July 27, 2020
By Kristin Ashley
Media Lab Assistant
As a creative person, I’ve been enjoying using the Pixlr app for a few years now. I use it for editing and customizing my images, but my favorite thing to do with this app is to get creative with making a collage. There are several kinds of collages you can make. One collage is a series of images arranged in a grid style, another is a scrapbooking style of layering and overlapping images, and the third is the one I like the best and is the one we will be working with today. This collage technique involves creating art by layering a series of images using the double exposure tool, then using filters and adjusting the colors and opacity on each layer to achieve the look you want.
You can find the app on your smartphone or tablet app store. There is a free version and a more advanced version for a slight fee. However, you can use all the tools and features shown in this demonstration with the free version of Pixlr. Once the app is installed, you just sign in and agree to let the app access the photos on your device.
I usually keep a variety of nature images in my “favorites” album so that I can easily choose the photos I want for each collage. I like to use my own images, but you can also use stock digital images or scanned photos. Or you can even use Pixlr to take your own photos by using the built-in camera!
I’m going to create a piece of art based on the recent full moon for July. The Native Americans had names for each of the full moons and the one for July is known as the “Thunder Moon,” because of all the summer storms that occur this month. So that’s my inspiration for the piece I’m going to create.
Let’s get started:
Here’s a rundown of the basic interface and features of the Pixlr app:
BASE SCREEN: Pixlr provides a base screen, or what I like to call my “canvas” for your main image. On the toolbar at the bottom of this base is a row of four icons that allow you to access various tools for editing, painting, filters and effects, borders and frames, and type.
TOOLS: A submenu contains several additional editing tools including tools for cropping, healing, and making adjustments like contrasting light and shadows and changing hues, as well as creating double exposures. There are also additional tools available for erasing or painting with different size brushes.
FILTERS: A wide variety of filters are available in many colors and textures. There are other filters and frames that you can order as well for an additional fee.
FRAMES: Choose from a selection of frames including black or white borders or distressed edges for a more artistic look. There are also additional filters that are marked with a small crown icon (indicating a “royalty” or copyrighted image) that you can use for a fee.
TEXT: You can add text to your images by choosing from a variety of serif and san serif fonts. You can also adjust the size and position of the text.
From left to right, the icons on the image above represent the Toolbox, Paintbrushes, Special Effects and Filters, Frames and Borders, and Text.
I’m going to use the icons mentioned above to add some filters and effects to this base art. You may want to experiment with some of these tools and see the effects that you can achieve. I adjusted the main image to be a little less saturated with color and made the hue a little less bright by using different filters. I also plan to adjust the opacity in the bar that appears below the image after choosing which icon I want to use. The first icon on the bottom bar is the Toolbox, so let’s look at the submenu for this tool.
The submenu above lists a variety of editing tools. Some of these have more submenus as well, like “Adjustments” that gives you several options for adjusting light and dark areas, hue and saturation, brightness and contrast, or blur and sharpness.
Now I’m going to add a second image, of a full moon with oak leaves silhouetted against a black sky by choosing the icon labeled “double exposure.” A second screen pops up and I just need to tap it to add my next image. As you can see in the image below, the image obscures the main image, but no worries—we will be adding a filter that will make it blend right into the background.
On the screen below, you can also see the “handles” that look like white solid circles at the midpoint of the top, bottom, and right side of the image container. These handles allow you to resize the images. Use the handle on the top to tilt the image, and the handles on the side and bottom to pull out the container to resize the image. You’ll also notice a variety of filters that you can choose from to get just the right effect. At the bottom of the screen there is a line with a circle for adjusting light and dark. There is a checkmark to the left and an “X” to the right and this is how you can adjust the opacity. Once you’ve decided that you like the effect, press the checkmark. Or press the “X” to go back a step.