Turn a picture into a coloring page using Pixlr E

Color photo used in Pixlr E

I have been searching the internet, watching videos, and reading blog posts on how to turn a picture into a coloring page. Unfortunately, all of the detailed instructions are for the original Pixlr editor software that isn’t available anymore. So, I spent some time to figure out the updated Pixlr E software and documented the steps needed to turn your photo into a coloring page. Here is everything you need to make stunning black and white coloring pages from your photos.

Color photo used in Pixlr E

Step 1: Choose the Photo

Your photo that you choose should be in focus and have plenty of contrast between the subject and the Background. This will make it easier to turn the picture into a coloring page.  My goal is to create a coloring book, so I chose one of my favorite photos from a recent trip to Arizona while working on a horse ranch.

Step 2: Open the Pixlr Software

The next step is to open the Pixlr software on your computer. Pixlr is a free online image editing app that lets you edit photos without requiring you to download the software. Click on https://pixlr.com, and you will see the home page. Make sure to bookmark this website for future coloring pages. Don’t feel intimidated, but click on the Advanced Pixlr E button in the center of the page or choose Pixlr E in the main header. On the left side of the screen, click on Open Image. Here is where you need to find the photo that you want to make into a coloring page. Select the image, and it will populate the main editing page for Pixlr E.

Step 3: The Pixlr E Main LayoutPixlr E Layout

This is the main layout of the Pixlr E when you have selected your photo. You don’t have to concern yourself with any of the items on the left side of the screen for making a coloring page. The areas you want to familiarize yourself with are the main headers at the top of the screen and the right sidebar.

The right sidebar is where you will be doing most of your work. There is the Navigate box at the top that shows the current view of what you are working on. It also allows you to zoom in and out of the photo if you need to.

Right below the Navigate section is Layers. Currently, you should see a thumbnail version of your photo with Background highlighted. Layers allow you to stack multiple images on top of each other. You can edit them separately, and it won’t affect the original photo.

Below Layers is the History section. If you make a mistake or don’t like one of the results from any of the steps, you can click on a previous step and go back and try again. I have done this many times, and it is a huge lifesaver.

Step 4: Turn the Colored Photo into Black and WhiteMake it Black and White - Desaturate Photo in Pixlr E

This step is where you make your photo black and white. Click on the main header Adjustment and scroll down to Desaturate. Select Desaturate. You will see Desaturate show up in the History section on the bottom right sidebar. Desaturate the photo in Pixlr E

Step 5: Duplicate the LayerDuplicate the layer in Pixlr E

Our next step is to add a second layer for us to do some edits without ruining the original image. Click on the three dots next to the thumbnail on the Background in the Layers section. It will open up a new box and at the bottom, click on the two rectangles in the circle. This is the Duplicate Layer function.

UPDATE: If you don’t see the three dots, look under Layer at the top. When Layer is selected, you should see Duplicate Layer for you to select.

After you click on that button, you will see a new line under Layers saying Background Copy. Background Copy should be highlighted for the next steps. Duplicate image in Pixlr E

Step 6: Invert the Background Copy LayerAdjustment Invert in Pixlr E

In the next step, you should look for Adjustment in the main headers and scroll down until you see Invert. Select Invert. This will turn the Background Copy into a negative of the original photo. You will see Invert show up in the History section on the bottom right sidebar. Background Copy should still be highlighted for the next step.Invert the Background Copy layer in Pixlr E

Step 7: Using the Color-Dodge Blend ModeBlend Mode: Color-dodge in Pixlr E

Click on the three dots next to the thumbnail on the Background Copy in the Layers section. It will open up a new box and this time, select the box that is Blend Mode to open up the selections. Look for Color-dodge and select it. This will instantly make your photo turn white. Don’t worry; you haven’t lost your image. It is still there.Result of Color-dodge in Pixlr E

Step 8: Blur the Top Layer Filter Details Gaussian blur in Pixlr E

The next step is to blur the Background Copy. To do this, select Filter in the main headers, choose Details, then scroll down to select Gaussian blur. When you select Gaussian blur, a new box will open on your screen showing a slider. This is where your judgment comes in, and some practice to get the right look for your final photo. You will need to drag the Amount slider over, and you will see the lines in your image become visible.

The outline of your photo should become more apparent. You will be able to see thin black lines when the Amount is lower, and as you increase it, the black lines will become softer and thicker. Adjust the Amount slider to a point when you can tell what your photo is, but the lines appear somewhere between pencil-thin and soft with thick lines. As I said earlier, this is where you might have to try this a couple of times to figure out where the slider needs to be to get a crisp coloring page.Adjusting Gaussian blur levels in Pixlr E

Step 9: Merge the LayersMerge Down layers in Pixlr E

The next step is to Merge the layers. Click on the three dots next to the thumbnail on the Background Copy in the Layers section. Look for the circle with one down arrow. This is the Merge Down button. Select Merge Down to combine the layers. After you have merged the layers, you will only see Background Copy under the Layer section.

Step 10: Adjust the Softness of the PhotoAdjustment levels in Pixlr E

The last step is to adjust the levels of the softness of the lines on the photo. Select Adjustment on the main header and scroll down to Levels. Select Levels, and it will open a new box on your screen. You will see what looks like a histogram and three sliders on the bottom of it.

You will need to slide the black slider to the right to bring more details out of your photo. A good recommendation is to move it, so it sits just at the base of the hill before it becomes very steep. Then you can move the gray slider to the left or right depending on how many details you want to see on your coloring page. The last part is to slide the white slider to where you would like it if you want to remove some of the lines in your photo.

This adjustment of the Levels is purely subjective, so try it multiple times until you get the right look for your coloring page. If you have a photo that has too much black in it, you can use the slider below the histogram to remove some of the black if you want. When you have the photo the way you want, select Apply at the bottom of the Levels box. Sliding Adjustment levels in Pixlr EAdjustment Levels final Coloring Page in Pixlr E

Step 11: The Final ImageFinal Coloring Page in Pixlr E

After you have adjusted the levels and applied them, you have your final photo for your coloring page. All that is left is to save your picture to your computer. Then you can print it out and start coloring! The total time to do all the steps is relatively quick once you get used to the software and know how you want to adjust your levels. Go ahead and give it a try. Someone you know might love to receive a coloring page from your travels, family get-togethers, or holiday events. Have fun, and let that creativity fly!

Not ready to try this out immediately. Pin it to save for later.Turn a Picture into a Coloring Page Pinterest Pin


  • JFrew1 28December2022 at 12:00 PM Reply

    Thank you so much! Your tutorial was super helpful!

  • Rishika 23February2022 at 6:41 PM Reply

    Thank you so much for this tutorial. It was very helpful and easy to understand. This made my entire experience better. The results were great.

    • Heather 23February2022 at 6:50 PM Reply

      I’m so glad that this tutorial was helpful to you!

  • Sue 12February2022 at 3:08 PM Reply

    Thank you for providing the most insightful and useful tutorial, in my opinion, on this topic. I’ve read many “how to convert a photo to a coloring page” tutorial, and yours is the first to produce a wonderful result first time out. Thank you for writing with conciseness and clarity.

    • Heather 12February2022 at 6:03 PM Reply

      Thank you so much, I’m glad it was helpful.

  • MockoFun 11March2021 at 6:37 AM Reply

    You can also use this Photoshop action to turn photo into coloring page:

  • Emily 22January2021 at 11:31 PM Reply

    This tutorial was SO helpful, thank you!! This is exactly what I needed to make a pyrography pattern for my partner’s birthday. I usually use coloring pages; now I can make my own out of photos, yay!

    • Heather 23January2021 at 9:43 AM Reply

      You are so welcome, Emily! I hope they like it!

  • Naim islam 15December2020 at 1:31 AM Reply

    Pixlr is one of my favorite photo editors. But there are not as many tutorials about Pixlr. I have benefited a lot from this tutorial I hope this tutorial is ‍also helpful for those of you who like to edit with Pixlr editor. I hope you make more tutorials on Pixlr. I look forward to your new tutorial. Thank you so much for giving me a great tutorial.

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