How To Manipulate Images In Pixlr X

You may remember the free browser image tool PixlrX from my post about using it to resize images easily. I have used it to create images from scratch, but I find it very similar to the free version of Canva. Because the library has a Pro subscription to Canva, I tend to use that platform for the additional features.

If you do not have a pro subscription to Canva, you may want to consider Pixlr X as your main image creator and editor. In addition to all of the typical features you would expect, it also has some pretty great effects available. Check out these TechConnect videos created by New York Public Library that demonstrate how to use some of these enhancements.

Because these processes are not always intuitive, here is a site that demonstrates to how save Pixlr images to your device. If you’re looking for more tips and tutorials for working with Pixlr, the Pixlr blog is a wealth of information.

Have you tried Pixlr X, or do you have another favorite image editor? Let us know about it in the comments.

Restore Your Precious Old Photos with This Free Tool

We have highlighted several artificial intelligence (AI) tools on this blog lately because it is being used to power so many emerging trends and tools. Many folks think of AI as a sort of substitute human, owing to the early days of automated telephone customer service up through the sophisticated Alexa/Siri/Google digital assistants, I’m sure movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Robocop, Terminator, Her, and so on, helped solidify this image. In fact, artificial intelligence can just be a really good algorithm that can learn from experience and patterns. Examples of AI without names or faces would be software that creates deep fake videos, creates images from text, or writes copy for you based on key points.

The tool we’d like to share today doesn’t have an exciting name or website, but what it can do seems like magic. It is so simple to use that there is zero learning curve. If you can attach something to an email, you can restore your photos. Intrigued? So was I.

GFP-GAN

This wonder tool is called GFP-GAN. You can either use the demo version at Baseten as I did, or you can download the code for free from GitHub. The demo page invites you to upload your own photo or choose one of their photos to restore. You are given the option to download the restored image.

I clicked on their image of Harriet Tubman and the cleaned-up version was so good I wondered if there had been manual intervention in the restoration:

Original and restored portrait images of Harriet Tubman in black and white side-by-side

Next, I tried my own photo from the 1970s:

Original image on left of slightly blurry Mom holding a baby with the restored image less blurry on the right

This is a less stunning transformation, but the restored version is definitely less blurry.

I didn’t have any really rough images to try, but in my research about the tool, I found an article demonstrating some really amazing restorations, as well as going into deep detail about how the tool works. Here is the one that made me sure I wanted to write about this tool:

Original photo of a woman's face is torn, creased and faded on the left, and the restoration on the right is crystal clear

The AI “looks” at the image to find patterns, and then fills in what it determines is most likely to fill in the damaged parts. Because the image I uploaded was just blurry instead of damaged, there wasn’t much to fix or fill in.

Would You Use GFP-GAN?

Do you have old photos you would like to restore, but don’t have the expertise or equipment to do it yourself? Professional photo restoration is expensive, but this free tool may be just what you need to clean up your treasured image collection. Have you tried the tool? We’d love to know how your restorations turned out. Let us know in the comments!

Meet Craiyon, the Powerful AI Who Creates Art on Demand

You may have heard of the many things that AI (artificial intelligence) can do. There are chat bots that can assist you with various tasks, and you may be familiar with Alexa and Siri, digital assistants who can help you with various tasks like giving directions and setting timers. We have even previously written about Rytr, a tool that can help you with your writing. Now there is a new type of AI that can create art by simply entering a keyword or two.

Craiyon, which was formerly known as Dall-E Mini, uses AI model drawing images to create images based on any prompt.

You can use a broad term. This is what it came up with when I entered “mountain hotel”:

Screenshot showing a Craiyon prompt field with "mountain hotel" entered and nine image options below.

Or you can get a little more specific. This is what it came up with when I entered “cat reading on the beach”:

Screenshot of a Craiyon prompt field with "cat reading on the beach" filled in with nine image options.

There are all sorts of fun things you can try, such as famous people, places, or food. Have you tried Craiyon? Let us know in the comments.

How to Remove the Background from an Image

After we wrote our post on using the browser tool remove.bg, we got some feedback about another great tool, as well as questions about how to remove image backgrounds using Canva and Word.

Another Browser-Based Tool

First, I’d like to talk about a suggestion we received for a background remover at Experte.com. This tool is simple and elegant while having fewer restrictions than other free browser-based background removers. If you are a webmaster, you may be interested in some of their other tools. I plan to write another post featuring the full suite of tools in the near future.

Microsoft Word/PowerPoint

Given how often we use images in Microsoft Word and PowerPoint, it would be great if there was a way to remove an image background without leaving that platform. Great news – there is! It’s not always very accurate, but Microsoft has built this functionality into their Office software. Tech-Talk wrote a great article about removing backgrounds using Office software to guide you through the process. Note that instructions for Office 2007 are different than later versions. Unfortunately, Google Docs does not have an equivalent tool onboard.

Canva

Canva is another popular image editing tool that we were asked about. While Canva does have a background remover available, it is a paid feature. If you have access, here is how to remove an image background:

  • Click on the image you want to edit.
  • In the toolbar above the editor, click Edit image.
  • From the side panel, click BG Remover.
  • Wait for the background to be processed.
  • To apply the changes, click Apply on the bottom of the side panel.

Even on a paid plan, you are limited to using this feature on 500 images every 24 hours.

Conclusion

Thanks to those readers who reached out with questions and suggestions about removing backgrounds from images. If you have any other feedback, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Enlarge Images Easily Without Quality Loss

Have you ever tried to use an image online that looked pixelated or otherwise low-quality when enlarged? Most of the buzz in using online images is how to make the file sizes of the images smaller, but that often results in a quality loss that can leave you disappointed. The good news is that there are several AI-backed tools available to assist you in enlarging your images without losing quality.

There are a number of tools that can accomplish this, such as:

They all work similarly, though their free plans have different limitations. For the purposes of this demo, we are going to use https://bigjpg.com.

Upscaling an Image

The main page contains a standard upload window that allows you to choose an image on your device to upscale.

Screen shot of the home page with a "select images" button in the center

When your image has finished uploading, select “start.”

Screenshot showing the uploaded image with buttons to start or delete

The configuration window will appear. First, select the type of image you are using. Then, pick a factor by which to increase the image. For this tool, the free version is capped at 4x.

Screen shot of the configuration window with options for image type (artwork or photo), upscaling (2x, 4x, 8x - paid, and 16x - paid), and noise reduction (none, low, medium, high, highest)

In testing, I tried a few different images. I found that photos best showed the power of the noise reduction aspect of the tool. For this, I used one of our stock photos of a young man at the library. Here is the original:

Man in his 20s sitting between bookshelves with a stack of books

First, I enlarged the image 4x, and didn’t apply any noise reduction. Click/tap on the image below to make it full size. Depending on the size of your screen, you may be able to see how fuzzy the image looks in his face and his shoulders. That’s the “noise.”

Same image, but larger and lower quality.

I started from the original image and enlarged it 4x again, this time also opting for the highest noise reduction. Click/tap on the image below to make it full size, and note that this image has all of the “noise” smoothed out to make the picture quality appear better.

Same image at 4x, but the rough edges from before are gone

You may wonder why they offer different levels of noise reduction. To see the answer, compare the last image with the original. Where the AI has reduced the noise, it has also “guessed” at how to edit the image and left it looking a bit like a soft filter has been applied. In some cases, you may want to balance that effect with the noise for a better outcome.

Summary

Now that AI technology has become available to the consumer market, free image editing tools have gotten much more sophisticated. There are several sites that will allow you to upscale and enhance your images without a pricey software product. Have you used any of the tools we listed? Do you have another image upscaling tool you love? Let us know about it in the comments.