Since Pixlr Express added the History Brush to mobile apps, I've been experimenting with it in different ways. Pixlr Express for the web has had this capability for a long time, but having it added to the phone versions encouraged me to pick it up again on the web version and try some new things.

What I can't stop making with the History Brush, and which you might enjoy trying out, are what I'm calling "illustrated" portraits. You start with a well-composed photograph of a friend or loved one and, by using various overlays in combination with the history brush, you end up with a portrait that places your subject in the foreground with an illustrative background — almost like a comic book in some ways. You're basically creating a very rich, textured background while leaving your subject in real-world focus.

Give this a shot. You might find that what you end up creating is artwork worthy of being printed on canvas and hung on the wall. Come to think of it, it's probably one of the best gifts you could give someone: an artistic portrait that's handmade and extremely creative.

Step 1: Start With a Great Photo and Choose Your Effects

You'll want a photo that is well-composed, that really features your subject, preferably one that shows most of their body. A picture of four family members standing in front of the Eiffel Tower simply won't do. This technique works best with solo subjects, but you can find creative ways to include more than one person or even make a portrait of an object.

Open your image in Pixlr Express and do any normal photo editing you would do like auto-adjust or color correction. Then, think about the overlays you want to use. You may want to try a bunch out (use that undo button!) until you find the two or three that really work with the photo you're using. The point here: You're going to work in a step-by-step fashion, so it's probably best to know which filters you want to use ahead of time and then work in a very deliberate way.
<p>Wow, very cool!</p>
Omg, what a coincidence...I didn't know about Pixlr Express until I casually ended up there yesterday...I loved it! <br>Thanks for this 'ible, I must try this technique!
Awesome!!! :-)

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