Art on an iPhone: Guide to Artistic Apps
As an artist on the go, I’m constantly looking for a way to bring my doodles, drawings, and photos to a more finished state. Below I will outline the iPhone apps I’ve amassed and the features I’ve used to make my own digital art studio within an iPhone.
The Initial Drawing
I’ve begun by taking a photo of a doodle of mine. Two years ago, this would have lost itself in one of my notebooks, but today I’m bringing it to a new level where it can be lost in the blogosphere and digital art cloud. Okay, so the photo is nothing to brag about. In fact, it’s quite embarrassing how poorly lit this is (which can easily to be case when the photo is taken under a blue umbrella on a sunny day.
I didn’t shy away from this lighting issue as I can easily manipulate exposure and saturation in PS Mobile (free) and save .jpg of each saved version to be layered in SketchBook ($2.99 – note that the linked review is before a recent update. Now .psd files may be exported!).
These two images have been manipulated in PS Mobile.
The blue image has had the saturation and exposure adjusted. The red image has had been tinted, then the exposure was adjusted, tinted again, and increased saturation.
I’ve found that working digitally like this, I am more willing to take risks as a) I export images so often that it’s embarrassing, b) I can infinitely undo/redo, and c) there are so many options in how to manipulate the imagery that I’d rather have too many versions than not enough.
I have imported the above images as layers in SketchBook. I placed the blue layer atop the red because I knew that there would be less red in the final product than blue.
The next step was fairly tedious as I erased the blue image everywhere I wanted the red to show, a process I will call “erasing in” the red. I chose not to just draw with a red brush because my black lines and values were consistent between the red and blue layers. This saved me some time and allowed for slight variation in the final image and carried nice feathered lines between the red and blue.
I then exported a .jpg as well as used the export flattened layers option. This exported a .png, but as I prefer .jpg for this exercise, I disregarded my export.*see how this may have been detrimental to my final product below!
Note: This process can be a little bit of a battery drainer depending upon your screen brightness. When you don’t need to know the true colors (as I didn’t when I was in the process of “erasing in” the red) I suggest lowering your brightness to both ease your eyes and the battery life.
After I was happy with the red, the image called for some highlights. I merged the layers and repeated my process only because there was no layer underneath, the output would be white. By altering the brush properties for the eraser, I was able to achieve an airbrush effect. I had two options here, as I could have either chosen to use an airbrush of white, or “erase in” the white. I chose the eraser method as I wanted to leave my options open to put another image or color where my highlights were being inserted.
Problem #1: Phone Call
I received a phone call from a friend who considers me his eternal Phone-a-friend since I’m the guy with the iPhone, which I humor because frankly I like showing off my rapid research abilities. Anyways, when returning to SketchBook, the app reloads and places you back where you were last working, except that the undo feature no longer works! This is the first problem I’ve encountered with my epic experimentation: Now I’m stuck with the experiments that I’m so sold on.
Luckily I save often. So I import the last .jpg I exported and can get back to work.
Problem #2: SketchBook Layer Order
So it appears that Sketchbook needs one more update because I cannot reorder the layers to my image. Now the option to replace some of those highlights with underlying photos is long gone.
I’ll refrain from shedding a tear as I wouldn’t want to wet my keyboard and create Problem #3.
I cut my losses and took the last exported image into iRetouch ($1.99 – often with 50% off sales) for some final effects.
First off, I used the Basic editor to crop the white bars from my image (Why SketchBook?! Why would you put bars on my image?!). I found that Sketchbook’s .jpg also created heavy loss of quality, so I went back into Sketchbook to export my flattened image as a .png. Again I cut my losses… I’d rather have a better resolution image that I like, than a horrible resolution image that I love.
The basic editor is only available in the paid version of iRetouch. As I only really used this to crop, I could have gotten away with cropping in PS Mobile and using iRetouch Lite (free). I will be going back to iRetouch’s Basic editor at the end though, where you will see my final lighting show.
After cropping, I used iRetouch’s Touchup tools to add in color and abstraction.
First thing you do in Touchup tools is go to settings and change your canvas size to the largest option, hit done. Go to Photo (lower right side of main screen) and re-open your image. If you forget this step, you will end up working on a low resolution image, which for me is more often than not synonymous for me with wasting time.
Now I can begin my work. Touchup tools allows for color touchups (along with a variety of other options which you can find in the previous review of iRetouch). I prefer using the XOR blend setting with a low opacity because it recolors the artwork and brings a geometric element in as well. The XOR setting can be found by tapping the button at the bottom right to access settings. Tap Blend Mode and drag your finger up on the screen to find XOR at the bottom of the blend settings.
I colored to my heart’s content.
I saved the image (actually I did that a lot… but I wouldn’t subject you to twenty “Saved Again!” (yes I’m quite emphatic about saving). iRetouch Basic tools is great for Brightness and Contrast alterations to the entire image as you can preview the combination without committing yourself to the action. You can Brighten in iRetouch’s Touchup Tools, but it isn’t nearly as user friendly. I darkened the image and increased the contrast.
After this I saved and brought the image back into Touchup tools (yes again with the reopened image at a higher resolution… unless you’ve given up, which is ok. I won’t judge you.) and proceeded to lighten specific parts for dramatic effect.
Here’s the final image:
I hope you’ve learned something, enjoyed my art, or at least procrastinated something really worth procrastinating.
For more iPhone app reviews search Appstruck for unbiased and opinionated reviews.
For more of David’s art you can visit his non-linear creativity blog The Big Ydea.