselves known on very dark images. Your photos exist on a spectrum of light and color, and the only way to really know how it will look is to give it a shot. Sign in to your account, and you’ll find Solaris in both overlay pack in both Pixlr for iOS and Android and Pixlr Desktop.

We made a few images with these overlays to give you an idea of what they look like. Some of the overlays add a slight pattern that is almost canvas- or netting-like in its look. Some of them add leaks of sunlight coming in from the sides or corners:


Some of the Solaris overlays work best with darker images and give the look of a shimmering mirage:


Some of them add a bokeh-like textures or even a faint look of dried-out roses:


This week’s challenge: #pixlr #solaris

When we release a new pack for our members, we find that it’s the perfect theme for a challenge. Edit your images and tag them with both hashtags #pixlr #solaris on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, etc. If you’re not an Essentials or Pro member, you can sign up for an Essentials account for free, which will give you access to this pack and all the others we’ve released this year. We’ll scour the Internet looking for the best images — which can be about anything, really — and share them on our social media channels.

My Photo Storage & Organizing Struggle (and Dropbox Solution) [ infographic ]

iPhoneography (aka Mobile Phone Photography) has gained popularity at a brisk rate over the past 5-8 years. People are taking an ever-growing number of photos with their phones with ever-larger resolution and file sizes, and the competition between smartphone makers has been neck and neck to produce mobile phones with larger storage options and more progressive camera features. While the amount of storage available on your phone continues to grow, it never seems to be enough space.

The biggest thing I struggle with is the capacity of what my phone can hold – the issue of storage. Granted, I have a dinky 16GB iPhone 5S, but this issue isn’t something new to the world of mobile phones. I keep a pretty tight ship when organizing my apps, but all too often I have to weed through apps I want to make time for but don’t always use. This spring I decided to get to the bottom of it and find a solution because I was all too often missing seeing shots of my kids and other want-to-see-it-again visions. My storage issue was driving me mad.

There are two major players in external, cloud-like storage. The opponents require virtually no introduction. If you’re an Apple user, you know about iCloud. If you’re online at all, you should know about Dropbox. While there are certainly more cloud sharing and storage options out there, when I started researching I thought these two were the strongest rivals. But, after doing some in-depth research I realized they each actually serve a unique purpose. I hope you enjoy the crazy-fun infographic I made about using Dropbox to easily manage your mobile phone photography! Then, let’s get down to brass tacks so you can see exactly what each service gives you.

Notice the very minor but important differences between the two services:

Dropbox is a cloud-like file storage and sharing service:

  • Free account and paid account options
  • Syncs and stores data
  • Data available on all compatible devices (any device with the app installed)
  • File types: Anything and everything from data, information, graphics, photo and video files… basically any file type
  • No confusion as to the storage status of your files
  • Easy to manage with access to real files from your desktop computer (as a home base)
  • Paid plan: More expensive (and more space), but cheaper is not always better!
  • Customer support and FAQ: Easy to find information and usage for service
  • Overall: More versatile with both photography and other file sharing needs

iCloud is a cloud storage and sharing service:

  • Free account and paid account options
  • Syncs and shares data
  • Data available on all compatible devices (any device with the service turned on)
  • File types: Photos only… does not sync video data
  • Confusion as to the storage status of my file (never sure if I just deleted all the originals!)
  • Annoying (initially) to manage. Access to images as non-real file types (e.g., not JPEGs). You must go through a process of exporting your images out of Apple’s Photos program to actually gain access to them physically on your computer. I found this to be a hassle!
  • Paid plan: Less expensive, less space.
  • Customer support and FAQ: Very confusing to find information on how iCloud actually works and smart ways to use it.
  • Overall: Limited for photography purposes; not useful for other file sharing needs

The convenience of iCloud

Being an iPhone user, I naturally and originally went with iCloud. Having never really taken the time to fully utilize iCloud features before, I dove right in. I admittedly have an artist brain (go ahead, you can laugh), but I had the most difficult time understanding how iCloud actually works. I researched it into the ground as I started using it, but I ended up with a lot of frustration about what iCloud was actually doing. I tried it for three months. I even signed up for a monthly extra storage plan.

My assumption was that using iCloud would give me more room on my phone. Incorrect. To free up space, you could try a few things. You could turn iCloud off and on to trick it in to thinking you have no photos on your phone. Or, you could spend endless hours deleting and re-deleting the on-your-phone copies of your photos (and hoping to God they weren’t actually being deleted everywhere). But all of this is a time suck, and I didn’t have that kind of patience. The straw that broke the camel’s back for me was that iCloud will not sync videos. I had to manually load my videos onto my computer. Using iCloud via the Mac’s Photos App was also pretty frustrating. Everything seemed like a virtual copy, and I wasn’t sure if my photos were actually being saved. I also needed to export my images to use them, which was time consuming. All I wanted to be able to do was grab an image in five seconds — and that wasn’t happening.

Then again, iCloud does allow you to access all your iCloud items on multiple devices, which is cool. I have an iPhone, iPad, Macbook Pro, and two iMacs in my house. So that part was kind of neat. However, that’s not really what I wanted. I wanted more room on my phone, and I wanted my videos to sync.

The simplicity of Dropbox

I’ve been a happy Dropbox user since the dawn of its inception. I’ve always been a free user and never required much more space, but it’s been a great tool over the years for many scenarios. I was frustrated with what iCloud wasn’t giving me, and I vaguely recalled Dropbox releasing their Carousel feature awhile back. I had never looked into it, but I decided to give it a go. You can test it out with your free account like I did — although I am now loving the paid account and recommend it.

After using both services on back-to-back months, I arrived at an answer. Dropbox is better for my needs because it not only syncs but also stores images and video — and any other data I need. I can quickly and easily access and organize everything on my computer. To save space using iCloud, I kept having to trick iCloud into not syncing to all of my devices, which turned in to a time-sucking headache. I was also sometimes afraid I was deleting a year of photos every time I wanted to make space for more photos on my phone. I finally gave iCloud the boot when it came to photos and video. I still use iCloud for other apps that are compatible, although I no longer use the paid plan.

The moral of my story

Dropbox is direct and straightforward, especially if  you like to deal with files. Once you’ve got the app on all your devices and are logged in to them all (and stay logged in), it’s like butter. Seriously. If you’re on a Paleo Diet then it’s like Coconut Oil — pick your oil, who cares, it’s beautiful, it’s smooth sailing and my sanity is regained.


About the author: Molly Bermea is an Autoimmune-Paleo food creator, urban gardener, photographer, iPhoneographer, artist, blog writer, wife and mom of two little beasties (humanoid children)… oh, and she likes to run, swim and bike. She lives in the fabulous, all-season, Southern Oregon area and works from home. Find her on Facebook, Instagram and over at her new blogsite, ChronicFrenzy.com (Autoimmune Paleo & Lifestyle).

New Challenge: #pixlrcollage



We’re continually surprised at how people use the Pixlr Collage feature in new and novel ways. We ran a #pixlrcollage challenge many months ago, and we still fondly remember all the neat and surprising things people made for that challenge. We’ve decided to do it again. We feel like we barely scratched the surface with the last #pixlrcollage challenge.

What can you make with collage? 

The mind boggles at the possibilities. You can take 5 or 6 images (or heck, up to 25 if you’re up for it) and turn it into a nice collage on a theme — say photos of your vacation to New York. You can create a cool, atmospheric look by stacking photos on top of each other and removing all space between the photos:


That’s a fairly straightforward way to use collage. Or, you can take one photo and upload it multiple times, edit each one in a different way if you like, rotate or flip the images, and then piece it all together as something completely abstract and different. This collage of one photo from a recent backpacking trip is ultimately just made up of one single photo:


Some people like to take one photo and upload it multiple times and piece it together as if it were one photo. We often think of this as a “windowpane” effect. Some people like to just take one photo and repeat it in various ways:


One thing is for sure: Whatever you make with collage is probably going to surprise us. You don’t have to get crazy for this challenge, but if you are the type of person who goes for the abstract, we’d be happy to see it. Tag your images #pixlrcollage on Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, and Facebook. We’ll feature the best on our Instagram feed and here on our blog. You’ll get thousands of likes, and we’ll all get a stream of cool images this week.

Composition: a Perspective on Body Parts, Anatomy & Nude Photography

Photos of body parts can be sexy. Or boring and everyday, depending on the editing choices you make. Body parts can be more impactful than a facial portrait when composition and lighting are the key factors in your final cut. Facial segments, hands, feet, necklines, backlines, navel dips — any and all fragments of the human build can draw keen and mysterious interest from viewers if you take time to shoot thoughtfully. Images like these often tell no story. They simply celebrate the visual definition of form and function that we might otherwise bypass in our daily lives.

Do you think they’re dirty? Some may dart their vision away from these simple compositions of lips, necks, and hip dips, mentally (unavoidably?) placing them in a deviant category. I truly believe there is an appreciation in portioning off these beautiful shapes that make us who we are — even if some people assume that all artistic and carefully composed nudity is rooted in a sexual nature. The human body is beautiful, with unique valleys and mountains to explore. Artistically capturing pieces of indirect nudity really has nothing to do with sex. It’s the same as in figure drawing: create lines, shape, movement, and shading. Only instead of mimicking or imagining it, you’re capturing it.


Image Sources: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 |

To get the most out of your own compositions, follow these loose guidelines

Shooting Guidelines

Learn to crop in action, otherwise referred to as in-camera composition. You will gain a stronger composition by shooting what you want the outcome to be, rather than shooting broadly and then heavily cropping later. If you’re new to this method and feel unsure about the composition, shoot with a bit of space around what you think you want to capture, close to where you might crop the final image. That way you have a little padding to work with until you know your framing style.

Compose body parts at close range (the majority rule) with minimal white space.

Most adult body parts in photography look best with a harsh side or back lighting which produces some rim light. In turn, this produces a source with 50-75% darkness on the opposing side. This enhances the details of shape and form, adding drama where it might otherwise be missed.

Editing Guidelines

If you are practiced at in-camera composition, minimal to no cropping should be necessary. This is a learned technique and will only get better if you practice frequently with all things you take photos of. Just apply it to everything you snap, and it will become a habit.

Grain is a big part of black and white images. You can choose to enhance the in-camera grain (e.g., of a low-light image) or add faux grain (e.g., textured overlays). Obviously, Pixlr apps have tons of options when it comes to adding texture and overlays.

The best way to dramatize nude skin is to start with a black-and-white image. You will have even more control over defining the highlights, dark valleys, and gradients of your subject matter.

There are no solid rules of thumb. For instance, if I am photographing a newborn or small child, I might be shooting for innocence (crisp and lighter), using a more lightweight and softer look and feel. You are documenting delicate features of soft creatures; therefore, the capture can be completely different than say capturing the beauty of a woman’s collarbone for artistic reasons.

Know your purpose: Is your final product for journaling or is it more artistic? Do what works best for you. That is how you set yourself aside from the rest. Experiment and break out of your comfort zone.

Experimentation Ideas

Skin is a fun thing to photograph. Add some extra elements to break out of your comfort zone:

  • Make skin glisten and be more reflective by using water or baby oil. Use a combination of the two to get beading of “sweat” on skin – apply baby oil then use a spray bottle to add the water beading. Add harsh lighting at an angle (side, above, etc.), and your drama has amplified ten-fold.
  • Try powders in a variety of ways to produce creative work. Flour, cornstarch, and athletic chalk are all a great way to start. Some people even use baby powder, but I personally cannot hack the scent in that amount! The idea behind using powders is that it is lightweight enough to fluff up in a cloud when you clap your hands together or toss it up. So be sure to test out whatever medium you decide to use before you set up a shoot. If you can get your hands on colored chalk such as that used in the infamous Color Run events, go for it. (Note: Errant chalks and powders can ruin DSLR lenses if they get into sensors; it wouldn’t hurt to also be cautious when using mobile phones and other digital devices.)
  • Try texture. Play with potter’s clay or other wet and dry media mixes. Flour or cornstarch-and-water pastes can add interesting final effects with wet or dry-and-cracked finishes…. And mud! Mud is free.
  • Paint and henna tattoo ink can bring a variety of effects. Paint can be anything from glow in the dark to regular acrylic paint (which will wash out). I would not use latex house paints, and while spray paint is cool, you should instead find a body/skin-safe spray paint at a costume shop.

Helpful Articles, Apps & Tutorials

If you’d like to dive into some experimental apps and techniques, I’ve put together this hand-picked collection that I think might help you go further:

Getting black & white in PixlrRemember the #pixlrbw challenge? If you’re new to B&W photography, this post has some good tips on converting your image and some jump-start direction on editing. The best advice I can give you for getting started with dramatic black and whites are to take these steps:

  1. Your first editing step should be to adjust the brightness and contrast – dramatically.
  2. Lower the saturation (aka color range) to zero color. Your image will be flat looking with gray tones.
  3. See the above Pixlr blog post for additional tips, but this is your basic rule of thumb for a decent start!

Smoother features (i.e., skin) using Perfectly ClearBlack-and-white images edited dramatically (lights and darks) tend to bring out texture as well. In some cases you can “blow out” (ultra brighten) or hide (lose details in shadows) texture and blemishes. You don’t always want them to be the feature of distraction. If you’re going for professional-looking skin, I’ve found the Beautify feature in Perfectly Clear useful. While you want to be very careful about over-modeling skin, if your goal is professional photography it is definitely useful to define a light smooth skin base before converting your image to black-and-white for final edits.

Other mobile camera apps: While native camera apps on the latest-and-greatest mobile phones have gotten better over the years, there are still some pretty creative and helpful camera apps to consider trying out in addition to Pixlr — particularly if you need DSLR-level controls or want to mimic an aperture setting to take long exposures. Aside from my iPhone 5S native camera app, I have recently been fiddling with Manual App for iPhone and Slow Shutter App for iPhone.

Bokeh Lens is an iPhone App I have been playing with lately. Bokeh (bo·keh) is what you see in images with a crip focal subject in the forground and a blurry background. That blurry area is the bokeh effect. Pixlr apps have bokeh overlays that are designed to dramatically emphasize bokeh looks, but getting true bokeh out of an iPhone is next to impossible. This app might help if you want to achieve the kind of professional “creamy” bokeh photogs hold dear to their heart. I know how to easily achieve this with my DSLR camera, but you can only do so much to have this effect applied to your mobile phone shots.

Aaron Nace is one of my favorite educational photographers on the body. His article Photographing the Nude Body offers some great tips to expand your thought process on the entire nude as a photographic piece or ways to compose and light. While this article focuses on professional lighting, take this with a grain of salt and simply observe how the lighting is used. (Note: this link contains educational video content with nude models; you’ll have to create an account on FStoppers if you want to access it.]

Trendsetters & Artists to Follow

These individuals inspire me. They produce collections of very different perspectives on photographing the nude body and/or body parts included. I love to know the stories behind each artist’s vision and how they got there….

Jade Beall: Tuscon, AZ // Certainly a trendsetter in the vision of mothers’ breastfeeding, life, abstract love, and bodies in general. A truly talented photographer of the human form with much to view from her vast portfolio. Known for work in her book The Bodies of Mothers: A Beautiful Body Project.

A Beautiful Body Project: In itself this is a great website to follow if you want to expand your vision on photographing nudes and body perspective.

Anastasia Pottinger: Columbia, MO // She gained a name for herself in her work Centenarians, which shows the beauty of the body at 100+ years of age. I find her work really inspiring and out of the box with excellent shots showing how aging affects the body — in a beautiful way.

Christine Benjamin: Huntington, NY // Her work was originally born out of her own experiences with breast cancer, which contributes largely to her path to photographing nudes, but she has since expanded to additional styles.

John Coplans: (June 1920 – August 2013) // Known for his really intriguing compositions that perhaps look more sexual than they really are. This Pinterest board is a great place to discover him.


About the author: Molly Bermea is an Autoimmune-Paleo food creator, urban gardener, photographer, iPhoneographer, artist, blog writer, wife and mom of two little beasties (humanoid children)… oh, and she likes to run, swim and bike. She lives in the fabulous, all-season, Southern Oregon area and works from home. Find her on Facebook, Instagram and over at her new blogsite, ChronicFrenzy.com (Autoimmune Paleo & Lifestyle).

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Introducing Intel RealSense Technology in Pixlr Apps


One of the most requested features from users of our apps is being able to easily cut themselves out of a photo — or, conversely, to change the background around them. That kind of feedback is partly a result of the supremacy of the selfie, but it’s also a reflection of how people want the ability to remix photos in creative ways. Whether you want to fake yourself standing in front of the Eiffel Tower or cut your ex-boyfriend out of the background, there hasn’t always been an easy way to do it without relying on complicated graphic design programs. Now, you can do it quite easily with an Intel® RealSense™ Technology equipped laptop and Pixlr Desktop.

Starting today, if your Windows laptop is Intel® RealSense™ Technology equipped, you’ll see some new and innovative features in Pixlr Desktop that let you capture photos in a new way. We built this capability into a special build of Pixlr Desktop using a prototype laptop that we carried with us to Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle. This sneak peek of the capability for our dedicated users was a big hit:

Make a Selfie Mask

If you’re a Pixlr Pro member and your device has an Intel® RealSense™ 3D camera inside, you’ll now see an option to “Open from Camera.” This fires up your webcam and lets you take a snapshot of yourself with a mouse click or via a timer.


Once you do, Pixlr will create two masks for you: one of your figure and one of the background. You can then apply effects to either of these masks, just as you would normally work with masks in the Influence Panel. It’s a quick and easy way to make a selfie mask.


Make a Selfie Sticker

Even if you’re not a Pixlr Pro member, you can make a super selfie by turning your figure into a sticker you can save in the app and reuse again and again. As with selfie masks, this option is available to people with Intel® RealSense™ 3D cameras, and you’ll find this option in the Stickers menu in the form of a “Create sticker” button. This fires up the camera and displays a live grey-screen view of your figure. You can pose in specific ways if you like.


When you’re ready to capture, Pixlr automatically cuts your figure out of the background and displays you as a sticker. You can resize, rotate, and use this just as you would any other sticker. Place yourself in front of the Eiffel Tower instead of in front of your boring old refrigerator. You’ll see a new sticker category just for these captures, which you can save for later if you choose.


These sensors are already available in some laptops and will be rolling out to tablets and eventually to phones. In addition to helping you make super selfies, this technology is being used to add gesture controls for computer users and even to capture facial features for integration into games. It’s a smarter camera that’s giving app makers like us a new range of possibilities.

New Challenge: #pixlr #inception


Last week’s #pixlrstylize challenge was really quite spectacular. People made some lovely photos even lovelier by focusing on using the Stylize options in a subtle manner. Absolutely beautiful images were shared. Truly inspiring. This week, we hope you’re up for some experimentation. This week, we want you to take photos of your phone taking a photo. Say what? We’re calling it #pixlr #inception.

Every once in awhile, we’ll stumble across someone who takes really great photos of their hand holding their phone at arm’s length. It’s frame-within-a-frame photography but without a tripod or camera. You can easily take this kind of photo with two phones and a little experimentation with the angle that you hold the phones. Obviously, you’re going to need another phone — which probably means you’re going to need to borrow one from a friend. But this is where it can also be a bit more fun because you’re certainly not limited to taking photos of yourself holding a phone. Here are just a few ideas and tips for you….

Blur out the background

You can take a photo of just about anything like we did of this 3D printed Patrick Buddha, this sign on the wall, and this chair sitter. But what we did after that makes it more interesting. We used the Blur option in Adjustments to blur the entire photo. Then, we used the History Brush to wipe away the blur from the phone and hand area. You could also use Focal Blur to do this in a quick way. Using blur like this really, really puts the focus on whatever it is you’re photographing:


Set the phone by itself

If the phone you borrow has a flat edge — or a case that has a flat edge — you can simply prop the phone up on either side and take a photo like we did of these peaches. We then added some old scratchiness with a border to give it some extra character.


Find optically interesting places

Tunnels, bridges, stairs — any area that has a lot of architectural details can be made extra interesting in this way. For maximum trippiness, try to find places where lines converge into the center of your picture-within-a-picture. Stairs, in particular, work great.


Choose a very unexpected angle 

After walking around our office at Pier 9 and taking photos for this challenge, we realized there is a spot we didn’t think of but that works great — the ceiling of our foyer. This chandelier is gorgeous, but it won’t really work for this type of photo except from below:


Include people! 

This challenge almost begs for collaboration. If you have a friend who likes to take selfies, take a photo of them taking a selfie. Or, shoot over the shoulder of a friend who is taking a picture of something picturesque. Or, just borrow someone’s phone and take a photo of them like we did with Andy (below). You can then send them a copy. You’ll have a killer entry for this challenge, and they’ll have a unique photo of themselves. We had a lot of fun talking to folks in our Pier 9 maker space while we experimented with this idea. Special thanks to Andy who had some great ideas for this challenge!


We’ve given you a ton of ideas — now it’s your turn

We know that this challenge is actually pretty challenging. It requires you to borrow a phone and experiment a bit, but we’re almost certain that you’ll find — like we did — that this challenge will really open up your creativity. It makes you really think differently about how you take and frame photos. Please give this challenge a try with us and tag your submissions with both hashtags #pixlr #inception. We’ll be scouring Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and Flickr to find great examples to share with our followers. Speaking of which, we just crossed the 175,000 follower mark on Instagram! We’re so grateful for all of your participation and support. We love seeing what you make so please join us this week for a shot at being featured.

New Challenge! #pixlrstylize


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:

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.