iPhoneography tutorial using four of my go to apps for adding texture to images together with my go to layering app for blending multiple images together in layers. I guess this is a pretty good definition of app stacking.

App stacking comes with advantages and disadvantages:

The main disadvantages are:

  • the volume of intermediate images you end up with on your camera roll,

  • working in JPEG, each save may result in additional compression resulting in an image that degrades over time, and

  • I would also say that if you are not careful you can lose track of image resolution with some apps – including texture blending apps being guilty of reducing resolution.

When app stacking for the purposes of texture blending, most of these issues are not significant. Some can be overcome completely by use of the IOS ‘open in’ functionality to move images between apps without saving them (although I prefer to keep an image at each stage to enable me to backtrack). The one issue I have become most concerned about is resolution.

The main advantages are:


Texture blend app stacking – Key learning points :

  • use multiple textures to create a unique signature

  • when using multiple textures use each texture lightly

  • create your own heavy textures based on your iPhone image but apply them lightly


iPhone photography apps used:

iphoneography - green and pleasant land

{ green and pleasant land / aka solo tree }


UPDATE: Stackables app has been retired since this image was created.

There are a number of possible alternative apps. My recommendation is Mextures. Mextures and Stackables are similar in both appearance and workflow. Specifically, just like Stackables, Mextures comes supplied with multiple textures, effects and filters which can be applied in a limitless combination. The formula can then be saved for repeated application to any number of iPhone images.

View my Mextures workflows.


Process and apps used

Slow Shutter Cam ~ initial capture with camera movement through a steady down – up arc to create the motion blur. An awful lot of iPhone apps will be returned if you search for ‘slow shutter’. I have 2 that operate in almost identical ways and I have no idea how I managed to do that! Anyway the one I tend to use is properly titled ‘Slow Shutter Cam’ by Cogitap Software:

Distressed FX ~ Distressed FX has recently been updated. It’s an app I’ve always enjoyed and so I broke it out and added my first selection of textures and filters. It’s important to adjust the levels of each effect including both brightness and contrast to get the optimum effect (see screen grabs below):

There are a couple of things to be aware of – (1) Multiple effects can be added by tapping and holding the screen and flattening the layers to enable new ones to be added, and (2) Distressed FX reduces resolution to 2,048px on the longest side (at the time of writing). I would suggest establishing the finished crop ratio before importing the image but in any event the style of processing means re-scaling in an app such as Filterstorm will achieve good results:

The three Distressed FX screen grabs are self explanatory I think. There are numerous overlay and texture options. You simply swipe to view and select the appropriate ones, bring up the sliders to adjust levels and tap and hold the middle of the image to flatten and then add more textures as needed.

The third screen shows the ability to import a custom texture. Another option would be to import the original pre-textured image to water down the effects if you wish.

Handy Photo ~ The composition of my capture required me to extend my canvas to make a square image rather than crop it. I could add canvas in Filterstorm or Filterstorm Neue but instead to automatically clone the additional canvas with the surrounding image I use the Handy Photo Magic crop tool:

I did a short video demonstration of this functionality in my iPhone photography tip { extend canvas and auto clone } article (video embedded below):

Ideally I should have done this process before importing into Distressed FX:

Around 2 minutes long including introductions:


Snapseed ~ The next texture applied is the Snapseed Vintage 4 preset filter adjusted to suit the image:

This was intended to add tone and a vintage texture where Distressed FX had left some areas quite light on texture:

Mextures ~ Next a couple of grain textures are applied from the large library of texture images in Mextures:

I published a tutorial of Mextures in my ‘textured iPhone photography – Mextures iphoneography app’ article:

This is { image one }:

The monochrome image at this stage was my first finished version and was published as a finished image to my Instagram Feed.


Process and apps used – version two

Continuing from the first finished iPhoneography image, I went on to process a coloured version. This edit demonstrates the creation of your own textures from your own Slow Shutter Cam image captures .

Slow Shutter Cam ~ Here a Slow Shutter Cam image is used as the basis for an overlay texture I create myself:

Distressed FX ~ The Slow Shutter Cam iPhone capture is imported into Distressed FX where the texture is finalised:

This is { texture one }:

Superimpose ~ Image one is imported as the background with texture one imported as the foreground. The layers are blended under the color blend method:

This is { image two }:

Modern Grunge ~ This finishing texture which will be very subtle when applied is created in Modern Grunge:

Texture one is imported into Modern Grunge and series of textures and grunges applied. This is { texture two }:

Superimpose ~ Image two is imported as the background and texture two is imported as the foreground. The final image is created by blending the two layers together under a very transparent color burn blend at around 95pct:

The effect is primarily seen as splatter marks in the grass area:


Thank you to these great mobile photography blogs for featuring my image:


The App Whisperer

Really honoured that my image ‘solo tree’ has been featured by @TheAppWhisperer thank you Joanne!

See the feature together with other featured images at The App Whisperer.

Wow, we have just published this weeks’ Flickr Group Showcase and once again it is fabulous – with incredibly high level mobile photography and art demonstrated from around the world. Please take a few minutes to enjoy this…

Joanne ~ The App Whisperer


Art of Mob

Really honoured that my image ‘Solo tree’ has been featured by @ArtofMob thank you Geri!

See the feature together with other featured images at Art of Mob.

Geri highlights a quote from Steven Pressfield “Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.” and invites contributions to her Mob Paint Flickr Group for a chance to be featured.

Geri ~ Art of Mob


Alternative motion blur process

tree in yellow

{ tree in yellow field }


trio - iphoneography

{ trio }


Thank you to these great mobile photography blogs for featuring my image:


Distressed FX

Really honoured that my image ‘trio’ has been featured by @DistressedFX thank you Cheryl!

See Trio at Distressed FX ‘Best of the Best’.

Ahhh yes one of those minimalist images that just takes hold. If you are not following the blog of prize winning iPhoneographer Paul “Skip” Brown- you should be. I know there are a lot of iPhone blogs out there but this one is a stand out when it comes to texturing. He has great reviews, tutorials and his own art. Be sure to follow his Facebook group and Instagram too!

Cheryl of Distressed FX


Art of Mob

Really honoured that my image ‘Trio’ has been featured by @ArtofMob thank you Geri!

See the feature together with other featured images at Art of Mob.

Somehow I got off schedule and I’ve missed posting a Mob Paint Monday Showcase. The longer time between showcases made it even more difficult to isolate only a few works to feature here. Please visit the Mob Paint Flickr Group to see all of the wonderful creative pieces this community of artists produces!

Geri ~ Art of Mob


Motion blur in post processing

I used Slow Shutter Cam to achieve motion blur at the point of capture but what if you have a sharp iPhone image you would like to achieve the same effect with?

There are a number of apps available. I tried a bit of experimentation to see which achieved similar results. My preferred solution (as used in this image) was:

  • rotate the image through 90 degrees with Snapseed,

  • apply the AfterFocus motion blur effect,

  • rotate the image back again through 90 degrees in Snapseed.

The rest of the texture process was as per the main image – just using different textures and overlays. In the case of ‘trio’, I introduced another excellent texture blend iPhone photography app – Stackables.


Get the iPhoneography apps mentioned in this article

Apps used for iphone photography texture creation in this article:

  • Distressed FX is frequently used by me to add textures and other effects to iPhone images. Often results in the question “Is it a photograph or is it a painting?”

  • Snapseed a must have free iPhoneography app (Originally by Nik now owned by Google). Used in this article to apply Vintage toning and grunge

  • Mextures adds a combination of textures and overlays in almost limitless combinations. No two textures coming out of Mextures need ever be the same, giving your iPhoneography a unique signature

  • Modern Grunge one of my favourite texturing iPhoneography apps

  • Stackables – iPhone or iPad version. Very similar to Mextures. Gives another library of textures and overlays

Apps used for other iPhoneography processes in this article:

  • Slow Shutter Cam to capture both the primary source image and images used for texture with a long shutter motion blur action at the point of capture

  • Handy Photo is a general editing app with many filters and textures. I use it primarily for textures and, as in this workflow, for the magic crop functionality

  • Superimpose my personal go to app for layers masking and blending processes

  • AfterFocus is my personal go to app for applying authentic looking depth of field (depth of focus) and motion blur effects in post processing


Additional Reading

My friend Jacob Dix across at Mobilography focuses on Android apps. He has done an excellent article on layer stacking using Snapseed and Photoshop Touch (also available for iPhone and iPad).

Layer Stacking Using Snapseed and PS Touch.


I hope you enjoyed my iPhone photography texture app stacking workflow. Thank you for reading and I hope to see you again.



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  1. […] App stacking iPhoneography tutorial using four of my go to apps for adding texture to images. Distressed FX / Mextures / Modern Grunge / Snapseed.  […]

  2. Elaine Taylor says:

    I’ve recently fallen in love with apps that provide texture such as DistressedFX and Stackables, so this is a great tutorial for me.

    Not heard of Modern Grunge. Will check it out.

    Elaine 🙂

    • Paul Brown says:

      Thank you Elaine really pleased you found it useful. I love Stackables too but have been busier with the upgraded Mextures. Will have to spend more time there. Modern Grunge you will love I know. It has ‘Ripped from Reality’ app style effects too.

  3. An excellent tutorial! I’m going to edit along with it and see what I come up with! You are a master indeed my friend.

    • Paul Brown says:

      Thank you very much Geri. I’m blushing :-). I hope you’ll tag me if you ever get around to sharing any results. I’d hate to miss them.

  4. iPhone photography tutorial - texture blend app stacking | Skipology - appgong says:

    […] iPhone photography tutorial – texture blend app stacking | Skipology […]

  5. Elsa Brenner says:

    thank you so much for sharing this with us! It is beautiful and wonderful.

  6. […] App stacking iPhoneography tutorial using four of my go to apps for adding texture to images. Distressed FX / Mextures / Modern Grunge / Snapseed. (Honoured that my image 'solo tree' has been featured by @TheAppWhisperer thank you Joanne!  […]

  7. geri says:

    Hi Skip – I just went through this tutorial again. There is so much great info in this one. Have you ever used FocalLab – I was introduced to it by Susan Tuttle and I think it would work hand in hand with this tutorial for post-processing blur.

  8. […] If you are on iPhone, Paul “Skip” Brown has a great post for app or layer stacking with iPhone specific apps in mind. […]

  9. […] This image was captured with an obviously stationary subject but with a moving mobile phone camera using the same technique as ‘no escape’ to blur the image through a 180 degree down to up arc. I had to use a specialist long exposure app on this occasion because the amount of natural light did not allow me to set a low enough shutter speed in a ‘normal’ mobile phone camera replacement app. The full edit for this image can be viewed here. […]

  10. […] una velocità dell’otturatore sufficientemente bassa usando una normale app per fotocamera. Qui potete vedere l’editing completo di questa […]

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