Category: Android Apps


Feeling creative or artistic but can’t draw to save your life? Join the club! Fear not, though. Here is an App that will entertain as well as educate you at the same time.

It’s called Kinetica. Put simply, it’s an app that plays with shapes and elements of different artists’ techniques and produces random configurations of it that can be saved and used on your mobile device as backgrounds, to create your own arty cards, share with friends etc.

The 12 different styles highlighted by Kinetica are:

(Shapes)
Circles
Spirals
Florals
Glyphs
Science
Palettes
Bulbs
Triangles

(Artists)
Mondrian
Miro
Kandinsky
Calder

Here’s the educational part. While exploring each individual artist’s style, (see above), tapping on the “i” button on the bottom right corner of the page brings you to the Wikipedia page dedicated to that particular artist.

The App developer, Alex Lamb, says this of Kinetica: (screenshot taken from within the App itself)

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Using Kinetica is really easy and intuitive. Across the top and bottom of the page are icons that control various aspects, such as background colour, dots that can be used to rearrange your configuration, a randomization button, a freeze/unfreeze frame icon, a button to change from one style or colourpath to another, a > button to Play or put your configuration in motion.

Here are a few screenshots to show you what playing with Kinetica can result in:

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Now go have fun!

Posted from WordPress for Android.

http://www.alyzenmoonshadow.wix.com/alyzenmoonshadow

Alas, alack! Now that I am on Android KitKat 4.4.2 (ominous drum roll, please), 2 of my must-have Apps for “harmonious blending”, namely Blend Collage and Photo Tangler, have stopped saving my work, rendering themselves essentially useless. I have contacted both App developers, and to date have not gotten any acknowledgement or response. So, all day yesterday and today I have been searching on Android’s Google Play Store for alternatives.

One after another, I discarded all potential replacement Apps for my beloved, newly departed Blend Collage and Photo Tangler. What I wanted was an App with that feathered edges look, so I could collage different backgrounds together seamlessly without any hard edges.

I do have a back-up, thankfully. My Samsung Note 10.1 2014 edition has not been updated to KitKat 4.4.2, so both Blend Collage and Photo Tangler still work on it. Problem is, I don’t tend to carry the Note around with me, and all my photos are on my S4. I have transferred the bulk of my background images over to the Note now, so, if I have no other alternative, I will process my background collages on the Note, then transfer them back to the S4 for further processing. Pain in the proverbial, though!

As I tried and discarded App after App today, something at the back of my mind niggled me. At the last hour, literally, just before midnight last night, I decided to test out my theory…

…which was to utilise an App that I’ve only ever used for one thing – cutting out images. I figured if that App could cut out images for me, it MUST have a collage function somewhere to paste all those cutouts.

Yes!!! My hunch was correct. Face palm I have been so silly to have ignored that little niggling voice in my head all day…The App is my beloved AThumb Cut. And it gives me the all-important feathering of the edges. Hurrah!

Some screenshots to show you the pathway on AThumb Cut. And just so I remember the steps myself. Remember: the key is the Jigsaw icon.

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With AThumb Cut’s “Jigsaw” collage function, I am able to manipulate each component image individually. I am not limited as to how many images I want to cobble together. I can resize, twist or distort up to a complete 360° rotation, freeze/unfreeze in place, I can tweak the opacity or transparency of each individual component image, and most importantly, use the “Edge Transparency” and “Edge Colour” sliders to create the feathering of the edges.

Here are a few more “collaged backgrounds” I’ve created:

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So, who’s a happy bunny again? I shook my fist at the sky and yelled “I’ll never give up!”…and my efforts were rewarded.

This famous Anonymous poem sums it up perfectly:

Everyone of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about
When they might have won, had they stuck it out.
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow,
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than,
It seems to a faint and faltering man,
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor’s cup;
And he learned too late when the night came down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit,
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit!

Posted from WordPress for Android.

http://www.alyzenmoonshadow.wix.com/alyzenmoonshadow

My newest artistic project is called “100 Butterflies”. It’s a series of digital mixed media photography art, (quite a mouthful, I know) around the main theme of butterflies. No, not 100 butterflies all at once, but rather 1 single butterfly on every piece I create, until I have done 100 in total.

At around the same time as my interest was piqued by butterflies, I also happened upon a collage App on the Google Play Store, called “Blend Collage”. I was impressed enough to blog about that App, here: http://wp.me/p3JNYN-1qT

However, my Samsung Galaxy S4 (my weapon of choice) was on Android 4.3 back then, but I very recently upgraded it to Android 4.4.2 KitKat…and now I’m disappointed to report that I can no longer use “Blend Collage”, as it just won’t save my work anymore :-(. I have written to the App developers, but not received a response. Probably a lost cause, SIGH.

However, being the resourceful girl that I am, I soon found a replacement App that offers more or less the same type of harmonious collaging that “Blend Collage” did. It’s a little different, but in some ways it offers more scope and freedom of expression, and it’s called “Photo Tangler”.

“Photo Tangler” is available on both Android and iOS.

On Android’s Google Play Store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.solideightstudios.phototangler

On the iOS iTunes App Store: https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/phototangler-collage-maker/id458169750?mt=8

Now, it may not be the App of choice for iOS users, as there are many other Collage Apps like it available on the App Store. For my own intent and purpose though, it does what it says on the tin, and, there being not many Collage Apps offering “harmonious” blending on the Android platform, I’m very happy with this App.

And so, back to Project “100 Butterflies”. I started this Project by simply blending 2 or more background images using Pics Art, then juxtaposing my butterflies on the resulting image. Then, with the short-lived arrival of “Blend Collage”, I started digitally collaging my backgrounds together, before adding my butterflies. When “Blend Collage” went kaput, I started using “Photo Tangler” instead. And yes, the butterflies are derived from photos of real butterflies that I meticulously turned into clipart on my S4.

Here are some examples from the Project. The ones with the more varied backgrounds are the ones I did using “Blend Collage” or “Photo Tangler”. Some of these images you will soon be able to purchase on my Society 6 page as throw pillows, shower curtains, iPhone/Samsung mobile cases, t-shirts, prints, cards etc : http://society6.com/alyzenmoonshadow

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UPDATE 5th June 2014:
Now I can’t get this App to save my work, either :-(. I have emailed the developers about this problem and if I ever get a response, or if the App gets fixed, I will let you folks know.

The silver lining for me is that I did not update my Galaxy Note, and both Blend Collage and Photo Tangler still work on it. So I guess I will have to transfer my backgrounds to the Note, process my collaging on that, and then transfer the results back to my S4 for further processing. A pain in the proverbial, but needs must, right?!

Posted from WordPress for Android.

http://www.alyzenmoonshadow.wix.com/alyzenmoonshadow

…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):

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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.

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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.

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Here are some more images which I have run through other Apps after forming the initial collage in Blend Collage.

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And these two, where I think I’m finally getting the hang of the blurring-of-the-edges look.

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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.

Posted from WordPress for Android.

http://www.alyzenmoonshadow.wix.com/alyzenmoonshadow

Today I’ll share my workflow of how I created “Good Morning, Mother Nature!”.

The substrate I used for printing my image was this Japanese handmade paper with gold flakes and thread inclusions. I wanted to see if the paper would accept inkjet inks well.

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The original image, of the bird on an Angelica flowerhead, is a detail from a piece of scrapbooking paper. (I am rather partial to scrapbooking paper).

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I took 2 further images of a similar nature and blended the 3 together in Photoshop Touch.

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I then processed the image in PicsArt and chose this graduated colour filter. I used Repix and ran the image through an entire gamut of filters – drips, daubs, hatches, chalk, etc etc – until the entire image was obscured. Then I used the Undoer brush to reveal parts of the image I wanted to show. (Incidentally, that is my favourite technique at the moment. I love the “revealing” process, it makes me feel like a paleontologist with a rock containing a dinosaur fossil).

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I then ran this through Photo Editor, tweaking saturation, contrast, sharpening, etc and I played around with hues until I found one I really liked.

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Here I have printed out the image onto my substrate and pasted it onto a cradled wooden panel using gel medium. (The Japanese paper took inkjet inks very well indeed, it looks and feels like sewing interfacing…hmm, I wonder if I should try printing on that next?)

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A little bit of gold paint brushed over the sides, some black paint to neaten the edges, and a few more layers of varnish ought to finish the job.

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Posted from WordPress for Android.

http://www.alyzenmoonshadow.wix.com/alyzenmoonshadow

…is that they sometimes just don’t want to play fair. I have 2 printers at home. One is a Canon Pixma MX870 which does A4. The other is an Epson Artisan 1430 that prints up to A3.

I call the Pixma “Beauty” and the Artisan “The Beast”.

Why? Because the Artisan just loves chewing up paper in its feed, then plays silly buggers with the inks. It will give me artistic streaks and smudges where I don’t want any. I have a Rihac CISS ink supply feeding it, but sometimes even when the ink wells are full, it still cries wolf and tells me a refill is needed. The CISS system comes with a syringe, which one uses to blow any stoppages or vacuoles in the feed. (Once I forgot to remove the little plug while injecting air into the big compartment, and Magenta ink spewed out all over my fingers, onto the printer, on my carpet, on our guest sofabed. For the rest of the day I went about like someone caught literally red-handed). A single genuine Epson ink cartridge is around $27. The reason I use the CISS is because a complete refill of 6 inks only costs me around $75, and lasts a lot longer than standard genuine Epson cartridges.

The Pixma, while older, takes generic ink cartridges from my local news agent. A whole set of those cartridges costs around $35. A whole set of genuine Pixma cartridges would set me back over $100.

The other problem I have with the Artisan is that my Mac that I use to resample photos is in the dining area of my home, whilst the Artisan is in the spare room. With its paper-chewing tendencies, this makes it hard for me to press the Print button on my Mac, then run over to the spare room in time to hold the Artisan’s hand to make sure it feeds properly.

The problem I have with the Pixma is that for some reason only known to itself, it just won’t talk to my Mac via Wi Fi. I have tried everything I can think of to get the two to have a conversation, but either one is mute or the other is deaf.

So, up until a couple of months ago I had six of one and half a dozen of the other, when it came to printers. Until I discovered that the adage “There’s an App for that” is true. There really is an App for BOTH my Beauty and my Beast. So now, unless I really need to resample my images to ginormous proportions, I can simply let my Samsung Galaxy S4 talk to Beauty and the Beast.

The App I use for the Pixma is called the “Canon Easy-PhotoPrint”. I did try a few other Canon printer apps, but they either did not want to talk with my mobile device, or the user interface wasn’t good enough for my purposes. This App is a simple, no fuss one and does the job well.

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The App I use for the Artisan is called “Epson iPrint”. There are other Apps, but this is the only one I have found that is compatible with the Epson Artisan 1430.

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So, if you are considering Apps that will enable you to print directly from your mobile device to a printer, like they say, “There’s an App for that!”

Posted from WordPress for Android.

http://www.alyzenmoonshadow.wix.com/alyzenmoonshadow

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