Q: I'm an iPad owner that is overwhelmed by the number of applications available. Where should I start if I'm looking for a way to turn my standard photos into something a little more unique?
$4.99 | Version: 1.1 | JixiPix Software
Truth be told, this app should be called "Photoshop Filters: Oil Painting's Greatest Hits." (Filters, in case you're not a member of the image-editing cool club, are ready-made effects that transform pictures.) But you know what? For those of us who aren't graphics gurus and get a kick out of giving our favorite pictures the Monet treatment, this single-purpose specialist is worth a few bucks. True, some of the effects belong in the Chemical Accident category, but overall, the ratio of work required to stunning result achieved is pretty impressive. And it couldn't be easier: start with a photo of your own, pick a style you like, tweak if you like, and presto: you are now an Arista.
STUDIO SETUP: Your order of operations is helpfully laid out in the buttons from left to right. Start Project Picasso in the Get Photo button where you pick the image to transform. Garbage-in, garbage-out holds true, but don't be afraid to pick a fuzzy miss; image composition is more important than sharpness when you're heading for the Land of Impressionism.
FILTER FUN: The Paint Style pop-up menu is where you'll find a catalog of a couple dozen effects, grouped into categories (impressionism, realism, abstract). The icons above the labels give you a rough idea of what you'll end up with. Don't go crazy trying to discern the difference between, say, Impressionism 06 and Impressionism 07; most noticeable are the color tones. If the effect icons looks greenish, then that's what you'll end up with.
TOUCH UPS: The buttons marked Fine-Tune and Artistic Edges do what their names imply. In the first one, your tuning opportunities are greatest with the Tone color box and slider; pick a new shade and you'll see noticeable differences in the filter-painted result. Get edgy in the second pop-up menu by applying an assortment of borders.
BEFORE & AFTER: For maximum wow, hold your finger on the button marked Original; when pressed, it reveals your starting point. Anyone who plans on becoming an Artista regular, should be sure to use the Save Preset option in the Save menu; it captures whatever settings you've applied and lets you reuse it via a newly created entry in the Paint Style gallery.
HONORABLE MENTION: FX PHOTO STUDIO HD
$3.99 | Version: 1.2.0 | MacPhun
Filter fans with absolutely no interest in tweaking sliders: here's a one-tap way to join the party. This app's kinda like hiring a Photoshop pro to show you 150 or so variations of any photo you feel like messing around with. The names of most effects are fairly descriptive (cool blue, startdust frame), though a few (Amsterdam, Crosspro 3) make the accompanying thumbnail demo an essential visual aid. All you have to do is pick a pic from your photo library and then tap the filter name that you want to apply. A live preview makes auditioning a snap. The dice icon in the upper-right corner lets random walk fans go for a stroll. Overall, the quality's good, though the cheese-o-meter redlines every so often (Teddy Bear, Scary Face 2).
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Excerpted from Peter Meyers' Best iPad Apps: The Guide for Discriminating Downloaders. Copyright 2010 O'Reilly Media, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
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