How I Transform iPhone Photos with Texture Overlay Apps


How I Transform iPhone Photos with Texture Overlay Apps


Infuse your iPhone photographs with creative flare simply by adding texture overlays. Texture apps provide endless aesthetic possibilities and are lots of fun to experiment with. You can choose to enhance your imagery with a subtle texture application or go bold by giving your photo a painterly style, for instance.

I myself tend to gravitate toward a subtle application of texture, as it allows the subject matter to be enhanced as opposed to covered up. My general rule of thumb is… the moment I notice the texture over the subject, I know I’ve made it too strong. I simply reduce the opacity slider some until it feels right.


Add a subtle texture to a portrait so as not to obscure facial features.


I used the app Haiku to give this photo a painterly feel.


“The artist must create a spark before he can make a fire and before art is born, the artist must be ready to be consumed by the fire of his own creation.” ~ Rodin

The Mextures App

One of my most favorite texture apps is Mextures, created by talented photographer Merek Davis. That’s because there are a variety of texture packs to choose from and because it allows for full control of  texture application. You can rotate the overlay to get just the right placement, apply one of the many blend modes to meld the tones as you desire, and control the strength of the texture with the opacity slider to go however subtle or bold you wish. This sophisticated app allows for multiple layers, so you can slowly build up subtle texture layers to achieve creative, unique final results.

Stackables is another go-to texture app for me. Like Mextures, it has a large selection of textures, allows for multiple layers, and has blend modes and opacity control.


Other Texture Apps To Enjoy

Distressed FX
Scratch Cam
After Photo
Pic Grunger
Haiku (painterly app)
Glaze (painterly app)

Build Your Own Texture Library

Take photographs of textures in your environment and compile them into your own texture library. You can also scan things. Use an app like Image Blender to apply them to your imagery. Want some ideas for cool textures? Try old book covers, sheet music, canvas, fabric, worn leather, aged cookie sheets, concrete, peeling paint, crumpled papers, and coffee filters. I myself usually convert my own texture images to black and white or sepia (using an app like Camera+), so that they won’t add competing colors when applied.

Try this: Open one of your own texture images in a texture app and apply further texture to it. You’ll get some extra mileage out of your textures!



Follow Your Creative Instincts

Students in my online courses frequently want to know just how strong their texture applications should be. I think it’s a matter of personal preference as well as consideration of the qualities of the photograph itself. If your scene is sparse, hazy and indistinct without much detail, a stronger texture(s) can work. If your image has a lot of detail, or important details that you wish to maintain, you will want to go with a more subtle texture application. Honestly, I just follow my instincts. I play with the opacity slider and there is actually a place on the continuum where I get that feeling in my gut – I call it my ‘inner ping.’ When you feel it, you know you’ve hit the sweet spot!

Susan Tuttle

Susan Tuttle is an award winning iPhoneographer and DSLR photographer from Maine, USA. She is the author of three instruction-based books (published in the US and abroad by F+W Media, North Light Books) on the subject matter of digital art with Photoshop, mobile photography and DSLR photography, and mixed-media art. Her fourth book, Art of Everyday Photography: Move Toward Manual and Make Creative Photos (about DSLR photography and mobile photography) was recently released by North Light Books and has been a best-seller in its category on Amazon.

Susan currently offers two online photography courses — The Art of iPhoneography Self-Portraiture and Co-Lab: Paint, Paper and iPhoneography Magic (co-taught with best-selling author and mixed-media artist Alena Hennessy). She is offering 50% off her self-portraiture course just for Manfrotto readers. Get details at iPhoneArtistryCourse.com

Susan is currently the Technical Advisor for Somerset Digital Studio Magazine. You can view more of her work and explore her blog at her website SusanTuttlePhotography.com Instagram: susantuttle Facebook: www.facebook.com/susan.tuttle.144

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