14 apps easily turn boring images into works of art
Beautiful imagery is absolutely essential in communicating through social media, but choosing excellent images from free stock photography sites is almost a science and wrangling Photoshop can prove difficult if you don’t have the training. If you need a quick meme, there are several great apps to help you quickly transform your original photographs into beautiful works of art.
But first, before polishing images up with a photo app, be sure to learn how to take inviting photographs. If you take an amazing shot, you may not need any of these programs to begin with. That said, we can’t all be brilliant photographers, so here are several hacks to elevate the mundane to masterpiece.
Snapseed (iPhone | Android) - free
If you’ve been disappointed with the editing controls on your built-in photo app, Snapseed is your next download. Snapseed allows you to make all the standard auto tune adjustments, but it goes above and beyond with their extra features, filters and stylish fonts.
One of the greatest features is its “HDR Scape” filter. HDR stands for High Dynamic Range and is typically achieved by taking multiple photographs of the same scene and then layering them on top of each other to create a more robust range of colors and light. It basically makes the darker areas lighter and the lighter blown out areas darker. This effect creates a picture of what your eyes see as opposed to what the camera captures. Using the HDR filter, MyCom editor, Darby Jones, saved this nature scene. Darby says, “What's amazing is that I almost deleted the original photograph because the lighting was too low. Then I put it through the HDR filter and realized I’d been tossing out great photographs for a long time.” He says it’s important to note that, “You can turn down the filter for subtle enhancements so images or people don’t look fake or crank the HDR up to turn images into surreal pieces of art.”
Another cool feature is the “Selective” tool which isolates a region based on luminance and color values. Basically, you can drop a selective “dot” on a happy little bush and tweak it without affecting the rest of the photo.
In addition to being easy to use, Snapseed keeps a running history of changes so you can step back in time to a previous version you liked better. Here’s a complete guide to Snapseed with video tutorials that will help speed up the learning curve.
Here are some other free photo editors that deserve honorable mentions:
- Aviary - Adobe powered. Upload to Creative Cloud. Tons of stickers, frames and text effects.
- Befunky - Focuses on having fun and keeping it simple. Includes a cool collage maker and professional tools as well.
- PicMonkey - Basic options allow beginners to thrive. Also offers a massive library of premade graphics and overlays.
- Canva - Robust graphic design features as well as photo editing tools.
- Adobe Spark - Easily create social graphics, web stories, animated videos and more.
Word Swag (iPhone) - $3.99
If you are not a professional layout artist or graphic designer and just want a program to give you attractive options for adding words to an image, WordSwag is just what the doctor ordered! Once you load your image and text into the app, you simply try several different options in each of several themes. Since the options are auto-generated, you have the ability to roll the dice and have it auto-generate more of a similar style until you find just what you want. If you have text but no image, WordSwag will allow you to search its collection of free images for the perfect picture to use as your background. Android Users might want to check out PicLab HD (Free).
Camera+ (iPhone) - $2.99
How many times have you wished you could set the shutter speed or ISO of your phone camera? If you have ever wished for the same kind of manual controls you might find on your camera, Camera+ is for you. This app will place all the controls you desire at your fingertips. Camera FV-5 is a great alternative for Android users who want DSLR-like manual controls.
Waterlogue (iPhone | Windows) - $2.99
Sometimes you need to make an image feel special. Waterlogue does just that. It creates images that come across as legitimate watercolors. Beyond creating interesting images, this is a great way to take a less-than-perfect image that is lower resolution, slightly blurry or a bit off and transform it into one of your favorite pictures. After loading the image, you are presented with several styles (similar to an Instagram filter) that alter whether or not there are outlines, how vibrant the colors are, etc. Android users might want to check out Photo Painter (Free).
WordFoto (iPhone) - 1.99
Instead of offering an attractive way to place the words on top of your picture like WordSwag, WordFoto actually creates your image from the words you choose. Once you load your image into the app, you simply choose from a preselected word list or create your own and it re-renders the image to look as if it were created from the words you chose. There isn’t an Android alternative yet, but WordFoto designers ask fans to stay tuned.
Percolator (iPhone) - 2.99
If you want to transform your picture into something close to graphic art, Percolator is for you. The app uses geometric shapes to recreate your image with a graphical feel.
Like all great programs, you can go as deep or shallow as you like. The important thing is to just take that first leap of faith. Jump in and just start playing around. And let us create something that honors God’s creation.
— When Jeremy and his wife are not playing with their four children, he oversees youth and college ministries and leads the evening worship service at Christ UMC in Mobile, Ala. Jeremy is an author of several books and resources that you can find at JeremyWords.com or follow him on Twitter!