13 tips to make the most out of mobile-based photo editing apps

For the ever increasing photo editing apps, here are some interesting tips and tricks that you should try out to make your pictures look more artistic

Published Date
14 - Oct - 2016
| Last Updated
14 - Oct - 2016
13 tips to make the most out of mobile-based photo editing apps

With the increasing trend to post coolest photos on social networking sites comes plethora of apps that lets you manipulate your photos. Thanks to Instagram for making even a sullen photo look artistic and invoking the self proclaimed photographer inside us. Prisma catalysed this with AI-powered photo editing feature. With the ever increasing apps and the improving camera technology every year, the count of people relying on the mobile photo editing tools are exponentially increasing. To make the most out of each app we have curtailed some interesting tips and tricks that you should try out.

Try Instagram stories

Instagram unleashes the biggest blow to Snapchat by launching Instagram stories. It is exactly the same feature that Snapchat offered for ages. Rolled out on both platforms - iOS and Android - you can get it directly by updating the app. The app’s UI is revamped to fit in the new feature which is directly accessible from the “Home” section. 

In the home section you’ll see one or more small circle(s) with your followers profile pictures. These circles are the buttons representing their stories. Just tap on the circle to view the story. To add a story, tap the “+” button located at the top or just swipe over to right. In the either case, the camera will launch allowing you to snap-a-story.

Try different pens in Instagram Stories

After you’ve taken a picture on Instagram Stories camera, you’ll see a drawing tool at the top. Tap the button to reveal different editing tools. You get three different pens: a classic pen, a chisel pen, and a glowy pen. Additionally, there is a slider at the bottom to change the size of the pen, and a colour palette to change the pen colour. The colours are added as a stroke that makes the pen look like a lightsaber. Use these tools in combination to make your photo look cooler. 

Move the slider for precise drawing

Hide Instagram story from certain people

One of the best thing of Instagram stories is the ability to hide your story from certain people. To hide your story, open the story after it is posted > tap the “three dots” button located at the bottom > Story Settings > Hide Story From > select people > Done. 

Manage story settings (including who can reply)

Upload Instagram story from camera roll

Another vital feature that Snapchat finally adopted - the ability to post a story from camera roll. It is found handy in many situations. This feature cannot be accessed directly, hence, many aren’t aware of it. To upload a story from camera roll, tap the “+” button on the home page (which will launch the camera). On the camera screen, swipe down the view and you’ll see a strip of photos from your camera roll. Select a photo and post it as a story.

Transform photo into cool artwork using Prisma

Prisma is among the most trending photo editing app. What sets its apart from the other photo editing apps is the ability to convert your photo into an artistic sketch within seconds. Instead of being just another filter-adding app, Prisma analyses and redraws your photo as if it is an artist. .
Prisma’s built in camera is mediocre. It lacks HDR mode, night mode, white balance correction,  and the manual mode. All it offers is the ability to toggle the flash. We recommend to use the your phone’s stock camera to take pictures.

Many new phones boast 12-megapixel and above camera lenses. For effects on Prisma, the photo is first uploaded to the server, processed there, and downloaded back to your device. Thus selecting a larger photo will end up consuming more data and time, thus, we recommend to use 8-megapixel photos for efficient results.

After your photo is processed, it is displayed with 100% effect intensity, which you can reduce by swiping left or right on the photo. (iOS, Android)

Remove Prisma watermark

Prisma watermarks the photos it processes. These watermarks are quite big and look odd on the photo. To our luck, Prisma offers a way to process the photos without watermark. While you’re on the screen to take/select photos in the Prisma, tap Settings (gear icon) > turn off “Add watermark”.

Turn off “Add watermark”

Try the Prisma alternatives

If you love Prisma offered effects and are looking for something more, here are few alternative apps that deliver Prisma-like effects.

  • PicsArt - a popular full fledged photo editing app has the ability to manipulate your photo to make it look like art. Go to the Effects section and add effects under the Artistic category. (iOS, Android)
  • Dreamscope - an iOS-only app that is nearly close to what Prisma offers. Dreamscope is slower than Prisma but does processing on the device itself. (iOS)
  • SuperPhoto - an iOS and Android app that has thousands of effects to offer for you. Under the “Hard blur” category, choose the effect that you want to apply. SuperPhoto offers post-processing options like: photo size, smoothness, and intensity of the effect. (iOS, Android

Try Prisma for video

Currently, Prisma effects work on images as well as videos. Currently only available for iOS, the team behind it is working to extend Prisma’s video capability to work on Android devices too. We anticipate this feature to be rolled out in coming months. However, Android users can still try the Prisma-like effect for video using DeepArt. It comes with a huge price tag (Rs. 7500 for 10 seconds video), but is as good as Prisma.

Enhance photo using Snapseed

Snapseed is a free photo editing app available on both iOS and Android. It’s a complete suite for photo editing right on your phone. 

Open your photo in Snapseed and hit the “+” or “Pen” button to start editing. You’ll be taken to the new menu that gives you options to tune, crop, add filters, etc. Go to the “Tune Image” mode and manually tune your photo. Alternatively, you can also click on the “Magic wand tool” located at the bottom to automatically tune your image to what Snapseed thinks is a perfect image. (iOS, Android)

Swipe up and down or tap the “Magic wand” to autotune

Remove unwanted background objects using Snapseed

If a portrait photo snapped from your phone has lot of unwanted objects in the background, then you can use Snapseed to remove all of them. This process includes quite a few stepsto be followed. The intensity of these steps might vary depending upon the image, but eventually you’ll get a good result. 

Open a photo in Snapseed > tap the edit button > select Drama filter > Drama 1 > hit the tick button. Next apply black and white filter by selecting Black & White under filters > choose Contrast filter > hit the tick button. Before hitting the tick button you may adjust the contrast and brightness of the photo by swiping up and down on the image. 

Apply Vignette only on the subject in the image

Now you need to use the Vignette tool to make the corners of the photo darker, thus darkening the background making it easy for you to remove the rest of the unwanted objects. To do this, select Vignette tool under the tools category. Just move the brush along the image to see the real-time preview of the effect. The area under the brush’s circumference will remain lighter. Change the size of the brush (by pinching) so that it highlights the subject in the image. 

Finally select Brush tool and choose “Dodge & Burn”, set the Exposure to -1.0 and start burning the background. Be meticulous while doing so. 

Change image background using PicsArt

One of the coolest uses of popular photo editor PicsArt, is to change the background of a image. To do so, open PicsArt and select a photo that you want to add as background. In the toolbar below, select Add photo > Single photo > choose the image you want on the foreground. After the image is added, tap the scissor icon at the top. This will open the crop tool for the added image. Select brush and highlight whatever you want to crop out of the image. Hit the tick button to see the result.

Easily resize and rotate the added image

Take cool selfies

Revamp your traditional selfies with cool masks and effects using this free app - MSQRD. Available on both iOS and Android, it masks your face with Zombie, Panda, and supports faceswap. This is a standalone application that serves the same purpose as Snapchat. Another cool feature is that you can also broadcast your funny face live. (iOS, Android)

Choose from hundreds of face masks (more than Snapchat)


Fix your selfies

Your selfies can be tuned up to make them look a lot better. Among our top choices for apps that do it for you on the iOS platform is - Microsoft Selfie. Microsoft Selfie uses intelligent algorithm that analyses the age, gender, skin tone, and lighting. Based on this analysis it automatically enhances your selfie making it look natural. 

The Android counterpart would be AirBrush. It is not as smart as Microsoft Selfie, and makes you apply each fix manually. The app offers various fixes such as: blemish remover, concealer, bright eyes, etc. Although it does take more effort than the iOS option Microsoft Selfie, if you know exactly what you want, then this one can be quite a useful yet quick tool to fix your selfies quickly. 

This article was first published in September 2016 issue of Digit magazine. To read Digit's articles first, subscribe here or download the Digit e-magazine app for Android and iOS. You could also buy Digit's previous issues here.

Varad ChoudharyVarad Choudhary