Creating Latte Art With Pixelmator

As a Photoshop user, you’re no doubt used to being asked to perform the impossible on a tight deadline. But what do you do when you’re away from your desk, armed only with your smartphone?

That’s what happened to me recently, when I was in a restaurant in Oslo, of all places, and none other than CreativePro Editor Mike Rankin asked if I could make his cappuccino look like it had famous Norwegian inventor Alfred Nobel sprinkled on it in chocolate.

Without the full Photoshop on my iPhone, this was a job for Pixelmator

Take your photograph

You can take a photo directly inside Pixelmator, which saves having to find it in your camera roll first. It opens in a surprisingly blank screen, with just two menu items – one grayed out – and four tool icons.

Browse Google

Because the chances of an Alfred Nobel lookalike wandering into the restaurant are slim, it’s over to Google to find an appropriate image. I found an engraving of him with a pure white background, which makes the whole process a lot easier. You can import a second image into your composition using the + button.

Allow distortion

By default, Pixelmator doesn’t allow you to distort images as you scale them – it’s a useful safety feature. You can disable this by going to the Paintbrush icon, then choosing Format, Arrange, then Size. Here you can set the absolute dimensions of the layer – no use to us here – and disable the Constrain Proportions option.

Distort the image

To make Alfred Nobel look as if he’s in perspective, it’s necessary to make the image wider than it is tall – and that’s enabled by disabling the constraint. It’s easy now to resize him to fit the coffee cup.

Change the blend mode

To get rid of the white, go into the Format dialog again (via the Paintbrush icon) and choose Style. Here, you can change the blending mode of the layer. By setting it to Multiply, all the white disappears and the layer darkens up the coffee cup beneath it.

Color the image

We now need to make Nobel look as if he’s made of espresso and milk. The first step is to change his color, easily accomplished using the Adjust Color dialog (again, via the Paintbrush icon). There are several ways to do this; I found the most straightforward was to drag the Temperature slider all the way to the right, then use Curves to brighten the image.

Add some noise

Nobel might now be the right color, but he still looks like an engraving. To give him more of a natural look, use the Add Effects section of the Tools menu to add some Noise. Dialing up the Noise amount gives the right appearance – but it also adds noise in the white area.

Delete the white

To get rid of the noisy white background, you need to use the Eraser tool. There are lots of options here; the best method is to use a large, soft eraser and set the Strength very low. But do swipe left to check out the other Eraser choices.

Rub out the noise

With the soft eraser, you can set to work getting rid of all the noise in the white areas of the image. You can use a two-finger pinch to zoom in, so you can erase in detail. In fact, you don’t need to be too accurate here; a little stray noise over the cappuccino won’t be noticed.

The finished image

Here’s the finished image of Nobel on the coffee cup. It may not be a work of art, but when you have a reputation for fast work it’s not a bad use of five minutes.

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Posted on: June 28, 2017

Steve Caplin

Steve is a freelance writer, artist and designer, and the author of over a dozen books, including the popular How to Cheat in Photoshop series and the Amazon #1 best-seller Dad Stuff. His training videos can be seen on lynda.com, Retouch Pro and elsewhere.

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