Replacing sidebars with blurred edges

Talk about Pixelmator Pro, share tips & tricks, tutorials, and other resources.
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2019-11-30 15:57:33

I have a 16X10 digital frame, my daughter unfortunately takes a lot of portrait photos leaving big black bars on the side.
I want to be able to crop a vertical photo to 16X10 and fill the empty area with blurred portions from the photo, like TV stations do when people film the wrong way.
I tried layers with no success.
Anyone care to guide me through this?
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2019-11-30 16:52:29

Hi Michael.
I'll help if I can. Pixelmator Pro is much like a box of tools so there are a lot of different ways of doing this. Here's what I would do.
First, start with the exact pixel dimensions of the digital photo frame. This gives you better control over what's displayed on screen. I don't know your skill level so please bear with me if I'm explaining things you already know.
1. Create a new image of the dimensions you need. (File > New, set units to pixels, ignore resolution, Colour depth 8-bit.)
2. Import the image you want into Pixelmator Pro. If it's a file, drag and drop it in, or use Insert > Choose. If it's in Photos use Insert > Photos... Dragging and dropping from Photos will get you a low res image. This might be fine in this case, but it's good to know.
3. With the Arrange tool (V) and the constrain proportions check-box ticked, resize the image so it fits in the vertical dimension and adjust contrast, color balance etc to taste.
4. I'm assuming that the black bars are added by the photo frame but, if they are already there, now is the time to get rid of them. Use the Rectangular Selection (marquee) tool (M) to select the bit of the image you want. Invert the selection (Shift-Cmd-I) and delete the unwanted bits. Cmd-D to deselect afterwards. Ignore this step if there are no black bars.
5. Make a duplicate of the layer (right click on the layer and duplicate).
6. With the Arrange tool (V) and the constrain proportions check-box ticked, select and resize the bottom layer so that it is slightly wider than the canvas. You want the overlap to be the same or greater than the blur radius you're going to use. I'm guessing about a cm/half an inch.
7. Use the Effects > Blur > Gaussian Blur to blur to taste.
8. Revisit the contrast, colour balance etc. Making this image lighter or darker will make the upper layer 'pop' a bit. This step is entirely optional.
9. Export the image in the format of your choice. I like .png (because of lossless compression) but .jpeg is compatible with just about anything.
Hopefully this will do it. If it looks like I've missed out a step or there's something you don't get, just reply back and I (or someone else) will help out. If it all works please come back and let me know that it did. All the best.
- Stef.
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2019-11-30 17:14:48

This is sort of what I was trying before but it appears that both layers are getting the effect.
In other words, both layers are exact duplicates.
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2019-11-30 18:59:51

Hmmm... not sure what is going on here so let's start with the basics. What version of macOS and what version of Pixelmator Pro are you running?
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2019-11-30 19:01:15

Catalina and 1.5.2.
Thanks for you help, I appreciate it.
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2019-11-30 19:22:39

OK... so everything's pretty up-to-date. Let's have a look at the file.

Most of the effects in Pixelmator Pro are non-destructive (and Gaussian Blur) is one of those so you should be able to see the blur settings for each layer.
I've done a quick example where the foreground layer is in portrait orientation and, although you can see the Gaussian blur has a setting of 10px, the round check-box by the side is unticked so the effect has not been applied. If you look at the Blur layer underneath , you can see that a Gaussian blur of 20px has been applied. Has a look at the layers in your image and see what effects have been applied to each layer. If there is a Gaussian blur on both, turn it off for the topmost layer.

(edit. It looks like the forum isn't allowing me to upload images at the moment. Let me see if I can upload them another way)...

First Image:
http://upload-cdn.pixelmator.com/Screen ... .16.25.png
Second Image:
http://upload-cdn.pixelmator.com/Screen ... .16.34.png
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2019-11-30 19:24:42

First of all the black bars are added by the digital frame.
I now see what is going on. The layers are not being manipulated the same, it is just that the base, blurred layer, is overlaying the picture and I cannot see the original picture.
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2019-11-30 19:26:39

by Michael Sullivan 2019-11-30 18:25:15 I now see what is going on. The layers are not being manipulated the same, it is just that the base, blurred layer, is overlaying the picture and I cannot see the original picture.

So... how's it looking now?
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2019-11-30 19:29:58

OK, figured it out. Needed to slide the Move to Back/Front setting under Arrange.
Thanks
Looks great.
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2019-11-30 19:36:36

Glad to hear it. You can also drag and drop layers in the layers panel and arrange them like a stack of papers. I don't think I've ever used the Move to Back/Front dropdown.
Best of luck and enjoy Pixelmator Pro.
- Stef.