Part of living a creative life is exploring new techniques and learning new tools. I’ve been doing more and more with an app called iColorama, an amazingly featured and versatile artistic app. This tutorial on how I created “Castles on the Sand” will give you an example of a few features you will find inside this app.
The image starts with a walk on the beach in Bandon. Our spring break trip was quite rainy, but we had some clear patches each day for a walk on this amazing beach. The tide was going out so the wet sand was perfect for reflections, and a storm was blowing in so there was this amazing light and sky.
My starting image is not perfect. It’s not even on focus! I’m not sure if I just missed getting the focus right (I can’t tell unless I have my reading glasses on, which I didn’t), or if it was blowing so hard I couldn’t hold the camera still (I do remember wind), but either way it’s out of focus. But the shapes, light, and reflections are perfect, so I thought…I’ll try a painterly look!
The first step of the edit was in Snapseed, to change the color tones to a more monochromatic look using a Vintage filter without the vignette. As much as I like iColorama for a lot of things, the color filters are not my favorite. I’ll usually start in Snapseed, Mextures or Stackables if I want to change the color tones.
Isn’t this a nice blue?
Next into iColorama. Since I’m going for a painterly look, I start with the Painterly filters, found in Style on the main menu. The way iColorama works, the main menu is always at the top. After you select a main menu, a submenu appears below it to scroll through, left to right. Look for available Presets in the bottom right, which will pop up effect options you can scroll through (top to bottom) if there are any available. In the bottom left, you will find an Opacity slider which allows you to reduce opacity and blend with the previous image if you want to reduce the intensity of a given effect.
This screen shot is from the iPad, which gives you a lot more room for all of these menus and options. The menus can be found in the same relative location on the screen with the iPhone version, but you don’t see as many options at a time and they will overlap the image. To close a pop up menu, like the Preset options on the right, just tap the Preset icon again. You can tell which menus and options are on at any given moment by the blue text and highlighting.
I liked the simplified edges of the Painterly 3 filter at 100% Opacity, shown here.
That was a good start, but I wanted more variation in the feel of the painted look so I decided to “paint” it myself, which you can do from the Brush menu. Unlike many painterly effects in apps which apply an effect to the whole image, in the iColorama Brush menu you actually get to paint!
Choose a type of Brush, I chose Bristle here, and then look at your options. There are different Presets, which in his case determine how much you smear color from one area to another, different brush shapes and other settings. You can change the color of your background canvas from white as well.
Along with the usual Opacity slider on the left, you can also change size and stroke opacity for your brush. There are so many options it can be overwhelming, so to get started stick with the defaults and play around. You know me, I’m all about learning from experimentation! A finished product doesn’t have to come out at the end.
As you get into this type of detailed brush work, you are going to want to zoom and pan to see exactly what is going on with your brushstrokes. You do that my tapping the Zoom Move option on the left of the window. When this option is highlighted, you can zoom in and out using two fingers and pan the image using one. When you are ready to brush again, just tap to turn off the Zoom Move menu.
You’ll also note on the left that you have a few undo options. Undo will remove the last stroke (unfortunately it doesn’t have a longer memory than the last stroke!), Erase will allow you to erase an area back to blank canvas, and Clean will revert the whole image back to blank canvas. Don’t you love digital painting? Can’t do any of that with real paint and canvas!
I played with a couple of options on this image. My first one left a bit of blank canvas in places, shown here.
I thought those bits of white were distracting even though I liked the variation they added, so in the end, I painted the whole image.
I still added variation through the stroke texture and color blending that happens in the painting process. You can see that better in an enlarged view.
I didn’t feel this was quite done yet, so I went back into the Style menu and played with more painterly options. I liked one of the Presets from the Water menu, which gave more contrast to the edges of the rock as well as color variation in the open spaces, but still brought through the stroke variation I had added in the prior painting step. It also brightened the color back up. And this felt done! Here is the final image again:
You are going to see me using this app more and more. I’ve had it forever and recommend it in my book, Art with an iPhone, but didn’t start using it regularly until #30edits pushed me out of my comfort zone. I’ve barely scratched the surface of what it can do. As I continue to learn, I will share with you. I’d love to see what you do with it!