You know those apps which turn you photos into pencil drawings or watercolors or oil paintings? Let’s face it — almost every single one of them is junk (iPhoto’s paint effect is a rare exception). Which is why Popsicolor is going to blow your socks off.
Popscicolor comes from the maker of the also-excellent Percolator, and it does one thing — turn your photographs into amazing, colorful watercolor and pencil images. Remember Apple’s color-splash marketing for some iPod or other? It’s a little like that.
Fire up the app and a little popsicle stick drops to the bottom of the screen and bounces before settling into place. This is the control panel, and it has three buttons. One lets you choose the source for the image (camera or photo roll), one lets you choose the intensity of the effect and one is for exporting and sharing.
Once you have loaded an image, it is processed (with some cute little messages telling you what the magic elves are doing behind the scenes), and you get a range of colored swatches along the top and bottom edges (these look great on any iDevice, and the Universal app looks just great on the iPad 3). Tap these swatches to choose the color of the top and bottom parts of the picture, and the app will reprocess the image to blend it all together.
The effects are fantastic. It doesn’t look exactly like real watercolor, but the differences make this better, not worse. The only other app which gets the natural paint effect so right is Paper, the limited painting and drawing app.
The app works best with highly graphic images with strong shapes and outlines. In short, if you can’t see the main picture elements clearly in the thumbnail picker, it probably won’t work.
The adjustments (called “focus”) let you choose how dark or light the effects are (the settings are named “minimal”, “natural” and “bold”. If you have a very contrasty image then “minimal” works well, giving a strong, 1980s-album-cover effect. Experiment to see which you like. I find “natural” is best in most cases.
Export is by saving to the camera roll or clipboard, or via email. Simple and effective, although it means you’ll have to take an extra step to Instagram the result.
If you have any interest in messing with your pictures, or if you want a way to make a snappy party invite or holiday postcard, you should buy this app. And at just $1, you really have no excuse not to.