Making Lemonade on the iPad


This is one of my favorite photos of my aunt Caroline. It’s iconic Caroline – sunglasses, cigarette and fishing pole. I love the picture but as you can see the photograph leaves a lot to be desired. Fortunately, I have some amazing apps on my iPad that can turn this photo into a work of art. For this one I used Photos, Retouch ($1.99) and Stackables ($2.99).

I began in Photos using the Retouch extension. If you have Retouch installed on you iPad, it automatically adds the extension into Photos. You’ll find it in the Edit screen by tapping the … icon at the bottom of the tools icons. I just dragged my finger over the dirty dots and they disappeared. After cropping and saving the photo, I was ready to move on to the Stackables app.

It’s hard to describe Stackables. It’s a series of filters, overlays, textures and other features that can turn a mediocre photo into something amazing. That’s the good news. The bad news is there’s almost no instructions on how to use Stackables. You just experiment. I did find several useful tutorials posted at The App Whisperer.


When you first open the app, the intro screen includes buttons to select your photo. Once that’s done, a screen similar to this one appears. Notice the toolbar at the top of the screen. From left to right they are Textures, Color Filters, Gradients, Patterns, Adjustments and Formulas. Each tool displays a different list of options down the right side of the screen. In this example, you’re seeing Textures. The left sidebar has two icons at the top – layers and masks. You assign a texture, filter or overlay to this layer, then add another layer and apply another tool. Repositioning layers will change the appearance of the image. The bottom bar has a slider in the center which will define how much of the filter/texture/whatever is applied. To the left of the slider are two buttons – Opacity and Saturate. The buttons change when a different tool is selected. The slider will adjust whichever button is selected – Opacity in this case. The rotate icon at the far right will rotate the selected tool’s effect a quarter turn each time you tap it.


As you can see in this example, I have applied three layers. The top one is the Blue Moon color filter and the middle layer is the Ancient Sky texture. The bottom layer is the Color Adjust tool. It’s the currently selected layer and the various color adjust tools appear down by the slider. Select the tool then move the slider will make the adjustments. I used the Brightness tool to lighten things up.

Once the image looks the way I want, I tap the green Save button at the top left corner of the screen. Available options include saving the image to the Camera Roll, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or by email. The Open in Another App option brings up the share sheet offering even more options.

Caroline at the Beach

Instead of a mediocre photograph I now have a piece of art. It takes time and a lot of experimenting to see how tools react when combined with other tools but before you know it you’ll be turning poor quality photos into eye-catching art.




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