Watercolour effect on iPad

mini-horse teasing a larger horse

This is, of course, Bilbo-the-mini harassing Oporto yet again!

I can remember when Photoshop was really the only game in town for photo art, then came various plug-ins and other software, but it was, some of it still is, horribly expensive. Plus the learning curve was steep, so a lot of the options were out of reach for the average person. Now that there are cheaper (even free) and easier options just about anyone can play digital artist. We all know this is not always a good thing but it is what it is. The advent of free or almost free yet sophisticated mobile apps has totally changed the game.

I’ve been checking out some of the iPad art apps this year and this week I took a cute but quite underexposed image to see what I could do with it on my iPad without any processing on my desktop. I only used apps that were free or under $9.99, and with a very shallow learning curve, ie apps that anyone might use. I was really impressed with what could be achieved, and I still haven’t yet used the higher rated ones that I have (that have a slightly steeper learning curve). I think having Photoshop experience definitely helped. Yes, I could have cleaned up parts of the image a little but watercolor paint can act like that and this was a quick experiment.



11 thoughts on “Watercolour effect on iPad

    • It’s great fun! For this image I used Snapseed (free) for basic editing, then processed separate versions in TangledFX (2.99? 4.99?), and Waterlogue (under $5), then combined all three versions in Photoshop Touch ($9.99). I could have done the initial editing in PS Touch too, but I’m probably going to be teaching a night class in transforming photos to artwork on an iPad later in the winter and I’m seeing how much can be done with free apps or at least under $5 apps. I needed PS Touch at the end for the layers, but there’s another cheap or free app that also does layers, I have to try it out. I think it’s Superimpose, but I’m not sure.

      Autopainter HD ($0.99) is another painting app, not just watercolor and pretty limited but what it does is quite usable especially combined with other apps, and has zero learning curve. There’s an inexpensive desktop version too.

      My primary interest has been watercolor effects, but I’ll be checking out apps with other painting styles, there are a lot of them out there. I’m looking for the ones that really stand out.

      Adobe Photoshop Express (free) is probably something worth having if you don’t have PS Touch. I’m going to check it out but haven’t yet. Some people say they like it better than PS Touch. But I had a quick look at it, and my impression was it lacked the advanced features of PSTouch (I could be wrong). OTOH PS Express may be a lot more user-friendly as PS Touch is a very powerful app and maybe is harder to get a grip on if you’re not experienced with Photoshop. IMO, however, PS Touch is well worth the $9.99. New this summer is a companion app to PS Express…PS Mix, which allows you to combine images. I’ll be checking these out for my class.

      FYI, Snapseed is based on NIK plugins for Photoshop, Lightroom, Aperture. I use NIK all the time on my desktop and love it! Snapseed isn’t NIK for iPad but nevertheless is a very powerful app but quite easy to use once you understand the interface, which is not complicated. Considering that it’s free, you can’t go wrong!

      If you find an app you like, please let me know. 🙂


    • Thanks, Chris. These mobile apps are getting pretty powerful, and considering how much it still costs to buy professional level software for the desktop, they are a total steal. I have to chuckle when people complain that $5 is too expensive for an app!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Well, the thing about steep learning curves, Eliza, is that at the end of it you have some pretty powerful tools to play with. Not unlike learning to paint with paints and canvas. 🙂 FWIW, one of my primary pieces of pricier editing software is 4 or 5 years old (altho I didn’t buy it when it first came out) because I haven’t felt the updates gave me anything that would particularly enhance my workflow, and I am able to produce images that can still hold their own with any others edited in the newer versions of that software. OTOH some of my more basic and cheaper software has become obsolete as my OS has been upgraded so I don’t feel my pricier software has been a poor investment. 🙂
      Steep learning curves are certainly not for everyone, but for me it depends on the size of the carrot at the other end. :-)) As the lower-end apps become more sophisticated, so too do the high end ones. So travelling that steep curve still leaves one able to do things with one’s images that others can’t… Still, for those who want apps that are free/inexpensive and easy to learn, there’s a lot more choice now and that choice is growing! And I say, keep ’em coming! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Cybele. Well, some of those apps are making their way to the desktop, altho they usually (but not always) cost a bit more than the mobile apps. There are choices now that just weren’t there even last winter. All those mobile devices with half-decent cameras are revolutionizing our entire lives, and along with that comes the creative software…for all our electronics 🙂

      BTW, I don’t have an iPhone either. 🙂 For starters I can’t afford the monthly plans!!

      Liked by 1 person

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