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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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Nuke Your Photos with New Atomic Effects

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Every once in a while we add a new pack of overlays, stickers, and borders, and our users love it. But there is one type of content we haven’t added in a long time: Effects.

It may not be apparent to users, but the Effects options are a bit different than, for example, overlays. The Effects don’t just add a border or a sticker or another layer on top of your photo; they actually change the pixels in your photo. They transform images with the use of algorithms — or at least a bit of math.

The genesis of this pack? User request. We’ve had a lot of people ask us to create effects that mimic color and black-and-white negatives. We’ve also had requests for a night-vision effect, so we added a bit of that to the mix. After we made the negative options, we went toward the ultraviolet spectrum and tackled heat-map style effects. And we decided to go extreme on a few of them.  These Atomic Effects aren’t subtle. You can turn them down by adjusting the opacity, but they are unabashedly extreme. They’re not designed to alter reality so much as they are to nuke reality.

Want to nuke it from orbit with with us this week? Make something with the Atomic Effects and tag it with both #pixlr #atomic. We’ll feature some of our favorites in the Made with Pixlr feed that appears in the app and on our website.

 

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This week’s challenge: #pixlrspace

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Like so many millions of people around the worlds, we were deeply saddened to hear about the passing of David Bowie. Throughout his life he was a beacon for weirdness and creativity — a real outsider who found a way to get inside the heads of nearly everyone on the planet with his unique music. What imagery stands out the most about Bowie’s music? Space. No doubt about it, his repeated references to outer space is pretty significant, so we thought it would be a fitting this week to have people make #pixlrspace images. If you’ve never used the many space overlays in your editing then where the heck have you been, brother? They are some of the neatest overlays and can add all kinds of interestingness to your images. A couple of tips for making out-of-this-world, spaced-out images….

Use the Eraser

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The Eraser (formerly the History Brush) gives you the most control of any tool in our mobile, web, and desktop app. You can paint away the effects you add and keep your figure nice and clean. Or, you can use the tool to put space effects in just one area, like @cusinusoid did in this very creative #pixlrspace photo. Check out this Eraser tutorial if you’ve never used this tool. It will open up a whole new avenue for your edits.

Silhouettes are superb for space images

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If you have a landscape with big open skies or a figure that is overexposed or showing up essentially as a silhouette, you are going to love how the space overlays work in conjunction with your image. Some of the space overlays will work better on light images, but most of them work the best on images that have a clear distinction between light and dark tones, like this one from @cory.j.v.

Color and intensity can make it extra special

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Your stars (or clouds from the acquest pack) will look even more amazing if you tweak the color. After adding space overlays, bump up the saturation and vibrance. Try out the Colour or Candyminimal options, which can add a spectrum of color that really makes your space background pop. If you find a space overlay that really works great with your image, try adding it a second time to intensify it. As always, you can control the opacity so always try out that slider. Sometimes adding an overlays a second time at 50% is just perfect. In the image above (taken from our Space Silhouettes tutorial), we used many different versions of the Enif space overlay in addition to bokeh overlays. The combination of all these makes a seriously intense space background.

Sometimes selfies work great

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As you can see from this cool duck-face selfie by @farewelldanielle, sometimes these space effects really work great on close-ups of faces. Sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s worth a try!

Learn from an expert

Tag your photo #pixlrspace, and we’ll find it on Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr. Your photo can be a space silhouette if you like those — but any use of space effects will work for us. We’ll feature the best on all of our feeds. Need some help getting started? One of our favorite Pixlr users, Aldrin Gersalia, is an absolute expert at #pixlrspace images. Last year, we asked him to record himself making one of these images so you can learn from the best. Check out the video that came out of that if you want to make an image worthy of being hung on a wall at art:

Making a Space Silhouette with Pixlr Express from Pixlr on Vimeo.

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New Challenge: #pixlr #downtonabbey #fanart

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Downton Abbey just kicked off their final season in the states, so it’s a ripe time for making fun images of the characters. We have to admit we’ve never dug very deep for #downtonabbey #fanart, but this seems like the right time. They’re all such rich characters that we’re certain we can have some fun with the plethora of promotional stills, screen captures, and fashion shoots of the show’s actors. In fact, we think this week we’re going to make a bunch of Downton fan art ourselves and post it in celebration of this lovely show that is refreshingly free of ultraviolence, guns, and reality-show wannabe superstars.

Why not join us? Use found Downton images to make something with any Pixlr app and tag it with all three hashtags #pixlr #downtonabbey #fanart. We’ll be on the lookout for your creative images. Of course, we know not everyone is a Downton Abbey fan, so we are also going to keep finding and featuring images tagged #pixlr this week, too. So, you have  a choice of joining in the specific challenge or just making something cool and tagging it #pixlr. We’re happy to dig through it all and find and feature the gems.

Do you use the Pixlr Desktop app? We used it in the images in this post. The beauty of this app is it gives you more control than the mobile app by letting you mask out areas where you want effects to be applied (or not applied). If you’ve never tried it, download it and give it a shot. It also lets you do neat things with text by applying layer styles like we did in this image with this Quote sticker:

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Pixlr Challenge: #pixlrbw

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Black and white is the essence of photography. Someone famous may have said that, but actually I think we just made that up. Black-and-white photography is loved by nearly everyone because it can be so stark and powerful, but most people who use their phones to take photos just naturally stick with the default — color.

But not Pixlr users. They like to edit. While our users often add lots of effects and overlays, we still see a lot of people who tag their photos #pixlr and share some absolutely gorgeous black-and-white images. Some of them use vintage effects to achieve their looks, but some simply knock out all the color. This week, we want you to knock the color out and share a compelling #pixlrbw photo with us. We ran a challenge like this last Spring, and we still remember all the great photos people shared. We’re ready to do it again. We’ve got a few tips and ideas for you that are based on last year’s #pixlrbw challenge standouts….

Grunge-y, tortured, and vintage are nearly always a good idea

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Sometimes the look of an old, battered, found-on-the-ground photo is just the right style. @hendrikruiter shared this in our last challenge, and we love the way this photo looks like it came from the result of grainy, high-speed, black-and-white film.  You can get this look using by using some of the more gritty borders in Default, Grunge, and Ink border packs. Or, check the Effects > Vintage options.

Autocontrast — or multiple Autocontrast — can add HDR-like qualities

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The well-composed photo on the left by @fryhwerk has a great balance of tones, but what really makes it stand out are the fractal-ly details in the broccoflower. You can achieve this kind of effect by using the Sharpen or Autocontrast options to add a faux High Dynamic Range look. You can go too far with these tools, but sometimes these really help a black-and-white photo display an even starker look. The photo of these roses on the right by @milzography_bw goes up to the edge of over-sharpening and stops at just the right time. It’s a really fabulous look.

Black-and-white as a non-obvious solution

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Who would have thought to turn a double exposure image into a black-and-white photo? Not many people, but the train on the left by @mini_frappe looks wonderful. And the multiple-multiple exposure by one of our favorite Pixlr users, @jaevbr,  is as spooky and powerful as an x-ray. This kind of creativity goes beyond what we expect — and we love to see it.

How to knock out the color in Pixlr 

Getting rid of color can be as simple as heading to Adjustments and dragging the Saturation slider to zero. In the past, the many options for basic editing like Exposure, Saturation, Vibrance, etc., were spread around in different menus. The recent Pixlr 3.0 update consolidated all that into one big Adjustments menu. Now, you can adjust 10 different options at once (while seeing your edits live) and then hit the apply button. The easiest way to turn your photo black and white is to just turn the Saturation all the way down. Color begone. But also consider adjusting the contrast to balance your tones; or Temperature if you want a sepia-tinged look; or Shadows/Highlights if one of those need a bump.

Tag your photo #pixlrbw on Instagram, and we’ll feature the best all week, with a whole lot of feel-good actions from both us and the Pixlr community: crazy emojis, thumbs ups, congratulations, and thousands of Likes.

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New Challenge: #pixlr #wordpeek

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We’ve been running photo challenges for a long time, but we haven’t done a lot with words. So this week, we want you to use the text features of Pixlr apps and add some words to your photos. But here’s the catch: We want you to experiment with the Eraser to give the illusion that your words blend in with the photo in some way. Then, tag your photos with hashtags #pixlr #wordpeek on Instagram so we can find and feature them on Instagram and our Made with Pixlr feeds.

What do we mean by this? Well, you can add any word or words to your photo and then use the Eraser (formerly known as the History Brush before the Pixlr 3.0 launch) to wipe away parts of your letters. Like we did with this Russian language photo that’s all about winter:

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One suggestion for this kind of photo is to use an inspirational quote but have a bit of the text peek behind an element in your photo. It’s a neat trick that’s easy to do:

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Another neat trick is to take a photo of a sunset (or any landscape with the sky visible) and lay a snippet of text (or just a big word) on top but cut off the bottom of the text at the horizon line, like we did with this photo of an island in the distance after we added some space effects:

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Another idea to consider: song lyrics. You can add big blocks of text if you want — although you may want to find that online and copy and paste it unless you really love typing out all those lyrics. We did that with this text from that old Roy Rogers tune Happy Trails:

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New Challenge: #pixlr #onthetable

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In our neck of the woods a lot of people will be going over the hills and through the woods to Grandma’s house this week. It’s Thanksgiving in America. For our challenge this week, we wanted to indulge our love of carb-based side dishes and deep-fried turkey, but we also wanted to make a photo challenge that anyone can participate in. Seeing as how eating is something everyone on this planet does on a daily basis, we thought we’d ask you to share photos of what you’re eating this week. What’s #onthetable for you?

Your photos can be of anything on your table, but preferably food. Here’s a few tips for taking good food photos:

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Lighting: Lighting is the single most important detail for taking food photos, particularly when you’re taking them with your phone. NEVER use the flash for your photos, even if you’re in a dark restaurant. Besides the fact that a big flash will annoy other diners, in almost all circumstances you won’t end up with a good photo. Check your phone to see if there are any controls to control exposure, and of course you can rely on Autofix, Autocontrast, or lighting adjustments after the fact to fix some bad exposures. Natural lighting is always going to be your best bet, so if you’ve made something that looks delicious but isn’t photographing delicious, think about moving it over to the window. The photo above, which we took in our Pier 9 kitchen, has some lovely San Francisco Autumn light coming in through some big windows. And it makes a huge difference.

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Framing and composition: Get up in there. Don’t be shy about taking close-up photos, but be aware that your phone probably has limited options when it comes to depth of field. You can probably focus your phone’s camera by pressing your finger on the spot on the screen where you want the camera to focus, but you won’t be able to take close-up macro shots. Because of these limitations, how you choose to frame and compose your shot makes a huge difference with your phone. You’ll want to experiment with framing and composition manually, so take a lot of shots!

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Shoot from above: One of the simplest and most reliable techniques for getting a good photo of food on the table is to carefully compose your subject, moving the tableware, dishes, and accoutrements around until they’re just the way you like them. Then, rise above the table — stand on your chair if it helps — and bring your phone down toward the table until you’ve framed the photo the way you like it. In this kind of photo people are usually absent, but if you can do this above someone else, even better. See how well @saologic does this in the above photo we featured about two years ago? Of course, standing on a chair above someone is not recommended if you’re at an actual restaurant.

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Consider ingredients: Food prep can make for some great photos, so think about that angle. The ingredients of food are sometimes more beautiful than the finished product, even if they’re half-peeled. We took the photo above in our kitchen at Pier 9, and it ended up being a better shot than the final dish.

Tag your photos with both hashtags #pixlr #onthetable on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, or Flickr. We’ll find and feature the most creative. 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.

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New Challenge: #pixelate

Tag photos #pixelate so we can find them on Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, and Facebook!

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A week ago we released Pixlr 3.0 for iOS and Android, which sports a brand-new user interface. Almost all of the tools in the app are the same, although a few have been moved around or grouped into new toolsets. The one big change in the app is the new brush system. It adds History Brush functionality that’s always available — now called the Eraser — but you may or may not have noticed a few new brushes. One of our favorites is the Pixelate brush. It lets you transform your photo into a pixelated representation that can make your photo look like Windows 95-era pixel art. You can control how big you make the pixels and you an even selectively paint them on or erase them in key areas. We’ve been watching how people use the new Pixelate brush, and we thought it would be a good time for the community to try their hand at this new option. This week, let’s #pixelate, y’all!

What might you make with the Pixelate brush? Well, we’ve already seen some power users of our app make some neat stuff by isolating an object like his photo of a leaf by Alexander Znavsky (@znavsky on Instagram): 

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One thing the Pixelate brush provides — which a lot of people have asked for over time — is the ability to anonymize people in photos. If you want to share a photo to Instagram but want to blur out a child’s face, this is one way to do it. Or, you can make something a little more mischievous (and silly) by blurring out something in a photo with some unnecessary censorship:

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Or, instead of making fun of blessed icons with the Pixelate brush, why not lift up an iconic painting everyone is familiar with by turning it into a new kind of contemporary digital art:

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When you turn all — or part — of an iconic image like this into pixels, it almost imparts some new kind of meaning to it:

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We’ll leave it up to you to decide if this pixel treatment adds new meaning to the Statue of Liberty. Of course, you don’t have to use images of icons. Even a selfie can be pixelated, but the best ones seem to have started out as well-balanced photos.

Can you think up something new to do with the Pixelate brush? We’re betting you can. When you do, tag you photo #pixelate so we can find it on Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, and Facebook. We’re happy to accept both the silly and possibly shocking news photos grabbed from the Internet right alongside sublimely beautiful pixel art taken and edited lovingly on your phone. What really matters in these challenges is creativity.

 

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New Challenge to Celebrate Pixlr 3.0: #pixlrbrush

Tag photos #pixlrbrush so we can find them on Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, and Facebook!

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One of the big changes in our Pixlr 3.0 update (released earlier today) is that the History Brush is now everywhere. Over the past year or two, we’ve seen that our savviest users are those who use the History Brush extensively. They understand that the History Brush provides layer-like functionality — and that kind of option gives you a whole lot more control over effects. Knowing this, we wanted to find a way to make the History Brush much more accessible. Previously, this option was buried in a menu along with other editing tools. Most people didn’t know it was there, and unless they gave it a shot they never may have figured out just how powerful it can be. So we changed it’s location. Now, it’s part of our new brush system, and you’ll find the History Brush on the left-hand side after you add any effect, overlay, border, or sticker. It’s omnipresent.

We thought it would be appropriate to center this week’s challenge around the History Brush to 1) give talented old-timers an opportunity to show off what they can do with the History Brush, and 2) encourage people new to this tool to experiment and see how much of a difference it can make. You can make anything you like using the History Brush. Just tag your photos #pixlrbrush so we can find them. As usual, we’ll accept photos tagged on Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, and Facebook. Those who are featured get a whole lot of recognition and community love — and a hefty amount of praise and emojis from us.

Unsure how the History Brush works? Check out this super short video that shows how we made our own #pixlrbrush image:

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Last Week’s Challenge Results + This Week’s #pixlr #halloween Challenge

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Last week, we asked people to show us their favorite effect from Effects > Default. A little known fact: Each of those options was named for (or by) a Pixlr user who came up with the idea for the effect back when we first developed the app. We wanted to know which ones our community of users liked the best, and we were curious if our own 3 favorites lined up. We also have data from our mobile app that shows which of these options are the most used generally, so we thought why not do a semi-unscientific experiment — just for fun.

Firs things first: The photos people shared last week were really great. Like, extra great. As for the data itself, we’re happy to report that our users overwhelmingly love one effect in particular: Hagrid. We’re also happy to report that Hagrid is also our favorite! But beyond that, our favorites didn’t completely line up with your most used effects last week. Here’s a chart that shows you how it breaks down.

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  • The chart overall shows which options our Instagram community chose the most: Hagrid, Anne, Antonio.
  • The pink pieces of the pie represent our personal favorites: Hagrid, Sophia, Tony.
  • The grey options are the ones users have chosen over the years the most: Anne, Antonio, Bob.

What did we learn from this? 

  1. The generic app data seems to establish that people choose the things they see first the most. All of these effects are listed in alphabetical order, and people choose the ones near the top of the list more often. That makes sense. Casual users probably don’t spend time digging into every option, especially when doing that requires you to scroll further.
  2. Our community of users on Instagram (and on other social sites) really dig in and acquaint themselves with all of the options. Our generic app data doesn’t pick as many strong favorites, but our power users have very clear favorites, which was what we expected. Beyond the data, we saw it in the detailed descriptions people wrote. It was really rewarding to read why people liked their favorite!
  3. Our own 3 favorites were as subjective as we thought they would be. Our community had similar tastes to our own, but they didn’t fully line up. Except for Hagrid. We both love Hagrid the most.
  4. One thing feels indisputable: Hagrid is pretty great. Although casual users don’t choose it the most (probably because it’s not named with an A, B, or C), it’s clearly one of the best options in the pack.

We declare the winner of this challenge to be Hagrid. It wasn’t really any kind of competition, but it just feels like Hagrid rules.


This week’s challenge: #pixlr #halloween

 

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That’s the breakdown of our unscientific experiment. This week, we aren’t going to collect any data. We just want to see #pixlr #halloween pics. We added 3 new packs for Halloween photo festooning, and we simply want to see what you make with these. Even better, show us your Halloween costume! We want to find and feature the best photos that scream Halloween, whether they use our seasonal effects or not. Tag images with both hashtags #pixlr #halloween, and we’ll scare up our favorites and post them on Instagram, on our Made with Pixlr feed, and even on our home page.