eXtensions - Thursday 6 July 2017

iOS Image Editing app with a Pleasing Twist or Two: Arty

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By Graham K. Rogers


While I was dipping into the App Store this week, looking for apps that produce suitable cartoon-style output, I found an example of what appeared to be a simple filter type app that had only recently been released. The screenshots were intriguing enough for a further look. Arty has some basic filters, although some care needs to be taken with one of these, named Shadows, although (paradoxically) this may be the best of the pack. There are also a couple of other interesting features. The notes on the App Store describe this as "The photo editor for artists."

When opened, Artsy has a clean panel with the one job: photo library access. Pressing the center button opens access to Photos, with Moments (date-organised), All Photos, followed by the user's albums. When an image is selected, it is displayed in the Arty editing panel with a selection of tools below. The image fits the screen, but the Pinch can be used to zoom out. As this is done, a percent figure indicates the size shown.

Arty Arty Arty

The tools available are:

  • Image controls the file access and saving. To the left is information about resolution and the time spent working on the image. I have not seen this before and wonder if this could be used for billing purposes. To the right are three buttons: Fullscreen, which removes all controls (information onscreen shows that to go back we tap the screen with 2 fingers); Export, giving access to iOS controls for such functions (Mail, social networking and more), including saving to the Library; and Close, returning the user to the opening selector panel.

  • Filter - There are only 9 filters available, but they are nicely selected. Thumbnails at the foot of the panel give a clear indication of what can be expected, with the name of the filter above the thumbnail and Off below when not in use. When a filter is selected, the Off, changes to a number, depending on the specific filter.

    That number refers to the amount of the specific effect that is being applied, which can be seen by tapping on the thumbnail to reveal a larger image with a slider beneath. If an adjustment is made and Done is pressed, the figure below the thumbnail shows the new figure.

    Some of these figures are shown as percentages and some just as numbers (although these may have different scales). The Posterize filter shows, "6 levels" and the slider runs from 3 to 12. Other filters are: Graphite (monochrome), Outline, Sketch, Shadows, Sepia, Vibrant (saturation), Pointillism, and Pixels. Each has its own value, although Shadows, which provides some of the most dramatic effects, works best when the image is carefully selected. It needs a bright subject and a darker background. This filter intrigued me for the way it was able to produce an image with complex lighting changes in seconds. Judicious use of the slider is essential for the best effect.

Arty Arty Arty

Arty Arty

  • Tweak provides sliders that allow further adjustment of the image: Brightness, Contrast, and Saturation.

  • Grid provides a useful overlay with a selection of 8 colors (plus black) for the grid lines and the ability to adjust the grid (and cell-size) from 0 to 100. On a landscape image this gave me 49 x 35 cells. With the pinch, the image (and cells) can be enlarged for editing. Other sliders adjust the opacity and thickness of the grid lines.

  • Compare is an unusual tool and only works if the original subject of a photograph is available. The screen displays the image and the original object using the camera so that they can be compared. A slider adjusts transparency levels of the image.

Arty Arty Arty

Grid, Compare and Colours panels in Arty

  • Colours uses the British spelling. A movable target-style cursor is placed over the image and the specific colors of pixels are displayed. As examples include Van Dyck Brown, Bistre, Raw Umber and Dark Chrome Yellow. These are Faber-Castell colours:

    Polychromos artists' pencils are valued internationally by professionals and semi-professionals for their unsurpassed quality. The high quality standards of the Polychromos coloured pencils shine through, whether they are used for graphics, artistic free style or for the exact rendition of plans.

    These colors are indicated on the panel by the term, Polychromous (in blue). When users click on this, it changes to Prismacolor Premier and the names of the selected colors change too.

    Also shown on the screen are levels of Hue, Saturation and Brightness. By tapping on a selected pixel color, it can be dragged into an area below for "Saved colors" although this may be for reference only. I could see no way to replace colors on the displayed images.

Some image manipulation apps can overwhelm, with the range of tools or the availability of filters (although I am in favour of good range of both, depending on the purpose of the user). Arty provides a small selection of sensibly chosen, basic filters, with adjustments available for each of them. The other tool options, such as Grid, Colours and Image, show an understanding of essentials for straightforward work on images. The "Time-spent" option and the color-naming indicate that the developer, Andy Drizen, is clearly interested in what he creates.

Arty on the iPad
Arty on 12.9" iPad Pro

Edited images were the same dimensions as the original, although file size was increased. Camera and GPS metadata were removed. I did most work on the iPhone 7 Plus, but also installed this on the 12.9" iPad Pro, where the screen size made the thumbnails and the full image easy to examine. Arty is a useful, free app with a clear interface that produces some useful output.

Highly recommended.

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. 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. After 3 years writing a column in the Life supplement, he is now no longer associated with the Bangkok Post. He can be followed on Twitter (@extensions_th)



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