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iPad

  • App Review: Aviary

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    We’ve all experienced “Apptimidation” at some point. Apptimidation? Yes, friends, apptimiation. That ever-so-slight feeling of uneasiness or frustration you get when realizing that the app you just downloaded is somewhat out of your handling ability. The bells and whistles are disrespectfully complex, the features are utterly confusing and you’re left feeling...incompetent. Ok maybe that's a bit dramatic but the app I'll be reviewing today seems to be totally free from any intimidating factors. Two words to describe the app's interface: smooth and simple. Let’s check out how the photo editing app, Aviary works.

    When you first download the app, it opens automatically with the option of capturing a picture or grabbing one from your photo stream. As usual, I scrolled a bit through my stream for pictures and this time, I found a photo I took of a friend! Here's what we'll be working on.

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    Aviary smoothly delivers your basic editing options such as One-tap auto enhance, color balance, cropping and alignment tools, and Sharpen/Blur. Auto enhance is pretty innovative in that it has one tap presets for effects such as Hi-Def and night. It’s even got one tap presets for Food for all the foodie instagramers. Pretty cool! To me, the enhancers were a little on the heavy handed side so I opted out of using them. Nevertheless, here’s the portrait effect applied for preview purposes.

    aviary photo editor enhance

    The app also provides frames for you to add. Some clean and modern some grungy and vintage. Now, I’m not much of a frames fanatic but just for demonstration purposes, lets slap on the grit frame.

    aviary photo editor frames grit

    And now, for the main course, the meat of this interview, we have the Filters. The tab offers a large mixture of black and white, sepia and vintage filters. These filters did a decent job in making my photo resemble a vintage print. While Aviary has 12 free filters available, what the app has in numbers, it falls a bit short in quality. Like the one tap auto enhancers, the filters could stand to be a bit more sophisticated. They are however, totally adjustable to what you see fit.

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    aviary photo editor effects Cruz

    Where this app gets much more creative is in its supplies tab which rests at the beginning of each creative feature such as Effects, Frames, Overlays and Stickers. In this tab, there a plethora of creative features for you to download free with an adobe membership or buy for about 99 cents a pop! I decided to download the Wanderlust package which gave me 7 more filters to choose from. This clean natural filter was right up my alley so I went with it.

    aviary photo editor app effects

    New filter in hand, I moved on to the Overlays tab to see what the tab had to offer. This creative feature gets right to the point by fitting your image into a square composition. In overlays, you’ve got your basic overlay shapes like circle, Hexagon, Square etc. Again if you’re looking for a bit more creative freedom you can head over to supplies tab for more overlays to add to your photo. I kind of went on a shopping spree here. While they may not be suitable for this specific picture a lot of the overlays were pretty neat. So I'll be keeping them for more landscape pictures.

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    aviary photo editor app overlays

    One thing that sets Aviary a step ahead of the other basic photo editing apps is the array of cosmetic tools. Wanting that million-dollar smile? You can brighten it up with the tooth-whitening tool. You can also take care of red eye problems, and fix up pesky zits with the blemish tool. While these tools get the job done, you probably shouldn’t expect Photoshop CS6 Quality retouching. The tooth-whitening tool, however, did a great job of brightening the model’s smile without giving of off a glow in the dark grin. Check out those pearly whites!

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    I dabbled around a bit more with a few other features I generally might not need but found neat! The Draw tool was a nice touch, having a wide array off colors and brush sizes to choose from. I opted for a variation of both to show off my UH-mazing doodling skills.

    aviary photo editor app doodle

    The stickers tool was pretty fun to play with as well. You’ve got a bunch of options to choose from here. Crazy hats, silly masks and loads more.

    aviary photo editor app

    I think I might have gotten a bit carried away so I decided to tone things down and take it back to my wanderlust filter, tweaked the warmth and color tool a bit, added a downloaded frame, "Delicato," and voila! a masterpiece!

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    Once your project's complete, you can share the image to mediums like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or have it printed on wood like I have here. Here's the end result printed on natural gloss finish!

    Aviary photo editor app photo on wood

    It’s easy to see why Aviary appeals to so many, its super user friendly and has a wide array of creative options. It’s simple without being boring and complex without being confusing. So, if you’ve out-grown simpler photo editing apps- brighten, saturate, add text but aren’t quite ready to graduate into professional-level functions, Aviary would be a great app for you. The cosmetics tools definitely set it apart from a number of its competitors. One thing I would have like to see is more sophisticated filters. This app however ran smoothly with no problems with bugs or crashes. With that being said I’d give this app three logs!

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    For more information on Aviary, please visit: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/photo-editor-by-aviary/

  • App Review: Afterlight

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    If you’re anything like me, you probably get a kick out of tinkering with photos on editing apps, while playing the game, “ooh, what does this button do?” Well, photo effect fanatics rejoice! Because app I’ll be reviewing today is said to be a photo-tinkerer’s dream. Ranking at number 5 in the top paid apps on iTunes, Afterlight seems to be a crowd pleaser. Curious to find out why, I downloaded the app and began dabbling around.

    The Afterlight homepage is simple and straightforward. It presents two buttons that offer the options to either take a picture or open one from your photo stream. I went with the in-app camera and was pleasantly surprised by my decision.

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    The camera provides a few digital camera-like functions such as a self-timer, aperture adjustments, focus controls and ISO controls. After a few trials, I pulled, from my photo stream, a photo I took while roaming ‘round LA.

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    The photo-editing page was just as direct as the homepage in providing options.

    Aside from the basic tools like cropping, exposure, saturation, etc., there is a wide range of editing options available. Remember when I said VSCO Cam had the largest filter selection I have ever seen? I lied. This app takes the cake, with over 40 filters, all of which are adjustable AND combinable.

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    This app is LOADED with photo effects like quality textures, light leaks, photo layering, and text options, to mention a few. After playing around with contrast and temperature, I kept it simple with the Dallas filter and added a letter silhouette. Guess what the M stands for.

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    I found that share page also had an array of options like creating a photo book, sharing to Instagram, or even having your photo made to a post card and shipped anywhere in the world.

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    Pretty pleased with my creation, I ended my Afterlight adventure with a sendoff to Instagram and gave them the best rating possible, 4.

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    The only test left was to see it printed on wood, which turned out beautifully on Natural Gloss finish.  The wood grain added a nice touch to the background and the file size was plenty big enough to print a large or small wood print.

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    I’ve got to say, I can see how Afterlight holds a place on the top ten paid apps on iTunes. With no glitches and lots of creative freedom, Afterlight could definitely serve as a one-stop shop for your photo-editing desires. The only thing I noticed missing was the ability to change the background color when using a silhouettes and types. This, however isn’t a pressing need for me. Though the app hosts a plethora of editing options, the interface is super easy to navigate. Without a doubt, I’ll be adding Afterlight to my photo-editing arsenal.

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    For more information on the Afterlight app, please visit:  http://afterlight.us/

  • App Review: TouchRetouch

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    Pictures are worth a thousand words and maybe even more! With so much up for interpretation in each picture, the less interference by surrounding objects or people, the better!   It's that perfect beach sunset in Maui interrupted by the old wrinkly man tanning behind you, or the amazing seafood you’re dying to post to instagram so your followers can envy your meal instead of your friend scrolling through his timeline across the table. Now as much as I would have loved to have been on a Maui beach or enjoying some scrumptious seafood (TRUST me), these two DREAM pictures would only be able to be corrected with photoshop which would require sending the picture to my email, saving it onto my computer,then once in photoshop the editing would begin (headache…..headache…..headache).

    Now, what if I told you that you could make photoshop-esque edits straight from your device with a few clicks. (Inception, right?) No, unfortunately we are not blessed with the presence of Leonardo DiCaprio or Joseph Gordon-Levitt but this is just as spectacular. This is the app that everyone’s been waiting for...the one-click photoshop for your mobile device is here! Unlike the difficult and hard to navigate program that photoshop is, TouchRetouch allows you to remove any unwanted objects or material in a picture with the touch of a finger! The old wrinkly man can finally be removed!

    Let's go back in time to the VSCO Cam app review, the image we used was a beautiful skyline partially obscured by stop lights and telephone lines, it will be the perfect test for this app.  Just in case you forgot, here it is again to refresh your memory:

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    Ok, first stop is the Landing page:

    Upon opening TouchRetouch, they give you exactly what you want. They use a sleek black user interface with everything you need.They provide the options of uploading a photo from your gallery, taking a new photo, watching a tutorial for beginners, or watching an advanced tutorial. What first caught my eye was how efficient and simple the home screen was.

    They give you all the options you need without obfuscating the process for the user by giving you too much to deal with. The developers created this with the everyday user in mind and this makes the process better for everyone.

    landing page

    At the bottom of the landing page, you can share this app to any of you social networks through the “thumbs up” button or see what the developer has added to new versions with the “lightbulb” button.

    In the top right corner you can access the settings and help where you can change the settings, email the developers, or read help articles on specific issues. The landing page is very simple and efficient, providing ease of use for new users of the app.

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    Editing Page:

    Whether you upload or take a picture, the first step before heading to the editing screen is selecting the output resolution of the image. With 4 options: Original (3264 x 2448), High (2581 x 1936), Medium (1600 x 1200), and Low (1024 x 768), I’m going to select the highest resolution (original) to get the best quality image.

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    Nothing exemplifies California better than palm trees and skies as blue as the ocean, which is why this is the perfect photo to edit.  As pretty as this picture is, it would be a lot more appealing without the ugly street signs in the way, so this will be what we remove.

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    After you have your picture present, you are provided with an array of editing tools such as the lasso, brush, and clone stamp. The lasso and brush tool allow you to remove any object in the picture. With the lasso you draw around the object and it will remove the area inside this while the brush tool requires you to draw over what you would like removed. The brush tool is generally more useful because you can select how large or small you would like the brush to be as well as be more precise.

    To start, I’ll use a brush to draw over both the stop light and the street sign using as thin of a brush as possible to make the retouch as unnoticeable as possible.

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    Once I’ve drawn over what I want removed with the brush, I press the play button (hand symbol) to make the changes and voila! Just like that TouchRetouch worked its Houdini like magic and removed both the street sign and the stoplight, and we didn’t even have to pay admission! 

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    Now that our ugly street signs are gone, the last, and most detail oriented step in this editing process would be using the clone stamp.The clone stamp allows you to copy from one source to the destination location on the picture. This can be used to clone objects in your image, but more importantly can fill in the background of whatever object you have removed.

    The first step is setting your source. This is done by choosing what part of the picture you want to copy and setting that as your source. For background retouching purposes we would set another part of the background with the same color as the source. From here, you can choose between solid, smooth, and semi-transparent brushes to do your cloning. Now all you do is draw with your brush and your source will be what is drawn. I’ve realized the cloning tool is the most difficult to use and will most likely require the most time just because it calls for very precise drawing. For the image of paradise, I will use a source on the pavement for the street sign since that is what it has left revealed. The source for the stoplight would be a combination of different hues of the sky.

    Unfortunately, in the midst of my cloning process the app crashed and I now have to start all over again. This is something that I hate to see happen and that any user would hate dealing with but is understandable due to the nature of the software.

    Aside from all the cool ways you can edit your picture, the editing page has useful add-ins like an info tab in the top right corner if you need any help, a back and forward button to undo and redo any changes, and link to your photo gallery if you want to start over from scratch. 

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    Finally all of our hard work is done and we have turned an average intersection into a California paradise waiting to be explored!

    Rating: 3 logs

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    Is TouchRetouch the mobile photo editing app of the future, or is the old wrinkly man tanning a reality that will never leave?

    The combination of effective and versatile tools that accommodate the basic picture editing needs along with very few options provided make this app superb for the everyday user like you and I editing objects or blemishes out of their pictures. Whether you are perfecting an image by moving background objects, or removing things to create funny pictures TouchRetouch gives you plenty of flexibility.

    Personally, I would improve the clone stamp tool to allow you to lock onto a source. After choosing a source, my source would follow the same movement as my brush, creating a huge mess and almost doubling the amount of time it took to use the clone stamp tool.

    The app crashing in the middle of my editing was also frustrating, causing the oversized tips of my fingers to do a lot more work than they wanted retracing over what I needed to delete.

    The plus is the file size and image quality were perfect to print on wood, the wood grain in the blue sky looks even better with out the stop lights and traffic signs. (natural gloss finish)

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    Overall, TouchRetouch does an excellent job creating an efficient photo editing platform on your mobile device. Taking all this into consideration, TouchRetouch is a very effective app that almost anyone can use, warranting a rating of 3. These minor flaws can be easily fixed, and that beach on Maui can look as stunning as it was, or as you want it to be.

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    For more information on Touch Retouch please visit: http://adva-soft.com/products/touch-retouch/

  • App Review: Fuzel Collage

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    Have you ever wanted to make a collage of photos from your trip to the beach with friends or a fun family vacation or your favorite wedding photos BUT your not an expert at photoshop and don't want to pay someone else who is?   This week’s app review, Fuzel Collage, may just be the perfect solution!   And its not just because it has been generating a good amount of buzz on the app store. It primarily focuses on collage building, but you can also add effects, stickers, and other features to your pictures. Let’s see if lives up the hype!

    The first thing you’ll be greeted with when you open the app is an interactive page and three menu items at the bottom. The gear icon will take you to their settings page where you can rate and review the app, contact email support, etc. The bell icon on the right is simply the notifications alert icon. The icon in the middle is the one we want to focus on seeing as that’s how we are going to choose our pictures. Once you click the add button you are then taken to the photo chooser page where you can either choose an already existing photo from your camera roll or take a new one.

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    You can select as many pictures as you’d like apparently and you’ll notice the “select” ticker on the bottom right corner tell you how many photos you have chosen. I decided to go with 4 pictures I had taken on a hike to Griffith Park.

    After this you’re taken to a collage design chooser page. Automatically the app sets you up to the “simple” template chooser but there is also an animated one that you can use to add videos in your collages, a funky category with more complex layouts, and a free form category with even more options (all of these require an in-app purchase) I personally really like the minimalist approach and usually stick with that, so I chose a layout that I liked under “simple” and hit next.

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    After you have chosen a layout of your choice, you are greeted with the Edit page where you are given several options including layout, effects, frame, sticker, label, text, and fill.

    photo 5The first layout icon will allow you to play around with the foundation layout of your collage and change things like margins, spacing, and shadow. You can also adjust the thickness and roundness of your photos. I added some round effects to my margins and added some shadow for depth.

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    After which you can hit the customize icon on the far bottom right where you can then alter the shape of each of your pictures using the resize icon. I changed one of my picture’s shapes into a triangle as you can see.

    The next option is cut, which basically lets you cut your collage into more sections if needed. The last merge option will allow you to merge two pictures into just one photo using both the previous photo shape and the new one. I clicked apply once I was satisfied with the look of my collage and hit apply twice on the top right corner to confirm both the shape change and layout changes I had made.

    At this point in the design process, if you wanted to change photos and move their positions around you can do so by tapping on the photo and holding and moving it to the desired location.

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    Moving on to the effects section, this is where you can add effects to the whole collage at once or to individual photos. If you wish to add the same effect throughout, just click somewhere on the frame and all the pictures will be affected. If you want to work with specific photos at once, like I did, just click on the desired photo and you’ll notice a pink cutout line appear around the selected picture. All the effect filters are named after a geographical location to represent them, which I thought was pretty quirky. I chose Shanghai for the large picture on top, Paris for the bottom left, Santiago for the middle, and Moscow for the bottom right picture. You’ll also see that whenever you have a picture selected, a sort of transparent magic wand appears in the right middle corner of the app. This takes you to an even more in depth customization screen where you can work with lighting, color, sharpness, and vignettes. You can even flip the desired photo horizontally and vertically. All changes are made by dragging up & down, or left to right.

    Once you have made all the necessary changes, you hit apply and are once again taken to the customization home page. The next icon is the frames icon. You will need to download the free pack the app comes with, by the way. Once it’s downloaded you’re given several pretty cool looking frames. Click on the desired frame and you’re once again taken to the main page.

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    The next icon is stickers, which I never really like to place in my pictures, but to each his own. You’re given the usual options: flowers, hearts, peace sign, and some sayings.12

    If by any chance you place a sticker on your collage that you are unsatisfied with and wish to erase, just drag and drop to the trashcan that will appear on the bottom.

    Next up is the label option that allows you to place different sayings and mantras onto your collage. I went ahead and chose the first option and wrote the word California.

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    The next option is text where you can chose different fonts and styles to write out whatever wordage you like. Because I had already placed a label on my photo and don’t want to clutter it up too much, I skip adding more text to mine.

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    The final option is Fill. Here you can choose to add a color to your background. You can also choose from different patterns once you download the free pack. I chose a swirly black pattern which I thought was pretty cool and was finally able to hit done.

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    From here on you can continue to edit the collage, duplicate it, or delete it. You’ll see a share button on the top right hand corner where you can then save to device, share on Instagram, Facebook, email, Twitter, and Tumblr.

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    Overall, I give this app a rating of 4 because it was very easy to use and handled my directions very well. It did not lag and did exactly what I wanted it to. Not to mention a lot of options for a free app.

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    Now let's see how it looks printed on wood...

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    Bellissimo!

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    For more information on Fuzel Collage please visit: http://www.fuzelapp.com/

  • Rookie App Review

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    This week’s app review comes courtesy of Rookie, a free photo-editing app that’s available on both iPhone and Android.  I decided to give it a try based on customer reviews on iTunes, so let’s see how it did!

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    The first thing you will see when first opening the app is the main camera screen. You will see various icons at the top including the option to turn off flash, white balance on/off, and a double arrow at the top right that switches from front and back camera. The bottom icons include the option to choose from your camera roll (bottom left) the main capture button in white, a settings gear icon that when pressed pulls up several more options including grid, anti-shake, and more and finally a color wheel that allows you to view your picture with the specific filter you choose.

    As you follow the app you’ll also notice that you may get some pop ups here and there where they advertise the in-app purchases. One of those pop-ups will also include a tutorial so feel free to use that as a reference.

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    I went ahead and chose a picture I had taken while hiking in Mt. Rubidoux in Riverside. You’ll notice the icons at the bottom changed slightly when you choose your picture.

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    The first camera icon basically allows you to take another picture and/or choose another picture when prompted. The color wheel allows you to choose between various types of filters that all pop up in nicely organized categories. You’ll notice that some of the categories are opaque, which means that they are only available if you purchase them. I chose the vintage classic category and played around with some of the filters. I particularly liked the “Turkish” filter so I stuck with that one. Once you select the filter you’ll notice a white progress bar appear at the top letting you know that the app is working. You’ll also notice a rewind arrow with a number on it at the top left and a Polaroid button at the top right. Both of these icons allow you to see your original pictures and compare them. The only difference is that the rewind arrow lets you go back between the two and work either one individually, while the Polaroid only lets you see a quick comparison of the two as you tap the icon.

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    Going back to the color wheel option, you will also see two other icons. One looks like a round checkerboard and the other a lightning bolt. The checkerboard option populates the textures menu.

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    Textures 1 through 6 are free, after which you have to pay $1.99 for the premium ones if you wish. You’ll notice you also get a slider pop up that allows you to change the opacity of the texture.

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    I chose texture #5 because it helped add a lot of color to my photograph. Once again, just click the check mark arrow at the bottom and your texture will be applied

    After this step, you can then click on the color wheel once again and you will be given the option to add different light leak effects to your photograph using the lightning bolt icon. You’ll notice the icon at the top left changes to a shuffle looking icon that allows you to change the direction of your light leak to bottom, top, left, or right. I placed mine at the top and hit the check mark.

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    At this point you are then taken back to the main menu. The next feature is the adjustments tab that when clicked will take you to another menu where you can work with various camera settings: (from left to right) cropping, rotation, clarity, brightness/contrast, hue/saturation, vibrance, color temp/tint, fade, hightlight/shadow, sharpen, and double exposure, which is the last icon.

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    What’s interesting about this last DE option is that it gives you the ability to basically ADD another one of your existing photographs to the one you are working on, which I thought was pretty neat. I chose a drawing that I had saved onto my camera roll and it was placed directly on top of my existing photo.  Within the menu you are also given several variations of exposures to work with including Lighten, Screen, Colordodge, and Lineardodge. I worked with several pictures before deciding on some trees using the lighten option. I clicked the check mark and was once again taken to the main screen.

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    The next icon available was a shooting star that populates the text, stickers, and shapes options. The text icon will bring up a keyboard where you can type whatever text you like. Stickers are always fun to play around with but because my picture is busy enough as it is, I opted out of that option.

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    Lastly the shapes option allows you to add different shapes to the picture and/or a letter/number shape. The first icon with the circle in it allows you to work with several shapes and frames, color, thickness, and roundness. I thought the Polaroid option was really cool. The other icon under that same menu allows you to place letters and numbers onto your photo. I played around with this feature but didn’t really see the point.

    At this point you can see that the top left icon now has a number 5 on it.

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    Once I click that I am shown every individual step I’ve taken in order to produce my final image. Here you can go back and choose to work on a specific step and tweak it further if needed. Awesome feature if you ask me.

    The final step would now be to upload the photo or save it to a location using the last arrow and rectangle icon.  You are given the option to save to your camera roll, open in other apps, and share on several social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc. I chose to save mine to my camera roll for later use.

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    I would give this app an overall rating of 4. The intuitive user interface was very easy to use. I also liked that there were a great deal of options to work with considering it's a free app. Awesome work, Rookie!  I think I may starting using this app instead of the built in iPhone camera, one less step to adding fun effects and cool features to my photos instantly.

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    Not to mention how nicely it translated as a print on wood!

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    For more information on Rookie, please visit: http://www.jellybus.com/

  • App review: piclab hd

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    You know those artistic looking motivational posters that simultaneously make you want to puke and make you want to stop spending your nights in bed with Netflix and pizza? Yeah, those. Now, with the help of PicLab HD, you can make your own kick-in-the-ass posters.

    I should also note that these are essential pieces in a popular decorating trend currently sweeping the bedrooms of teenage girls across America. If you don’t believe me, look at Pinterest.

    Considering that these make you kind of hate yourself, they are also rather fun to make. It’s hard to go wrong with PicLab’s multitude of choices, and if you do, it’s digital, so no one has to know.

    If you don’t fit into the teenage girl demographic, don’t worry. This app still has merit, which is one of the main reasons that I actually considered it. For all of you DIY types, this has the potential to create great cards, and actually features pages of artwork specifically dedicated to occasions like weddings, Mother’s Day and Christmas.

    There are two versions of PicLab, the free version and the HD one for $1.99. For the sake of research, I downloaded both, and was unsurprised to find that the HD version is far superior. That’s not to say that if you’re a cheapskate or just dabbling, you can’t get by fine with the free one, but there are far less design options and the majority of them are in-app purchases. To be clear- this review is on the HD version, which I highly recommend.

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    This is the first screen that you see. Well, replace my photo gallery with your own, but you get the picture. Helpfully provided is the ‘Inspiration’ button, which is a link to the Instagram feed of everyone else’s beautifully illustrated words of wisdom. Check it out, because it will give you a much better idea of the options that PicLab provides you with.

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    Here’s a hint: choose your most boring photo. Ok, not your most boring photo, but one that makes a good background. If it’s too busy, then it’s probably better suited to be an actual photograph and not covered in text and other stuff. This is a shot of the Smithsonian Castle in Washington D.C. that yes, I actually took. Now, first order of business is to mess with the photo.

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    In terms of editing, PicLab is pretty basic. You have your crop and rotate, your brightness, saturation, exposure, etc. Then again, the picture just the background, it’s not meant to be the focus of your creation. And, as you can see above, the basics do just fine. If you’re really picky, feel free to run your picture through another photo editing app first, but I personally saw no need to. Also provided were several light effects, which I didn’t choose to use on this particular photo, but that are cool.

    Okay, that was the boring part. On to the meat of the app, which is the artsy stuff. By now, you probably have at least a general idea of how you want your poster to look (and if you don’t, then go back to the ‘Inspirations’ button on the first screen). Chances are you’re using an inspirational quote of some sort, though other viable options include improving scrapbook photos, creating wedding announcements, etc. Any way you choose to use PicLab, you have plenty of options.

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    I counted 77 fonts, and didn’t even bother trying to count the number of doodles and other things available. While we’re still on the topic of text, though, make sure you experiment a little. You can curve the line of text, shrink or expand it, change the alignment, create separate text blocks with different fonts/sizes, etc. I kept mine relatively simple, all things considered.

    When you’re reasonably satisfied with the results, move on to the tab labeled ‘Artwork.’

    Here’s where you can get really creative. There’s all kinds of doodles, pre-done labels, banners, and other things that you can add to your picture. Let it be known that mine almost had a whale on it.

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    Like I mentioned before, there’s all kinds of themes to the artwork. Love, summer, cartoons, moms, it’s all there. There is a small catch here though. Just about half of the categories are in-app purchases, denoted by a tiny dollar sign in the top right corner, which you can choose to buy separately (as a category) or you can just buy all additional artwork at once for $2.99. Since I already paid for the app, I was perfectly happy to stick to the stuff that was included, which proved to be plenty. That being said, there are some really cool things available for purchase.

    Again, I decided to stay relatively simple, and just chose to add a little texture to my creation. Once you are happy with yours (read: tired of messing with it), the blue checkmark in the upper right saves your poster and gives you the option to share it in a variety of ways.

    Remember, at Prints on Wood.com, you can upload your photo via camera roll, Facebook or Instagram.

    Here’s my finished product:

    unknown-5

    And I really can’t wait to see it printed on wood.

    App_review

    Looks pretty good if I don't say so myself!  Printed on natural gloss it looks like it would fit in just fine next to the posters in my professor's office.

    All in all, I would give this app 3 stars out of 4, and a recommendation to my friends.

    RATE

    There were many positives, including the numerous uses for the app (you now know where my Christmas cards are coming from) and the design options that it gave, as well as the inspiration for those of us who weren’t entirely sure where to start. The app itself was fairly intuitive, and though it took a little getting used to, once I figured out what everything did, it was easy to navigate. The reason that this app doesn’t get that fourth star, though, is those in-app purchases. Come on, guys. I already paid for your app. Additionally, there were several annoying freezes and other bugs that need to be worked out to make the app more user friendly. For example, a few times I had trouble with moving both font and art around the screen, which got rather frustrating.

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    For more information on PicLab HD, please visit: http://piclabapp.com/

  • App Review: FxCamera

    APP_FxCamera

    Have you ever wanted a quick fix filter to make a photo get just the right look?  How about an app that offers creativity through a fisheye, symmetrical, or artsy Andy Warhol effect with the push of a button.  I think we have found just the app, FxCamera does all of this and more for FREE!  Let's see if this app preforms as well as the pay apps we have reviewed.

    photo 1

    Unlike most apps I’ve come across, this one doesn’t have a single home page but instead gives you the several camera options right off the bat, which I thought was a bit cool.  You can scroll through five options- ToyCam, Instant, Symmetric, Fisheye and Normal+.   On their website they offer show an additional option "Poster" which adds a Andy Warhol look, maybe its coming soon?

    photo 2

    As you look at each option, there are two icons at the bottom of the screen, camera icon and a stack of photos.  The camera icon opens your camera on the iphone, the stack of photos right next to the camera icon, is where your past pictures used with the app are saved.

    I chose the first ToyCam option and was immediately shown the camera screen.

    photo 4

    This screen works very similar to the native iPhone camera where you can choose to take a picture with flash, rotate to the front camera, etc. One interesting feature of the app was the ability to record sound while photographing, which is what that little microphone to the right of the camera icon is for. I don’t really know why you would want to record sound with a picture but hey, I wanted to give it a try anyway. To my disappointment, this feature didn’t quite work and after several failed attempts, the app crashed.

    Instead of taking a picture I went and looked for one in my camera roll, as usual. Being the crazy cat lady that I am, I chose a picture of my little one eyed baby, Goonie.photo 5

    At this screen I became a little disappointed by the lack of customization options that you are given, which in this case is the option to place a border around your picture and turning on and off the brightness. Not very versatile if you ask me.

    One quick look around the other features such as Instant, Symmetric, and Fisheye confirmed my assumption, the app isn’t customization friendly. I can’t tweak anything!

    photo 6Symmetric Filter

    photo 7Fisheye Filter

    I decided to go with the Retro filter under the ToyCam option. By clicking the checkmark arrow directly underneath the picture, it saves the image to your phone’s camera roll.

    photo 8

    The next screen you are shown is “Share Photo” where you can write a caption and then share on Facebook and Twitter.photo 9

    Because I have one too many pictures of my cat on social media and don’t want people un-friending me, I chose to forgo this option. I did give it a try however, just to see if the app was able to connect to Facebook smoothly and was pleased to find that it indeed did!

    Overall, I gave this app a wood rating of 3. It was very easy to use but I didn’t like the fact that I couldn't personalize any pictures further than just choosing a filter and brightness, but given that it was a free app, what it did have was worth the time and effort.

    RATE

    Let's see how it printed on wood! Goonie POW

    The finished piece was a 6" x 6" print with natural gloss finish, which turned out to look pretty neat despite the app's limited customization features.

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    For more information on FxCamera please visit: https://fxcamera.com/

  • App Review: Mextures

    APP_TITLE_Mextures

    Want to add some texture to your photos?  How about a mix of textures to create the prefect filter formula?  If you could how could you capture the perfect mixture of textures and use it over and over again on all your photos?  You have probably guess by now, but this weeks app review is on Mexture.  An app that allows you to create your own unique blend of texture and save it to use over and over again.  According to the app it will make your photos look like a picture in an Urban Outfitters catalog.  So let's get started!

    photo 1

    The home screen is designed beautifully and has several options for you to play around with. The first icon, the Erlenmeyer flask, is where your saved formulas are located (we'll get to that later), the lightning bolt takes you to an inspiration page, the newspaper icon takes you to a news page, and the question mark icon allows you to read a tutorial, rate the app, etc.

    The other icons are the camera, which allows you to take a brand new picture and the library icon, which will open your camera roll. I have a plethora of pictures in my phone so I open up a picture I took at the Japanese Garden in Portland. Because I’m going for that Urban Outfitters look, I choose some random pine trees. Pretty boring looking if you ask me…..let’s see what this app is capable of!photo 2

    Once you crop your picture, you are then presented with different Textures and Formulas. If you had opened the tutorial in the home screen, you would know that textures are added as layers to your image to create a unique look and formulas are saved combinations of textures and/or polish. I stick to the textures and scroll down to “Landscape Enhance”, since my picture is part of a landscape, after all…

    photo 4

    In this screen you’ll noticed you are faced with a number of icons and options. I was a bit overwhelmed when I first saw this but once you get to know each icon, you’re all set. Remember to also keep referencing the tutorial page if you need help (I did).

    The first step would be to choose a texture from the many options on the bottom before handling anything else. I chose the Winter Dusk texture and then went on to the first magic wand icon, also known as the blending tool. This tool basically allows you to add a layer of different tones of light and dark to your photo.

    photo 5

    Once you choose a blend option you are taken back to your work screen. The next icon you’ll see is a rectangle with a number on it. This tells you how many layers you have on one picture, which is where the next icon comes in. The third and middle icon is a plus sign where you can add another texture on top of your already existing one.  I added like 4 of them in one and noticed that my rectangle no longer said 1, but 4. One quick look in this section and I’m able to see all the layers that I’ve added and I can then turn them off and on with the eye icon (similar to Photoshop).

    photo 6photo 8

    The fourth icon you’ll see are some adjustment knobs, also known as “polish”. This will give you several adjustment preferences to polish up your pictures, including Film, Black&White, Exposure, and more…easy enough.

    photo 9

    The last icon looks like a little Erlenmeyer flask (for those of us who remember chemistry) is the formulas option, which as you recall are saved combinations of textures and/or polish. There are guest formulas from people that have created their own and shared it, landscape formulas, black and white, Spring, etc……If you click this option you will be faced with a screen asking if you’re sure you want to remove the edits you’ve already worked on. For the purpose of this app review, I clicked yes. photo 10

    photo 11

    Since I chose a winter formula that made my trees look really dark and gloomy, so I had to start all over again.  Having followed the steps again, I came up with this.

    FINAL

    Once you’re satisfied with your picture you are given the option to save to your library, share on Twitter, Mail, Instagram.

    photo 12

    The “open with” preference allows you to open it in any apps you may already have installed which for me was Tangent, Lory Stripes, and even Tumblr. You can also choose to save the current formula and name it for later reference. These can be found in the formulas tab under “My Formulas”.

    I gave this app a wood rating of 4 because it was easy to navigate and had an extensive design palette.

    RATING

    Now, let's see how it looks printed on wood!  The image file was big enough to create a print as large as 24"x24" wood print.  Printed on Natural Gloss finish, the wood print turned out really cool!

    Mextures_Tree

    For more information on Mextures please visit: http://www.mextures.com/

  • APP REVIEW: LORYSTRIPES

    APP_LoryStripes

     

    So what’s the purpose of stripes anyway? This week we find out with Lory Stripes.

    Because it was created by the same developer as Tangent (app we reviewed last week), the home screen was eerily familiar, but comforting. Just like Tangent the home screen displays four icons.

    photo 1

    The camera icon activates your camera to take a brand new picture.  The film roll allows you to bring an already existing picture from your camera roll into the app, which was what I did. I will continue to praise the light bulb “idea” button because it gives you a quick idea of what the app is capable of doing by showing user examples.  Lastly, the question mark icon takes you to a “how to” section where you can research the different features of the app and even watch a tutorial video on how to use it.

    photo 2

    Like Tangent, you have the option of changing the size and orientation of your picture, which is the easy part. After this, I found out the app gets a bit complicated.

    photo 3

    Once you click the check mark at the upper right corner, you are taken to the first set of options in the app, the stripes themselves. There are a whole lot of different combinations of stripes that you can choose from and use to weave around your picture.

    photo 4

    At the top of the screen you’ll notice a small cube button. While this button is activated, you can change the perspective of your stripe and make it more 3D if you prefer. The same button when pressed again will turn into a four-way arrow that you activate when you want to change the actual direction/placement of your stripes. It also allows you to change the size of the stripes.

    image 5

    It took me a while to find a good stripe combo to accent my picture, but in the end I chose a swirl like design. You can also “shuffle” between different modes of the same stripe that you like.

    photo 6

    Once you choose your stripe, you are then directed to the menu page where you will see three icons.

    image 7

    Since you’ve already worked on the first one, no need to worry about it. The second icon pictured is a multi stripe one where, once clicked, will allow you choose the color of your stripes.

     photo 8

    Apart from color you will notice various “shade” modes to choose from. This is where you can choose where certain darker shades or even transparencies will fall on your design. Easy enough!

    photo 9

    The next icon is one of red paint over a line. This is the masking option that allows you to erase certain parts of your stripe so that it looks like it’s weaving through your subject in the original picture.  After selecting that icon the screen shows a series of five icons along the bottom of the screen.

    photo 10

    The first double arrow icon allows you to clear the mask completely and start over. The second arrow does double duty as both an undo and redo option. The remaining three pretty much all do the same thing: erase.

    photo 11

    With the first one you can choose the type of eraser head you want to use. There is a square one for those hard to reach edges, a blur edge one for a feather effect, and a circle one.  The squiggly line that comes next allows you to draw a red splotch on your subject so that you know where it is you’re erasing. It is very important that you zoom into your picture before making any corrections because if not, your eraser will be HUGE and will erase things you don’t want to erase. Finally the last button also doubles as a pencil and an eraser. If you ever erase a part of the stripe that you want, you can use the pencil option to re-draw it.

    I will say this part of the app was the most difficult to use and took me several frustrated tries to get it down just right.

    photo 12

    In the end, you can share to your hearts content via Instagram, email, and text. You can also “re-stripe”, which allows you to keep the design you just made and keep adding even more designs onto your already existing one.

    I chose to “Save to Camera Roll”, then uploaded it to PrintsonWood.com, selected the ¼” thick, bright white finish then found a cute model to hold it while I took a picture.

    app_ls

    Although it’s a bit hard to use your first try, I will still would give this app a wood rating of 4 because of its great design capabilities, the number of options you are given to work with and the a file size big enough to print a good quality print on wood.

    RATING

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    For more information on LoryStripes App, please visit: http://lorystripes.com/

  • APP REVIEW: TANGENT

    APP_Tangent

    This week I’ve decided to give the app “Tangent” a chance at some photography fun seeing as it was voted one of the best apps for this past year.

    What I liked about the initial screen was that it was nice and neat. I hate when apps have a million buttons and more ads than a late night TV informercial. What’s cool is that the small lightbulb icon pictured took me to an inspiration page with some awesome user created photos. Thanks for the ideas!

    photo 1

    I went ahead and chose a picture I had taken of the Space Needle during my trip to Seattle this past month.

    Once you choose the picture and size you’d want to use, the app gives you the option of  either starting your own fresh design or using one of their already set up templates, which you can then alter to your taste.

    image

    I chose the start fresh option myself but I did look around their templates and saw that a majority of them were very well put together.

    The app then gives you three icons from which to choose from: shapes, textures, and color schemes. Many designs are included in the initial purchase, but you can also buy more intricate shapes and patterns. I found I already had a ton of options to work with in the starter pack and stuck with that.

    image-1

    After messing around with the various color schemes and shapes, I decided on a simple line frame for my picture. I noticed that the app doesn’t have a “filter” setting like Instagram does, where you can change the color of the actual image to black & white, etc. You would first have to alter it on another app and then work from there.

    Tangent app review

    Once you hit done, you are given the ability to choose from various saving and storing options. I really liked that the Instagram feature was integrated for us addicts, but you can also stick with traditional features such as email and text message. There are also other Pixite LLC apps to choose from for a seamless integration.

    photo 4

    Overall I would give this app a 4, it was great to use and I was able to create a lovely design in no time.

    RATING

    Now, on to the wood!

    Space-Needle

    I am really impressed with how this app printed on wood!  The app saved my image in a file size large enough to print this 6x6 wood print with Natural Gloss finish in great resolution.  This app is well worth the $2 to add some fun designs to your photos.

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    For more information on Tangent, please visit:  http://tangentapp.com/

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