People will never seem to tire of ways to create, enhance, and share photos. Instagram was far from the first to give people this kind of outlet on their smartphones, but it’s been the most successful. A seemingly endless succession of one-uppers is following, one of the latest hits in this parade of photo apps is Repix. While Instagram lets you apply a filter to your whole photo, Repix gives you more Photoshop-like control, letting you paint on effects for a more original result. It’s a free iPhone app, but in-app purchases offer a greater choice of effects.
Editing Photos with Repix
Taking a page from Apple’s own wondrous mobile photo editor, iPhoto ($4.99, 4 stars), Repix lines up brushes along the bottom of your mobile screen. These almost look like lipstick tubes, but they’re attractively designed. There are eleven in all, including an Eraser and an Undoer, and you can buy more brushes from the Store, which you arrive at by clicking on the first tool.
Let’s first take a look at what Repix can do with your photos without spending money at this Store, though–there’s a lot. Clicking the menu icon lets you open a photo not just from your Camera Roll, but also from your Facebook photos and iCloud Photo Stream. You can also take a picture from within the app, but unlike Instagram, it doesn’t show you effects during shooting, and there are no shooting tools (focus, exposure) like those you get with Camera+.
Repix is more of a full-fledged photo editing app than Instagram–it lets you crop to taste, adjust brightness, contrast, color saturation, and temperature. It also lets you apply “vibrance” an enhancement found in most high-end desktop photo editors, such as Adobe Lightroom and Apple Aperture. The cropping tool doesn’t limit you to a square the way Instagram does, but doesn’t offer preset aspect ratios, so you can’t easily create a perfect square with it.
As with Snapseed, you make these adjustments by swiping left and right on the screen. This control method is nicely done in Repix–moving my digit all the way to either side of the screen changed the adjustment from -100 to 100 effect strength. There was no need to take my finger off the screen and swipe again to increase an effect, as some apps require. These are the only tools in Repix that affect the entire image all at once–there are no full-image “filters” like those you get with so many photo-enhancement apps.
Finger-Painting Razzle Dazzle
The real difference with Repix, though, is in those lipstick-like, fingerpaint-on effects. These, also usually in the domain of higher-end desktop photo editors, offer more detail work than anything in Instagram. They aim to turn your photos into art. Even the $4.99 Adobe Photoshop Touch app, though it does have brushes for colors, doesn’t have brushes for effects. The first Repix brush, Cartoonize, is an effect that you often see applied to a whole photo, but with Repix, you can leave the background sharp while you make your friend look like a character on Archer.
The Charcoal tool is smearier, and probably best suited to backgrounds. Dotter, Flare, Drips, and Silk also fall into this category, being too distorting to use on faces. Bleach lets you de-colorize parts of your image, which can nicely highlight the still colorful part you leave alone. I’d love to see an edge-detect option for these effects, like you get in Photoshop Touch; this way, you could be sure to apply the distortion only to, for example, the background. Finally, the Edger is a different kind of tool, locally sharpening the area you draw on, so it works well for subjects as well as backgrounds.
And that’s about it for the paint-on effects included in the free app, aside from Undoer and Eraser, whose names make their functions obvious. One note about all the effect brushes discussed above–there are no adjustment controls for how strong you want the effect, or any other applicable parameters. In this way, it offers less control than apps like Snapseed or Adobe Photoshop Touch.
Buying More Brush Effects
Where Repix hopes to make its money (and there’s nothing wrong with that) is through in-app brush set purchases. For $1.99 each, you can get the Color, Artistic, Light set, or $4.99 gets you the whole lot. The app page where you buy these lets you see what the effect does firsthand by trying each brush on a sample photo, so you know what you’re getting. Some of these are pretty enticing, such as Van Gogh, Hatching (a cross-hatch effect), and pretty much everything in the Light brush set.
Repix offers almost all the modern-day sharing possibilities you’d expect–Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and even presumable competitor Instagram. I’m just surprised not to see Flickr in this list, since that’s still the largest photo sharing site, according to recent numbers from comScore (Repix even puts their press images up on Flickr!).
Repix surprisingly lets you open your edited image in Instagram, in case you want to apply a filter in that app. Using both apps together this way gives you a pretty complete photo enhancing process—Repix for adjustments and local brush effects, and Instagram for the full-image filters. In addition to the social sharing, you can simply email your art or save it to the Camera Roll.
A New Look for Your Pictures
Repix offers a lot more in the way of detailed photo enhancement than you get in Instagram, and even fills in the basic photo-editing gaps in that wildly popular social photo app. And its finger-painting-like interface is plain fun to use. Repix doesn’t approach what’s possible with our Editors’ Choice, Snapseed, but even the greater capability and control in the simpler app is a two-edged sword: More control and tools means more tinkering and time spent getting the result you want. I suspect that most Instagram users just want a one-click tool to make their pictures look cool. After all, there were plenty of standard photo editing apps before it came along, none of which reached Instagram’s ascendency. Repix is a welcome riff on the theme though, and deserves its day in the sun.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc