11 November 2011

Photography editing tips :: diptychs with Pixlr

Blogger has been acting crazy erasing my posts. Am I the only one having this? Crazy stuff... Let's see if it works this time.

I told you I was going to post another tutorial on making diptychs, so here I am! I named it Diptychs with Pixlr but you can as well do it on Photoshop, because the steps are pretty much the same.

If you're looking for a good (free) tool to edit your photos I would say Pixlr, also known as the cloud based Photoshop alternative, is the best you can find*. While not being a Photoshop, it looks really like it, and it works pretty much the same way, so if later you decide to 'upgrade' and became a Photoshop user you'll be feeling at home. In resume, I think it pays of start with a tool like this that gives you the bases to develop further. It also works the opposite way, in my case I'm a Photoshop user since college, but sometimes I need to process a photo to post when not being on my computer, so this was the best find for me. I could do everything in a run without the need to test the waters nor feeling lost looking for the tools. Honestly, I think that, for most web users, a graphic editor like this will be more than enough, plus: no need for spending absurd amounts of money, and no use of hacked software.

Tutorial 2
Diptychs with Pixlr
or Photoshop

You can do this tutorial with your own photos but, for an easier comprehension, I advise you to download pic 1 and pic 2 and follow my steps. It might look long but it is actually very easy. Feel free to ask any question, I will gladly try to help you.

1. Go to Pixlr.com and open the editor. Chose the option Open image from computer and chose one of the pictures you want to use in your diptych.

2. In the menu click File and Open Image and chose the second photo you want to add to your diptych. You will now have two pictures opened and ready to start working, as you can see from the image above, pic1 and pic 2.

3. We will make a horizontal diptych. For the two images to be perfectly aligned side by side they must have the exact same height. One image at a time, click on the window to select it, go to the menu Image and click Image size... Take note of the height of the image (grab paper and pencil and write it down, or just type it on a text document), and exit clicking Cancel. You don't want to change any definitions at this stage. Height of pic 1 is 1368px.

4. Repeat the previous step for the other image. Height of pic 2 is 1612px.

5. Comparing the numbers we can conclude that pic 2 is bigger on height, so we need to reduce the height of pic 2 to match the height of pic 1. Select pic 2, open the Image size box again on menu Image. Change the height to 1368 px. Make sure you have the Constrain proportions box selected. You'll notice the width value change automatically. Hit ok.

Note: you should always reduce the size of the bigger image, and not the opposite, increasing the size of an image will result in the lost of pixel quality. 

6. Now that both images are the same height size we can proceed to create the diptych. To do this we will increase the canvas of one of the images to fit them both. Select pic 2 and repeat step 3, this time take note of the image width: 1787 px.

7. Select pic 2, go to menu Image and click on Canvas size... You'll see pic 2 width is 1029 px. With a calculator, make the sum of the width values of both images: 1787 + 1029 = 2816 px. As I like to have a thin white separation line between pictures, we'll add extra 10 pixels to the width making it 2826 px. Change the width value (if you're working with Photoshop, make sure you use the drop-down on the right to make sure you're working in pixels). You notice underneath you have a grid of squares where you can read Anchor. This is where you define the place you want your original image to stay anchored. By default it will be selected the top left square (the middle, in Photoshop, change it to top left), that's the position where your original image will stay after you expand the canvas, meaning that, depending on the values you attribute to width and height, the canvas will grow to the right and/or to the bottom. Since we're not changing the height this will work for us. Click ok.

Note: To understand more about the canvas size feature I suggest you to open a random image and play with values and anchor positions. Also try to reduce the size to see how it will crop your image. 

8. Now you can see that pic 1 as enough blank space to the right to fit pic 2. On pic 2, go to menu Edit and click Select all.

Note: You can enlarge the window to see the whole image by dragging the bottom right corner and/or use you mouse wheel (or ctrl + - on your keyboard) to reduce the size of the visualization.

9. Go to menu Edit and Copy. Then, select pic 1, go to Edit and Paste.

10. Using the Move tool, the second of the right column on the Tools window, drag pic 2 to the right to properly fit you diptych. For more precision you can also use the keyboard arrows, but make sure you have the Move tool selected.

11. Your diptych is done! Now all you have to do is save your work. Go to File and Save it. Good job!

all photos by me

*hey, this is based on my experience, obviously!
No one is paying me to to say good things about this stuff!


  1. lovely photos! and they work beautifully together.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this here Ines!
    Beautiful outcome!

    1. I've been looking for a site like this for forever! I tried to follow these steps but when I go to do step 8&9, the image pastes over the entire image 1 and I can't reduce the pasted image or move it around. I followed Step 1 through 7 and everything went fine. Any suggestions?

    2. Are you sure you reduced the size of the image in step 5? And do you have enough blank canvas to paste the new one (step 6 and 7)?
      Please give more details so that I can help you trough.

  3. Thank you! This really helped me. :)


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