Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Great Apps for Mobile Color Lovers

Apps, apps, apps! We are surrounded by them. They fill up our phones and tablets and there are more of them everyday. But instead of getting overwhelmed by the abundance we have decided to dive in. Here are our 5 favorite color apps for mobiles platforms and why we love them. Come take a dip with us!

Color Touch Effects

Color Touch Effects lets users recolor images right in their Android phones. Many mobile photo apps let you filter whole images to make them sepia, black and white, or saturated with various film effects but this app lets you paint with saturation and vibrancy. Drop all the color out of an image then use the tools to paint back in a set of pale blue eyes or sepia a figure standing in rich real world color. This app works the best on a larger screened Android like the Galaxy Note 5 which gives you room to really get the most out of the apps detailed features. 

Color Splash

If you are more of an iPhone person and want that same black and white with a splash of color feel on your mobile then Color Splash is for you. Color Splash is a great tool for any beginning photographer or graphic designer who has little experience with Photoshop or other design or editing software. Before you jump in to the deep end with what can be an overwhelming array of options offered by those high end programs,  Color Splash will allow you to get your color design feet wet. Learn about drawing focus,  importance of contrast, and color matching with this simplified tool first. It can be great for kids who can't afford expensive software on their own but still want to explore the basics of image design.


PicsArt is a great mobile photo editor available from Google Play. Not only does this little app let you spruce up your photos like Instagram but applies photoshop like artistic changes.  It offers stenciler, cartoonizer, sketcher which gives images texture and adventurous color. It combines the functionalities of photo collage, FX, and on screen painting to give you complete control over your images. You can even take a picture and preview live photo effects to enhance your phones standard camera. 

ArtStudio for iPad

If you have an iPad, with their comparatively massive screen real estate, and are looking for an app which will really take your mobile color experience to the max, check out ArtStudio. Like the previous app this one lets you do some basic photo editing but it's the paint options where this app shines. Use their built in color picker on any image to build up your library of colors and even paint directly over photographs to use them as guides. Unlike many paint apps for mobile, ArtStudio for iPad is built for detailed, color rich, and highly textured paintings and drawings.  The app takes you from beginning strokes to finishing touches and no other software  is required. 

Brushes 3

Another painting app we love is Brushes 3. Along with a bevy of painting, coloring, and texturing features this app lets you seamlessly move your creations from device to device without losing any work. This app is such a great tool in fact David Hockney used it to create some of the work exhibited at the de Young Museum here in San Francisco at his recent solo show titled 'A Bigger Exhibition.' Try it out. Use what the pros love!

We know you are all savvy color fans so you tell us... what apps do you love!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Color for Cyborgs

North Broad Street by Justin Wolfe
We use color in a thousand unconscious ways every day. While standing on a train platform on your way to work: "Please stand behind the yellow safety corridor." While shopping: "All blue tags are 50% off. Today only." While browsing online: "Click the red button to subscribe." While driving: "The light is green." We understand color in our environment almost without thinking, but what if you saw the world in shades of grey? Every color reduced to a monochromatic gradient. You would see only in texture and never in the rich high definition that color gives the world. But it wouldn't be just an aesthetic problem. Our urban worlds are designed with color as an organizing principle for everything from safety and navigability to brand identification and work flows.

That was the problem for the British born artist Neil Harbisson. Raised in Catalan Harbisson has a condition called a chromatopsia.  It is a genetic problem that causes the brain to be unable to perceive color at all (not to be confused with monochromacy in which patients can perceive colors but cannot distinguish between them). The persons brain instead sees the world like a black and white movie, and much like long exposure time on a camera can let in too much light and ruin the image, the brighter the light surrounding the person the whiter and blurrier the world would become.

Harbisson speaking at TED
In an effort to get around his condition Harbisson, in collaboration with computer scientist Adam Montandon, became a cyborg.  The team created a color sensor that Harbisson wore hovering over his forehead like a computerized antennae. The sensor then sends a signal to a chip on the back of his neck and then using bone resonance sends a different frequency to his ears for every color the sensor sees. This whole unit became know as the Eyeborg.

TED Idea Visualization on the Eyeborg
The process was slow at first requiring him to memorize the individual notes for each color, but over time hearing color become second nature and he even began to dream in color, his brain adding the electronic notes to his dreams when the software and sensor were not even connected. The device became more that just assistive technology but an extension of Neil Harbisson's brain. He became a true cyborg. He now hears the music of color everywhere, supermarkets, art galleries, and even on his plate. He no longer just eats grey food but instead get to compose songs as he eats. He even dresses in cords. If you want to hear Harbisson talk more about his experience as a cyborg listen to his TED talk. 

Not many people have had the sensory expanding experience of hearing their colors yet but if you became a cyborg tomorrow what sense would you want to augment? Tasting music? Feeling textures for temperature? Hearing color? Tell us below!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Feedful of Color (on Instagram!)

Instagram is overflowing with beautiful, thoughtful images from thousand of feeds, but with so many choices its often hard to know who to follow. So to help our readers amp up the color in their Instagram streams here are 5 fantastic photographers with a eye for color.
@larkvain has a thing for red and his images explore lots of direct contexts for the color. The appetite stimulant, the passion, the anger, the excitement, even its uses in Chinese symbolism. The fact that his images are only taken with his iPhone seems to make this feat of color investigation all the more impressive.
@yellowillow has a predilection for just that: yellow. But not just plain everyday banana yellow, but yellow found in delicate, wistful, or precarious places. Yellow that may only last another hour until the light fades and the angle of the sun will never be quite right again. There is the yellow of street lines of course, but @yellowillow captures it wet and just waking from its freezing soundings. Or the yellow of a fading fern who has spend to many hours in the sun with too little water. If you look carefully this feed will make you rethink the color and its context.
@vintagedaughter takes what many consider to be the annoying over-share of incessent food photography and makes it into something special. Along with touching captions about these meals for one @vintagedaughter packs a lot of color into these little snapshots. The light blue hue of the table casts a luminous sky blue glow over the dishes and the rich browns, greens and reds of her food settle the eye. The images are soothing and welcoming, using color to remind us to treat ourselves to food, even when we are eating alone.
@nikosono is a French-Australian photographer whose taste for color and playful experimentation with texture really make this feed stand out. For many of the pictures @nikosono take to the sky to capture stunning, and often surprising earth tones of Australia.
@whitestwalker's images span the rainbow but many of the photographers best images walk the thin barrier between blue and green. Finding these colors out in the world is one thing, but the framing and the juxtaposition of these pictures give weight to that green-blue "space."

Tell us who your favorite Instagrammers are below and show us your most colorful post!