…continuing from yesterday’s new trick learnt, I went exploring further. I knew I wanted an App that does blending of images, collage-style, but with a “harmonious” feel. By this I mean the feathering and softening of edges where the blended images meet, rather than solid, straight grid lines between images. Now, I know some of you already collage your holiday/wedding/birthday etc snapshots likewise, and this is old news…but it’s new to this old dog, so bear with me ;-).
My Samsung Galaxy S4′s native camera’s in-roll editor gives me a rudimentary “harmonious” collage, as you would have read in my previous post. And that was what started me on my quest. Now I needed to find an App that satisfied the following criteria:
1. The ability to blend as many images as I want, at the same time, without having to save and reload.
2. The ability to move, rotate and resize images on the screen easily.
3. The ability to sort the layers of photos, to bring one above or below another.
4. The ability to add backgrounds or textures to the overall image, as a unifying factor.
5. The ability to change the ratio of the resulting collaged image, i.e 1:1 for square format, to vertical or horizontal rectangles, etc.
I know. Tall order, right? It would be an additional Plus if I could find an App that does all the above And More.
Guess what? I did! It’s on the Google Play Store, and it’s called “Blend Collage“. There’s a Free and a Paid version, I tested out the free version first and was impressed enough to purchase the full version, I believe it cost me AU$2.25. The full version lets you save at maximum resolution. The free version would be fine if you’re just doing collages for fun or for your own photo albums, but for my purposes, I need my images to be at the highest resolutions possible.
Screenshots showing the in-app how-to tutorial (self-explanatory, really):
I had a good play with the App and found it intuitive to use, with no indecipherable icons. There is no Undo button as such. However, until you actually click on the “Save” button, you may go back to each individual image in your collage and change their position, size, orientation, amount of blurring or feathering, even delete images or add new ones.
Blend Collage certainly ticks all the boxes outlined above, and then some. The bonuses I found were that you can add Text and Clipart from within the App itself, without having to export your work into another App. There’s also the choice of numerous backgrounds and textures to add to your work, without having to go outside the App. It’s quite a comprehensive App and I’m glad I found it.
The masking lasso (the icon labelled “Mask”) is particularly useful, as it can be used to mask each image individually. You can adjust the amount of blurring around the edges of each image to your heart’s content; as long as you haven’t clicked on “Save”, you will be able to go back and tweak the effects. To toggle between one function or filter and another, just click on the button at the top left corner. It functions somewhat like a Back button.
Also, in the Settings (cogwheel icon at the top right corner), my S4 had images saving at 9/10 quality, presumably to save on storage space. You can easily set this to save at 10/10 i.e 100%. This may well make saving your work take a tad longer, but it will be worth it if high resolutions are a must, like they are for my own work.
I’m still playing with Blend Collage, figuring out how I’m going to incorporate it with my projects. But so far, it’s exceeded my expectations. Here is a collage I threw together the first time I tried the App out. As you can tell, it’s only a rough estimate. I haven’t found the ideal amount of blurring/feathering/fogging around the edges of my mask yet, but that will come with practice, I’m sure.
And here is another example, only this time I’ve not done any blurring of the edges, but instead have chosen to play around with the layers of butterflies and I also added a background taken from within the App itself. The butterflies came out blurry, I enlarged them too much…however, I like how easy it is to simply lay one image over another and alter the order of the layers. Hmmm…I think this is worth exploring further.
Here are some more images which I have run through other Apps after forming the initial collage in Blend Collage.
And these two, where I think I’m finally getting the hang of the blurring-of-the-edges look.
UPDATE 3rd June 2014:
Sad to report that, after updating my Samsung Galaxy S4 to Android 4.4.2 KitKat, Blend Collage can no longer save my work. At all. I have written to the developers but it’s been a week now and I’ve had no response. If your Android device is not yet on 4.4.2, you will probably still be able to use this App.
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