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Mother’s Day Photo Card Ideas: Selfie to Sentimental to Serious

Mother’s Day is this Sunday. You still have time to get her something great or plan something special. You know what mothers really love? Photos — especially when they’re of you. We put together some ideas to help you make your own Mother’s Day card using Autodesk Pixlr.

The Selfie as Mother’s Day Card

Maybe you like to take selfies. If so, you and mom are both going to be very happy with the new Pixlr MOM sticker pack. Take a photo and add a flowery MOM sticker. Maybe include a nice crafty border. You have an instant Mother’s Day card. This is probably one of the easiest ways to surprise your mom. You can take as many selfies as you need until you get one that’s just right. Still don’t like the way you look in your selfie? Ask your mom to take a selfie with you by her side. Add your stickers and effects and surprise her with it. She’ll appreciate that you took the time to make something creative with her that’s also a snapshot of a moment in time — that time you and mom had fun taking selfies.

Selfie as Mother's Day Card

Inspirational Quotes, Sentimental Feelings

The typical printed Hallmark-style greeting card at your local drugstore (how much longer will those be around?) is syrupy sweet. Sometimes sickly sweet. I always ask myself, “Is this really the kind of cheesy sentiment my mom will respond to?” Turns out — yes. I think back to all of the cards my mom gave me on my birthday and other special occasions. When they weren’t designed to be funny their sentiments were all about deep seriousness, sincerity, and emotional well-being. They were flowery and full of cliches — but I recognized that my mom genuinely responded to the sentiment expressed. She might not have been able to say deeply serious things to me face to face, so she did it with sentimental cards. If you’re worried that you’re veering too far into sentimental territory, maybe you are. Then again, maybe you’re hitting the really sweet spot with something like this:

Inspirational Quote for Mother's Day

Straightforward and Simple

If you want to go the sincere and traditional route, dig into Pixlr and uncover all the other stickers and overlays that will complement these MOM stickers. Grab a word art quotation from the Inspiration stickers or maybe something lovable from the Amore sticker pack. (There’s even one about moms in the Amore pack.) If you really want to make your card have an interesting sheen, use the Stylize options to turn your photo into watercolor,  silk, or pencil art. You can control the amount of stylize effect you add, so even just softening up your photo with these effects can make your photo look more like traditional art. That kind of painting effect is something you see a lot of on traditional greeting cards. You can do it more strikingly like we did in the photo above, or just do it in a subtle way like we did here with pencil effect just on the bottom half of the photo:

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The opposite side of the sentimental spectrum is outsized creativity. If your mom has her own tattoos or sneers at anything unoriginal or loves modern art then by all means get as creative as you can. Again, you can use the Stylize effects, but use some of the more radical ones like Halftone or Litho. If you need to add texture or interestingness to your photo, there are literally hundreds of overlays that will add strong or subtle effects to your photos.

Make Hilarity Ensue

Or, just make something fun or even silly. I would wager that most moms do not want a silly or comedic card with dumb puns on it. But some moms do. If your mom is one of those — congratulations! Super silly moms are the most fun kind of moms. So don’t hesitate to create your own message using the text options in Pixlr. You’ve got a ton of crazy fonts to use if you need them to make something like this:

Fun mother's day cards

Those are just a few ideas to get you started, but we always like seeing what Pixlr users make. If you make something you’re proud of and want to share, tag it #pixlrmom. We’ll feature a few of our favorites all week on the Pixlr Instagram account.

 

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New Challenge: #besteffect

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Did you know every one of the options in Effects > Default in all of our Pixlr apps was named for (or by) a Pixlr user? When we first put together the set of default effects, we asked our users to create and share images with interesting effects. We encouraged them to use any kind of app or process they wanted to adjust color, contrast, vignetting, etc. They posted their images to our Facebook Page, and we took the best submissions and replicated the effects in our app — and gave them credit by either naming the effect after them or having them pick a name they thought represented the effect. It was a fun way for us to crowdsource and compile the preferences and ideas of real users and fold them directly into our apps.

We ended up with 25 different Default effects, and we think most of them still hold up even after all these years. We would be lying if we said we didn’t have a few favorites. Oh, we do. In the default Effects set, there are a few that stand out to us as especially good. And that got us to thinking: Do our users have favorite effects from the Default Effects pack? And do they match ours?

What’s your favorite Default Effect? 

This week, we want you to play around with Effects > Default and show us your favorites. If you already have a favorite in this bunch, this will be an easy challenge. If you don’t have a favorite, it’s time to pick one. Share your images on Instagram, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, and Facebook with the hashtag #besteffect, and we’ll feature the best all week long.

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Some of these effects are pretty strong, so keep in mind that you can always dial down the opacity to make effects work with your image. If you’re up for it, tell us in your post what choices you made, but even if you don’t want to include all that detail, that’s fine by us. We’re happy flipping through all of your submissions. We love seeing what you make.

What are our favorites…? 

For an extra bit of fun (for us if no one else), we’re going to try and keep track of which effects are most shared this week. At the end of the week, we’ll tell you which effects are our favorites. We have three! Will our favorite effects match the ones our users pick? We’ll all find out on Sunday.

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New Challenge: #pixlr #textures

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We love the place where art and photography intersect. Photographs can be artistic by their composition or choice of subject matter, but they can also simply look more artistic by mimicking the visual aesthetics of fine art. If you print a photo on canvas, wrap it in a gold frame, and hang it on the wall it’s going to look a lot more like art than it would on an electronic screen. Traditional fine art stands out like this often because it’s printed on material that is rougher than paper. It has a textured look to its background. This texture in some ways can seem to even stimulate your sense of touch. You can easily imagine reaching out and feeling the rough canvas.

That’s what we want you to do this week. We want you to add the visual language of traditional art to your photos by adding a textured background. We want your photos to look like they’re printed on canvas or scroll-like paper or other similar materials. It’s very easy to do:

  • The easiest way to do this is to simply use one of the Canvas overlays in Pixlr apps. Play with the opacity of one of these and you can easily add a textured, canvas look.
  • The Paper overlays dialed down in opacity can add cools textures and make your image appear to be printed on different materials. Same with Bokeh, but be careful that you don’t add too much of these other effects and muddy up the lights and darks too much.
  • Borders are very important to make your photo look like it’s mimicking art on canvas. The Ink, Ripped Paper, and White Ripped borders are good for this. There are also lots of great choices in the Default borders pack. We strongly recommend adding a border!
  • You can use the Stylize features if you want, but we don’t advise using those options too much for this challenge. We’re not really focused on turning your photo into a watercolor. The goal this week is to make your photo appear to be printed on material that’s rougher than paper.

To join in, tag your photos with both hashtags #pixlr #textures on Instagram, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, and Facebook. As usual, we’ll feature the best on our home page, on the Made with Pixlr feed, and on Instagram and our many social media feeds. Everywhere!

A few additional ideas to get you started…

Try combinations of multiple overlays at low opacities

You can, in effect, create a new look by applying multiple Canvas or Paper or Bokeh overlays if you add each one at a low opacity. They combine to make something unique like we did in this portrait. We combined Paper > Transform at 50%; Paper > Cactus at 50%; and Canvas > Skin at 60% to make this textured look. We also added our white ink border at a 50% overlay to make this entire image look like it’s printed on something like patterned rice paper.

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Still life with whatever

Not sure what to photograph? A still life photo would work very well for this challenge.

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History Brush can be used to combine multiple textured effects

For this Pisa photo, we used two different canvas effects. We started with Weave at 80%, then wiped away the tower area with the History Brush. Then, we added Skin at 50%. Finally, some bump up in vibrance and a White Ripped border.

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Sometimes subtle effects are better than laying it on thick

For this Autumnal scene, we used the Canvas > Floor option at 65% and some vignetting to darken the edges. We wanted to make it look like it was printed on something thicker than paper, but we didn’t want to overwhelm the photo too much. We used the Default > White border, which has a matte + black metal frame look to it. That’s an excellent default border for you to use for this challenge.

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Sunday at NYCC: Our 10 Favorite Cosplay Looks

It’s been our experience that Sunday at New York Comic Con (and other fan conventions) is sort of family day. Some of the expert-level cosplayers are done. They’ve either been wearing the same outfit for three days straight or have worn three different cosplay looks each day. Saturday is alright for partying; Sunday is alright for maybe showing up late as a civilian and doing some shopping. Taking their place are all kinds of everyday folks, some of them coming to their first fan convention but some with plenty of cosplay chops of their own to show. We captured a bit of both on Sunday. As we’ve done for each day of NYCC 2015, we put together a list of our 10 favorites. These people stood out either because their cosplay was off the hook or because the personalities who posed for us made a strong impression.

Men in Black

See what we mean? Family day. A day when the whole fam can theme their way into some cosplay. Men in Black is a great choice for this. The costume is simple. Just requires some attitude and swagger. A most excellent pose that worked beautifully. Looks like a movie poster.

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Mystique

Bold colors, body paint, and a very cool skeleton belt makes this Mystique eye-catching. Excellent pose.

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Han and “Sexy” Leia

Who shot first? Han. No doubt about it.

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Gandalf the Grey

Another example of a simple, straightforward character — so the few elements you need to portray him (hat, beard, robe, staff) have to all be well done.

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Marty McFly

We saw (and this is no joke) about 50-75 Marty McFlys at a meetup on Sunday in a giant crowd. Men, women, children — it ran the gamut. This fellow had the details down pretty well, and his pose was right on time.

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Harley Quinn, Batman, The Riddler

Another good family affair cosplay.

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Hawkeye

Leather like this probably doesn’t breathe. Nope. Gonna be a hot day. Dry clean only. Totally worth it for this cosplay.

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Dare Devil (mini)

This little guy looks totally bad-ass. Wait, can we say bad-ass in front of him? Bad as heck. Kid, you’re bad as heck as vigilante Dare Devil. You nailed it.

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Dare Devil (full size)

All grown up with a pro-level costume, this Dare Devil looks phenomenal. The red and black color scheme is super sharp. Sizzlingly good.

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Harley Quinn

There are a lot of people who cosplay Harley Quinn. A lot. It’s hard to stand out. She does — and without a ton of caked-on makeup. Great details. Different than most portrayals of the character.

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Want to see more? Check out our picks of people who posed for us at NYCC 2015 on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. And don’t stop there. Check out all the entrants (and the winner) in the Eastern Championships of Cosplay.

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Exceptional NYCC Cosplay: Our 10 Favorites from Saturday

Saturday at NYCC  is perhaps the biggest day for quality cosplay. It’s the day that culminates in the Championships of Cosplay tournament, which this year was so popular they had to turn people away from the auditorium. Just as we did for Day One and Day Two, we wanted to highlight our 10 favorites of those who stopped by our booth.

Destiny Duo

The art direction for the Destiny video game is off the hook, so we’re always on the lookout for Destiny cosplayers. They seem to have some serious skills at crafting their looks. Eris and Xur are two characters that you simply can’t phone in. Thank you, Cuddlefish Cosplay, for sitting for us!

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Juliet Starling

We saw a few Juliet Starlings from the Lollipop Chainsaw video game at NYCC, but nobody had this kind of bad-ass chainsaw. We especially love the heart cutout at the base.

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Maleficent

Mmmmm. Deep, rich, velvety goodness. Superb Maleficent cosplay with an ornate and surely very difficult to sew dress. When this much work goes into something, it shows.

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The Invisible Man

You don’t see a lot of costumes like this at fan conventions. So many people are focused on creating looks for anime and superhero and video game properties that it’s a refreshing breath of fresh air to see an Invisible Man — and done so well. The treatment on this gauze is superb.

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Kiki

The character of Kiki from Kiki’s Delivery Service only has a few details, so getting each one right really makes a difference. This Kiki made everything in her look, including the purse. The broom is especially impressive. No glue. The straw is entirely wrapped and held together with other straw. Serious craft skills.

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Kratos

The God of War relies heavily on ripped pecs and body paint, and this Kratos doesn’t disappoint. The weapons are pretty good, too. Just being around him feels menacing, but he was a nice guy underneath.

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Practically All Anime Girls

Anime cosplay girls cute-ing it up even more with a friendship pose. Awwww. We took a lot of photos of anime girls, but this one is our favorite. (We respectfully apologize for not remembering the names of your characters, ladies!)

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Supergirl

Supergirl joined the Red Lantern Corps, and of course Supergirl needed a cool costume. This Supergirl is color-blocked loveliness, but what we really loved was her skill at posing. This cape swoop captured in mid-swoop makes us swoon. What a shot.

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Consuela

Simple. Spot-on. Family Guy maid. Well played, Consuela.

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B Boy Spider Man

This hip-hop Spidey practically screams New York. “Hey! I’m cosplayin’ ovah heee-ah.” As usual, we love mash-ups or twists on typical cosplay, and this character is overflowing with gritty-city superhero fun.

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Want to see more? Check out our picks of people who posed for us at NYCC 2015 on ThursdayFriday, and Sunday. And don’t stop there. Check out all the entrants (and the winner) in the Eastern Championships of Cosplay.

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New York Comic Con: Top 10 Creative Cosplay (Friday)

New York Comic Con is one of the best places on the planet to see creative cosplay, and we’ve been doing the hard work of enjoying it for you. It truly is a pleasure to see people create new looks from scratch or add a bit of perfection to cosplay that others have done before — but not nearly as well. From Day Two at Comic Con, we bring you the ones that stood out to us, either because their cosplay was outstanding or because they did an outstanding job of posing. We’re so very grateful for everyone who takes the time to both pose for us and tell us more about how they made what they made.

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Wario and Waluigi are know for their devious doubles play, but what really caught our eye about this cosplay was the fact that these guys detailed their racquets with their initials. Beautiful touch. Love love.

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Another spectacular level of detail was unapparent at first with this cosplay. Chain mail is always pretty badass, but a closer look reveals that this chain mail is actually made from countless soda pop (or, um, beer) pull tabs. We hope he didn’t consume all of that on his own, but we guess you’d have a lot of time for drinking while making. Cheers, brother! It’s an amazing feat.

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Cosplay usually works when you make something pretty, but there’s a huge strut component. How comfortable are you in that outfit? It probably helps to be completely concealed behind a mask, especially if you’re the obnoxious (by design) Deadpool. This Deadpool surprised us with how flexible he was at executing some pretty demanding positions. In true Deadpool fashion, he completely went for it. We salute you, sir.

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This Bowser went for it with her pose, for sure. Anybody who wears colored (or opaque or black) contacts automatically says I’m serious about this. Of course, the traditional Bowser looks nothing like this and is way less pretty. We love to see someone reinvent a character in a completely off-the-wall way. Totally cool.

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Spareness and simplicity — and beauty — undeniably turns heads at cons. If you can work with God gave you and augment that with some smart, well-designed pieces of clothing, then you’re set up for success. This cosplay was partly about the fabric and how it was treated (excellent details in there), but she was also able to strike a few expert poses for us. Gorgeous.

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Of course, beauty isn’t just skin deep. This was another great cosplay with details that made this Piggy surprisingly sexy. Leopard skin print, feathered boa, long gloves, purple mascara, and curls — we were smitten by this lush cosplay.

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You don’t see a lot of Peanuts cosplay. Well, actually, hardly ever. Sure, there’s sometimes a balding, middle-aged guy wearing a Peanuts style t-shirt who looks a little too much like the real Charlie Brown walking around at conventions, but it’s rare to see someone commit so fully to a dinosaur of a comic strip. Which is why we love it. Adding Lucy and her doctor-in-booth makes it irresistible. Sometimes, just simple fun combined with nostalgia can be pretty pleasing.

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Raw color and bold fabric and body-covering make-up, and countless hours of preparation. They make it look so easy. A lot of cosplay these days relies on foam and Wonderflex and Worbla, which are all spectacular materials for crafting outer casings. But sometimes you see looks that are tailored and realize you should have learned to sew.

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We assume Queen Amidala isn’t a character we’ll be seeing in the new Star Wars movie, but boy when someone does her well it’s spectacular. Some Amidala cosplay goes big on elaborate details in the dress, but this is bolder and more solidly constructed than many imperial robes we’ve seen. And the makeup is strong in this one. Bravo.

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We’ve seen a lot of Thors this time around at NYCC, and they’ve all been pretty great. But we love the sheer enthusiasm of this one. She brought it. No problems posing with a Fus Ro Dah style rebel yell.

Our list of favorites is just that — ours. There’s so much great stuff out there, it’s hard to choose. We know you’d pick something different, so feel free to put on your judgmental hat and browse the Pixlr NYCC Cosplay Gallery. If you like creativity distilled into a costume, we can almost guarantee you’ll find 10 things you love, too.

Want to see more? Check out our picks of people who posed for us at NYCC 2015 on ThursdaySaturday, and Sunday. And don’t stop there. Check out all the entrants (and the winner) in the Eastern Championships of Cosplay.

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10 Supremely Creative Cosplayers at New York Comic Con 2015 (Thursday)

New York Comic Con in 2015 is set to surpass last year’s record number of attendees of 150,000 by… well who knows? The event just keeps growing, and the cosplay just keeps getting better. Autodesk Pixlr is sponsoring the Eastern Championships of Cosplay again this year, and the competition is fierce. As we did last year, we set up a photo wall and took photos of our favorite cosplay in anticipation of the main event. We wanted to share the best of those who stopped by to get their photo taken on Thursday, the first day of NYCC 2015.

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Mad Max absolutely killed it at the box office. It’s probably the best frame-by-frame-storyboarded imaginative vision ever put on film, and it would be a crime if it didn’t win at least one Oscar this year. This standout cosplay shows why Furioso and Nux are such compelling characters. They nailed a lot of the details, and they stared us down strong.

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Makeup really can make or break it. It seems so easy. Slap on some white makeup and go for it, but the reality is that makeup needs to have gradations and details to work effectively. We loved this couple’s construction and makeup details. Just look at that head. It’s got all kinds of craft in it.

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Don’t blink! If you’ve ever seen the Dr. Who episode behind this cosplay, these statues are burned into the inside of your closed eyeballs. We love it when cosplay has few pieces that are done really well. The feathers, the mask, and the tunic in this cosplay are all very simple by design, but they work so well to evoke this iconic image. If you’ve never watched Dr. Who before, the Don’t Blink episode is perhaps the best place to start. It’s a winner, just like this cosplay.

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Great cosplay isn’t just about finding the right character to emulate. Occasionally, we’ll see a collection of details that are put together that don’t represent a specific character that blow us away. This gentleman told us that he’d just moved and most of his cosplay stuff was packed away, so he grabbed a collection of steampunk stuff and makeup and made it work in the best way. Serious character for a character that only existed for this day at NYCC. It doesn’t hurt to have a bitchin’ beard.

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Great cosplay sometimes means knowing how to really strike a pose. This unexpected couple (can you name where each comes from?) went with this frivolous idea for a shot, and it turned out great. They made excellent cosplay with outfits that could be salvaged from most people’s wardrobe. Excellent job.

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Nailing the details of cosplay is great, but coming up with unexpected takes on a character makes everyone’s head turn. So does, um, showing some skin. This Wonder Man completely up-ends Wonder Woman, and he makes it ultra fierce. I don’t know about you, but I have huge admiration for people who feel comfortable strutting about half naked in pursuit of an artistic statement. It doesn’t hurt to have a practically perfect body.

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Just as exciting in cosplay these days is the mash-up. It shows supreme creativity to take two completely unrelated worlds or genres and combine them into something off-the-wall new. This Grease/Planet of the Apes combo blew us away with its juxtaposition, but when you think about it, both Grease and the original run of Planet of the Apes movies both reflect the bonkers entertainment of the 1970s. So yeah. It works. Very well!

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From the 1970s to the 1980s. Cosplaying as the Cobra Kai sad-asses from the Karate Kid movie franchise reflects the push of cosplay lately to encompass not just superheroes and anime characters, but fandom from all kinds from pop culture. Will people 40 years from now celebrate Miley Cyrus twerking in this same way? We sure hope not, but judging by this creative cosplay, we have to all keep an open mind. Fun cosplay!

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We wanted to put in a word for hair play. Jeez. It’s hard to keep this kind of spikey hair going for the entire day at NYCC. This cosplay is assembled from various pieces, and you may or may not know the character (depending on your video game prowess), but all the details take a back seat to that do. Look at that hair!! (Great posing BTW.)

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Construction. If you make something from scratch, you’re doing cosplay right. We’re a sucker for all TV heads, but this Prince Robot character won our bows of approval by making his TV broadcast. Having a TV head that plays static is a step up, but having it broadcast a swirling paranoia circle — well that is above and beyond. Props to this fellow for extra details like carrying an appropriate paperback book for the character.


 

That’s just day one. And if you want to see more, check out our picks of people who posed for us at NYCC 2015 on Friday, and Saturday and Sunday. And don’t stop there. Check out all the entrants (and the winner) in the Eastern Championships of Cosplay.

 

New Photo Challenge: #pixlr #minimalist

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Last week, guest author Molly Bermea shared 4 Different Perspectives of Minimalist iPhoneography, a collection of some of the best Instagram accounts out there with a focus on minimalism. This week, we want you to focus on the small picture, too. We want you to try your hand at taking #pixlr #minimalist photos.

One of the great things about minimalist photography is that it doesn’t require you to have an expensive camera or lens. You can do it all with your phone, and you can find minimalist subjects everywhere. For this challenge, you can use any effects you want (or none at all), but the real trick is keeping it simple. Once you’ve got a photo you want to share, join in by tagging your photo with both hashtags #pixlr #minimalist on Instagram, Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, or Tumblr. We’ll be searching all of theses places to find the best photos, which we’ll share on our own Instagram feed, on our Made with Pixlr page, and even on our home page. It’s an opportunity to be seen by hundreds of thousands of people. So please join us in sharing your talents. And if you’ve never taken this type of photo before — even better. This is a great opportunity to try something new that is much easier than you might think.

Need some ideas? We have a bunch of simple tips you can take and run with….

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Excellent minimalist photo shared by Paul Williams in our Pixlr on Flickr group.

Think negatively

If you cringe every time someone discusses art and goes on and on about the use of “negative space” — you’re not alone. It’s easy to overuse the idea of negative space, but in minimalist photography it truly is essential. A minimalist photo is partly about what you see, but in almost all cases it’s really all about that negative space. How you frame your photos to make use of negative space makes a huge difference. In our example above, consider if this sign had been framed in the middle of the photo, as a typical portrait might be. It would still be a very nice-looking sign, but it wouldn’t be nearly as interesting as a photograph. Let’s say you’re taking a photo of a wooden fence, focusing on six vertical lines that separate the boards from each other because you want to focus on something simple with interesting lines and texture. What if you zoomed in and reframed your photo so that only three lines were showing? Only two? Reframing your photo to incorporate more negative space can make your subject much more interesting.

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 Silhouettes are perfect for minimalist photos

Silhouette photos are by nature simplified in their gradation of tone, which make them just about perfect for minimalism. You can either adjust the lighting when taking your photo or knock out the black-and-white gradations by adjusting things like color, contrast, or brightness. (Start by going black and white with Effect > Agnes in Pixlr) A classic photo we may have all taken at one point or another — a bird on a wire — is perhaps the quintessential example of a minimalist silhouette photo.  In our example above, what makes this photo of fishermen interesting isn’t them. The beauty in this photo is in the expansive space and detail that surrounds their simple silhouettes.

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An entry from @luminastar4 in our #candyminimal contest from earlier this year.

Minimal doesn’t mean no color or effects

Minimalism is all about using less, but that doesn’t mean you have to toss all your effects out the window. On the contrary, the strategic use of an effect can make your minimalist photo into something even more artistic. Perhaps the perfect example of this is the #candyminimal technique created by Matt Crump. By using pastel color blends, he turns minimalist photos into real art. You can do this, too, by trying out the Candyminimal Overlays in Pixlr. It’s one of the most interesting techniques we’ve seen develop in mobile photography in the past few years. Simply adjusting hues makes your photo take on a completely new and fresh look, as you can see from one of the entries in our Candy Minimal contest earlier this year (above).

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This dandelion photo shared by @a1ma_di for one of our challenges blows us away.

Play peek-a-boo

Here’s a very simple but winning technique for taking a minimalist photo: Only photograph part of a subject peeking into the frame.  A classic photo in this vein that you may have taken at some point is the good old single lamp-post reaching into the sky. Another option is to photograph something you’re holding. By focusing on a hand that peeks into the frame, you’re suggesting a lot that isn’t there. As an example, consider the photo above: Would it be as interesting if you cropped out the fingertips that are holding up this dandelion? To me, including the fingers that carefully hold this dandelion is what makes it an interesting photo.

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Lines and patterns are everywhere

You can truly find something to photograph for this challenge no matter where you happen to be. Just look around for interesting textures and patterns. By simply looking at your surroundings in a different way, you can find views where lines intersect in interesting ways. Architectural details are great for this kind of photography, but so is nature. Lines on leaves can be just as beautiful as this concrete flower-shaped structure.

Any questions? Follow us on Instagram and watch what other people make. You can get some great ideas from the community of people who join us every week in our photo challenges.

New Photo Challenge: #pixlr #currentlyreading

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Special thanks to former Pixlr contest winner @sohinikumar for the photo of reading in bed.

 

“What are you reading?” It’s something we ask of good friends, passing acquaintances. Maybe even strangers on a train. (It’s a pretty good pick-up line for English majors.)

This week, we want to know what you’re reading. Summer is almost (finally?) over, so maybe you’ve dispensed with the tawdry beach reading and are hunkered down with a classic novel. Or maybe you can’t spend any more time than breezing through a style magazine. Maybe you’re stuck on one especially poignant haiku and can’t stop reading those 17 syllables over and over again. Take a photo of whatever is occupying your reading mind space and share it with both hashtags #pixlr #currentlyreading on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, or Flickr. We’ll find and feature the most creative.

A few tips:

  • Creativity matters: What you’re reading doesn’t have to be in book form. It can be found text. A passive-aggressive note. A beautifully handwritten letter. A religious pamphlet. Anything that has something interesting to say.
  • Context counts: You can create an especially fetching still life around what you’re reading by composing a scene that fits your reading material. If you’re reading an Agatha Christie novel, set up a nightstand or coffee table with a tableaux of items that fit your book: a magnifying glass, candles, a noose. (!)
  • So many people have made the jump to reading solely on a Kindle or tablet. Does that change your reading habits? Do you read in different places now? The setting of reading for you might be completely different than it used to be. How might you photograph that?
  • Your photo might only be half the story. Feel free to include text in your description about why you love/hate/aren’t sure about what you’re currently reading.

Create a Wattpad Book Cover Design with Free Downloadable Pixlr Editor Templates

wattpad cover template design make your own book cover

You know who really likes Pixlr? Wattpad readers and writers. I’ve been approached by many people who write fan fiction on Wattpad asking how to create a Wattpad cover using our apps. If you’re one of those people, this post is for you. I’ve created three ready-to-go PXD templates you can download with layers and fonts you can customize. These templates fit the official Wattpad cover size of 256×400, and you can use them in Pixlr Editor, the free graphic design app that works in your browser. You can download all three of these templates (fonts included) as a Pixlr Wattpad Templates .zip bundle.

Wattpad is really all about digital display, so when you make a cover design for your writing you don’t have to spend time thinking about complicated print details like dots per inch or four-color processing or bleeds. You can just focus on making a compelling image of the right dimensions that will catch a reader’s eye. So what grabs attention? Good design. You may not be a graphic designer, but with a bit of thought, experimentation, and dedication to simplicity you can create a great cover in Pixlr Editor. That last part — simplicity — is the real key to success. It’s easy to over work your idea or get bogged down with creating something complex, but the best book covers of all time are almost always composed of simple elements.

Nonfiction Cover Design: Text Matters

Pixlr Editor will use the fonts you install on your computer, so go out and find the right fonts and install them. If you’re a Mac user, just download them and double click. If you’re a Windows user, dig into the Control Panel and find the Fonts utility and install from there. Once you’ve installed your fonts, you will probably need to restart your browser for them to be active.

For your book titles, you’ll probably find that a display font works best. These are fonts that have a unique look that’s designed to be eye catching and set apart from other text. You can purchase a font that is perfect for what you want, but there are so many free options out there that you should simply go with free. I recommend Font Squirrel as a good place to find quality free fonts.

nonfiction cover design tips: display fonts and photographs

For this nonfiction book cover about the history of wine enthusiasm, I grabbed a free image from Unsplash. I also grabbed a display font called Alex Brush for the title. I used the classic serif font Didot for the tagline, and I found a neat all caps font called Cinzel for the byline and foreward note. Be wary of overloading your designs with too many different fonts. In this example, I used three, which is a lot. Any more would be too much.

Wattpad Fiction Cover Design: Illustrations Stoke the Imagination

Some of the best fiction book covers are composed of simple illustrations. Partly this is because it can be hard to find a good stock photo to represent a novel. Novels are by nature rooted in the imagination so it makes sense that illustrations, paintings, or sketches are often used as cover images for fiction. But not always. It depends on what you want.

Fiction book and e-book covers: illustrations work great

I created this one-color PXD template for Wattpad users as an example for a fiction book cover, and I made it as dead simple as possible. It’s just three pieces of text (using the free fonts Tiza and Impact Label) sitting on top of a paint bucket splash of orange. I found the illustration of a campfire in a pack of illustrations on Creative Market. Each week, they offer a bunch of Free Goods of the Week, and this week they happened to have a giant pack of 100 vector elements. I just opened up the image in Pixlr Editor and copy and pasted the illustration into my book cover template. I used Free Transform from the Edit menu to manually resize the campfire illustration to fit. And that’s it. In no time I made a compelling book cover for a novel about a firefighter who may or may not be starting the fires he’s glorified for putting out.

Genre Cover Design: Sticking to Styles that Work

People who are browsing Wattpad have a brief second to consider whether to investigate your book more closely. Many people in the Wattpad community are fans of a specific genre, so you need to make sure your cover design telegraphs to them that this is a book that fits the genre’s style. This doesn’t mean you need to copy the ideas of other authors, but it does mean that people who read a particular genre come to expect a consistency in book cover designs. The ultimate example of this is the Romance genre. Check out this excellent infographic that shows the Evolution of the Romance Novel and how cover designs have changed over time.

Today, e-books are dominating over print books so there isn’t a mold you specifically need to follow. Except maybe Fifty Shades of Grey. There’s no denying its influence. (If you love that look, try it with Color Splash). I made a PXD template for romance novels that you can use, and of the three templates this one is the most complex. It uses some layer styles that you may want to try out.

genre fiction book cover designs

Screen your text for better readability

I drew a square and reduced its opacity to use as a screen or bed for the display text. If you’re using a photograph that has a lot of range of light and dark areas your text may not show up well. An unreadable title is unacceptable, so simply create a background element like this and dial back its opacity until you can read your title clearly.

Drop shadows are irresistible for adding effect; just be careful

I added a subtle drop shadow to the word “alone” that makes the word stand out. You’ll find this option in the Layers menu, and you can add and control a number of different layout styles to text. But be careful. You can overdo this easily. I lowered the opacity, lessened the effect, and increased the distance the drop shadow appears to give the word a soft glow that is fitting for the romance genre.

Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 12.18.03 PM

Blending modes can add subtle, professional looking effects

Perhaps the most overlooked but most useful feature in Pixlr Editor are the multiple blending modes. These modes help you combine two elements together (text, images, etc.). Each blending mode does something different and I recommend you try out each option. For this cover, I used the Overlay option with the word “alone” and with the byline to make those elements appear transparent. The see-through look fits this romance story of seduction behind the veil.

Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 12.22.39 PM

Pixlr Library: Make and Save Your Own

If you’ve never used Pixlr Editor before and are intimidated by graphic design apps, don’t be. With these templates you should have no trouble becoming a Wattpad cover creator without even digging into the more complex details of the app. One thing I would recommend doing is creating a Pixlr Editor account, which will allow you to store your work in the cloud and access it from anywhere. If you want to work on a template later, make sure to save your work as a PXD image. The .pxd file format is the default file format for Pixlr Editor, and by saving in that format you can preserve the layers and make changes later.