Do more than add photo effects on iOS

There are tons of apps for adding effects to your images, but this collection takes it a step further for more drastic art projects.

I've written about several iOS apps here that add effects to your photos, but most are just for adding a retro look, tuning your images, or making a photo look hip for social networking sites. I've found some great ones like PhotoToaster, Photogene2, and SnapSeed, but there's another genre of apps that make even more drastic changes to your images.

This week's collection of iOS apps is about taking your photos to the extreme. The first turns your images into line-drawn cartoons. The second fills in your image with words to produce a thought-provoking effect. The third puts your image through a coffee grinder, and brews up a bubbly colorful mosaic.

ToonPaint ($1.99) turns your images into cartoon-like drawings and gives you tons of tuning options to make them look just how you want. You start by snapping a fresh photo or grabbing an image from your iPhone's camera roll. Immediately after choosing your image, ToonPaint will start by making an Inkline of the image in black in white. Before adding any color, you have several ways to customize the line drawing, letting you add heavier edges or adjust the shading of the image. Fiddling around with these sliders produced some great effects for me, so don't rush to the coloring phase too soon.

Once you've settled on the Inkline drawing, hit the Paint button in the upper-right corner to add some color. Buttons across the bottom of the interface include Undo, a Pan/Zoom button, a brush width slider, and a color palette. In my experience, you'll need all of these buttons if you decide to touch-paint your image because it's very easy to draw outside the lines. Fortunately, the right combination of zooming in and using a smaller brush size (and the ability to Undo) works wonders, but you'll have a hard time getting the colors to fit perfectly. This is where ToonPaint can help, but only if you fork over some more money. The app has an option to color your image for you with a feature called Toon Color, but it costs 99 cents extra. I feel like this should be a free feature when you've already spent $1.99 for the app, but it definitely takes out a lot of the busy work.

When you're finished, you get a cartoon-like image of your source material you can share with social networking sites, save to your photo library, or send to a friend via e-mail. But what really sets this app apart is the ability to "Press Your Art" and choose to use the image on T-shirts, mugs, keychains, and more. You'll have to be really sure you want your image pressed to items though--the process can range anywhere from $8.49 for a keychain to $22 for a T-shirt. Still, the ability to create these items is pretty neat and will be useful if that's what you're after.

Overall, ToonPaint is a pretty interesting way to turn your photos into line-drawn cartoon images. If you want more than just the usual retro effects (and you can stomach the extra 99 cents for automatic colorizing) ToonPaint is a fun app to have on your iPhone.

WordFoto ($1.99) moves even further away from basic effects, letting you instead add a wordmap to your images for some cool-looking results. Take a new image or use one from your library--the more colorful, the better. WordFoto will automatically squeeze a default set of words into every part of your photo giving it an interesting and (depending on the words you use) informative effect. The app comes with several preset combinations of words you can add to your images that revolve around specific themes or common phrases. Wordsets include themes like Seasonal holiday words, words of appreciation, and several others, but you also have the option to create your own.

WordFoto does more than offer what they call a "fully automated space finding, word filling algorithm." You also have options for how those words are displayed by using an included cropping tool, eight preset options for style, and custom styles with controls for brightness, contrast, font, and more. Particularly when switching between fonts, I noticed that the overall feel of an image would change drastically. Words can also have very-defined lines or only just barely noticeable, each giving the finished image an entirely different look.

When you're finished, you can save your projects to your library, send them via e-mail, or post them to Facebook. If you're looking for something new to do with your images, WordFoto offers a unique gimmick that can produce striking results.

Percolator ($1.99) offers a fun and great-looking way to jazz up your images by turning them into colorful mosaics, and it all revolves around the theme of brewing coffee. While it sounds strange, the app produces fascinating results by taking your image, and turning it into tons of tiny circles (kind of like bubbles in a latte) with customizable effects. You start with an image from your library or you can take a new picture with your iPhone camera.

Once you've chosen a photo, Percolator gets to work processing your image and--as you watch--fills in the image with colorful circles. The dial-based interface lets you swipe to change Grind (circle size), Brew (style), and Serve (lighting, contrast, and opacity controls for the effect). Each of the selections also have several fine-tuning options so you can make the effect do exactly what you want. When you're finished, you have the option to save the image to your iPhone camera, share with Facebook or Twitter, or send via e-mail.

Percolator is a fun program for doing something different with your photos, and offers a unique coffee-themed interface. If you like the idea of creating mosaics with your photos, this app is a neat option.

About Jason Parker

Jason Parker has been at CNET for more than 13 years. He is the Senior Editor in charge iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.