How to add special effects in iPhoto for iOS

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There are numerous benefits to editing your photos in the iOS version of iPhoto, which gives you much of the same functionality as its analogous desktop Mac software. The most obvious advantage is how much faster and easier it is to edit photos on your iPhone or iPad directly with your fingertip or a stylus. Although editing on an iOS device takes a little getting used to, once you've gotten the hang of making basic edits in iPhoto for iOS, you can move on to more advanced edits such as adding special effects.

iPhoto for iOS offers several kinds of special effects, and adding such effects is a fun and easy way to enhance your photos without spending hours tinkering at your desk. With the iOS app you can easily add professional-looking special effects to your photos in just a few seconds. Here's how.

Open the photo you wish to edit and tap the Edit button in the upper right corner of the screen. Tap the Effects tool, located next to the Brushes too: It looks like a cluster of stars. This brings up a fan of effects strips in different categories. These effects do everything from change the colors and tone of your photos to add vignettes and lo-fi filters.

Fan out: Six special effects strips offer an assortment of ways to add drama to your images.

To select an effect, simply tap the corresponding strip. Each effects strip has a series of thumbnails that gives a quick overview of the effects provided in each strip. Some strips contain only one kind of effect while others have multiple effects. It's not always evident by the thumbnails what each effect does so I recommend using the Help button to reveal the guide.

It's also possible to copy and past an effect from one photo to another or to multiple photos by selecting the gear icon and tapping the Copy Effect or Paste Effect buttons.

Choose an effect

There are six effects strips to choose from. Some will only subtly change the look of your photo while others are more dramatic.

The first four types of effects—Warm & Cool, Duotone, Black & White, and Aura—allow you to control the color and tone of your photos in different ways, while the last two—Vintage and Artistic—allow you to add lo-fi flters and other artistic looks.

Warm (left) and Cool (right) subtly change the color tones of your photos.

Warm & Cool is one of the most subtle effects, as it allows you to bring out the warmer or cooler tones in your photo. Drag your finger over the effects strips to the left to emphasize the warmer tones or drag to the right to emphasize cooler tones.

Duotone will also change color tones of your photo, though much more noticeably, by applying a colored tint. Drag along the strip to change the hue of the tint you apply. Dragging to the left will add purple, blue, or gray tints while moving to the right will add green, yellow, or pinkish tints. A color wheel button on the end of this strip will subtly mix in colors from the original photo.

The Aura effect also plays with strong colors in your photo. But, instead of adding additional colors, this effect either isolates or reduces the strongest colors in your photos. Drag along the strip to the right to isolate the strongest colors in the photo and drag to the left to reduce the strongest colors. This creates an effect very similar to what is achieved by Pocket Pixels' ColorSplash or the selective color function in Photoshop.

I was able to isolate only the strongest colors in this photo using the Aura effect.

The Artistic strip contains several effects and differs from the others in that each thumbnail offers a completely different effect. I recommend turning on the help labels as you start using it. The first three effects on this strip are gradient tools—Dark, Warm, and Cool—these will add different gradients to your photo. The next two effects—Vignette and Tilt-Shift—allow you to emphasize one area of your photo. Oil Paint and Watercolor are much more dramatic and will make photo look like an oil or watercolor painting respectively.

The Vintage strip also gives you a selection of thumbnails to choose from. Each represents a different Instagram-like filter that will give your photo that lo-fi weathered look that's become so popular. The Vintage filters include: Early Chrome, Sixties, Saturated Film, Neutral Film, Vivacious, and Muted. This strip also has its own dedicated Vignette button so you can add a vignette to your photo in addition to a lo-fi filter.

Four Effects in One: In the Black & White effect you can also add additional grain, sepia, and vignette effects

The Black & White strip provides another way to give your photo a vintage look. It uses the same drag and button controls as some of the other strips. Just drag across the strip to adjust the levels of black and white in the photo, and watch the effect dynamically change. Three additional buttons on the side of the strip allow you to add sepia tones, grain, or a vignette to the photo.

Control the effects

Many of the effects in the iOS version of iPhoto are controlled by dragging left or right along the effects strips. Other effects can be controlled with gestures or other buttons on the effects strips.

Gradients, tilt-shift, and vignettes are all controlled with gestures. To adjust gradients, swipe vertically across the part of the photo where you want to apply the gradient. Use two fingers to pinch or zoom to adjust the size of the area affected by vignettes and tilt shift.

The gear icon at the lower right corner of the screen gives you options to copy, paste, and remove effects from your photo. Tapping the Remove Effect button is another way to revert to the original version.

You may notice some overlap between the effects—for example, there are four different ways to add a vignette. This is because you can only work with effects from one effects strip at a time.

That said, there is a workaround to add multiple effects to one photo although it is a bit tedious. First, add the first special effect you want to your photo and then add that photo to the camera roll. (Even though iPhoto will automatically save changes to your photo library, if you want to add multiple effects you need to trick iPhoto into thinking it's a different photo.) Then, go back into your photo library and select the photo that was saved to your camera roll. Now you will be able to add an additional layer of special effects. You must repeat this process each time you want to add a different effect.

This story, "How to add special effects in iPhoto for iOS" was originally published by Macworld.

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