Want to add some social mobile fun to this Halloween? How about taking some of the snapshots you’re taking with your iPhone (s aapl) or iPod touch, and turning them into cartoon avatars for Facebook and Twitter? The process is easy, and all you need are a few apps.
Take and Enhance the Photo
Once you have your photo, perform all of the necessary cropping and color adjustments in one of the many image editors available. For this step in the process I’ve always used Photogene (iTunes link, $1.99). Photoshop Express is a good free alternative. In Photogene, I auto adjust the colors and utilize a filter to sharpen the image. This sharpening helps out when the photo is converted into a drawing.
I then crop the image, depending on what I want to use it for. If I’m creating an avatar for IM apps, I will typically use a 1:1 ration when cropping. If you just want this for a photo to post on someone’s wall, I find a 2:3 ratio works best. Be sure to save the image back to the photo library before continuing.
Make a Black and White Drawing of the Photo
The second step in the process is to create a black and white pencil drawing of the image. To do this, I use ToonPAINT (iTunes link, $1.99). This app has the ability to fine ‘toon’ the results by adjusting what it refers to as the Edges, Gray and Black of the image. I’ve found that after making these adjustments, a final tap of the Soften button produces the best result. From here, just save the image back to the photo library. Don’t bother testing out your finger painting skills, color will be added next.
Add Color with Layers
The best way to add the color back to the black and white pencil drawing created by ToonPAINT is with your favorite layer-based painting app. For this step, I recommend the New Yorker approved classic, Brushes (iTunes link, $4.99). In Brushes, create a new drawing and immediately edit the layers of the drawing. For the background layer, choose the original photo. On top of that place the black and white drawing of the photo. In Brushes, you can set the alpha of the backgrounds which will allow the layers to blend with one another. By adjusting the alpha of the top layer to 70 percent, just enough of the colors from the bottom layer will bleed through.
Share Postcards Online
Sharing your masterpiece is the final step. There’s a special Halloween version of Rogue Sheep’s Postage app (iTunes link) available for $.99. This app will allow you to frame the resulting image in a variety of available postcard styles. Select the postcard, insert the image, type a message and select email, Facebook or Twitter as the means to share the final artwork.
There are certainly several variations on this theme, as different combinations of apps can be strung together to make a different workflow. Adding Color Splash (iTunes link) just before applying the color with brushes will make certain elements in the cartoon version of the photo really pop. You could even tie together several completed images using an app like Diptic (iTunes link). Whichever workflow and whatever series of apps you choose to string together, it’s a fun way to shake up your online routine.
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