Tag Archives: abstract

Abstract Eye of the Beholder

I continue to have fun using a combination of BrushStroke and Glaze to create some ‘abstract’ art. We are having record warmth for January and I was outside during lunchtime with just a light jacket on. I snapped a photo of myself. Later that evening I was playing around with it. Eventually I created something I liked.

I’ll run through the steps here. I started with a scary photo of myself. Harsh light, dark glasses, and lots of neck wrinkles showing! What can I say, I was enjoying the weather and not thinking much of the selfie.


I took that photo and used Tangled FX to create an image with lots of ‘streams.’


That image was loaded in BrushStroke and used one of the relatively new ‘Experimental’ painting styles. They are worth checking out. Sometimes you get some really creative views.


There still wasn’t much there that was interesting to my eye, but I used Glaze to paint that image. This was the result.


Suddenly something did look interesting! I zoomed in a lot and did a heavy duty crop around the glasses/nose/mouth region of my face. (I zoomed in using the standard photos app, and then did a screen capture on my iPad – so the image was still large in terms of pixels.)


Can you see where I’m going with this? I used Camera+ to flip the image and enhance the color, and added the frame (Camera+ is one of the rare apps that let’s you put a frame on the outside of your image, not overlapping the edges).


At this point I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go with the ‘harsh’ look from Glaze, or a smoother painted look from BrushStroke. I went with the latter, so I opened the image using BrushStroke. For the final image I used TouchRetouch to remove what was once my nose and create a single fish ‘leaping’ over the noise of the day.

Leap by R. Pfaff, 2015

Leap by R. Pfaff, 2015

You never really know what you’ll find when you start playing with a pointless photo in your spare time.

Apps mentioned in the post:

BrushStroke is $2.99 [link]
Glaze is free, with in-app purchases [link]
Camera+ is $2.99 [link]
TouchRetouch is $0.99 [link]

And over on Flickr I put a larger version of the final image.

Viva PhotoViva!

Every now and then I find an app that I’d never noticed before and I immediately wonder why. PhotoViva (a Universal app) is one of those.


Time/Blur by R. Pfaff. Created with PhotoViva.


PhotoViva is a powerful application for photo editing and freeform painting. It can help you transform your pictures into expressive and colorful works of art.

In addition to tools for enhancing your photos, there are paint brushes that let you make abstract painted interpretations of photos. You can select a brush and copy image features by cloning or painting. Brushes can track the direction of movement, or you can set the brush direction. You can also change the hue, saturation and blur of brush strokes as you go.

There aren’t any instructions included with the app itself, but watching this video shows you all the features of the app.

I put a few of my creations up on Flickr. Just click to see more 🙂
Link to Artwork Created With PhotoViva

There are a lot of features in this app. A really nice one is the Auto paint feature which is often a great place to start when using this app. Then you can begin to tweak things after that. Or you can skip that entirely and just start painting on your own. The output resolution is 1600×1200 on my new iPad (aka iPad 3) and my iPhone 4S. The developer says he is working on increasing the resolution.

The overall size of the brush can be adjusted, but it would be really nice if you could adjust a few more features in a future version of the app. Things such as the length and fade of the stroke might be tops on my list.

I certainly enjoyed creating artwork even though I can’t do a painting in the real world. On the other hand, my sister does actual paintings which you can see on her blog.

The app is a lot of fun and worth grabbing if you like making this type of artwork.

PhotoViva is currently $1.99 on iTunes.

You can learn a lot more on the PhotoViva Home Page, and see lots of other sample images. There is also a Flick PhotoViva group. Feel free to add your shots.

Umbrella to Abstract in Ten Easy Steps

Every now and then I enjoy taking a photo and playing with it to create something abstracty (not a word, but I’ll stick with it). In this particular case I started with the picture of an umbrella, and ended up with something that looks like a mix of blood, arteries, and veins – and maybe it could even be found on an album cover of a local band.

I’ll walk you through this one from start to finish. Feel free to click on any image to get a larger view.

1) While sitting outside during happy hour I enjoyed the sun coming through the umbrella of the table so took a shot with the basic Camera app.

Original Shot of Umbrella

Original Shot of Umbrella

2) I then used Tiny Planet Planet Photos to warp the umbrella. I have the full resolution in-app purchase, so I was able to save the image at the maximum 2000×2000 pixels.

After Using Tiny Planet

After Using Tiny Planet

3) I then opened that image in Camera+ just to flip it and brighten it using a scene selection (might have been cloudy or auto, not positive about this).

Image Flipped and Brightend

Image Flipped and Brightend

4) I took that image into PhotoToaster. I really enjoy a few of the quick and easy presets in that app. I used the Color Burst preset so that the center kept its color. I ended up with this image.

Used Filter in PhotoToaster

Used Filter in PhotoToaster

5) Using the image above, I made use of Percolator to create this image.

Created with Percolator

Created with Percolator

6) With one of my favorite apps for creating abstracty (there goes that word again) images, I took the image from PhotoToaster and used ToonPaint.

Used ToonPaint

Used ToonPaint

7) I now have a few shots that I want to blend. I enjoy Image Blender since it does just that and nothing more. I first blended the PhotoToaster and ToonPaint images (I think I used Overlay) to get this one.

Used Image Blender w/ PhotoToaster and ToonPaint Images

Used Image Blender w/ PhotoToaster and ToonPaint Images

8 ) I took that image and then blended it with the one I created in Percolator, but I wanted to offset the “blobs” from the main image to get a corpuscular look. The Percolator image was the upper layer in Image Blender, so I double tapped it. I could now drag, rotate, and expand that upper layer. I expanded it a bit so the blobs all got pushed outward. I used Darken for the blend mode.

Used Image Blender w/ Prior Shot and Percolator Images

Used Image Blender w/ Prior Shot and Percolator Images

9) I’m getting really close now, but I wanted to make a few changes to the frame which had gotten put on in the PhotoToaster step (in retrospect I probably should have excluded the frame at that point). You can see in the image above that there were excess blobs around the edge since I’d expanded the Percolator layer.

I opened the image in PhotoFactory and used the Frame feature to cover the outer edge with white just until I covered the blobs plus the black border. I now have just a big white border around the image. I could have just done a crop in another program, but in PhotoFactory it is easy to know you won’t be offset with a crop.

Used PhotoFactory

Used PhotoFactory

10) We are almost there! I opened the shot in Camera+ and used the Auto scene and the Vibrant filter. Using the latest Camera+ I added the Light Grit filter and tried out the new caption option with the word Circulation on it.


Final Image

I really like it!

There are quite a few apps that could be used for various steps in this process, but ToonPaint, Percolator, and Tiny Planet Photos are all rather unique and were key elements. Image Blender and Camera+ are also two that I personally can’t live without (even though there are alternative apps).

If you want to use it for your album cover, just let me know 🙂