Pixlr started life as a free online service offering a range of simple but seductive tools for non-creatives to add a little creativity to their photographs. Acquired by software giant Autodesk in 2011, Pixlr, rather Pixlr-o-matic, now covers all conceivable bases with support for Mac, PC, Facebook, and Chrome, along with Apple and Android mobile devices. The free desktop version, reviewed here, relies on Adobe Air to create a lightweight, responsive interface from which to develop your images, via a cool virtual darkroom.
Chosen images sit in a darkroom tray, complete with watery fluid, from where users select and combine a number of options. These are Effects, Overlays and Borders, which should be familiar to all Instagram users. The combination of all three can produce both subtle and not so subtle results, from understated, retro themed to more outlandish images tinged with fire and swirls of light and colour.
As well as browsing categories you can add more from a selection available, initially via an Internet connection, directly from within Pixlr-o-matic, which not only adds choice but potentially extends the life of the app when new creative options are added. Unlike the browser based Pixlr-o-matic, which includes a range of photo tweaking tools, you don't need to be online to edit your images. Those lacking smartphones or iPads also benefit here.
A random option produces as you might expect random results, which can be tweaked by adjusting the combined Effects, Overlays and Borders. While hit and miss, this is an easy way for complete newbies to discover attractive combinations. Once you’re happy with your image the results can be either saved to a dedicated website - imm.io, billed as a one-click easy image sharer - or to your desktop.
Particularly useful for anyone who lacks access to a smartphone, iPad or the Internet, desktop app Pixlr-o-matic offers a great range of tools to add a creative touch to your images. Simple, intuitive, fun and free, it's an essential addition to any photographers box of tricks.