Apps to do one specialist job well

There are benefits to having an app that does one thing and performs that one purpose very well. The advantage is found in the level of detail given to performing that one specialist task. The developer of the application has considered in depth what’s needed to do a good job of that particular process. You’ll often find facilities and capabilities within these type of applications that you wouldn’t have thought were possible. When you’re working with applications in this way on your iPad or iPhone you have to consider your device as the one single tool box. Within that toolbox you can pick up and put down whichever tool to complete a series of actions to get the larger job done.

tray tool box DSC_2391

Tools in the toolbox

There will be occasions with some tasks where it’s nice to have everything all in one place. This saves you from having to remember what tool does which job. Sometimes it’s good to have everything in one application so processes can be done in the proper order to be the most effective. Sometimes one action will have an effect on other actions depending on which one is done first. This can be particularly true when working with images and you have a particular endpoint in mind. It is like when working on a photo with a filter and you put another filter on top. The second filter affects the photo as it was changed by the first filter. swap the two filters around and you get another finished version of your photo. If you do need to work with more than one of the tools from your iOS toolbox you might want to consider making notes as you go. This way if you have to repeat a process you will remember what it was you did the first time around.

Making use of the share menu

Using the share menu is the trick to using more than one application to get your job done. Do whatever you need to do in application number one and then use the share menu to send it to the next application to complete the next task. You can save things as you go which will be great if you need to go back a step or two. This is most definitely a good idea when working with photos in order to create a finished piece of art. Part of the process involves experimentation and seeing what happens if you do this or that to the image. Many applications have an undo button. So you can go back a couple of steps or more if necessary. If you’ve been working with more than one application then go back to the previous stage of the art process. It’s easy to make more than one version at any point in the creative process. For example, you could find it better to go back and use a darker version of whatever you’re working with because it blends better with the next process.

Comparison of Fused with other general art applications

The application Fused has a trick up its sleeve which makes it worth including in your iOS art creation toolbox. The best thing it does is to let you combine video and still photos to create something similar to a cinema graph. This is a bit like those photos you see in the Harry Potter movies where the subjects are alive within the photograph. When you’re looking at a photograph and some part of it moves and you weren’t expecting it, it makes it a lot more interesting. A video made in Fused on Instagram.

Which app do you use?

I like the watercolour brushes in Tayasui Sketchbook. Using Pixelmator for iPad is great for the fine detail when you zoom right in. The apps like Pixelmator and Procreate are brilliant because of the support for the Apple Pencil. I could use an app just because it has the blend mode I need for the artwork in progress. The App Over is just the job for adding text on top of photos. Fused has a good mix of blend modes and controls along with the video capabilities, but doesn’t have the Apple Pencil. When I want to erase a section of the image I can do that better in ProCreate or Pixelmator.

iColorama – Swiss Army Knife of Art Apps

iColorama art app

iColorama has a huge set of tools and doesn’t do multiple layers. You could do most of what you want to do in this Swiss Army Knife of the iOS art applications. I am not so keen on the drawing tools or the slightly cramped interface. You have to have all the menus to get at the power of the application, maybe they could be made smaller to get out of the way. iColorama does so much that I often forget where all the tools are and what they all can do. It has good masking controls and it is also possible to zoom into your drawing or painting. To discover the range of what you can do it’s a good idea to check out some of the recipes artists have used to achieve various effects. The Facebook group is busy trying techniques out and spreading the information on how they got to the finished art product. It is one way to quickly learn iColorma.

What are the problems you might run into?

The biggest problem you might run into is the size of the image you can work with. Maybe with one of the application do you want to use the maximum size is smaller than the size you’re working with on the other applications. This means it won’t be good if you want to blend two images together of different sizes. Generally you want to keep the image you’re working on at the highest resolution available.

There are so many different applications for doing a specific task that you might forget which one is the best for the job you want to do. I imagine most artists will have a set of favourites of apps to complete tasks in just the same way as they might have a favourite painting brush.


Nebo  is a super app for converting handwriting to text and I love the diagramming tool.