[This week I am reposting a series of articles originally written for another site, because they are no longer available there. Note that some of the app icons have changed since these original screenshots were created, but functions are located in the same place in the app. Enjoy! –Kat]
It’s time to take your Smartphone Art in a new direction! In Smartphone Art 1, you learned how to get a good photograph with your smartphone camera, and in Smartphone Art 2, you discovered how to make that photograph even better with basic photo editing. In this installment, we’ll look at some creative editing apps that take your images beyond photography, and how you can combine and blend the output of different apps to create unique works of art.
One of the best things about mobile photography is the proliferation of apps that can quickly and easily take your photograph and transform it into something different.
The apps range from simple one-click transformations, such as the Glaze app shared in the painting example above, to effects with multiple setting adjustments to customize the look, such as the Aquarella example below.
The outputs of these apps are fun, but I often find that the look of an image after processing with a single creative app is predictable, especially if it doesn’t allow customization. It doesn’t look like a unique piece of art to me; it looks like a photograph processed with an app. To go beyond the predictable, you can blend app outputs to create something new and interesting.
A blending app allows you to combine two different starting images in a variety of ways to get an alternate effect. You can blend two different images, adding textures or creating collage effects, or you can blend two of the same image, each image processed by different apps to develop unique looks. This second way, blending the same image processed in many different apps, is typically how I use a blending app to create a finished piece.
The best blending apps will offer multiple blending modes (like multiply, darken, soft light, etc.), as well as masking and arranging/resizing of one image relative to the other. Image Blender, Juxtaposer, and Superimpose are all examples of iOS apps which have these features. (Note: I have not been able to identify a similar app for Android yet! Please leave a note in the comments if you know of one.)
My favorite app for blending images is Image Blender, so I’ll share a few instructions on this app. When you open the app, you first have to load your images. At the bottom of the screen, tap the empty frame on the left to load your bottom image, and tap the empty frame on the right to load the top image.
For this example, I’m loading these two images:
First, I select a blending mode. When you tap the blending mode icon, the menu shows up. Tap each blending mode to see a preview of the blend. When you find a blending mode you want to play with, tap the blending mode icon again to commit the mode.
Now, you shift the slider back and forth to change the relative blend of the two images. Some blending modes, like Normal, work the same regardless of which image is on the bottom or top. Other blending modes, such as Lighten, change depending on which image is on top.
If you have an area where you don’t want to blend the top image with the bottom image, you can mask the top image. Tap the Masking icon, and now you can erase parts of the top image from the blend. If you accidentally take away too much, you can tap the pencil to switch modes and add the pixels back in.
If you want to change the size of the top image relative to the bottom image, you can do that via the Arrange function. Pinch in or out to change the relative size of the top image, shift left or right, or twist to change the angle.
You can always reset your mask and arrange settings by tapping on the top image to get to the reset menu.
When you like the blend, you can save by tapping the Export icon and selecting the “Save to Camera Roll” option. From here, you can either play with more blending modes with the same two images, or you can combine the newly blended image with more processed images. To do this, you need to flatten the two images you’ve blended, which is done by going to the Export menu and selecting the “Flatten” option. After the image is flattened, you can import a new image to the top.
You repeat the same process of importing, blending, saving and flattening with a variety of processed images until you get a finished product you like. Don’t forget, your newly blended image can be processed through other apps and create even more unusual effects.
Variable & Unique
When you use this method of creating altered photographs, you come out with a distinctive image which varies greatly with the starting photograph and the apps used to process, along with the sequence and method of blending.
This is what makes each final image an inimitable work of art. Even for myself, I couldn’t exactly recreate the output for many of the images I create, because the sequence, blending mode and percentage of blend are not recorded.
To me, part of the fun is in the serendipity of the process and knowing that each piece I create is truly unique.
Now it’s your turn! Try editing your images with apps that take them beyond a photograph, and then blending them together to see what you can create. You may be surprised at how addicting this process can be!
If you’d like to learn more about blending apps to create interesting images, you can review the mobile tutorials on my site or take a Smartphone Art workshop with me in the future. I’d love to share more with you!