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Pixlr at C2E2: Come and Get Your Photo Taken

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If you’ve been following @pixlr on Instagram for any length of time, you probably see a bunch of cosplay photos pop up in our feed at certain times of the year. We’re proud sponsors at events like NYCC, ECCC, and C2E2, which is Chicago’s very own Comic Con event. Well… it’s that time again. It’s con season! We’ll be kicking it off this week in Chicago.

We’re an Associate Sponsor of the C2E2 Crown Championships of Cosplay, which is perhaps the thing we enjoy the most at these events.  The creativity and talent that goes into making top-notch costumes is incredibly impressive, and as sponsors we get to meet all of the contestants, have them pose for a photo shoot, and ask them how they fabricated all of the neat details of their cosplay. We’re shipping our favorite photographer Michael in from New York for the event. In addition to photographing the Championships, he’ll be sharing his (frankly very impressive) skills by capturing free photos of our favorite cosplayers in our booth. If you’ll be at C2E2 this weekend, please stop by Booth #619 anytime this Friday, Saturday, or Sunday (March 18-20) and strike a pose for us. As always, we compile the photos in the ever-growing Pixlr Cosplay Gallery, which offers high-res downloads so you can grab a high quality image to keep forevermore.

As usual, we will be sharing our booth with SketchBook, our favorite friends (and office mates). And as usual, they will have very talented artists showing off their drawing skills. But this time around we will also have a live Twitch stream of the event. We’ll be popping in from time to time and we’ll probably even be showing off some of the excellent cosplay in our booth, so if you’re a Twitch devotee, follow SketchBook on Twitch to be notified when they start broadcasting.

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Instagram Artist Spotlight: @_gio71_

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An iPhone-only Instagram artist, the slightly mysterious @_gio71_ is based out of Italy. Minimalistic, entertaining images are nearly as silent as his profile information. Gio regularly shares a number of wonderful shots of his awesome dog “Bro,” but his work stands out best when he composes mist-themed iphoneography sets. Editing minimally, he appears to possibly be masking off solid sections and then stretching the backdrop and adding additional texture overlays. The overall effect adds tons of drama to already interestingly composed images.

While there are a lot of apps for masking, blurring, blending, enhancing, and other special effects, you can do some of this kind of work in Pixlr Mobile. But of course all kinds of apps offer all kinds of different options. We know some iphoneographers take images and run them through multiple apps to take advantage of each app’s singular specialty. Of course, it’s always worth noting that jumping from one app to another could possibly degrade your image quality more and more as you “app hop” — so consider apps that you can do most of your artwork in an all-in-one or all-in-mostly-one framework.

Resource links for masking:

Awesome Masking Techniques in Pixlr Desktop

Super Fast Technique for Isolating an object using Pixlr Desktop

Pixlr allows you to apply an effect and selectively remove that effect with brushstrokes

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Instagram Trends: Collage Expert Weijiang @orhganic

Instagramer @orhganic, will blow your mind. Not only is he a dedicated black-and-white photographer of architectural and structural engineering, he also infuses his feed with large-scale pieces, creating the most intriguing visuals! His structural, modern art approach is truly addictive — you may find yourself scrolling and scrolling and scrolling to see what else he’s created. Everything from three- to nine-piece collages that focus on remarkable patterns in architecture.

If you’d like to delve in and create your own three- to nine-piece collage, you can make those with Pixlr’s collage feature and save it as an individual image. But if you want to do something even more interesting, check out the Giant Square App on both iTunes and Android (this is my “top pick”). It takes care of posting your collage as separate photos — one after the other so that they will line up in your Instagram timeline and look very neat, like this one:

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Of course, as you add more photos to your Instagram timeline this carefully curated view you’ve created will break down and become jumbled. But it’s very fun thing to make something like this from time to time. You also might want to save your image as a single image using Pixlr so you can always have a copy of the whole picture.

One thing I like about the Pixlr app on my iPhone 6s+ is that I can put together my collage and then edit each portion of that collage individually. In many of the collage apps, I must put the collage together and edit the entire thing as a whole or edit each one before inputting in to the collage itself. Neither option seem to work for me as I want to visually see how the images work before doing further edits. If you’re using the Giant Square App, you will need to edit your image and then upload it to be cut in to 3, 6, or 9 pieces. Then, it will upload to your Instagram account via Giant Square.

Collage Resources:

Multi-Exposure Collage with Evan Brown

Collaging in Pixlr Mobile + Web

 

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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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Pixlr Editor Design Basics: Working with Layers

We can’t tell you how many times we’ve seen a tweet like this:

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Our Pixlr Editor app is pretty popular with graphic designers, especially those who don’t have the budget for Photoshop. Our free, web-based app has saved the bacon of millions of creative people, but there are still millions out there who struggle with the initial hurdle of learning how to use an image editor like this. We hear from people all the time who contact us through our support channel or on Twitter or Instagram and even at live events who say they want to learn how to use Pixlr Editor, but they really need some help getting started. If you’re one of those people, fret not. We’re rolling out a new video series that explains all of the basics of Pixlr Editor. Today, we rolled out the second video in this series, which covers probably the most important thing new users need to learn about: layers.

If you’ve ever wondered how to create a drop shadow (layer styles to the rescue!), how to resize just one layer and not the whole dang document, or how to make sure you save your image so that all those layers don’t get lost — then this video is for you. Check it out on Vimeo or YouTube, and follow us there if you’d like to be alerted when each new video in the series is published. Other topics we’ll be covering include cutting things out of images with the lasso tool or magic wand, making transparent images, understanding layer masks, photo retouching, gradients, and a few more. Last week we released the first video in the series, Resizing and Cropping Images. Sounds pretty basic, but there are actually a lot of options when it comes to cropping. Need a video tutorial on a specific subject? Hit us up on Twitter with a recommendation. Maybe we can add it to the series.

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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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New Challenge: #soverythankful

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It’s end of the year time when everyone looks back at the past year and looks forward to something new. This week, we thought it would be appropriate for us to look back at the year and showcase the people who made us happy. We have a community of Pixlr users who fervently participate in our weekly photo challenges, and all this week we’re going to celebrate some of our favorites. We’re making collages out of images from power users who always seem to share great photos with us.

We also want you to show us what you’ve been thankful for in 2015. Take a photo or grab a photo from this year and edit it in Pixlr and tag it #soverythankful on Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr. We’ll be spotlighting the best and most thoughtful of your photos and thanking people who always make us smile.

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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