Apple computers have long been associated with high quality digital imaging. The iPhone, since its emergence into the world just two and half years ago, has been following in the footsteps of its much larger desktop and laptop brethren. But just how far can one go with digital imaging and an iPhone?
There are well over a thousand photography apps currently available, and the list keeps growing. These are just a few of the very impressive apps you can use to create, print, and distribute sophisticated digital images from your iPhone, without a computer! Though I write about the iPhone, most of these apps (except for those dependent upon a built in camera) work for the iPod touch just as well. The best part is that you don’t have to spend a lot. But when you do spend, make it count.
Posting photos online
There are a number of ways you can distribute your creations directly from the iPhone other than Tubey and Animoto. For example you can get your work out to an even larger audience by using apps like Flickr Sender (free; conceptcache.com) to post your photos directly onto your Flickr account. You can also use Photobucket (free) to connect to the Photobucket.com photo sharing site, or Pixelpipe (free; pixelpipe.com) to upload images and even video to your Facebook page.
Creating and distributing artwork with your iPhone has never been easier, or more fun. Whether you’re a proud parent wanting to show your latest baby photos or an artist developing a new genre, the iPhone connects you with others in ways that can’t be done with a typical cell phone.
I just love this first app because of its raw simplicity. It really shows the illustrative power of the iPhone and iPod touch. Free Art and Technology (F.A.T.) created FAT Tag with the noble intent of creating open source technology for all. Indeed, the source code for FAT Tag is downloadable without cost from their Web site. FAT Tag is very basic; it allows you to draw or write on the screen with a choice of just three different colored backgrounds. Your images will have the effect of dripping paint. This app is so basic there isn’t even a way to save your creation other than to take a screen shot (press the home and power button at the same time), but this is part of the app’s appeal to me. It’s clean, simple, and available for anyone that wants to download or improve it.
FAT Tag; Free; fffff.at/fattag
If you’re creating something directly on your iPhone’s screen, you should give Josiah Larson’s iDoodle2 a try. Whether you’re drawing freehand or want to work on saved images, photos, or screen shots, all the core functions and tools are there: pen, line, erase, image insertion, color chooser, change background, rotate, and so on. About the only thing missing is the ability to skew images. Overall, iDoodle2 is a bit more difficult to master than some of the other apps. It is a fairly sophisticated piece of software that blurs the line between doodling and complex imaging. I think they should make some fairly small changes in backgrounds and foregrounds so that it looks more sophisticated. A crop function would be a welcomed addition. Otherwise, this is a pretty refined piece of digital imaging software.
So far I’ve just looked at apps you can use to draw directly on your iPhone or iPod touch screen. What about the iPhone’s built in camera?
iDoodle2; $0.99; idoodleapp.com
While there is nothing the matter with the Camera app that comes with your iPhone, it feels like a cell phone camera. This is where daengen.net’s, ProCamera comes in. The latest version of ProCamera fixes a lot of bugs that were prevalent in the preceding version. Having the option of an onscreen grid to structure your shot is excellent, as is the ability to autosave images or approve them first. I also noticed that my camera got excellent shots in low light conditions. This app will really have you considering whether you need a point-and-shoot camera. You need to watch out for the touch sensitivity in the area of the screen for zooming in and out. Even after practice, I found myself accidentally taking a photo when I wanted to zoom. Nevertheless, this app is worth it.
ProCamera; $2.99; procamera-app.com
Another excellent app to help you with digital imaging on your
iPhone or iPod touch is Visors Software’s, OutColor. OutColor allows you to do some fairly sophisticated image masking. The layout of functions is simple and quick to learn. I am also very impressed with its ability to use stock pictures, hand drawn images, or pictures from your camera as a background. I’m still working with this app and loving every minute of it! The app is intuitive for anyone familiar with masking, and I find the app very robust. You are only limited by how beefy your fingers are. Working on a small screen with large fingers can be tough. I am struck with the power of this little app. Simplicity of design, and the ability to do its job flawlessly, earns this app my recommendation for Editor’s Choice!
OutColor; $1.99; outcolorapp.com
For those of you not familiar with the artwork of Josh Davis, please take some time to look at what he’s doing on the iPhone (joshuadavis.com). If you find his work appealing, why not add your own touch with his app, JD Reflect. I’ve found it helps merge your creative process with the iPhone’s increasing capabilities in the area of art creation. At first, you might think the images and colors are limited, but you realize very quickly that the combinations of these images as you layer, merge, and reshape them are limitless. Once you begin to play with this app, you’ll recognize that swiping your finger across the screen, as well as moving the iPhone around, will blend and mix images. This is an emerging art form Davis calls “computational, generative-art known as Dynamic Abstraction.” According to Davis, JD Reflect “won’t improve your productivity, but it will enhance your soul.” I’m not entirely certain about that, but I’ve found it does open the door for you to explore and develop your own artistic life.
JD Reflect; $1.99; www.sidewaysmobile.com
Now that you’ve created some artwork, how do you share it with others? You might try printing it out. Celstream Technologies’ iPrintApp is an excellent Wi-Fi-based utility that lets me send my work directly to a printer from my iPhone. Once installed, the app found my home network and connected to it without a problem. The largest size you can print out is 8 x 11, but you probably wouldn’t want to make a picture taken with the iPhone’s camera any larger than that. Until Apple includes an app for printing from the iPhone, this is the one to have.
iPrintApp; $1.99; celstream.com/iprintapp.htm
You can add action and audio to your creations with apps like Tubey and Tubey Lite ($2.99, “Lite” version free; tubey.com) or Animoto ($30/year for unlimited video length, $249 for commercial use, and free – video limited to 30 seconds; animoto.com/iphone). These allow you to create a slideshow of your work, complete with background music and even voiceovers so you can explain your work. For the free versions, you’ll have to put up with either a watermark over your work or a size restriction on the number of images in your slideshow. The paid versions of these apps remove those limitations.