Another latte art shot? Sure, everyone loves a masterfully poured tulip doodle in their morning brew, but there’s no need to photograph it for your friends — again. It’s alright, everyone runs out of photographic inspiration from time to time. But instead of boring your Instagram followers, up your game with the latest wave of photo art apps.
Mostly leaning on hard-working artificial intelligence and neural networks deep in the back-end of the Internet — Google’s DeepDream being the big one — these apps can turn your pet pictures into Picaso-esque portraits or your selfies into a scene out of “Starry Night.”
Don’t believe us? Check out the results of filtering the same image through the various apps below. They’re all works of art, no paint required.
Of all these new art apps, Prisma may have turned the most heads since its release in late July. Specializing in pop art filtering, the free app can turn your profile pic into everything from paper art to pen and ink sketches in a tap. One-touch Facebook and Instagram sharing have helped spread the word about Prisma almost as fast as it renders artwork.
Unfortunately, Prisma doesn’t take the time to educate users about the artists the app is aping, nor does it even give proper credit. That’s a shame because these looks are so much more than filters; they’re art movements. Get it now
The only app on this list that isn’t free, Pikazo is every bit worth the $4.99 for art school flunkies. Taking a two tap approach to pairing your photos with artistic inspiration, the app’s interface takes a little getting used to, but it’s a powerful program backed by artificial intelligence that truly transforms your images.
Sadly, if you want to get the most out of this program (and trust me, you do), you’ll end up paying even more than the app’s price. For instance, to download printable images at 10- or 20-inch sizes (an option competing apps don’t provide), plan on spending more. For downloading some of the more premium styles (like those inspired by the works of Henri Rousseau, for example), plan on spending more yet again. But Pikazo also releases new free styles every week, making it an app art Instagrammers and fans alike will return to again and again. Get it now
Flexible, free, and full of options, Painnt is the photo processor for the perfectionist. With more than 50 effects as of this writing, the app packs a lot of inspiration. And with slider bars aplenty, you can tinker with your filters until you get the masterpiece of your dreams — an option that other apps in this list doesn’t provide. And as liberating as Painnt’s interface is, it can also frustrate starving artists who want to use some of its better effects, like the red-hot “Fire” filter that gives images a flame-like effect.
To use the app’s top-shelf stuff, they have to pay to unlock the app. $.99 will open it up for a week, $1.99 for a month, or $9.99 for a year. While all the unlocks give users access to the entire app, there’s no way to just pay once. Get it now
The only video app in this list, Aristo takes the basic principle of neural network photo processing and puts it to motion pictures. With 18 filters as of this writing, the free app has a very straightforward interface. You either record a video using the app’s camera function or pick one from your library. Then you apply the style of your choice and shazam, your baby’s first steps looks like an Art Nouveau masterpiece come to life.
Though some photo processing apps take minutes to brush up an image, Aristo manages to make movies more or less in an instant. The downside to this app is that it’s entirely lacking in add-ons and options. For instance, you can’t remove the watermark, nor can you turn the videos into GIFs without extra software. Get it now
Throwback styles are great, but there’s no need to go back to the 1890s for quality art when the 1990s will do just fine. BitCam, a free app designed to celebrate Iconfactory’s 20 years of pushing pixels, eschews high-powered artificial intelligence for old fashioned 16-bit processing (packed into the iPhone’s 64-bit architecture, thank goodness). The result: retro photos that’ll make your friends green with envy — except this shooter only operates in black and white.
Well, that’s not exactly true. Color graphics will set you back $1.99, a worthwhile upgrade. One caveat: The app does its darnedest to stay true to the times, which means it doesn’t let you reprocess previously-taken images from your photo library. That’s a big downer. Get it now
Simple but limited (compared to the other apps), Malevich gives users two options when it comes to turning their photos into pieces of art. The free app offers users a “light” mode, which is code for fast, free, and lower resolution; and a “pro” mode that delivers maximum quality. The styles are based on famous paintings, such as Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” and Jackson Pollack’s “Number 31,” but there are only eight of them, as of this writing.
Despite the relatively few filters, Malevich’s rendering looks fantastic. Unfortunately the app is all about the upsell, sometimes throttling free creations to just one per day, while including only five free pro renders. The cost for more begins at $8 for 25 pictures. It looks like Malevich’s favorite color is green. Get it now