Blogsy is Simply the Best Blogging Tool

Blogsy Great App for Bloggers
Blogsy's website

I’m taking a small art app break and writing a second blog today to talk about Blogsy for iPad. If you blog and use an iPad, you have to have Blogsy. There is simply no better or easier way to blog than using Blogsy.

The types of blogs that Blogsy supports

Whether you blog using WordPress or Tumblr or anything in-between, Blogsy will help you write, add pictures and videos, and make your blog look infinitely better. The picture to the right shows the blogs that Blogsy supports. If you blog on another platform but one that lets you write via email, Blogsy will help you do that too.

You can see your blog or blogs on the HTML side or just stick to the Rich Side that lets you do everything you’ve ever wanted without looking at one line of code.

Write everything from posts to pages. The only requirement is that you must have already created your blog on the Internet before you can use Blogsy.

Blogsy's easy way to add photos

Drag and drop pictures from your iPad albums, Picasa, YouTube, Google Image Search, or Flickr with ease. You can use your own photos as seen at left, or use a photo you found in the in-app browser.

Speaking of the in-app browser, you can also drag and drop links to any website or article with the touch of a button. It is a fully functioning browser with a home page and the ability to set bookmarks.

Blogsy grabs categories and tags and lets you add new ones.

Styling your blog is simple. The row at the top lets you make text bold, italic, underlined, or strikes out text. Set the justification, make bulleted or numbered lists, add quotes, set the text format, font, font size, and color of the text and background of the text all with the tools in the top row. There are also buttons to undo and redo anything that you’ve done.

Blogsy also pulls all the tags and categories you’ve ever used so that you can use them again, or add new ones using the menu button that looks like a gear. It also has options for allowing comments, sets the status of what you are writing as published, pending, or draft, and sets the visibility of your blog, and so much more.

For WordPress blogs, the same options menu lets you make the post a sticky post. There are so many settings that it is hard to list them all. For $4.99, this may be the best purchase you ever make. Blogsy is a blog writer’s dream. If you are having any difficulties using Blogsy, there are a number of videos that show you how to use it. I cannot recommend it more highly. Blogsy + iPad = beautifly written blogs that will make you put your computer down for good.

For more information, visit

Blogsy's in-app browser
Blogsy’s in-app browser

Traditional Intersects With iOS in ArtRage

Let’s start out with the fact that I’m not really an artist. I do multi-media collage and paint with oils some, but other than a few shows at the center where I volunteer, I’m no artist. I am, where apps are concerned however, quite a Boy Scout. App sales have replaced pretty much every other area of discretionary spending for me, when I have anything to spend. I have apps for everything from hiking (which I never do) to scrapbooking (which I rarely do) to apps that shop for other apps (which I use a lot).

ArtRage home page for the iPad

Today, we’re going to start to delve into the wonderful world of art apps. And, where art apps are concerned, there is nothing better than ArtRage. ArtRage (click here for the iPhone version) can paint every other art app into a corner.

ArtRage sample

ArtRage is the app that even impressed my ex-drill sergeant dad when I first bought my first iPad. The extensive tools, ability to customize the canvas, the layers, the paint picker, and the gallery are all impressive. But, it is the way that the app actually simulates the real art of painting that sets it apart from the rest of the apps of its kind.

I highly advise reading the tutorial (which can be found by clicking on the ? sign along the bottom), because this is a complex and in-depth app. If you want to get everything you can out of it, read the directions. I usually try to wing these things, and I did at first. But, after reading the directions, I was able to accomplish so much more.

The tools included are an acrylic/oil paintbrush, watercolor paintbrush, airbrush, palette knife, paint roller, tube of paint that can be squeezed onto the canvas, pencil, pen, marker, crayon, chalk, eraser, and fill tool for edges and corners. A few of these choices are not available on the iPhone. Paint color is chosen off a color wheel, and you can add any percentage of metalic to the paint, as well. The canvas can be similarly adjusted to your liking. There are many presets, but you can freely set the roughness and metalic nature of the canvas from the start screen.

Just for one example, the watercolor presets include any mixture of wet brush and/or wet paper to dry brush and/or dry paper to dirty brush. You can change the width, angle, and size of the brush, as well, and save your settings as a new preset.

One of the very cool things that sets ArtRage apart is that whatever you choose reacts in a very real-world way. The palette knife really does act like a palette knife, just like all of the other tools. Different paint colors mix together like they would on a real canvas. And, if you keep running a paintbrush across the canvas, you will run out of paint.

You can use a photo for inspiration by pinning it to a corner of the canvas, or you can turn it into a tracing image, too. And, as you would expect with an iOS device, gestures are used to do a variety of things, like the three-finger tap that makes all of the toolbars disappear and reappear.

Although ArtRage seems set more toward the painting realm, it makes a great sketchpad, too.

All of this normally costs $6.99 for the iPad and $1.99 for the iPhone, but it is often on sale. Right now it is going for $4.99 on the iPad. The iPhone is at full price. But, if you’re at all artistically inclined, you cannot ask for a better iOS app.

(The photo below shows an example of each tool in use with a turquoise color with 99% metallic setting.)

ArtRage tools on the iPad

Come back tomorrow when I’ll surprise even myself at what art apps we look at next. Maybe I’ll throw a dart at my iPad. Probably not, but, until then …

Photography Meets Painting Via App

As an easy transition from photography apps, today we’ll take a look at apps that turn photos into paintings. The rest of the week will focus on art apps. My model today is again mascot Jasper Xander Gwaltney-Pease (JP for short. I mean, who gives a dog that long of a name?).

Jasper looking Painteresque

A very simple painting app is Painteresque. Painteresque is kind of a one-trick pony. This universal app takes a photo and turns it into one type of painting. The cool thing about Painteresque is that the style of painting used looks good with almost any photo you choose, which is not the case with all the apps in this roundup. The bad part is that there is essentially nothing to do besides push a button and look at the painting that arrives as a result.

There are no settings to worry about, but there’s no settings to worry about. No adjustments to be made. No alterations of any kind. Love it or hate it, the painting you see is the painting you get. The only button that remains is the one to save the painting to your Camera Roll.

That is really all there is to this app. But, like I said, if you want an app that makes any photo look good as a painting, Painteresque is the way to go.

Painting Foto

The next app, Painting Foto, is a universal app with a little more control and a little more selection over the final effect. There are 39 painting effects that are really a combination of painting effects and photo effects all wrapped into one final result.

You simply choose the photo that you want to alter, and then pick from the selection of effects that you want to try. They are grouped onto two pages (make sure you scroll down on each page to view all of the effects). Once you choose an effect, you have a few buttons to choose from. You may change the style again, change the depth of the effect on a slider (this makes the style more or less strong and the photo more or less transparent), save the photo to the Camera Roll, or exit and choose another photo to play with.

Phantasy creates some unusual effects.

Another app by the same developer as Painting Foto is Phantasy. Phantasy works pretty much identically to Painting Foto. But, it has almost twice as many effects. After you choose from the 69 different effects, you can use the pinch gesture to scale and move your photo until it works for you.

In addition to the photo effects, many of which are pretty cool, there is a mirror effect that turns the bottom portion of the result into a reflection of the upper portion.

Other than that, the depth slider is also to be found in Phantasy. And, you save the final art piece in the same way that you saved it in Painting Foto.

The develper suggests that you choose a photo for this app that has distinctive bright and dark portions for better results.

Both apps allow you to save your final piece in low, medium, or high resolution.

Jasper gets a little watercolor.

So far, all you’ve had to do to create an art piece is push a button. That changes when you get to Mobile Monet. Mobile Monet HD for iPad and Mobile Monet for iPhone are a fun and fully interactive way to turn photos into art.

Once you select your photo, Mobile Monet turns it into a black and white line drawing that can be adjusted for things like the width and intensity of the black lines. All that is left is to adjust the size of your brush and start painting with watercolors using your finger or stylus. The more you paint over one area of the photo, the more paint that is layered on. Paint the whole pictue back in, or just paint in certain sections.

Once you are done, you can save your photo to the Camera Roll in high resolution, email or text the result, or share it on many different social media sites.

If you’re not sure this is the app for you, there are is a free version that you can take for trial run. Mobile Monet Free doesn’t have all of the features of the full app, but it will give you a really good feel for how the app works and can help you decide whether or not to buy it.

Photo Viva

PhotoViva is another app where your painting talents will not be put to waste, even if you think you can’t paint. This universal app gives you so much freedom that it can be a little intimidating. But, once I figured out how to use it, I was hooked.

The app itself and the description of the app both contain many hints for getting the most out of the app, but I still couldn’t figure out how to use it at first. Then, in a moment of clarity, I started using the first of the many brushes available and began to push and spread the color around, just like I would if I were really painting.

There are so many brushes and cloning tools that the possible outcomes are limitless and with a little experimentation, everyone can become a painter.

That is really the only advice I can give you as I am still figuring this app out as I go.

There is a gallery of pictures to inspire anyone, and all creations can be saved at sizes according to device. Basically, the bigger the device, the larger you can save the final product to be.

Jasper gets Van Gogh'd.

The final two apps in the roundup take one-button simplicity but apply it to several different styles.

AutoPainter HD for the iPad (click here for the iPhone version) features four different impressionistic styles: Aquarell, Benson (for artist Frank Benson), Cezanne (for Paul Cezanne), and Van Gogh (inspired by Van Gogh’s Starry Night painting).

As a warning, these styles look best on things like landscapes and flowers. Portraits do not always turn out the best, but I have had some luck with some very interesting Van Gogh portraits. It’s just a matter of trial and error as far as portraits go. As you can see above, Jasper gets his portrait done Van Gogh style, and I think it turned out fairly well.

The newer your iPad, the faster the results, but watching the painting happen is half the fun of using this app. The three-step process replicates what an actual painter does to create such a painting. First, the under painting happens. Then, the dry reveal. And, finally, the details are added.

AutoPainter II in Chalk

The same developer has another version of AutoPainter, AutoPainter II, that is for iPhone only. AutoPainter II is divided into four categories again, but this time the categories are styles of illustration techniques: Chalk, Book (watercolor with pen shading inspired by book illustrations), Felt-Tip, and Water-Ink. These styles, for the most part, work much better with pictures of people than the first AutoPainter.

The picture of Jasper is done this time using Chalk.

The process of picture to painting is the same as the first AutoPainter. And, saving a photo to the Camera Roll happens in the same way.

Thus ends photography week and begins art week. There’s a lot of crossover today, but tomorrow we’ll take a look at some of the more traditional art mediums.

Thanks for joining me and see you tomorrow!


Add a Little Bit or Two

Today was going to be the not-so-secret spy roundup, but I need to do a bit more work on that. So, to finish off photography week, we’re going to take a look at some ways to add a little bit of anything to your photos. My model today is also the blog mascot, Jasper Xander Gwaltney-Pease, my German Shepherd. He thought some of my photos were a little undignified, but I gave him a treat and he agreed to let me do whatever I wanted to his photo.

Jasper looking a little cluttered.

To get us started, let’s take a look at DecoSama, a universal app with a uniquely inspired collage theme. There’s a little bit of a mouse-theme running through DecoSama (I hate mice, but love the app). I don’t usually advocate for this much content in a photo, but I wanted to give you a sense of what the app contains.

Getting started is easy. Choose a preset paper background, or select a photo background of your own to decorate. Knowing when to stop is more difficult because despite the mice, there’s just too much to like about the illustrations split into 10 categories. From Seasons and Stamps to Desserts and Travel, these hand-drawn illustrations are very sweet.

Add a little text in a variety of fonts and colors. Everything is placed using pinch gestures to adjust size and angle. Save to your photo roll, or share your masterpiece on Facebook and Twitter.

Jasper gets the SigNote treatment with this next app, for iPhone (but works on an iPad with a camera). This innovative app lets you doodle on your photos with up to 7 layers possible. Unleash the artist within, or choose something already drawn by someone else. You get to resize and change the color of any drawing.

What’s really neat, is that anything you can doodle, write, or draw on paper can easily be uploaded and added to your photo. Put it on a sheet of paper, take a picture, and place using one finger (resize using two in a pinch gesture). Erase anything extra that you don’t like. It’s really that simple. Repeat until finished. Then save to your camera roll or share it via Facebook, Steply, or email to a friend.

The possibilities really are endless with SigNote!

Cute! Cute! Cute! transforms Jasper into a robot.

Cutie cute cute! is a universal app that gives your photos a makeover that’s nothing if not (what’s the word I’m looking for?) … cute! You can find 54 free cutifying agents (6 per each of 9 categories) for free. Want more from any category? Buy each category pack and an additional frames pack individually for 99 cents each.

The app is ad-supported, but the ads go away after one purchase (I got a lot of robot heads. Don’t ask me why). It’s easy to add a little text, but if you want anything besides Helvetica as the font, it’ll cost you another payment of 99 cents.

Personally, I would prefer if apps like this just charged for the app and quit with the individual charges. I would gladly pay $5 upfront if it meant I had an ad-free app with all the trimmings.

But, if you really need to cute up a photo (or put a bird or robot head on it), you may want to look at Cutie cute cute! to do it. Just know that if you unlock everything, you’ll have an approximately $11 free app on your hands.

LINE camera lets me put some postage on Jasper.

The next app in this category is much more reasonable. LINE camera for iPhone (although, again, I did this with an iPad) is free and has no hidden costs after download. And, there are no ads. Postage was even covered for this envelope containing Jasper. I’m joking of course about that last part (after last time, I learned my lesson about mailing a dog).

LINE camera is more than just an add something to a photo app. It is also a photo editor with different image effect filters and settings for brightness, contrast, and saturation. LINE camera also has the ability to lock auto white balance or auto levels.

After you adjust the photo to your liking, you can pick a frame from a wide variety of frames in LINE camera. These range from a simple black or white frame to an envelope, as seen in the photo above.

Jazz it up a little with a huge variety of stamps, inclusing different alphabet stamps. There is also a brush setting that is extremely fun. That’s how I wrote the word “Jasper.” If you choose the style of the brush, you are given an extensive selection of colors and styles to set the brush to be. Once you finish up with whatever you write or draw, it becomes a stamp that can be moved or resized or angled as you like. The last selection is typed fonts and there is quite a selection of fonts to choose from as well. Everything has an undo button and an eraser in case you are unhappy with what you stamped on.

Finally, you can save to the Camera Roll or share on numerous social sites.

Jasper is intrigued by a gnome.

The last add a little bit app of this sort is called Gnome Booth. It adds a little gnome to any photo. This iPhone app (used on my iPad) is obviously a little focused on one thing, but it really is very cool if you’re into gnomes or know someone who is.

To add a gnome (there are 8 to choose from) to your photo, hit the start arrow. Hit the camera button to either take a photo or select a photo from your Photo app. You crop whatever photo you choose into a square, then hit the effect button to change the coloring of the photo or the mask button to choose which gnome you want in your photo. Once you choose your gnome, you use the pinch gesture to make the gnome bigger or smaller and place it where you want. Hit the mask button again to delete the gnome, choose a different gnome, use the slider to change the transparency of the gnome you chose, or apply the mask to the photo

To save the photo, you hit send. This allows you to save to your photo library, share it via email, or share it on Facebook. That’s all there is too it.

The last two apps in this roundup add faces to whatever you choose.

Cool Faces decorate my fingers.

Cool Finger Faces adds faces and so much more to make finger people (like the photo on the right). This is a free iPhone app (again done on my iPad), although to get the full features of the app, you have to pay $1.99. With the free app, you can still create some pretty cool finger people, but with the paid addition, you are given many more faces, hands, hair, accessories, and the ability to draw your own anything to add to your finger people.

On the first screen, you choose to either take a new photo or select from photos you’ve already got in your Camera Roll. The effects button changes your finger photo people into 5 different color selections, from black & white to sepia to different levels of color.

Placing the finger faces and whatnot is easy. You use the pinch gesture to make the faces or hair or hands or whatever smaller and bigger and to angle the addition so that it fits your finger people just right. Because you can draw your own anything, this app has unlimited possibilities for what you want your finger people to look like.

The last button saves your photo at different sizes.

I’ll warn you that this app is a little addictive once you start using it. It may seem stupid or like a waste of time, but once you create one set of finger people, you’ll have a hard time putting it down.

Jasper's tummy gets a sleeping face.

The last app in this roundup that lets you add a little bit to your photo is called Tiny Faces. Tiny Faces is fun way to add faces anywhere to anything. The photo of Jasper at left shows a tiny face added to make his tummy look sleepy.

This iPhone app (used on my iPad) adds faces to more than fingers. They can add faces to anything. Choose from stickers in three categories: Animals, Cutify, and Emoticons. Once added, use the pinch gesture to make the faces the size you want and to angle them in any way you need. Move them around using one finger.

Hit Done when you are finished to save the photo to your Camera Roll and then you are given the option to Send to Instagram or Take a new photo.

So, there you have it folks. Ignore my hastily put together photo examples and create some of your own using these very cool apps that let you add a little bit of love or coolness to any photo.

Come back tomorrow to find out the theme for the next week. Will I change directions and cover productivity apps, or will I simply transition over into art apps? Only time will tell. Oh, and I’ll tell tomorrow.

Until then, have some fun adding a little bit or two to every photo you take.

See you tomorrow!

Transform Photos Into New Reality With Ease


This next-to-last batch of photography apps turn photos loose in a world of their own. And, today there are prizes for First Place and Runners-up, plus a Gift with Peruse Bonus App. My model today is Maegan Gwaltney (She’s a real, human girl! She even has a book, The Hollywood Push, coming out soon). Lab shows Maegan is big in Tokyo.

Winner in the Brand New Fakality World: Lab by VicMan Imaging Software Lab is a free, universal app that is a “Fun Photo Editor for Photo Montages & Collage Maker, Funny Photo Frames, Fake Magazine Covers, Sketches, Filters and more!”

Brad Pitt looks past Maegan.

Can you see four versions of one photo of Maegan above in the night scene in Tokyo, or how about with Brad Pitt at left? The more part of the Lab title is correct. Categories include Photo to Caricature, New effects, Human-to-animal montages, Featured effects, Money templates, Magazine covers, New Reality, Artistic effects, Celebrity collages, Amazing frames, Face montages, Cartoons, Multiple photo collages, Shape collages, Simple frames, Photo filters, Zodiac signs, and Monsters.

Maegan on Vogue's cover

Get Lab Pro (usually $4.99) to get rid of all ads and remove the watermark from the resulting images. Some of the categories listed above are found only in this edition and new effects are available immediately, instead of the two week wait with the free version.

Some of the effects include face detection for a very precise image result. Many include more than one photo. And, if you can’t find the effect that you want, you can leave a suggestion for your photo effect idea under each category.

The app requires an Internet connection so that it can work in a faster and more accurate way. Photos are deleted off the servers in 24 hours after you make your product.

This is a high-quality app with the ability to save in high resolution. And, it really is fun!

Will Smith has Maegan reflected in his sunglasses

Runner-up: Transphotos

Transphotos is similar to Lab, but the quality is nowhere near as high. It’s still a fun little app, but many of the effects include naked women holding up signs with your picture covering them and other effects that sometimes cheapen the feel of the app. I should mention that although this is an iPhone app, I created the photo at left with it on my iPad, and that the selection that I chose is locked. The app costs a few dollars and then charges another 99 cents to unlock all of the effects and 99 cents to unlock all of the frames.

It does have some other filters, the ability to crop, and recommendations for what will work best for your photo, but these are limited compared to other apps. I think the final thing that annoys me about this app, and by no means is it the only app that does this, but it constantly asks if I want to purchase the developer’s new app every time I open it.

That is my second pet peeve. At #1 is when developers ask you to review an app in the App Store after you’ve had it literally for five minutes. I write a lot of reviews in the App Store (surprise, surprise), but I am more apt to write a review in my own given time. When apps force me into reviewing them, they really take the chance that they’ve annoyed me into the position, and is that really the person you want reviewing and rating your app?

Maegan gets the superhero treatment.

Winner in the Comic Book Genre: Halftone by Juicy Bits

This one is kind of a landslide. Halftone is so far ahead of other apps. Not because other apps are not good, but because Halftone is SO good that it just sets itself apart. Let’s start with the photo editor, which is powered by Aviary. If you’re not familiar with it, Aviary is also the photo editor that Flickr uses. It is dead simple, and yet so powerful that you are able to turn a bad photo into a good photo with little photo knowledge and in little time.

Halftone's main view

That’s how Halftone starts. It ends with the ability to save in full resolution. And, everything in between is fully Retina supported, even on the new iPad. This was my first time using Halftone since the iPad update, and it looked good! I am constantly amazed by the differences in ability by app developers to make use of what is baked into iOS and the devices. Some make use of Retina display and some don’t. And, some really make quality use of Retina display, like Halftone!

Okay, so the everything in between is a LOT of stuff. The settings button on upper, left side contains the controls for how pictures are saved and the size and strength of the dots that make up a halftone image. There is even a video to watch under settings to learn more about using Halftone. If you click on the word “Halftone,” you get the latest news, etc. from the developers.

The bottom row includes the buttons for paper selection (from plain white to seepage), the layout button (which sets up where captions go), the add a speech balloon button (which has facial recognition to make your balloon tail point at someone’s mouth), the stamp button (which adds the fun stuff, like NOOOO! or BLAM!, lets you change the colors of the words, layer the stamps), and the font button (you can select from many fonts, but Digitalstrip Bold is set by default and works best in most cases).

And the last fun feature of Halftone: They have teamed up with Sincerely to let you mail your final product as a postcard on Sincerely’s usual glossy board paper. You can even use Sincerely credits to pay for it. Could make for a very unique holiday card.

Runners-up: Comic Book! and Strip Design

Comic Book! and Strip Design let you create from entire pages to entire books, and both are universal. They have their strengths, and their weaknesses. Comic Book! has a friendlier user interface (UI), limited vertical and horizontal layouts, and lots of stickers (my favorite part). Strip Design’s UI is a bit muddled, but behind it is a pretty powerful little app with which you can create entire books. The thing that Strip Design is missing most, in my opinion, is stickers or anything besides strong layouts that define it as comic book genre. One of the strengths of Strip Design is it’s ability to pull anything into photo panes (including drawings, things on the clipboard, etc.) and the ability to create your own layouts. Unless you’re really intent on writing a comic book, I would give Halftone a try first and see how you are one pane at a time.

With Photo Stamp make a stamp out of any photo.

Today’s Gift with Blog Peruse Bonus App is PhotoStamps by B1VisualEffects

PhotoStamps for iPhone (but seems to work on iPad) is a hidden gem of an app. Make a stamp out of your photos or make stamps to decorate your photos by drawing them from scratch. Or just choose from the presets.

Maegan gets PhotoStamp treatment.

Above is a what a PhotoStamps can look like, or you can just add predrawn or drawn-by-you stamps to any photo (like my work of art at right). Set the color, size, angle, and transparency by using sliders and the pinch gesture. Save your final of either to your Camera Roll.

PhotoStamps is a great way to add your signature to any photo (literally or figuratively).

So, that’s it for this roundup of ways to transform photos into a new reality. Any world you choose.

Head back here tomorrow for the last day of photo app roundups to take a look at my not-so-secret spy roundup! Until then …

Cortex Camera and 4 Unique Apps

Hello everyone! I’m going to keep reviewing photo apps until Saturday (Sunday you get to find out the theme for the next week), but first let me give you a link to the camera I featured yesterday. The Cortex Camera can be found here. So enjoy it! It’s a great app.

Let’s take a look today at four unique apps that elevate photos to art and photography to iPhoneography: Percolator by Tinrocket, Kyoobik Photo HD (for iPhone click here) by Jixi Pix, Ripped From Reality HD (for iPhone click here) by Appnotix, and Jazz by GG Filmz. All of the links go to the U.S. App Store. International readers will have to look for the apps in their respective App Stores. Sorry I can’t link to them all.

All of the photos for this roundup were made from one photo shot by my iPad using the Cortex Camera. My model today is again Lawrence (you may take from this that I know no actual people to photograph).

Percolator picture of Lawrence
Percolator picture of Lawrence

The first app I want to take a look at is Percolator. It’s a universal app that takes a photo, adds a little coffee, and makes a little art. Percolator’s coffee theme runs through and through, as you can see in the bottom photo to the right.

Upon opening the app, you can either choose a photo and let it grind using it’s default preset, or you can choose your settings under Grind, Brew, and Serve first, and then choose a photo.

Percolator main menu and settings

Grind adjusts the size of the circles (or rings or stars) that are used to make up the photo. If you click on the settings for Grind, you get to further adjust the grind level by adjusting the Circle size and the Effect. For instance, you can choose a Fine grind with big circles that have high contrast or inky edges. After adjusting the Grind, you’ll have to hit the blue coffee cup button to regrind.

Brew adjusts the look of the circles even further. You can choose Color Gels, Circles, Rings, an Overprint, Full of Stars, and a few others (one of my favorites is Ishihara). Clicking on the Brew setting that you want lets you further adjust it. You can click from None through a Full cup under the settings Pic and Blend.

Serve adjusts the color of the photo. This is where you choose to have a Black cup of coffee. Or, maybe you like it Light & Sweet or with Soy. You can also choose Stirred. If you swipe up from Stirred, it keeps stirring until you find a color that you like for the photo. By clicking on the setting that you want under Serve, you get further menus for Tone and Texture that refine the color of the final product. For instance, I can have a Black cup of coffee, with Steepia in a Paper Cup, or with Sad Hipster and Linoleum. Yeah, you kind of lose me with the name choices in that last menu. I’m not sure how Linoleum fits in with the coffee theme.

Nonetheless, this is a fun app with a unique theme that I never get tired of. Once you find all the settings that you want, you hit the heart-shaped button and either save or share the piece of art that you have mixed for yourself. You are now a photography Barista!

Kyoobik Photo art with Lawrence

I know that I just reviewed all the apps by Jixi Pix (found here), but then I got Kyoobik Photo and it’s too good not to share. My mom told me to be a good sharer.

Kyoobik Photo art of Lawrence

Kyoobik Photo HD and Kyoobik Photo for iPhone turn photos into masterpieces. The four choices that the presets are grouped under are Kyoobik photo, Oobik Shapes, Kyoobert 3D, and Kyoobik Plane. The choices take a 2D photo and change the perspective. Kyoobik (or cubic) art breaks down the walls that constrain photos to a level 2D plane and can “take you back to the 1960’s with its pop-art attitude” (the quote is taken from the Jixi Pix description).

Adjust your photo using customizing sliders to move and distort, and use your finger to remove any of tiles, circles, or rows in the grid that you want to disappear from your final product. Randomize, tint, or kaleidescope the colors that make up the grid. Of course, Jixi’s famous Randomize Dice make a reappearance in Kyoobik, so you can randomize all aspects of the photo.

To finish off your artpiece, adjust the paper background color and texture with hand-picked papers from the artists behind the app. Finally, save your masterpiece with hi-res quality at superfast speeds.

I’m so glad that I decided to try Kyoobik and you should too!

Lawrence gets Ripped From Reality

Ripped From Reality HD and Ripped From Reality for iPhone grab your photo and throw it into the sketched world. You control what you see for real and what is in sketchland. Choose from presets for the shape the rip takes or just use your finger to rip the paper and expose your photo in any shape or pattern that you choose.

In sketchland, you control the pencil color and quality, strength of the outline, pencil shading and strength. paper texture and color, and the rip’s shadow height and strength. Once you have your settings to your liking, you can choose to have the sketch be inside or outside the cut and have a cut-out or cut-in. There’s really very little that you can’t control in this app world. Not happy with your artpiece? Reset the image. Want to see the original image? There’s a button for that, too.

Finally, save the image in full resolution at small, medium, or large size, or share it on Facebook.

Ripped From Reality really resonates with my artistic sensabilities. Give it a try!

Jazzed up photo of Lawrence
Lawrence is Jazzed up

Jazz is a universal app with a musical theme that creates endless transformations of your photo with one touch. Touch the G-Clef in Quartet view (the main view) to get four jazzed up versions of your photo. If you like one, you can swipe up on it to see it full-frame. Swipe down to put it back in place. Want more? Touch the G-Clef again. You can always go back to previous versions by swiping to the right.

If you like one aspect of the photo but want to change another aspect of the photo, you have total control. Simply touch a photo to enter into the Solo view and adjust the 15 image filters, from Film Treatment and Color Balance to Dirt, Grunge & Schmutz and Border, and everythng inbetween. Sliders make it easy to adjust each filter. Save your adjustments as a preset for next time.

Finally, save your photo in full resolution, half resolution, or quarter resolution, or share it on Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr. Any questions? Press the question mark in the upper, right-hand corner to get a full explanation of each view and each filter.

For 99 cents, this new app is a pleasure to add to anyone’s chorus of photo editors.

Come back tomorrow for a round-up of photography apps that can add pretty much anything (or anyone) to your photo!

Find Cortex Camera, If You Can

Lawrence up close with Cortex Camera

If you can find it in the App Store, I highly recommend the camera that shot the photo above. It is called Cortex Camera, and it’s absolutely amazing. I have never seen anything like it on an iOS device. I’ll warn you of a few things about this sparse app: I have it on my iPad but cannot find it using a search engine, even though it comes up in my search of the App Store as of late Tuesday night; it is iPad 2+ or iPhone 4S only (it does NOT work on an iPhone 4); and many others are having trouble finding this wonderful app in their App Store, from my reading of other reviews.

Cortex Camera wild in the App Store

What do I love about it so much that I would tell you about an app I can’t even link to? Look at the image above. It contains a fabric, a brass button, and a rubber iPhone case at very close proximity to the iPad and there is absolutely no noise, no blur, nothing but what my eyes can see before me and many details that they cannot (but, I have bad eyes).

This is a very simple app. You open it, hold very still (apparently it takes many, many video frames and creates one still frame), and push the small button. That’s it. It saves the photo to your device. No settings, no ability to switch camera, no photo information of any kind. Just an ability to capture a great shot (it’s not been edited in any way by me, and was taken by lamplight late at night), and to get itself noticed for not being around when people look in the App Store.

Let me know if you find it, and what you think of it yourself. You hold it down and give me a call. I’ll come in and help you capture it.

That’s it for today. See you tomorrow for a longer review of some great photography apps!

iPhonography Begins With Great Camera Apps

As I continue my look at photography apps, I decided to look at another developer that has a host of great apps. But, this time it’ll be mostly iPhone apps. On Sunday, I looked at the fabulous apps by Jixi Pix, which you can find here. Today, I’ll look at six camera apps by a smaller developer, youthhr. Although five of the six apps are iPhone apps, they all work just fine on my iPad. You just have to blow an app to twice its size to make it work on an iPad equipped with a camera to make it work.

My model Lawrence the sock monkey

My model today for each app photo is my good friend, Lawrence (seen at right). All of the apps by youthhr prompt you to crop your photo into a square before you can move forward and do anything else. I wish this were not the case, but so many apps are doing this these days that it’s hard to avoid sometimes.

My favorite youthhr app has to be Instant 110. It brings back my love and memories of being in a darkroom. For younger readers, that is not a room with no lamps. Instead, it’s a room where photos used to be developed from actual film. Instant 110 brings back all the fun of multiple lenses, types of film, and even types and amounts of devleoper.

Instant 110

The app usually costs about $1.99, but for all the fun, there are also multiple in-app purchases to get additional lenses, film types, and types of developer. In total, there are 13 lenses, 10 types of film, and four types of developer available, with all of the in-app purchases included.

The app opens in camera mode, but it is easy to bring in already shot photos and alter them in your digital darkroom. Settings are minimal. You can embed GPS coordinates, turn on double exposure (which is fun), set it to shuffle the lenses etc. for shooting, remove the film border, and turn on a focusing screen.

But, the real fun comes when you enter the developing stage of the app. You have a Lightbox to store up to 100 photos. There seems to be a lot of confusion by App Store reviewers about how to delete photos from the Lightbox, but it is very simple. You hit the same button that you hit in almost any Apple app. The one on the top, right-hand corner. You can’t miss it. You can also delete photos by clicking on the photo and hitting this same button. This screen also allows you to save to the Camera Roll (your device), the Lightbox, share with social networks, open in Instagram, and open in other apps.

The app was recently updated (I think to clarify because of confusion among App Store reviewers again). Now, when you click on any item (lens, film, developer), it gives you a brief description of what that item does and shows you a small example of how it will look on your photo. However, I think most of the playfulness of using this app comes from just that. Play.

Push buttons people. Experiment. Change the amount of developer you’re using (on a slider from -1.0 to +1.0). Mix up all the options and see what you get. This advice holds true with your device as well, and all the apps that it contains. I want my gravestone to say “Pushed a lot of buttons” (in more ways than one).

So that you’re not constantly going back and forth from choosing one of the options in the three categories to looking at your photo, you can swipe from side-to-side to alter each option.

Go forth and push buttons. Well, after you’re done reading this blog.

Snapster editing screen

The newest app in the youthhr app set is Snapster. Snapster is very similar to another youthhr app called Cameramatic. To me, there are several (small) areas in which Snapster differs from Cameramatic. The Lightbox as a tool to aggregate your photos re-emerges in Snapster (as it does in Cameramatic). And you can create your own filters like you can in Cameramatic (as I did, as seen at left. I call this one “Polka Puppy,” because I developed it using a picture of my German Shepherd). But, Snapster has a completely different feel to it. Where Cameramatic reminds me of my first Olympus pre-digital camera, Snapster reminds me of a Polaroid with really cool filter features.

Snapster opens in camera mode, like Instant 110, but you can bring photos into the app and store them in the Lightbox. Clicking on a photo takes you to the editing screen seen in the picture above. The buttons on the top are pretty self-explanatory. The buttons on the bottom (from left) take you to the preset filters and filters that you have made and named. The second button lets you choose a frame. The third button takes you to the curve that Cameramatic does not have (I alter my message here. Push the points around and see what happens). The fourth button lets you add textures, including light leaks. And, the last button is to adjust the brightness level of the photo.


Cameramatic, as I stated, has more of an antiquated feel to it. And, the filter-making process is much more complex than in Snapster. There are far more choices (two processes, two layers, a vignette layer, and a light leak are all possible in one filter). To reach the filter development screen, hit the button that looks like a wrench. The wrench button is actually the button that takes you further and further into edit mode, ending with filter development. The settings for each photo allow you to turn on and off the light leak, vignette, and film simulation. Film simulation is for black & white photos only.

One of the great thing about Cameramatic is the amount of information and choices the developers were able to stamp into it. In the Lightbox, clicking on the photo brings up two menus. The one along the bottom lets you save the photo to the camera roll, edit it, share it, and delete it, and the white box with a little info on the photo leads to all the EXIF and TIFF data for the photo. This is a wealth of information that lets you know just about everything you need to know about any photo and how it was shot and edited. If I had to choose, I would choose Cameramatic over Snapster every time.

Binary Camera

Binary Camera is a simple app that does one thing and then allows you to choose three options to make a photo. It takes a black & white photo and lets you use Binarization (tint the photo one color plus black), Multi-Threshold Binarization (tint the photo two colors plus black), and Postarization (adjust the brightness and contrast of the photo). I obviously am never short on what to say about an app (or anything else), but that is really all there is to say about Binary Camera. Although simple, you can get some really neat results.


XProcess is very similar in the simplicity with which it functions to Binary Camera, with very different results. The name is short for Cross Processing, which is photography speak for developing film in chemicals meant for film of a different type. This process was discovered accidentally and is unpredictable when done naturally, but digitally, you control everything. That said, this app does let you control on sliders the tone and color of the photo and gives you the option to hit a random button (you know I’d do it) or turn on the “Shake to shuffle” option under the settings. It’s as close as you’re going to get to digital cross processing’s unpredictability.

The last app by youthhr is Phonto. Phonto is a free app (you can pay 99 cents to remove ads) that is so much easier than cutting up magazines, and more environmentally friendly for ransom note writers.

Honestly, I don’t know of an app with more fonts. There are more than 100 in Phonto and some are very unique and are not commonly found. There are comment balloons that you can place your text in, or you can free-style it like I did with the picture of Lawrence. You can type in a whole word or just a letter at a time for that really ransomy look.

Text is adjustable by color (of the font and the background), size, tilt, and obviously, font. This is the one universal app on the list, so it is available in landscape mode for iPad users like me who never do portrait mode.

If you’d like more information on any of these apps and I actually have anything to add, you can always ask, or you can visit the developers website at

Now you can go forth and push buttons. See you tomorrow!

Multitasking Management for iOS

I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that since you’re here, you know what iOS is. But, in case you don’t, iOS is the Operating System of Apple’s mobile products (the iPhone, iPad, and iPod). Hence. iOS is the name.

This post may be a bit remedial for some people, so for those who want more app reviews, I’ll continue photography app reviews tomorrow. And, for people who don’t know what multitasking is, stay right here and I’ll explain.

Back when iOS vesion 4 was released, Apple added a feature that many desired: multitasking. Before iOS 4.0, if you wanted to use one app while you were going to sleep and another as an alarm clock, you couldn’t do that. And, if you wanted to quickly switch between apps, you couldn’t do that either. Because, everything before iOS 4.0 ran one app at a time. With the release iOS 4.0, multitasking and fast switching were born, and the world was at peace. Well, just kidding about that last part.

Now that you can have more than one app technically running at the same time, you can have too much open and may need to close some apps to run bigger apps.

If you’re wondering how to see what apps you have open, simply double-click (click twice quickly) on the Home button. At the bottom of your screen, you will see all the apps that you have open. To close any, just press and hold on one of the apps until they begin to wiggle and red x’s appear in the upper, left-hand corner. Then, just click on the x’s until all the apps you want to close are gone from your screen.

This is also a way to fast switch between apps. Just double-click the home button and click on the app you want to open back up. Not all apps are fast switchers, and many apps only fast switch for 15 minutes or so after they are closed. After that, they start back up from the main screen again.

As an added surprise, if you swipe right on the bottom area of your screen after double-clicking, you will arrive at a number of controls for your device. These differ depending on the device. For the iPad, you can control your music that is playing, the brightness of the screen, and the volume and/or muting of the sound. On the iPhone, you can control your music and the screen orientation lock.

That’s all there is to it.

See you tomorrow for photography app reviews continued.

Turn Photos Into Art with Jixi Pix

I have decided to start reviewing photo editing and artistic photography apps this week. This is a big category, especially for me. On my iPad alone, I have about 100 apps that could fit into this category. To start us off on strong ground, I have decided to review apps by the developer Jixi Pix because of the consistently high quality of their photography art apps. Between my iPad and iPhone, I have 10 of Jixi’s apps. They have a couple more that I do not have, but I believe all of their main apps are represented by what I am about to review. All of Jixi’s apps are available for the iPad and the iPhone, but unfortunately, they are not universal apps. So, if you like an app and want it on both devices, you will have to buy it twice. However, the unusually high quality of their apps (all of which save in full resolution) more than make up for this inconvenience.

To display what each app can do, I chose one photo (of my gorgeous niece, Katie Anderson) as a way of showing the sometimes subtle, sometimes dramatic quality of Jixi apps.

PhotoArtistaHD Oil for iPad (click here for the iPhone version) is where we’ll begin. The PhotoArtista app can contain three apps in one. Oil, Haiku, and Sketch. You can buy one app and then purchase the rest with in-app purchases to save space, if you choose, or you can buy them all separately. The Oil painting app takes your photo and turns it into a beautiful oil painting. There are many choices to be had in any Jixi app.

The types of oil paintings to choose from are portrait, landscape, realism, impressionism, expressionism, tone painting, and abstract. I said that Jixi makes it easy to make photos into art, but they don’t make it too easy. To get a fantastic result, you will have to put a little work into the job. Some of the things that you control are the texture, brush size, stroke variation, color shift, color tone, lighting effects, canvas texture, and canvas color. Most of these are controlled by a slider that is very sensitive. The slightest move of the slider can change the entire effect of the result. Another thing that you control specific to the Oil painting app is the “artistic edges” or border that can frame the result. The photo at right has artistic edges turned off.

Saving photos in Jixi Pix is always full resolution and gives you the choice of small, medium, or large for image size. You can also email the artistic finish from within the app. And some of the newer apps let you post to Facebook and Twitter.

PhotoArtista Haiku

The next paint style in the PhotoArtistaHD series is Haiku (the iPhone version is here). It is also my personal favorite. It is a very playful combination of watercolor (traditional and otherwise), vintage papers, and India ink outlining. The result, when you get the fine-tuning just right, is incomparable to any other photo art app in the App Store. This is where you really get the full point that this is not simply a filter that you are applying by pushing a button, but an artistic endeavor that takes time and finesse to get just right.

Haiku lets you choose between abstract watercolor and stylized watercolor, with a number of presets within each category. It should be noted that if you find a combination of fine-tuning that you are particularly attached to, you can add it to the presets so that you can apply it in the same way to any other photo. This feature is actually available in many of the Jixi Pix apps.

The fine-tuning encompasses the strength of the image, wet edges, paint area, paint variation, paint color shift, ink outline, ink outline detail, ink fill, and ink color. You can work on any of these fine-tunes in the shadows, mid-tones, highlights, or in the full spectrum of light and color of the photo. The last area that you control in haiku is the choice of papers. And, there are quite a number of choices. For a paper addict like myself, this particular app is pure delight. For awhile, every photo I took got turned into a Haiku. While this app may not be for everyone (I’ve been told that it’s an acquired taste), you should play with it and try to appreciate the full beauty that can result when you get the fine-tuning just right. As a user tip, I have found that once I get all of the other categories to my liking, just slightly adjusting the paint variation really changes the whole image and you can slightly adjust all day long for endless results.

PhotoArtista Sketch

The last PhotoArtistaHD style is Sketch. (the iPhone version of Sketch is here). I have about a dozen different photo turned sketch apps from the App Store, but Jixi’s Sketch is like no other. You control the pencil outline, outline accuracy, outline strength, shade variation, shadow strength, and pencil color. And, like Haiku, you also get to pick the paper that your sketch is drawn upon.

Jixi’s Sketch really comes as close as you can to a hand-drawn look from using an app. There really is no comparison to other sketch apps that simply give one result for each photo or that turn a photo black and white and add some sketching around the frame (I won’t name that app, but it is really quite pitiful). PhotoArtista Sketch captures the essence of what hand-drawn sketches are really about.

Although it may seem easier (and cheaper) to get a button-pushing filter app to do the things that the PhotoArtista apps do, you will not regret your purchase of any of these three apps. Not only are the results far superior to anything a simple filter can do, you will grow to love the process involved and the control you have using Jixi apps.


Outside the PhotoArtista line by Jixi, another popular app by the developer is Grungetastic. Grungetastic HD for iPad and Grungetastic for iPhone breaks down into three categories: Classic Grunge, Bleached Grunge, and Pop Grunge. There are presets in each category. Four other grunge styles are available through in-app purchase: Distressed, Worn Pop, Gritty, and Worn. To fine-tune your images, you can adjust the tones used, the threshold, colors, and the smoothness of the image. You can further fine-tune by choosing the types of grunge used: grainy, scratches, textures, blotches, abstract, extreme, and stylized. Finally, you can adjust the borders that frame the final image.

If the choices overwhelm you, you can always just randomize the results by pressing the pair of dice in the upper right-hand corner. This gives you a combination effect made up of the available choices. If you get a random result that is very close to what you want, you can always fine-tune from there. You are never locked into anything with Jixi apps. Fine-tuning is your very best friend in a Jixi app.

Simply HDR

If you like the look of HDR (high dynamic range) photos but you don’t have an HDR camera or you forgot to use it, you can achieve a similaar look with Simply HDR HD for iPad or Simply HDR for iPhone. True HDR photos are made up of several photos taken with different exposure levels that are then merged together to give you an image that shows the highlights and lowlights and everything in-between in amazing detail. Simply HDR simulates HDR photos using just one photo. Presets are broken down into five categories: HDR, Black and White, Contrasted HDR, Contrasted Light, and Shadows and Lights. You are able to adjust the radius, strength, and smoothing of an image, control vignette fading and strength, add and adjust the strength of grain, and add and adjust the strength of any tint.

Just like in Grungetastic, the dice make an appearance, so you can hit them to randomize the effects and get a unique artistic result. Unlike the PhotoArtista apps, Simply HDR has an undo and redo button that takes you backward and forward a step to compare your results.

All Jixi Pix apps have an Original button that allows you to peek at the photo as it looked prior to your adjustments.

Vintage Scene

If you desire an aged feel to your photos, Vintage Scene may be more what you are looking for. Vintage Scene HD for iPad and Vintage Scene for iPhone (also available as Vintage Scene-Video) allows you to get old-world charm with cutting edge technology. Presets are divided into VintageScene, Antique Photo, and Faded Time. Fine-tuning breaks down into color, adjust, overlays, and borders. Under color, you can choose normal or textured, and you age the photo with colors for image age and paper age, with the degree determined with a slider. Adjust lets you fade out, and affect image strength and texture strength, also on sliders. You can choose to use an overlay, including several types of vignettes, or you can choose no overlay. Under borders, you choose a background color and then choose, if you want, a border for the photo.

The randomization dice and undo/redo buttons make an appearance in Vintage Scene. If you’re looking to achieve a retro image, the sepia tones, grains, and faded colors in Vintage Scene should make you very happy.

Dramatic Black & White

Another avenue for achieving a retro look, or for getting a striking artistic feel, can be found through using Dramatic Black & White. Dramatic Black & White HD for iPad and Dramatic Black & White for iPhone uses presets in three categories (Black and White, Infared, and Dramatic Black & White) to express things lost back when darkrooms were replaced with digital.

The app allows you to adjust a tone that you can set using a full-spectrum color picker, soften or sharpen the photo, adjust brightness and contrast, add a filter by adding parts of red, green, and blue, set B&W strength, and add a spotlight, and set the grain for the photo. Together, these tools give you as the photographer the ability to also be a true artist.

Randomize all of the settings by using the dice button, and undo/redo any effects.

This is a much simpler app than many of the others by Jixi, but don’t be fooled. Black and white photography may look simple, but that is because without color, you must use light and composition tell the story. It is like strengthening a muscle that you do not use often.

Romantic Photo

Romantic Photo HD for iPad and Romantic Photo for iPhone combine filters that use lighting and highlights of soft color to create a mood that is warm and romantic. A host of presets take center stage in this Jixi app. They are grouped under Heavenly Photo, Heavenly Detail, Romantic Colors, Dreamy Photo, Romantic Scene, Morning Light, Captured Moments, Golden Memories, Warm Glow, Day Dream, and Soft Touch.

The only adjustments in this app are to adjust the strength of the preset and to add and adjust the strength of one or two overlays. This app is as close as Jixi Pix gets to one-button filtering for creating photo art. That doesn’t mean that you can’t get well-crafted pictures that can be elevated to art. It just means that you have to think more about the original shooting of the photo to ensure that the composition is strong.

Randomization of the presets and overlays is still in play in this app. Look for the dice in the upper right-hand corner.

Moku Hanga

Moku Hanga HD for iPad and Moku Hanga for iPhone is one of the newer Jixi Pix offerings. Moku is the word “wood” in Japanese, while Hanga is the word for “print.” This app lets you create artistic wood-block prints from your pictures. Put away your carving knife though. Sliders allow you to adjust the saturation, image strength, image colors, and the outline smoothing, width, and strength. You can leave the outline normal or make it black and robust, as well.

To color your image, you can choose from two printing styles: Multi-color or Multi-block. Multi-color uses all the color in your original photo, but allows you to adjust the color by reducting some or the original color or adding color not in the photo already. The Multi-block style uses five blocks of color from your original photo and then divides the colors across the image that you create. Also, you can randomize the color throughout your image or replace any or all the colors using a full-spectrum color-picker. The usual randomizer is available, as well. The last way to customize your piece of art is to pick the style of “paper” (it looks like wood) and add a border.

NIR Color

This is a really fun new app with a lot of potential to create great pieces of art.

Rounding out the 10 apps reviewed here is NIR Color (HD for iPad here, and for iPhone here), another newer app by Jixi Pix. NIR stands for Near Infared. Infared photography captures “invisible light.” Along with infared technology, NIR uses violet, blue, green, yellow, orange, and red (and combinations of these colors) to create color filters that make “otherworldly” and mysterious atmospheres. There are a few grains that you may add, as well.

There are only two presets: NIR Color and Extreme NIR. The adjustments are minimal: “blowout” and detail filters, and two colors. You can also adjust the contrast and the dreamy color aspects of an image. Both the filter and the colors can be randomized. For that matter, the dice appear again to allow you to randomize the whole image. Jixi Pix says on their website that NIR Color works best with landscape photography by making the color in images “pop.” Blue skies may turn dark and greenery may turn light. This app has the ability to create extremely surreal images.

A handful of Jixi Pix apps not covered here are Hand Tint, Kyoobik Photo (which looks very interesting and will probably be my next purchase), Rainy Daze, and Snow Daze. All of the Jixi apps are not inexpensive, as far as the app world goes, but in my experience, the results pay for themselves. I love Haiku so much, and use Simply HDR so much, that I have them both for my iPad and my iPhone.

I hope this review of Jixi Pix apps is enough to convince the photography lovers out there to try one or two out. Once you do, you will have to have them all. For more information, visit Jixi Pix’s very informative website at

On Tuesday, I will continue my review of photography apps. Are there any that you feel need to be reviewed? Or any that you just hate? Leave a comment below or email me by clicking on my profile picture.