AMITIAE - Sunday 28 July 2013

Layrs: An Interesting Free iPhone App for Editing Layers in Images

apple and chopsticks


By Graham K. Rogers


There are thousands of apps in the iTunes App Store and many of these are for photography and image manipulation. I tend to prefer those at the high end, which make good use of the iPhone camera and its limited features. There are also many apps that are enjoyed for the effects they produce and for the ways in which the finished product can be shared easily on social networking sites.


A recent arrival in the New & Noteworthy section of the App Store here did not quite live up to its description as I read it. Nevertheless, Layrs has a number of useful features that should make it useful for those who want to share their pictures on sites like Facebook. As this is a free app, I lost nothing by trying it out and many users will enjoy using it.

The app rubric suggests that it is possible to edit multiple layers of images. This is so. Screen shots on the App Store show layers being separated in an image. This implied to me that layers could be extracted. What is actually possible is a little different: useful nevertheless. It is intended for the iPhone as when I installed it on the iPad, it was not optimised and opened in the x1 and x2 screen sizes. All of the comments here refer to the way it worked on my iPhone 4S.

After an initial screen, the app opens with the basic choice of importing an image from the Library or the camera. Originals of camera shots are not saved: only the manipulated images. Once an image is selected, it is cropped into a square format. Before the cropping it can be pinched to fit, so certain parts on the edges can be removed by this initial process.

Layrs Layrs

Editing Features

After the Crop, the user marks the Foreground. This is the prominent part of the image, such as a face or object that the user wants highlighted. This is done by sliding the finger on the object to be highlighted. As this is done, so yellow coloring fills the object. The app is well designed so as the finger is moved, so the coloring is applied to parts of what the app recognises as being related to the object.

Layrs Layrs

I am usually not very good at this as my fingers always apply the effect too much; but the app allows this bleeding to be edited: the user puts a finger in a part of the image not colored and slides it towards the highlight. After two or three tries I was able - putting it on, taking it off - to highlight the foregrounds quite well.

When foreground marking is complete, the orange arrow at top right is pressed and the user is taken to a panel marked Edit Background. At this stage, the image appears to revert to its original state.

At the bottom of the screen are two sets of controls. A group of some 31 filters (plus Original); and a clever set of tools that are unusual in a free app. These include (screen 1) effects for Motion, Focus and Radial (blurring in the background is changed). On the second screen is a slider for Hue. The last screen has Brightness, Contrast, Saturation and Sharpen.

Pressing each of these (except the Hue slider of course) increases the effect. Each may be pressed several times. There is no Back button and the only way to undo an over-applied effect is to go back to the first screen and Clear All.

When the Background is done, a button at top right takes the user to a Foreground panel where there are 24 filters (plus Original) and the same set of tools (on 3 screens) as for Background.

Layrs Layrs

Export and Comments

When editing is complete, the user presses a Done button at the top right and a panel is made available for a number of Export options: Instagram, Flickr, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook and Email. Beneath these is a wider button that allows the image to be saved to the device library, which is my preferred method. At the top is a text panel that allows a user message to be typed in.

I did send one image via email. This was straightforward and, as with other apps, the email was formed ready to go, but the message I had typed in the panel was not included. I was also not given any option concerning the size of the photograph.

Layrs Layrs

That email image was 1280 x 1280, with a file size of 258 KB. The image format was .PNG. Images exported to the photo Library varied in size, from 542 x 542 up to 1280 x 1280, even when using the same photograph as source. There is no indication as to why the sizes are different, but this may depend on effects applied. In the Settings is an option for switching to Higher quality images.

All photographs were initially saved in the default size option. When I resaved the banana flower image, the original 1280 x 1280 was increased to 1537 x 1537 (2.4 MP) with a file size slightly higher (208 KB - 261 KB). I exported that larger version from Aperture as an 8-bit TIFF file which opened as a 7.4 MB image of 21" x 21" which was a little better than I expected, although edges were slightly jagged where the foreground highlighting had occurred.

Layrs Layrs

Cat photo - original by Korn

All in all Layrs is a well put together app from Artware Studio, even if it did not do what I had initially expected.

The effects that can be created - foreground and background - are quite impressive for this free app, however, and it ought to find a home on a number of iOS devices.

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand where he is also Assistant Dean. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs.



Made on Mac

For further information, e-mail to

information Tag information Tag

Back to eXtensions
Back to Home Page