Pixite, the creator of Tangent, LoryStripes, and Fragment, two of which made it to our top-ten best photography apps of 2013 list, has been working hard for the past year to bring some pretty interesting photo effects apps to iOS.
Union is the latest release from the app maker. It is an image blending program that lets you mask, edit, and merge multiple images into one. Plus, you can import photos from Tangent and Fragment with the original image and shapes on separate layers to create interesting effects…
The design is very simplistic. There are not many controls, even though there are a lot of features. The menu screen lets you add a background, add a foreground, and mask. Each section has features representative of the category. For example, in the Background section, you can change the image ratio between 1:1, 5:4, 3:2, and 16:9. You can also alter the brightness, contrast, saturation, and temperature.
In the foreground section, you can adjust the transparency, brightness, contrast, saturation, and temperature. You can also turn the snapping on or off, which allow you to freely move the image around. There are six filters that can be added to the foreground image.
The masking section includes three ways to mask. You can use the Magic Wand and drawing tools, add a second image to use as the mask, and mask using premade shapes.
Once you’ve edited the foreground and background layers, you can either export them or flatten them, turning both layers into one background image. The flattening feature makes it possible to have unlimited editing possibilities.
The available features are both complex and simplistic. I know that doesn’t make sense, but when you use the features, you will understand. There are detailed tools and multifaceted options, but they are self-evident when you use them. You won’t be confused by the plethora of tools and layers the way Photoshop can sometimes leave you feeling.
The first thing to do is add a background image. You can grab an image from your device’s photo library, use a color, or create a transparent layer. The transparent layer looks like a series of checkered gray squares. Pick one option and then adjust the image ratio. Keep it original, make it square, or adjust it further based on the above-mentioned ratios. If you add an image, you can fine-tune the settings. Color backgrounds come with shading options so you don’t have to use a solid color.
The next thing to do is add a foreground. You can either import an image or use the color feature as well. You can make some pretty cool abstract images with just a shaded color foreground and shaded color background. Plus, you could flatten that combination and turn it into a single background, if you wanted to.
After you add a foreground, the first thing you should do is play around with the transparency feature. This will allow you to superimpose one image on top of another. You can make some fascinating double-exposure images with this feature.
After you superimpose one image on top of another, you can further edit it by using the masking tools. This will allow you to fine tune how the final combination looks. Blend a picture of your sister into a sunset and use the masking tool to remove unwanted background objects.
The masking tool includes a Magic Wand, which lets users quickly remove unwanted portions of an image. You can then go in for more detailed work using the draw and erase mask features. You can switch the gradient options for the drawing tool for a more natural or sharp look, depending on what you want.
The highlight tool turns the masked areas bright red to make it easier for you to see where you’ve worked.
When you have finished blending and manipulating your image, you can save it to your camera roll, open it in Instagram, or send it to Tangent, Fragment, and Lorystripes for further manipulation.
You can also start your work in Tangent or Fragment and then transfer the image to Union for editing. The original image and the effect layer will automatically appear in the app as a foreground and background layer. You can decrease transparency, fine-tune brightness and contrast, and mask the effect layer in whatever way you want.
When you are done, you can flatten it, send it back to another app, and repeat the process all over again. Things could get a little crazy.
I don’t have a lot of experience with masking and layers. I am not the least bit capable of graphics design. Union makes it very easy to use the available tools to create and manipulate images and turn them into something interesting and unusual.
This app desperately needs landscape mode on the iPhone. Most of the pictures I take are in landscape. So, when I load them into Union, the only way to view them is in portrait mode with black bars above and below. Most of the time, you are zoomed in and editing stuff, but landscape mode would be very useful. Incidentally, landscape mode is available on the iPad.
Union costs $1.99. The price is incredible for the features and tools you get. If you already have Pixite’s other photo effects apps, the integration feature is amazing and makes it worth the price to be able to interact between them.
This is a fantastic and useful app for masking, blending, and manipulating images. If you like creating interesting and unique photographs you should check this out. Fans of the developer’s other apps will enjoy this one just as much. This app is available on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Download it in the app store today.
What do you think of Union?
Don’t forget to check out our iPhone Photography section for more great apps.