Yellow Rose is a painterly textured iPhoneography still life floral image processed using textures from both Snapseed and Stackables. Its inspiration stems from Skipology selecting Stackables as app of the week this week.

Each week Skipology randomly selects one of the apps I use to feature as iPhoneography app of the week. It gives me a chance to revisit the app, make sure it’s still working, share my thoughts and help promote an app that I use and believe in.

Generally, once I’ve revisited it, I simply promote it as app of the week and perhaps share a couple of images it played a significant role in, I do this across my Facebook page, Google+ profile and Twitter stream (insert subtle hint here to follow me on your preferred channel if you don’t yet). I don’t normally write an article.

This week though, when Stackables emerged as app of the week it gave me some inspiration. Yellow Rose is the result – it also happens to be my wife’s favourite colour Rose.

iPhone photography apps used:

stackables - yellow rose

{ stackables – yellow rose }


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

ProCamera8 ~ initial capture. I used the iPhone very much like a light meter getting close to the rose petals and locking exposure. Even so, I still needed to take advantage of the new IOS8 exposure adjustment feature and boost exposure by 0.4 of a stop:


Resolution at capture 3,264px x 2,448px

Handy Photo ~ when capturing still life images, I am not a fan of worrying about framing and capturing excess canvas. Given the resolution limitations of the iPhone, I prefer to fill the canvas with the subject as much as possible and then add canvas to taste later:

This approach maximizes the detail captured in the image and also boosts the resolution of the finished work:

The tool for this job is normally Handy Photo Magic crop:


Resolution following this process and throughout the rest of the edits (none of the apps reduce resolution) – 3,072px x 3,072px

When comparing a square cropped standard resolution iPhone image at 6 megapixels, the resulting image at 9.4 megapixels is an increase of 57pct without any resizing / rescaling. Very worthwhile.

Snapseed ~ my standard workflow kicks in at this point and will either be Snapseed or Instaflash Pro to adjust levels and sharpness. On this occasion I use Snapseed to boost both ‘structure’ and ‘sharpness’ to suit the image:

Snapseed ~ my normal first stage in a painterly iPhoneography edit is to apply the Snapseed ‘grunge’ filter. This is no exception. Additionally, I apply one of the ‘vintage’ preset filters for added colour and texture:

Superimpose ~ the Snapseed processing has added texture but washed away colour. I layer the first Snapseed version over the textured Snapseed version apply a radial mask centered over the Rose petals, invert it and combine using the ‘color’ blend method. This reintroduces color where needed without removing texture:



Stackables ~ I tend to save all my creations as presets to use again and again – either as is or with adjustments. On this occasion I decided to start a new preset from scratch:

This is the process I adopted:

I start by importing my image and ticking through the crop screen without adjustments. I am then presented with this Stackables screen:


{ stackables – the process }

From here I can access all the Stackables app functionality in one place. My workflow within Stackables looks something like this:

  1. Select the type of layer I wish to add:

    By default Stackables selects the first option which is ‘textures’ and adds the first texture (see 2). However, this has not been applied so at this stage if I want to make an alternative adjustment I select a different layer type.

    From left to right this could be, ‘textures’, ‘filters’, ‘gradients’, ‘overlays’ or ‘adjustments.’

    Care needs exercising when selecting the final flask option as this brings up a selection of preset formulas and any formulas I have already saved. Stackables is helpful here though because if I tap it accidentally I will be warned that all layers I have already applied will be lost.

  2. Select the actual layer I wish to add:

    Having selected the type of layer, I am now presented with a series of choices which I can scroll through to select the appropriate texture, filter, etc I would like to add.

  3. Rotate:

    Where a texture or gradient layer is added they can be rotated to taste.

  4. Blend method:

    Tapping this box brings up the usual range of blend methods. The standard blend method will vary depending on the type of layer selected at stage 1. Textures for example default to ‘overlay’ but very often an alternative blend method is more effective. This is powerful functionality and should not be missed.

  5. Layer opacity:

    Having selected the blend method I then adjust the opacity to taste. Occasionally, I may decide that one blend method at 80pct is better than my first choice at 50pct. I regard both blend method and opacity as joint controls to be used together. Flicking between these 2 controls is a key part of my workflow.

  6. Add new layer:

    Having completed the adjustments on the layer I am working on, it is time to add a new layer and repeat the process.

  7. Layers:

    All layers added as part of the formula can be viewed. By tapping and holding the layers can be reordered. The active layer will display an eye icon in the top corner – any edits apply to this layer. By tapping the eye the layer can be hidden without permanently deleting it. Switching layers on and off in turn helps demonstrate the impact they have on the finished formula. At this stage this is a useful exercise to undertake to make final adjustments to layers that would benefit from strengthening weakening or even removing completely.

  8. Save:

    Once the image is completed I tap the save icon. I do 2 things: (a) Save the formula in case I want to reuse it or have a change of heart the next day and want to adjust my edit. The saved formula is available to be applied to any image and can be accessed by the flask at step 1. (b) Save the image with the layers applied.


Superimpose ~ As per the Snapseed texturing process, some of the vibrant colour I would like to retain from the Rose has been lost. This time I use the Stackables image as the background and the first Snapseed edit as the foreground. I mask the Rose petals and stalk using the magic wand tool and then invert the mask:

On the filters tab I boost the saturation of the masked foreground to the maximum. On the transform tab I blend the two layers under ‘hard light’ with an opacity set at around 40pct:


Get the iPhoneography app mentioned in this article

Apps used in this article:

  • ProCamera8 my preferred camera replacement app. Manual exposure adjustment is helpful when dealing with small subjects and tricky lighting

  • Handy Photo great for the uncrop functionality alone (magic crop) but an all round powerful app which also includes some great textures

  • Snapseed the best free iPhoneography app in my opinion

  • Stackables iPhone version / iPad version one of the premier texturing iPhoneography apps. Very powerful with every element controllable enabling unique textures to be created. I believe its textures are very well suited to a painterly style of processing

  • Superimpose my preferred layering app when I only need to actively work with 2 layers. For more complex multiple layering processes I prefer its companion app Leonardo


I hope you enjoyed my iPhone photography look at painterly processing with Stackables. Thank you for reading and I hope to see you again. I have just launched a more detailed new post notification service. If you enjoy my work and would like an email when new articles are published (rarely more than one per week) please subscribe to Skipology. Thank you for your support.



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  1. Geri Centonze (@gericentonze on Instagram) says:

    An excellent tutorial Skip. I really need to make use of radial masks as you did here. Such a great tip!

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