Make your images ‘pop’ with PopAGraph

IMG_2370PopAGraph is a new iOS app from Flambe Studios. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store, with additional in-app purchases available to unlock “premium” features. It’s currently highlighted in the New & Noteworthy section of the App Store front page.

PopAGraph is a photo processing app that aims to distinguish itself from the many Instagram wannabes out there through one key feature: selective processing through masking, allowing users to pick out a specific part of an image and make it “pop” out of the page through various methods.

Using PopAGraph requires that users load an image from their device’s photo library to start — there’s no camera function in the app itself. Once an image has been loaded it can either be cropped to 1:1 square proportions suitable for sharing on sites such as Instagram, or kept in its original format. After this, the user is invited to create the “mask” for their image — a process which isn’t explained particularly well to those who aren’t overly familiar with this method of selective image processing. Essentially, the user must paint over or around the object or other element they would like to “pop” out of the page. An optional “Lift” function automatically fine-tunes the mask to the detected edges of the object, so there is no need to be overly accurate — the edge detection method is pretty good, if a little slow to process.

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Once the mask has been applied, the user can switch to the “Filters” menu to apply one of several different effects to the image. So far so Instagram, but the real twist in PopAGraph comes when you realize that it’s possible to apply two different completely independent filters — one to the background, and the other to the “popped” section that was masked previously. In this way it’s possible to mix and match various filters to create a variety of different effects — blurred backgrounds with sharp foregrounds, “color splash” effects, stylized images with heavily-processed backgrounds and high-contrast foregrounds… the list goes on. Certain filters require a $1.99 in-app purchase to be made, but all can be previewed for free. This is a good implementation, as it allows the user to evaluate whether or not they feel the purchase will be worth their while.

Following the application of a filter, the user can then move on to the “frame” step, which allows for manipulation of the background. One or more frames can be created, and these will become a “window” onto the background in the final image, with the remainder being filled with solid color or made transparent. Clever use of this effect can allow the masked part of the image to be depicted as being on a separate “layer” to the background, or to have parts of the image appearing to “overflow” out of the edges of the background.

Finally, the “share” step in the process allows for some last-minute adjustments to the image. Drop shadow and glow effects can be applied to the masked part of the image, and the background color can be adjusted. Only certain basic colors are available in the free version of the app — another $0.99 in-app purchase unlocks the ability to fully customize the background. Once the image is to the user’s liking, they can share it to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, email or SMS/iMessage. The image may also be saved to the user’s camera roll. Before sharing, if any premium filters or effects have been used, the user will be prompted to make the appropriate in-app purchases if they have not already. These are one-time purchases, so once the user has unlocked these premium features they will not be nagged again.

PopAGraph is a good app that produces some striking results when used effectively. It doesn’t explain the “masking” process particularly well to new users, but a little experimentation will likely allow them to discover how things work for themselves. For those more experienced in photo processing, the large number of filter, effect and frame combinations allows for many different “looks” to be created, and the additional flexibility afforded by the app will help images to stand out on photo-heavy social networks such as Instagram. It’s a good addition to the dedicated iPhone photographer’s virtual camera bag, and well worth a download, even in its free incarnation.

PopAGraph is currently ranked at No. 106 in Top Free Apps, No. 6 in Top Free Photography Apps and No. 33 in Top Grossing Photography Apps. Follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social apps and developers.