Enhance Images in Pixelmator

Enhance your Stock Images with Style in Pixelmator



Let's take an average stock photo and make it more dramatic and colorful, adding some style and movement. You can click on each tutorial image to view it full size, then hit the back button in your browser to return to the tutorial.


Step 1 - Focus the Image

Drag and drop the image of the girl onto the Pixelmator icon in your dock to quickly open it. Duplicate the image one time.

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The first thing we want to do is add a more dramatic focus to our image. The young womans hair is bit all over the place and distracting. To improve our image and make us focus on her eyes and face we'll use the Miniaturize Blur from the Effects Browser. To open the Effects Browser hit Command > 3, then drag the thumbnail onto your canvas to open the effect.

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Choose the Elliptical type, set Blur to 100% and the Transistion to 40%. This should give us a nice fading blur. Now place the targeting rope near the nose and grab the main "handle" of the oval and pull it upwards and slightly left to match the tilt of the face. When done, hit ok to set the effect.

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Step 2 - Photo Effects

Now let's bump up the color and skin tone. A quick way to enhance your photos can be the Vintage Effects found within the Effects Browser. Locate it and drag it onto the canvas. You can try out each style and see how it effects your image.

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In this case the Freesia Effect looks the best. Keep the Saturation at 0% and increase the Vignette to 40%.

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Step 3 - Reducing Oversaturation

Sometimes by enhancing a photos color and saturation we can overblow areas where we have strong highlights. You can see here where the lighting reflects off the cheek bones, nose and forehead is too intense, creating an orangish yellow tone. Right or control click on the layer and choose Add Mask.

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Now to fix this issue we can hide these areas with a mask and reveal the original photo below with the natural skin tones. With the white mask thumbnail selected, switch to the Brush Tool. Choose a Default brush and match the settings shown below. (Click on the image for a larger version) For those using a pen & tablet, I've set my Shape Tip pressure to 10%. Set the brush opacity to 30-35%. Choose black as your color and gently brush the problem areas to reveal the natural skin tone on the original underneath.

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Here what your areas should look like. We could spend alot more time here being detailed but for the sake of time let's move on to styling our photo.

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Step 4 - Adding Light Leak Effects

After you download the Free Light Leaks Pack, choose one that has most of the light on the sides and not the center. I'm using #230. Drag and drop it onto the canvas. Hit Command > "F" to rotate the effect to 315 degrees. Holding SHIFT while rotating will help it snap to 315 degrees.

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Change the blending mode to Screen. This will remove the darker areas and just leave the light leaks! I choose this angle because it complimented the angle of the face and the existing light source. Use the Move Tool to move the light leaks in a position that looks good. I liked the balance of having a few heavier light leaks on top and bottom.

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Duplicate this layer one time and move it to a new position to increase the effects and spread them out a bit.

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Step 5 - Customize Colors

Now that we have a few light leak layers, we can mix up the colors a bit. Go to the Effects Browser, find the Colorize Effect and drag it onto the canvas.

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Set the Saturation to 100% to get the best color and rotate the wheel to find a color you like. I did mine to 330 degrees to get a hot pink color, try different ones! I only colorized one of the light leak layers but you can play with the other one as well.

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Step 6 - Layer Masking

Now that we have our effects in place and the colors we want, we need to remove some of the light leaks that are in the way of the face and don't look right. Right or control click on the first light leak layer and choose "Add Mask".

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Using the same brush we created earlier, choose black and mask or remove the light leaks in front of the eyes, nose and mouth.

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You have to repeat the masking on the second light leak layer as well. Now she looks like she has stepped thru the light effects and they are not distracting in any way.

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That's it! You can see in just minutes we can use photo effects, blurs, and masks to enhance a stock image into a stylish, dramatic photograph. No go back an try different vintage effects and light leak colors to make it your own!

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  • nirmalendu says:

    command + 3 opens photo browser help

    • Jacob Bordieri says:

      Do you have the latest version of Pixelmator? Check the top menu under “View” and you’ll see the shortcuts for all of the tool panels. If you click the “Show Effects” and you are still getting the Photo browser to open it’s probably a bug that you can report over on the official Pixelmator forum.