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Using Your Phone to Create Art

Updated on July 18, 2013
Four Square Cat
Four Square Cat

Apps, Apps, Apps

Want to turn your photos into art but don’t own Adobe Photoshop? Not everybody wants to go the expense or trouble getting a professional photo editing program. But you have a creative that you just gotta scratch. So what do you do?

Do you own a phone? Go to your Apps Store and search for art or photo edit apps. My favorites are Paper Camera and Pixlr-o-matic. These are the apps that I will be using for this article.

Paper Camera has several selections for cartoon and painting effects but first of all it is a camera so you can either upload a photo you took with your built-in camera or take one with Paper Camera and instantly have the effect you want applied. Some of the effects are cartoon/sketch/comic book/half tone/noir/neon.

Pixlr-o-matic from Autodesk is both an app for your phone and a downloadable application for your computer. It applies filters, lighting and borders to your images.


Paper Camera

First I open up Paper Camera and press the little green square next to the effect name on the bottom. Now I can select which image from my gallery that I want to work on. I’m going to choose a cat.

My favorite effect is Comic Boom. As the name implies, Comic Boom gives your image a comic book appearance. There are sliders on the side so that you can customize the effect. Once I have everything the way I want it, I press the floppy disk in the bottom right hand corner to save the image to the Paper Camera folder in my image gallery. Then I exit Paper Camera.


Next I bring up Pixlr-o-matic and upload the image to my workspace. Once the workspace opens you will see two rows along the bottom. In the top row are the effects. The bottom row consists of a return arrow, a film canister (effects), a light bulb (overlays), a picture frame (borders), and a floppy disk with a download arrow.

The effects, overlays, and borders all begin with defaults but you can add to them by pressing the add button at the end of the row.

Starting with the film canister, I choose an effect that will work with my image to help create the look I need. Hint, start with a color effect because you can go back after you save and add a collage look later if you want.

Ivan effect
Ivan effect


Then I move on to the light bulb and experiment with the overlays until I find the right fit. Again, if you want more than one wait until after you have saved.

Moody overlay
Moody overlay

Frame it!

Finally, I press the picture frame to choose a border. The borders have some cool effects too. Some look like the photography chemicals ran, others make the image look old.

Next I press the floppy disk to save the image. It will want you to pick a size. I usually choose Original.

Whitetri border
Whitetri border

We're Not Done Yet

Now, round two. This is where you fake Layers. Select the same image and go back and apply more effects. Obviously, it doesn’t do as much as Photoshop’s Layers since there are no Modes or Opacity but still it’s not too shabby. You just have to do the work.

Lotus border
Lotus border

There are many other apps out there that can be used in addition to these two. There are apps that let you draw and paint on your image; there are apps that let you desaturate an image and bring back the saturation of specific objects. Whichever you choose be sure to experiment because that’s half the fun!


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