Line-art yourself with Manga-Camera

Manga-Camera is a new iOS app from Supersoftware. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store, and is currently highlighted in Apple’s “New and Noteworthy” section at the time of writing.

Manga-Camera is a very simple visual effects app for the iPhone’s camera. To use it, users simply snap a photo with the rear-facing camera of the device and then wait for the picture to be processed into a Japanese manga-style “line art” image. A variety of manga-style picture frames are available for use, though there does not appear to be a completely “blank” frame on offer to simply convert an image to line-art — most include some Japanese text at the very least, and often include “effect lines” of varying degrees of dramaticness. Most picture frames do a good job of extracting the subject from the background and laying them atop some sort of background — an in-app option to specify how dark or light the environment in which the photo is being taken helps adjust the sensitivity of this feature if necessary.

The app works very well for the most part. The fact that the picture frame can be overlaid atop the camera’s view while taking the picture allows for straightforward composition, though the user also has the choice of changing the frame after the picture has been taken, too, allowing for increased flexibility.

Once the picture has been taken, it may be saved to the user’s camera roll or shared on Facebook and Twitter. Twitter functionality used the built-in iOS 5 social features, but Facebook posts are still routed through the external app rather than using iOS 6’s new Facebook compatibility.

One glaring omission from the app is the lack of front-facing camera support. As it stands, it’s only possible to take a picture using the iPhone’s rear-facing camera, making it impractical for self-portraits. This is unfortunate, as this sort of distinctive, visually-striking image would be ideal for users to set as their profile picture on social networks or around the Web, but as the app stands, it is impractical for this purpose, only really fit for taking photographs of others. It may seem like a relatively minor issue, but it reduces the app’s “usefulness,” for want of a better term.

This issue aside, however, Manga-Camera is a simple but effective image processing solution for those who are fans of comics, manga or line art in general. Image processing occurs quickly on an iPhone 4S and images are easily saved or shared for use in other contexts. Future updates would perhaps benefit from connectivity to other social networks such as Tumblr and Instagram, and the developer should make front-facing camera support a priority. The ability to process images that already exist in the device’s camera role would also be appreciated by a number of users, judging from comments on the App Store.

Manga-Camera is currently ranked at No. 92 in the Free Photography Apps section of the App Store. In its native Japan, it is the No. 3 free app and the No. 2 free photography app at the time of writing. Follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social games and developers.