If I were to list iPhone photography apps for texture blending, Mextures would be right at the top. It’s such an important app to me because Texture Blending and Painterly iphoneography styles are amongst my favourites.
@skipology Thanks so much! So excited, and honored that you created such a wonderful tutorial.
— Mextures App (@mextures) April 11, 2014
When I put together my personal list of 10 must have iPhoneography apps it was designed to give the maximum iphone photography capture and editing capability from the minimum number of apps. A kind of starter pack. General editing Apps with a wide range of functions like Handy Photo and Snapseed also include some texturing capability and so Mextures along with almost all specialist apps missed out.
This iPhoneography workflow aims to correct that omission and demonstrate why investing in a quality specialist texturing app is money well spent. The images result from a fruitful morning out in the fog on Lincoln West Common. In general I like to process my foggy images in Black and white and so many were captured directly with Hipstamatic using the John S Lens and BlacKeys Extra Fine film. However, it’s always nice to have some post-processing choice so I also captured a selection using ProCamera7.
It is a self-curated selection of the ProCamera7 images that I then went on to process primarily via Mextures to produce a small collection of three main images. I will share the process behind one image by way of example and share the final versions of the other two which were edited in exactly the same way. By its nature, Mextures gives us the opportunity to create a cohesive collection of images but potentially each can have a unique but related texture. No two textures need ever be the same.
Image capture and preparation
ProCamera7 / Snapseed ~ initial capture and crop to a 1:1 ratio:
Note that images can be cropped within Mextures but I like to have the starting version of the image available outside of Mextures to go back to if necessary. This is especially helpful if you over-texture within Mextures and want to reintroduce detail which I often do:
LensLight ~ the other two images in this series are as shot but I decided to introduce a little bit of artistic license into this image. I selected the ‘Sol Invictus’ filter and re-sized to give the impression of a low sun rising through the mist:
Superimpose ~ Okay, I’ll have to admit that at this stage I was doodling. I imported the previous image in as both foreground and background.
I really enjoy messing around with the same or similar versions of an image – sometimes interesting happy accidents occur, especially when looking at the ‘exclusion’ and ‘difference’ blend methods in the region of 50pct transparency.
On this occasion I switched the blend method to ‘luminosity’ (transform menu) and then went to filters and adjusted the background image by boosting brightness by around 80pct and reducing contrast by around 40pct:
This workflow is all about Mextures. From this point on no other app is used and I therefore wanted to spend time going through how to create, save (and share) your own formulas within the app. Mextures comes pre-loaded with formulas created by some of the finest mobile photography talent there is so straight out of the app store you can add them to your images.
However, it also comes loaded with the building blocks for those formulas – individual textures within various texture libraries to enable us to stack multiple textures on top of an image in an infinite number of combinations. It is this combination of textures that we define as a Mextures formula. Unless you share your formula (more on that later) you can virtually guarantee that the final formula you apply to your image will be unique.
Mextures – a step by step guide:
Mextures Home Screen ~ initially I want to select an image. You can see that I can either capture an image directly via the camera or import an image from my library. I am going to import the image I have already prepared from my library:
Move and scale imported image ~ it is possible within Mextures to move and scale the image and then to crop it. However, I have always prepared the image I want to work on in advance and so I always select ‘Don’t Crop’:
It should be noted that although the preview screen is square at this stage it is possible to import an image sized to landscape or portrait ratios without having to crop square.
Mextures – textures or formulas ~ next I am presented with this screen. Mextures defaults to textures and I can load a texture library from here. The titles are descriptive. Alternatively, I can tap formulas and browse the preloaded formulas within the app. I can also browse any formulas I have already created and saved together with any formulas created by others which have been shared and I have chosen to import:
For the purposes of this tutorial I am first going to select the ‘grit and grain’ texture pack:
Mextures – layer ~ as this is the first texture I’ve added, Mextures tells me ‘layer one created’ and presents me with a preview screen and the various textures within the ‘grit and grain’ texture library at the bottom. I can swipe across to find the texture I’m looking for and by tapping the heart I can mark any favorites. If I wish to choose an alternative texture library I press the tab at the bottom to return to the previous screen:
Having selected the texture I would like to add (1970) I tap the magic wand to make adjustments:
Mextures – blending modes ~ this screen presents itself with the previews for numerous blending methods along the bottom. Other controls to note are the opacity slider bar to make the effect of the layer stronger or weaker together with the circular rotate button which rotates the layer at 90 degree steps. For this first layer I select the ‘difference’ blend method rotated 3 times with a 25pct opacity. I confirm by tapping the tick:
Mextures – layer ~ once again I am presented with this screen. This time as I am happy with the initial texture I have added I tap the circular icon containing the ‘+’ character. This takes me back to the texture pack library where I can select another texture pack. For my second texture I choose the ‘landscape enhance’ texture library:
Mextures – layer ~ upon selecting the ‘landscape enhance’ texture library I am brought back to this screen with the message ‘layer 2 created’. This time a new range of gradient and radial overlays are available. As previously, I can swipe across to find the gradient I’m looking for. If I wish to choose an alternative texture library I press the tab at the bottom to return to the texture library menu:
Having selected the gradient I would like to add (Seaside) I tap the magic wand to make adjustments:
Mextures – blending modes ~ once again this screen presents itself with the previews for numerous blending methods along the bottom. As with layer one, other controls to note are the opacity slider bar to make the effect of the layer stronger or weaker together with the circular rotate button which rotates the layer at 90 degree steps. For this second layer I select the ‘overlay’ blend method not rotated and set a 30pct opacity. I confirm by tapping the tick:
I would repeat this process as many times as necessary adding textures (each one creating its own layer when added) and editing blend methods, opacity and rotation settings for each individual texture until I arrive at the finished formula.
Taking a break at this point though with two layers now added there are a couple of additional icons to consider which are available at all stages through the formula creation process.
Mextures – review and edit layers ~ having tapped the tick to accept the previous edit I am brought back to this screen. The number 2 circled in the preview window indicates that layer 2 is the active layer. Any texture edits I make relate to layer 2:
Additionally, you can see that the rectangle next to the magic wand shows the number 2. This indicated that the formula contains 2 layers. By tapping this icon I can see a summary of both layers:
Mextures – view layers ~ having tapped the icon I am presented with this summary screen. Each layer is displayed at the bottom together with a summary of the ‘magic wand’ choices I have made for it. From this screen I can:
Reorder the layers by dragging them
Tap any layer to make it active in the preview screen and edit it
Tap any layer to make it active and then select the tab at the bottom to go to the texture library and replace it with a different texture
Tap the eye at the top of the active layer to hide it
Tap the cross at the top of the active layer to delete it
Tap and hold the eye just beneath the preview screen to temporarily hide all layers
This tutorial shows how to add 2 layers. The process is simply repeated until I achieve the look I am aiming for. The Mextures formula created for this series of images contains a total of 8 layers and the individual details of each layer can be seen in the following screen grabs.
I have exported this formula (see later) and it is therefore available for anyone to import into their own Mextures app (see later).
Mextures – edit screen ~ to get back from the layers view I simply tap the tick icon to return to the main edit screen:
The icon to the right of the ‘+’ icon brings up a series of possible adjustments in the polish / adjustments screen:
Mextures – Polish / Adjustments ~ possible adjustments include the addition of various styles of films. Examples include Holga, Diana, Lomography but there are many more. There is also opportunity to fine tune many of the normal settings you would expect in an image editor such as exposure, contrast, saturation and a number of others. These adjustments are saved as part of the formula:
Having completed my formula it is now time to save my work.
Mextures – Save / Export ~ hitting the save / export icon at the top right of the preview window brings up this screen. The two key actions I take here are:
Save my completed image to the photo library
Save my formula within the app for use again
Sharing Mextures formulas
Mextures has the ability to both share saved formulas and also to import the formulas others have shared. For anyone interested in using this formula it has a code of QDAFWEX. I will quickly explain how to both share saved formulas and import formulas shared by others.
Mextures Home Screen ~ returning to the home screen (press the ‘x’ at the top left of the image preview window) there is a flask icon towards the bottom left corner – I tap this:
Mextures Formulas Screen ~ I am then presented with my formula manager. By default it displays all the formulas I have created and saved:
From this screen tapping on the red ‘+’ icon will bring up a screen enabling me to enter a formula code shared my a third party and use their formula within my Mextures App. Tapping on one of my formulas will give me the opportunity to delete it, share it, or view the share code if I have already shared it.
Mextures Formulas Screen – import formula ~ After tapping the red cross simply enter the shared formula code:
Mextures recommend tagging images used with a specific formula. If anyone uses my formula and wishes to apply the tag #QDAFWEX I will monitor it and share a few of my favorites.
Mextures Formulas Screen – share formula ~ from the formula manager screen I simply tap the formula I wish to share and am presented with the option to close, share or delete:
Mextures Formulas Screen – share formula ~ on tapping share a unique code is generated. Share this code with your friends and they will be able to import your formula as already outlined:
The other two landscapes
I mentioned at the outset that this was a three series collection and that no two texture formulas ever need be the same. In the end I elected to use the same formula non-adjusted on all 3 images. (I could have gone in and adjusted individual layers slightly to give a cohesive feel to the collection whilst making each texture unique. I elected not to).
Get the iPhoneography apps mentioned in this article
Mextures hopefully this article has told you everything you need to know. Mextures is the best of breed texture blending iPhoneography app
ProCamera7 my preferred everyday camera replacement app
Superimpose my personal go to app for layers masking and blending processes
Snapseed the best free iPhoneography editing app available in my opinion. Originally created by Nik now owned by Google
LensLight a great iPhoneography app for adding multiple layer lighting effects
I was honoured that my iPhoneography image ‘Morning has Broken’ was selected to be featured by Art of Mob in their Painterly Mobile Art showcase.
As the Painterly Mobile Art Flickr Group grows, it becomes more and more difficult to only select a few images to feature. I wish I could add them all! The limit for the group was just reduced to 1 per week. I look forward to seeing what you select as your best work for the week.
Note the Skipology Flickr stream is very much a concentrated version of my collection of images. I generally post an image per day but at Flickr I post no more than once per week – sometimes not even that.
View the full showcase of amazing mobile photography portrait images at Art of Mob.
I was honoured that my iPhoneography image ‘Reflection’ was selected to be featured by Art of Mob in their Painterly Mobile Art showcase.
The Painterly Flickr group has a new name – Mob Paint. I am trying to “brand” Art of Mob wherever we have a presence, so I thought in keeping with the blog title the painterly group will now be called Mob Paint. In addition, if you are also a mobile street photographer, please join the newly formed Mob Street Flickr Group. I will be highlighting artists and work from this group here as well.
As always, a special thank you to all of the contributors – your work continues to inspire!
View the full showcase of amazing mobile photography painterly images at Art of Mob.
I hope you enjoyed my look at Mextures in detail. Thank you for reading and I hope to see you again.