Category Archives: iOS Apps

Tutorial: Turquoise Sea/Sky with Butterflies

In this tutorial, I shall demonstrate how I created this image:


I call this one “Turquoise Sea/Sky with Butterflies”. I really love the translucent colours here, and the depth of the image.

Apps used:

Impressionist Fingerpaint
Photo Editor


The background image is from the App Pizap. Note: the resolution of images using this App is small. What I do is I resize the image after blending with another image, using Photo Editor.

              PiZap background image.

This next image, above, is a colourfield background I created using Impressionist Fingerpaint. I free resized the PiZap background and then blended the 2 images above using PicsArt, to get this image:


Next, I needed another image to provide interest and contrast.


I used an image I’d created in Frax, an iOS App. I used my iPad 2 for this, and transferred the image to my Samsung Galaxy S4 for blending in PicsArt.


The above is the result of the second blend using PicsArt. I carefully centred the inner spiral around the butterfly motif in the middle of the PiZap image, to emphasise the subject.

I added some butterfly clipart to the image, again using PicsArt.

I felt that the colours of the resulting image were too muted and there was not enough contrast, so that had to be rectified.

To do this, I ran the image through Photo Editor. I’m really pleased with how the colours really sing and pop in this image!


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Hello, my pretty lovebirds! It’s St Valentine’s Day, and I have some freebies for you to share with your loved ones. Just please give me a shout out when you’re using the images #AlyZenMoonshadow, thanks!

These were made using only the App PicsArt and its new pack of Valentine’s words. The Oriental backgrounds came from within PicsArt’s own Collage section. I blended the images with some backgrounds created with Impressionist Fingerpaint, Frax and Percolator .

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!






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I’m currently exploring the areas of image blending, royalty-free clipart, colour replacement/removal and tolerance levels. I love how I am able to create the illusion of paint spatters and of depth by simply playing with the levels of a particular filter. How I can turn something perfect into something that looks accidental by design.

The filter in question that gives me this freedom is called “Colour Replace (RGB)” and it’s found in the App “Photo Editor”. Just a simple filter using sliders to control the colour and tolerance levels, but it certainly makes things much more interesting. Another filter within “Photo Editor”, called simply.”Colour Replace”, gives a more overall change of colour, but can be used in conjunction with “Colour Replace (RGB) to give even more variation to play with. Here is a screenshot showing both filters sitting side by side in the App.


The image I have created in this tutorial is called “Deep Sea Creatures”. It utilises royalty-free clipart from Dover Publication’s “Haeckel” book on ornamental organic forms. The background came from a Percolated image of a Frax snapshot I’d created earlier. (Percolator and Frax are iOS Apps that I use on my iPad 2, then transfer to my Samsung Galaxy S4 for further use, via the excellent universal App “Photo Transfer”).


I used Photo Editor’s Colour Replace (RGB) filter to change the background colour and remove some of the detail from the image. I needed areas that were clear so I could add other elements to the image. Too cluttered, and the image wouldn’t work.


Next, I used the App Litho to add texture to the image. I chose something that gave the impression of depth or layers. Litho is a versatile, universal app (iOS and Android) that I’m enjoying using now that developers have at long last ironed out the various kinks and bugs from it. Well done, gents!


I added 2 Dover clipart images using Litho, which offers image blending in numerous modes.


I added some colour and drip effects to the background, still using Litho.


The result was too dark, so I moved the image to Photo Editor to clear it up and brighten the overall effect. I decided the “seaweed” that the drips had created were too colourful, so I changed them to a grey colour.


Then, I used Snapseed to tweak the image, to bring out more details of the sea creatures.


Apps used:
Percolator (iOS)
Frax (iOS)
Photo Transfer (universal)
Photo Editor (Android) (by dev.mcgyver)
Litho (universal)
Snapseed (universal)
Clipart (Dover Publications)

Posted from WordPress for Android.

Photo editing Apps that are available on both iOS and Android

iOS being the first horse out the stalls, it’s only logical that the Apple App Store has the greatest number of photo editing Apps, and the greatest number of App developers, users and aficionados. It was after all the iPhone that started the whole mobile photography revolution.  There will be those that pooh-pooh Android apps and developers as a poor second-cousin.  

The truth is, both platforms have their pros and cons, and as if you didn’t know already, a good percentage of the Apps you see on iOS are also available on the Google Play Store on Android.  The reasons that Android is lagging behind iOS are that Android started the race after iOS had already gone round the circuit a couple of times (oh look, Microsoft, Blackberry and Linux have joined the race too!), and it’s not a simple matter of transferring files from iOS to Android so that an iOS App can be made available on Android. The codes needed for writing an Android App are different from those for writing iOS Apps, so basically the App developer has to re-write the App to fit into Android parameters.  I’m no techno geek, my eyes glaze over at the first sign of a software code, but you only have to go to any decent technical bookstore and you will see there is a clear distinction between writing Apps for iOS and for Android. Don’t forget also, that iOS Apps only have to be written to work on Apple devices, whereas Android Apps have to be tweaked so they will work on hundreds if not thousands of different smartphones.  

Android and iOS will have their detractors and supporters, just like any football club. Some diehards will even go out to denigrate the other team and put it down, even when they have had no personal experience with it. It’s only human to feel insecure about something you don’t know about, and to resist change or difference. But human beings are also fickle, so it’s natural that some would leave iOS for Android, and vice versa, some may sit on the fence undecided, and then there are others, like me, who embrace both platforms equally with open arms. And why not, as there are some excellent Android Apps that are not available on iOS, and the other way round too…I have both an iPad 2 and a Samsung Galaxy S4, so I literally have the best of both worlds at my fingertips.  It would be a shame to jettison one in favour of the other, when both have equally salient benefits.

This post is not about the iOS vs Android wars, it’s simply to provide a list of Photo Editing Apps that I call “Universal”, in that they are available on both iOS and Android platforms.  I just thought it might be an idea to compile a list now, for future reference.  Bearing in mind that new Apps are introduced each and every day, this list is by no means exhaustive.  Remember also, that what I write about is only what I know; there are other Apps out there that I’ve not come across on my travels, or that I don’t use, or that I’ve placed in the discard pile for one reason or another.  And this list does not include Camera replacement Apps, i.e those where you can’t simply edit an image already in your camera roll, but have to take a photo using the App and edit that.

The 3 grand biggies are: Snapseed, Pixlr Express and Repix.  Newbies – for more information about these apps, please read this article.

I was on iOS on my iPhone 3 and 4 when Snapseed and Pixlr Express first came out.  By the time Repix surfaced 2 years later, I was already on my Samsung Galaxy S3 and S4.  Was I happy that these 3 are Universal?  You betcha!! They are my bread and butter Apps. 

Here are other Universal Photo Editing Apps (NOT Camera replacement Apps) that I’ve found online, in no particular order:


Handy Photo




FX Camera

Photoshop Touch

Photoshop Express


Photo Wonder





Magic Hour

Line Camera


Pics Play Pro





If you, like me, are the sort to sometimes place text and clipart and graphics over your iPhone/Android photos, then these Universal Apps might be useful:




Deco Sketch

A Beautiful Mess





And here is my personal list of Apps (not just for photo editing) that are NOT currently on the Android platform, that I dearly wish would be!

Laminar Pro

iColorama S






AdLib S

AdLib U








King Camera







JixiPix’s suite of Apps (lots of them!)


If you know of any other Apps that might fit these lists above, please do let me know and I will add them on, thank you! :-)


About the Size of it

Recently, a Facebook friend posted a question about how large a print one can get from a smartphone WITHOUT resorting to resampling software. Back in 2011, I did some research into image resolutions and print sizes, after being told that an image I’d sent through email for a CD cover was only suitable for a postage stamp!  My report can be read on where I was a moderator for a year.

Here is the thread:

Of course, things have moved on since.  

However, whilst smartphone cameras are getting better if not bigger, and photographic Technology is improving by leaps and bounds exponentially, the co-relation of image resolution and print size is still a very valid argument.

Okay, before you read any further, remember these 3 Very Important Things:

1) we are not talking about DSLR cameras here, we are discussing smartphone cameras, with the emphasis on smartphones having access to either iOS Apps (Apple) or Google Play Apps (Android). If you have a hybrid camera that also makes and takes calls, yay for you, and consider it included in the smartphone category. If you have a DSLR and rely on traditional photography methods, then your best bet is still Photoshop, Perfect Resize, or any of a growing number of image resampling/resizing software.

2) we are not going to talk about resampling/resizing software here, we will instead concentrate on image print sizes “straight out the box”, and in practical terms, notwithstanding advances in processing software and Apps.  

3) I’m not going to talk about the difference between dpi and ppi here. Suffice to say that dpi relates to the number of ink Drops Per square Inch in a printer, and ppi relates to the number of Pixels Per square Inch on a camera. The difference between the two is explained further in a number of the weblinks listed below as we go along. From the mobile photographer’s practical point of view, consider both dpi and ppi interchangeable (oh, I know they’re not!), file it away in the recesses of your memory, and let’s get on with the real stuff.


I did some digging around on the internet, and here are links to several sites that attempt to shed light on the eternal Megapixel vs Print Size question. I have no affiliation with any of these sites, and some of the information may be outdated/moot especially in regard to the iPhone and Apps. However, you will see that most concur that the industry standard for professional printing should be 300 dpi, and then explain what happens when the dpi drops. In a nutshell, the relationship between dpi and print size is converse – the bigger the dpi, the smaller and more “picture perfect” the photo, the smaller the dpi, the bigger the photo but with possible loss of detail i.e the dreaded pixelation.

A recent post by experts in the field of mobile photography, with salient points especially in relation to the iPhone.   

MARTY YAWNICK’s article about this, which goes back to 2011 around the time I was doing my research, an oldie but still a goodie, as it’s been updated to include later incarnations of the iPhone    

For those of you curious about how your iPad camera photos will look “in real life”.  Of course it looks bigger on a bigger screen, but how will your photo come out in print? Griffintechnology explains. 

Explains pixelation in Photoshop. And how you must never assume that Photoshop will resize your low-resolution images without pixelation…there’s a different algorithm involved in resampling pixels and not just blowing up the size of existing pixels.  

Compares different smartphone cameras and how they print at 300 dpi.  

Contains a useful colour chart showing maximum print sizes in relation to Megapixels  

Explains it from a different viewpoint, literally. Billboard posters are generally printed at 72dpi, which looks great from a distance, as that’s how they’re meant to be viewed…however, if you go close up to the poster, pixelation is immediately obvious.  So, for up close and personal viewing, it is highly advisable to choose to print at 300dpi.    

Icon Photography School has a useful colour chart made by one of its students explaining Megapixels and maximum print size, again at the industry standard of 300dpi.  

Explains the difference between ppi and dpi  

From a DSLR photographer’s point of view, if you don’t use resampling or have no recourse to Apps via your imaging device    

Again, another site that explains the difference between ppi and dpi

From a DSLR user’s point of view. 


Just a couple more things to remember: 

1) The number of Megapixels on your smartphone is not actually the same as the output. To give you an extreme example, the Nokia Lumia 1020 boasts a whopping 41MP camera, however, when the image output resolution is calculated, it comes out more like 34-38MP. I don’t use my iPhone anymore, so I’m not sure if the iPhone offers the same facility, however, on my Samsung Galaxy S4, the camera gives me a choice of resolutions to take pictures at, so I can essentially choose whether I want to use my full 13MP resolution for each shot (which naturally takes up more room on the phone), or to shoot at lower resolutions and thus save on storage space.  

2) Again, what goes in isn’t necessarily what comes out. If you choose to save your images at the highest resolution, and then process the image through various Apps, bear in mind that some Apps, especially the free ones, will reduce the size of your output to postage stamp sizes. So, the caveat is to check whatever App you’re processing your image with, and make sure it will save at a high enough resolution for you for printing later. I’ve been there, done that…processed images that look wonderful on the iPhone/Galaxy screen, only to realise afterwards that the App/s used only saved at a measly 600×800 pixels, which means I can’t print a large size without first having to resize it in Perfect Resize. Again taking the Nokia Lumia 1020 as an example, straight out the box you can get huge, quality prints…however, if you tried to “app” your image first and then print it out, you will find that most Apps (iOS or Android) simply do not cater for such high resolutions and will just reduce your image to their default saving resolution. The Nokia Lumia 1020 is a Windows smartphone, however, and the Windows Apps Store has a long way to go before it catches up with the 2 front runners, iOS and Android, so my guess is most users will simply buy that as a point-and-shoot, as there aren’t many photo editing Apps in the Windows Store. Then again, I’m fairly sure of 2 things – that Apps will be updated offering higher and higher resolutions, in keeping with the trend for bigger and bigger Megapixel counts on smartphone cameras, and that the Windows Apps Store will be playing ball with the big boys within the next 3 years. 


Right now I’m playing with a new iOS App called “Fragment” by Pixite LLC. You can find out more about “Fragment” on their website here :

I love how the developers describe “Fragment”, as a “prismatic” app. The word conjures up memories of early Science lessons in school, involving a glass prism and the art of bending light and splitting it into its component colours. It’s a pretty good description, but rather than try to explain the effects one can get from it, I’ll show you some images I created based on just 1 image. Of course, the possibilities are many and varied and the 3 I’m showing here are just the tip of the iceberg.

This is the original image. I ran this through another Pixite iOS App, “Tangent” (more fun to be had there, but that’s another story). The mermaid is a piece of graffiti art found in Fremantle, Western Australia. The radiating circle of white dots is from “Tangent”.


And here are several incarnations of the image, after the “Fragment” treatment.




I decided to take the last image and turn it into a pattern module. Like so.


And then, simply placed into a repeated layout, this.


My verdict? I shall certainly be experimenting more with both “Tangent” and “Fragment”, they are certainly fun to play with, provide some unexpected and surprising results, and if the resulting images can be successfully turned into seamless repeats, then that’s a real added bonus. I’m a great fan of graphic design and these 2 Apps fit right in with my design requirements. I’ve barely scratched the surface with these 2 Apps, and I can’t wait to start exploring and using their possibilities jointly in my mobile photography art.

Not Quite Photoshop…but close. PART 28. MULTI-COMBO

The Apps used in this tutorial are as follows:

Impressionist Fingerpaint – for the background colour of the bird illustration

AThumb Cut – to cut out the bird image so it can be pasted onto the pattern module or tile

Frax – for the initial image

Percolator – based on another image, unrelated to the Frax image

PicsArt – for combining the Frax and Percolator images

Photo Editor – for replacing the colour and receding some details of the Frax + Percolator image

Photo Effects – for splitting the Frax + Percolator image to its 4 corners

Snapseed – for fine-tuning





+ Photo Editor

Then via Photo Effects

And PicsArt


Hmmm…too much blue, I think I need to bring out the birds more. Another tweaking on Photo Editor’s fabulous Colour Replace (RGB) and Tolerance filters, et voila, a golden background emerges.


Nice, and reminiscent of the colours of Gustav Klimt’s painting “The Kiss”. Not quite the look I was after, however…so I inverted the colours and got this image.


A bit too vivid and saturated, but this does remind me of stained glass windows in grand cathedrals. I decided to go with it, and, instead of trying to bring out the birds in contrast, I decided to let them “hide” from view, so when they were spotted, it would be a pleasant surprise. A nice serendipitious result from this pattern design is the oval outline that can be seen in the middle of the module. Created totally by accident, of course :-).

And finally, here is the result after some minor fine-tuning using Snapseed.


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Not Quite Photoshop…but close. Part 27. PERCOLATED GOODNESS

Percolator is one of those iOS Apps that just gets better and better. I love using it on my iPad, there are dials within dials to ensure that you get the widest range of results possible. For information about the App, please read here.

I just wish the developer would release Percolator onto the Android platform. But for now, I’m happy enough playing with my iOS Apps on my iPad 2, and then transferring the images to my Samsung Galaxy S4 to process further. I’ll be the first to concede that the Apple App Store is bigger and better than its rivals, the Google Play Store and Windows, but I believe the S4 to be a better device overall than the iPhone 5. And that is why I am not precious about using the best of both worlds. Purist, I most certainly am not! :-)

So, my purpose for this particular post is to see what happens when I combine 2 iOS Apps, namely Frax and Percolator, and combine them together. And then create a repeating pattern using the universal App PicsArt.

For my initial image, I created this in Frax.


Then, using Percolator, I got this image.


I then transferred the image from my iPad 2 to my Samsung Galaxy S4. In PicsArt, I ran the image through 2 distortion passes, 1 via the x-axis, the 2nd via the y-axis. (Experience tells me that as long as I run my image through at least 1 pass on each axis, the image will repeat seamlessly).

This is the resulting image.


Using this module or tile, I created a layout of 4 images on a grid in PicsArt.


As you can see, it’s a seamless repeat and capable of being repeated again and again. Like so.


And so.


And here are a few other patterns I created using the same technique.




The developers of Percolator have recently released a new App called Waterlogue. I can’t wait to try it out!

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Not Quite Photoshop…but close. PART 25. PERANAKAN-STYLE TILES

Growing up in Malaysia, with a father mad about collecting antiques, I was as a child exposed to an inordinate amount of Blue-and-White Ming porcelain, Rosewood furniture, Celadon bowls, ivory sculptures, mother-of-pearl inlaid tables and chairs, Dutch dressers, opium beds, chime clocks, ornate silver and tortoiseshell haircombs and such like. But my favourite things were the vividly colourful, even gaudy Straits Chinese or Peranakan porcelain.

Here is the Wikipedia entry which explains who the Peranakans were (and are), and their legacy to the world today. It makes for fascinating reading.

Peranakan porcelain, also known as Nyonyaware after the Peranakan ladies who used them, fetches premium prices these days. So much so that there is a thriving industry in creating and selling replicas…aka fakes. Read this blog by travellingfoodies for an interesting insight into the world of Nyonyaware.

The Peranakans also utilised their designs on other household items, such as tiles and beaded shoes. The fabled Phoenix motif appears prominently in designs, as do peonies, leaves, bats, birds, storks, lions.

And so, when I put together this pattern design, I was reminded strongly of the Peranakan porcelain. And, seeing as I was creating a repeating pattern, I thought to myself, why not have some fun and create a modern version of a Peranakan tile?

Using Pic Mirror, I created 4 incarnations of the same image.

Original image:


The 4 reflected incarnations of it:





I know, gaudy, right? But these are exactly the type of vibrant colours the Victorian Peranakans were attracted to.

I then used A Beautiful Mess for its grid layout. Now, in PicsArt and another fab App Photo Grid you can change the size and colours of the borders. I used A Beautiful Mess as I was feeling lazy and also because I thought I might add some embellishment to the image using the same app. Turns out I decided not to.


The above is the image I created simply by loading in the 4 incarnations of my original Frax image. I played around with the placement of the image, not looking for perfect symmetry, but curious to learn what may construe in the act of repeating the module or tile.

But first, to alter the colours and make it more Peranakan. One of the rarest colours found in Peranakan porcelain is mint green. So, in Photo Editor, I tweaked the colours and tolerance levels, to create a mint green background and recede some of the Frax elements. This is the result.


Next, I processed the image on Snapseed to tweak the hue and give it a bit of a very subtle vintage feel. We are talking about antiques, after all :-)!


In PicsArt, I processed the module/tile into a 4-rectangle repeat, to get this.


And here it is again, repeated 4 times more.


I found if I placed the images within a 4-square grid, the result was different, but equally interesting.


You’ll notice of course that my design has no phoenixes, peonies, bats, birds or any of the Peranakan motifs mentioned earlier. My design is purely abstract geometric, but perhaps the pink plumes could hark at the tail feathers of a phoenix? I reckon I’ve managed to capture the colours of Peranakan porcelain, in my modern take.

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Not Quite Photoshop…but close. PART 26. DECO SKETCH PATTERN REPEAT

I was playing with the universal App DecoSketch (excellent App, by the way, for anyone interested in graphic design and loves geometrical shapes). The purpose of my experiment today was to see how well DecoSketch translated into a repeated pattern. Very well indeed, I must say.

First, using a blank slate, and several geometric shapes in varying sizes, opacity and colours, I drew a design in DecoSketch. Now, I’ll be the first to tell you that I cannot draw to save my life, but doesn’t this look awesome already?


Next, I wanted to change the background of the DecoSketch image. This was done easily using the App Pic Editor, and the “colour replace RGB” filter. I adjusted the colour for the background. By using the built-in “tolerance” slider I receded some elements of the design and brought out others. I really like this filter in Pic Editor. In fact, I think I shall be exploring this filter more…so watch this space!


I really like the edgy, futuristic, sci-fi look here. The grey of the background looked too flat, though, so I ran the image through Pixlr Express (another great universal App) and was pleased by this image I got.


Now we’re talking! Isn’t this just trippy? In fact, I liked this image so much I decided to put my digital signature on it and keep it as it is. Maybe I could use it as the CD Album cover of ElectroCelt’s next music project? At any rate, I think it needs to go into my Society 6 online storefront.

But, to go on…I ran the image through PicsArt’s “Mirror” filter and got this image.


Which I just repeated using PicsArt’s frame layout system in its Collage section. (A word about PicsArt – Fab!!)


Now I’m off to do more exploring of DecoSketch meets pattern repeats! HAPPY CHRISTMAS 2013, folks! :-)

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