Seeing this contest on Instructables was the first I'd ever heard of Pixlr. I love Gimp, but have been looking for a simpler tool to do some quick photo enhancements. Now that I've found Picklr Express, I'm hooked on updating all my old photos.
I'll take you through the process of one photo, and even though the settings are different for every photo, the thought process is the same.
Step 1: Import/ Resize
The first step is import your file and think about what effect you want. For this particular photo I wanted to bring the focus on the flower out of the field of lilies. To do this I kept the same aspect ratio as the same picture, but filled the center of the photo with the flower itself. Pixlr has handy measuring lines so you can follow the rule of thirds easily.
For other photos, this is the step where I level photos as well. This one didn't need it though.Th
Step 2: Brightness/ Contrast
Once the photo is framed how you want, take care of the brightness and contrast first. This is something you have to play with, and Pixlr does a great job with the real-time changing. I'm not a huge fan of a bright photos, so I tend to skimp on it, and also tend to lead with adjusting contrast. In doing so you can see what details get washed out or darkened out.
Step 3: Hue/ Saturation/ Lightness
I rarely if ever use hue changes unless I'm going for something trippy. Saturation is something that can be used to enhance a photo, but use sparingly because your photo can get cartooney very quickly. I bumped saturation down just a bit for this photo. Again, play around with different combinations first.
Step 4: Focus!
To really bring out the focus I used the focused blur tool. This is an awesome tool that works really well. This tool saves so much time in Pixlr compared to Gimp. Make sure that the inner circle is right around the focus area (the flower). For the outer circle, I like to keep the spacing so that it's about the same width on the outside as the center circle.
For the blurring amount, remember that the higher the blur, the more focused, but also more distracting. I like to use blur to bring the focus on the subject just enough, but to not make it feel like I'm in a timewarp. Too much blur can just be distracting. The color boost just seems to boost saturation, but I did use the edge flare. It didn't do much in this picture but highlight a leaf in the upper right.
Step 5: Collage
If you want to have a before/ after look, or put together lots of your work, Pixlr has a super nifty collage setting.
Save your photo under a different name, and then re-import to the collage. I like to classy thin frames with a little rounding on the edges. Usually I stick to either black or white frames.
Step 6: Text
Inserting text easily done in Pixlr, but one area they could improve easily. Every time you enter in text it resets your color, size, and font. Why?!!?!!?!?!! So if you want to place multiple text boxes with similar settings, it can be a pain.
For some photos, I make the text a little transparent for effect, but not this time.
Step 7: More Potential
In this step I just wanted to show all the potential you have in quickly enhancing photos. None of these took me longer than 15 minutes, and most took less than 5. Once you get used to using the settings, you'll know exactly what you want. And don't be afraid of using the auto setting. Most of the time it's not as good as what you can do manually, but sometimes it surprises me.
Have fun, and hopefully this was of some help. Please vote my Ible 5 stars if you like!
All photos in this Ible were taken by me via Sony NEX-5N. Please do not use or distribute without my permission. Thanks!