This week’s challenge in the fun photo projects series lets you max out on the creative side of photo editing. The post may look big but don’t let the size of it intimidate you. If you want to do fun, dramatic or artistic things to your photos, this is the place to be.
Check the Table of Contents (ToC) for fast access to software recommendations and ‘before and after’ digital image enhancement. Thanks to the ToC you have the bonus of ‘cherry-picking’ which app or program to read about.
There are some amazing free and paid online editors for smartphones, Macintosh and PC and you will be spoiled for choice.
This week’s Challenge is to Transform a Photograph with an App or Program on your Smartphone, Computer or Tablet.
Table of contents
- How To Start Your Digital Imaging Journey
- Photo Editing Software
- Digital Image Enhancement 101
- My Demonstration Photo
- How To Submit Images
- The Other Challenges in This Series
- Cat Photo Tips and Resources
How To Start Your Digital Imaging Journey
You need three things to start having fun transforming your own images.
- Digital photographs. You can use one from last week’s challenge.
- A Computer, Tablet or Smartphone
- Photo Editing Software
- NOTE: You can also use images you have scanned into your device.
I have listed several programs for each type of device, and if your computer or smartphone can’t process images, there are online editors. These allow you to adjust digital images without downloading any software. You download the finished digital image.
Whether you use the challenge to create fun photo projects for the holidays, to use on social media or explore the software in greater depth there are software and ‘app-ortunitie’s that will really let you explore the fun things you can do. I start by covering some here. There are programs for Mac, PC, and smartphone.
Photo Editing Software
The Fotor platform also has a wide range of options including online photo editor, photo effects, and text. Fotor offers photo retouching, and collage creation. The sample image here shows that each option has a pop out explanation to inform your editing decisions. There are a lot of easy to access options. The layout is spacious user friendly, and I did not have to register to edit an image.
FREE and Paid Options. Mac and WINDOWS
A streamlined online editor that makes photo manipulation easy. You can crop, resize, touch-up and apply different filters. All you do is upload your image as the standard JPEG or a PNG file. Select a filter and adjust your image, the download your finished work. This program lets you drag a photo from your desk top, so you are not hunting around for an image whose name or number you may not remember.
Our friend Teddy at Two Spoiled Cats makes dazzling use of Lunapic. You can often catch the program at work in his weekly selfie post. There are dozens of options of options, animations and filters all for free. You can also crop images and add text to a photograph.
39 Easy to use categories including smart filters, frames and templates. I have this app and enjoy it a lot. It’s Holiday options are limited for fun photo projects unless you use their very popular selfie option. You can also layer different effects and submit them to Photo Lab who display the best in the app itself. The app creates images ‘live’ so I recommend being connected to wifi if you aim to do a lot of image creation.
Apple and Android Free and Paid Options
This Google app is packed with powerful features, including a double exposure effect and plenty of tools to experiment with including grainy looks, black and white, standard sharpening tools, cropping options and filters.
Holiday Focused Smartphone Apps
Because I know that many people love to add a sweet frame or a touch of frost to a holiday image I checked to see if there are special apps for this. There are dozens that do anything you want a photo to do. There are free and paid apps and the quality varies enormously. Free apps usually have an ad or two but the ‘Magical Photo Frame’ app has so many it is impossible to navigate.
I did like the Merry Christmas Photo Editor App Store/Google which you can see above. The selections are simple e.g. pen for text, smartphone for photos. It is super quick for fun photo projects and low stress for non-tech people. The app is user-friendly and includes frames, text and stickers. You can share an image with social media or save it.
Computer Programs and Editors
Before I start sharing a few images that have been digitally enhanced I want to include some of the most popular programs that are most used on Mac and Windows computers. These are often more sophisticated than smartphone apps because computers have a lot more processing power. The programs all have a wide range of tools and filters for you to experiment with.
I use Affinity Photo (AP) and enjoy it a lot. It is a professional standard program and all of the Dash Kitten photos are processed through AP. You can edit JPEG, RAW and 360 images, stitch panoramas together, sharpen, change colours with filters and dozens of other options. Affinity also has lots of free tutorials on YouTube and short well run paid courses. AP also works seamlessly with Affinity Design (graphics) and Affinity Publisher (print).
Affinity is a one off Paid Program (and not expensive). Mac and Windows.
One of the best free alternatives to Photoshop. GNU Image Manipulations program is open source (free and maintained by the creative community). Celebrating its 25th Birthday in 2020l this program is sophisticated and has a steep learning curve but there are tutorials and help available.
If you want to know how GIMP can help you, look no further than the tribute images created by Meezer’s Mews and Terrieristical Woofs. No this is not an easy program to learn but, for those on a tight budget, the end results repay a committed course of study.
FREE MAC and WINDOWS
Created as a college undergraduate senior’s design project mentored by Microsoft, Paint.NET continues to be maintained by alumni of the program. “Extensive work has gone into making Paint.NET the fastest image editor available. Whether you have a netbook with a power-conscious Atom CPU, or a Dual Intel Xeon workstation with 16+ blazingly fast processing cores, you can expect Paint.NET to start up quickly and be responsive to every mouse click.”
FREE (for computer download) WINDOWS ONLY
Viewed by many users as the best Windows Lightroom and Photoshop alternative this is a powerful program packed with essential tools that anyone who plays a lot with their photographs will love. There are more tools, adjustments and selections than you could ever imagine. Paint Shop Pro has RAW, HDR and 360 camera support and a lot of macro tools to make your journey easier.
Paid Program WINDOWS
Finally, I asked Cathrine at Bionic Basil to offer her thoughts on BeFunky. The consistent quality of images at Bionic Basil has always impressed me so I asked her to offer her opinion on the software. BeFunky can blow you away with its effects, here’s why.
An Opinion by Cathrine Garnell from www.bionicbasil.com
Why do I like BeFunky?
Because it’s an all-in-one package, whatever you could possibly need to edit or enhance a photo, I think that Befunky has got you covered. It’s a total editing suite but one that doesn’t require a lifetime to learn like some of the more complex programmes available. Plus I don’t want to spend months/years trying to learn something new, I want to be able to do what I want to a photo, and it only takes a few minutes at the most to get the result I’m after and BeFunky fits that criteria for me.
The multiple benefits of the programme
When I first purchased the subscription to the programme, it was purely for the DLX Cartoonizer in the Digital Art section as I wanted to turn fully clipped images of The B Team into funky cartoons, to use on my blog header and the only way that was going to happen was with the paid version. For a long time though, I never really explored its full potential but obviously over time I’ve delved more in-depth and found some excellent benefits, some of which I was paying for in other apps/programmes. So I’ve now cancelled those and mainly use BeFunky. So you don’t need multiple apps/programmes, as this one has more than enough features – see below – to meet even the most demanding photo-editors needs.
Ease of use
It’s a very intuitive platform and requires no training as such, just a willingness to explore what they have to offer, and then experiment on various images to get your desired result. You really can’t stuff anything up either, as there’s an option to undo something if you don’t like it.
They have just added an A.I. Image Enhancer in the general photo editing section, so if you take selfies this could be a real benefit. However, as I only work with B Team images, I don’t really need the A.I. Enhancer as my cats are just purrfect! LOL
Anyhoo, alongside all the usual photo editing essentials such as light, colour, sharpen etc. You can also fully clip your images, replace colours, smooth, blur, change the focus, beautify and there are so many options to choose from, that you essentially have endless editing possibilities for your photos.
There is a complete section for Artsy Effects which has many different styles to use such as Digital Art, Gouache, Inkify and Water Colour, just to name a few. There are also; touch-ups, frames, graphics, overlays, text, and within each of those sections mentioned above are a myriad options to use, so plenty of features for you to try out and artify your images even further.
Also, there’s a Collage Maker and Graphic Designer. I haven’t used either of these yet, but after a quick look at the Graphic Designer, I’m super impressed at how many templates they have to meet all your possible wants and needs, especially if you do a lot of social media posts.
For me as a blogger, it’s the ideal programme as its simple, effective and gives great results in the least amount of time plus at US$34.95 per year, I think its fantastic value for money.
Digital Image Enhancement 101
Now you have chosen your software let’s look at the kind of things you can do. Many will know and some I hope will be new to you.
- Add a frame
- Use your software for effects (blog post)
- Create a double exposure
- Adjust or remove the colour
- Add a filter
- Transform an image into black and white (blog post)
A lot of the most effective filters are similar in most computer programs, they may be in a slightly different place but start under ‘Filters’ and you will find ideas like ‘Noise’ ‘Distortion’ and ‘Posterise’ effects. Try them out on a computer. You will get some spectacular results, and a few weird ones.
The key is to explore, and play without worrying about the results. Here are some of my explorations and tips to try for yourself.
The Christmas Cat
I know you will want a seasonal filter to bring a smile and the Merry Christmas Photo Editor will not disappoint you. This fun photo uses Toulouse’s first every picture when he arrived at our home in New Zealand. I quickly chose a frame, then was able to add both text and stickers very easily.
The range of options is wide enough to keep most people happy. The photo and stickers can be dragged around within the frame so make sure you get the effect you want so feel free to experiment.
My Demonstration Photo
The first effect I want to share is an effective set of ‘watercolour’ adjustments for Affinity Photo. There are several steps in the tutorial including layers and filters but if you follow the simple tutorial here you will get a similar WOW image. If you use Affinity Photo this is not a hard project at all.
Other programs have a similar filter gallery or set of filters that will allow you to choose your version of the effect. If you love to explore make this one of your fun photo projects for 2021.
You can see the result below and you can create a similar effect is a few minutes. Envato Tuts have a Photoshop tutorial here. Check your own program under Filters, and look for tutorials on You Tube.
Watercolour Feline 2
I hope the next two filters show you how effective your smartphone app can be at transforming your cat into an even more amazing creature. The image was transformed in the Photo Lab app.
I reviewed the available options and discovered ‘Sketches and Paintings’ had the perfect effect. I opened it and added my photo of Toulouse. The app did the rest and I hope you will agree that the effect is quite amazing.
TIP: Starting with a clear bright photo will boost your chances of a fabulous result.
Every photo app has something similar for you to try so don’t be afraid to experiment with your fun photo projects. While you are there look for ‘oil painting’, or ‘fancy filters’. The range is huge and each app will have some that impress you. I particularly love the charcoal filter (Photo Lab) and the monochrome effect (affinity Photo) shown below.
LunaPic Fairy Art Effect
I wanted to explore something a little bit more exciting to show that you can push out of your comfort zone and get spectacular results.
I chose the Fairy Art effect from the simple dropdown menu in Lunapic. There are lots of options so you will be pleased to know that there is an ‘undo’ button if you don’t like the effect you selected! When the effect is created you will find a row of alternatives above your photograph that you can click on to adjust your effect. I definitely think this is one of the top fun photo projects I discovered.
A Double Exposure Adventure
Lastly, I want to introduce an effect called Double Exposure. Not every smartphone app has this effect but I discovered it in Snapseed thanks to Photo Genius on YouTube. This is an easy way to try some fun photo effects. I am still learning the app but managed to create a tribute to Harvey from two layers featuring an Amarylis flower and my favourite picture of him sleeping.
Creating a Snapseed Double exposure:
- Open the App.
- Select a photo from your device
- Open Tools and scroll up to find ‘Double Exposure’
- Tap this and the picture appears.
- Add a second using the image+ icon at the bottom of the screen.
You can also create double exposures on your computer. This involves using layers and filters which you can explore for yourself in your own program. It is a little bit more complicated but can create astonishing images. This style of digital image editing is worth exploring if you love creating ethereal and magical pictures.
There are program tutorials for Paint Shop Pro (video) and Affinity Photo and they have a Double Exposures course for you to enrol on for FREE. It is not the most beginner-friendly technique but the Snapseed version gives you a good chance to play around.
Wow! Now that was a journey! I hope you have found an app or technique to experiment with. I would love to see your results in the Dash Kitten challenge.
I hope you will join us with the Challenge. There will be a prize for one of the participants who submits an image (or image set) during the four weeks of the challenge. I have a Deluxe large Kikki-K cream leather planner. It’s ready for planning your dreams and goals in 2021 (which is going to be awesome – right?). The prize is available WORLDWIDE. The closing date is 31st December 2020.
How To Submit Images
- Email, your image(s) to me here.
- Limit 6 images maximum.
- Please send med/low-resolution images if possible.
The Other Challenges in This Series
You can do any, or all of the weekly challenges. This is a fun holiday project to lift our spirits in these tough times. A cat photo adds a touch of magic to every single day.
- Week One – Transform Your Cat With a Magical Filter
- Week Three – Week Three – Bokeh for Beginners. What is it How Do I Use It?
Cat Photo Tips and Resources
- What is a Fast Lens? – “The aperture of a lens is the mechanical opening inside of the barrel that allows light to pass through to the sensor of the camera. The aperture size is what determines the fastness of the lens. If an aperture is large and allows a lot of light through, the lens is deemed fast.” IndustryDev
- What is a Double Exposure – “Double exposure is a technique that combines two different exposures or images that are layered on top of each other. The image overlaid is less than full opacity so a bit of both images can be seen producing an almost ghost-like image. They tend to produce uniquely stylized images.” StudioBinder