Since the dawn of the camera phone, photography hobbyists have found ways to turn low-resolution, pixelated images into works of art. When Apple put a camera in the iPhone, it literally changed the photography landscape, allowing anyone to turn the most mundane images into interesting photos using a wide variety of apps.
PopAGraph is a photo-editing app for the iPhone and iPod touch that takes it one step further by allowing you to mask objects and “pop” them out. This gives the impression of a virtual three-dimensional picture that you can share immediately on social networking sites like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter…
As soon as you open the app, you are offered a quick tutorial, after which you can begin editing your photo. The controls are hidden in a sidebar on the right. You can access the control menu by tapping an orange tab at the bottom of the screen.
The controls are displayed with simple icons. When you tap one of the icons, the sidebar disappears, giving you full screen access to your editing. The section’s tools are displayed at the bottom or top of the screen with side swiping access to additional effects.
To use the masking feature, pinch to zoom-in and then drag your finger around the object to draw the outline of the mask. To move the image around while it is zoomed in, touch the screen with two fingers at the same time and drag the photo around on the screen.
To edit an image, allow PopAGraph to have access to your device’s photos. You can then grab a picture from your camera roll, photo stream, shared photos, or Instagram. Once you’ve chosen the image you want to edit, call up the sidebar and tap the “Mask” icon.
To mask an object, draw around it with your finger or a stylus. To fine-tune the masking, or erase any accidental overages, zoom in using the pinch-to-zoom gesture. To change the view, or “look around” on an image, use two fingers at the same time and drag the image to the view you want to see. You can change the color of the masking tool to one of six different hues. You can also switch the brush shape from circular to square.
Masking is probably the worst part of this app, which is unfortunate, since it is the most important part. You don’t have any ability to adjust the thickness of the line and the masking lags as you draw around an object.
The controls are also not very responsive. When I wanted to switch between masking and erasing, I oftentimes had to tap the icon multiple times until it switched tools.
Once you’ve masked out your object, tap the “Lift” tool and the area you’ve just masked will pop out. You won’t be able to see the effect until you add filters or frames. To access this section, call up the sidebar again and tap the “Filters” icon.
This app includes three filters for free. The Grayscale, Sepia, and Vivid effects are included with the download. However, you can add 16 additional filters for $1.99. You can sample all of the effects on the image you are working on, but if you want to keep the effect, you’ll have to purchase the package. My favorite is the Blur feature. It really makes your object pop.
You can add effects to both the background and the popped-out object. You can only use one filter at a time with each. For example, you can’t grayscale your background and then blur it.
Experiment with different filters for the background and the popped object to see what looks the best to you.
The next step is to add a frame. This is an important feature that shouldn’t be left out. It is what makes the popped image look three-dimensional. The object sits outside of the frame so that it looks like it is reaching out of the photo.
The app comes with a black or white frame for free, but you can add different colors by purchasing the “Style and Effects” package for $0.99. This package offers the ability to fine-tune hues using a color wheel.
There is one last effect to add to your image before sharing it with the world. Tap the “Share” icon in the control menu sidebar to add a shadow effect that will make it look like your object has an outside light shining on it, creating an effect on the frame and against the background. The app comes with three shadow effects and the “Style and Effects” packaged includes two more shadows that are specifically for the frame.
Once the shadows have been added, tap the “Share” icon at the top-right side of the screen. Here, you can share your PopAGraph with friends and family through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You can also send it directly through email and SMS, or simply save it to your device’s camera roll.
The app is free to download and you can make some really fun photos without having to spend a dime. However, the real fun is in the filters and you only get three of them for free. So, consider this app to cost $1.99 because of the in-app purchase price of the additional filters.
You can add the “Styles and Effects” package for an additional $0.99. However, I don’t personally see this as a feature worth paying for.
Luckily, the developers offered them as separate packages instead of charging the full three bucks for added features that you don’t necessarily want.
The real problem with this app is the poor interface with the masking feature. If you have patience, or you are not a perfectionist, you can move past the less-than-stellar masking tool. However, for some people, it can be the deciding factor as to whether or not it is worth the cost.
Download PopAGraph for the iPhone and iPod touch for free and try out the masking tool. If you don’t mind the issues, I recommend purchasing the additional filter package. The $1.99 in-app purchase is worth the extra money to have more variety.