iPhoneography Apps – Aerograph: Low-tech Illustration

Last time I covered Imaengine, an app that coverts your image to a vector drawing. Today’s app, Aerograph, is by the same developer, Luis Rivas. It has the same look and feel as Imaengine, but is not as flexible in control or output. Due to this lack of flexibility, I find myself using Aerograph’s output more as an element in a blend than as finished product. Still, there are some great looks provided in this app.

Aerograph’s splash screen is similar to Imaengine’s, but there are some crucial differences. First of all, there are no Settings. Aerograph does not produce vector output, so there is no need for settings for the handling of vector output. Also, there is no “Real Time” option that allows you to see settings applied to the camera viewfinder in real time. You can either use the device camera or choose an image from your library as the input to Aerograph. (“Fresh” is the most recent image in your Camera Roll.)


Aerograph uses a combination of shapes and “spray paint” effects to recreate the image on a background. Larger portions of the image that are the same color/tone will be eliminated to let the background show through. The backgrounds are shown at the top of the workspace, and the effect preset thumbnails are shown at the bottom of the workspace. Both Backgrounds and presets are scrollable horizontally.


Changing the background is merely a matter of choosing from the top thumbnails. Below I’ve changed the white background to a blue.


Tapping the “three boxes” icon at the bottom left of the workspace hides the thumbnails so you can have an unobstructed view of your image. Tapping the boxes again restores the controls.


A two-fingered pinch allows you to zoom in on the image. Double-tapping zooms out to fit the image on the screen.


I find myself changing backgrounds often. Changing presets often gives a look that is better suited to a different background. I thought the Grosso preset looked better with a cream background than blue.


There are 22 different presets and 42 different backgrounds. Below I’ve used a gray background for the Aged Mixture preset.


There are quite a few presets, like Comic, Drops, Balloons, and Squares that work much like XnShape (covered previously), converting the image to rows of shapes. These presets are not adjustable, so you can’t change the size of the shapes..


Without the ability to adjust the presets, it comes down to whether you like the preset or not. I don’t care for the Squares preset, shown below.


Some of the presets are curiously named. Butterflies, shown below, is a combination of circles, squares and stars.


Several of the presets are reminiscent of spray paint, such as Graffiti and Street Art.


Stencil also has the spray paint look. The secondary color of the preset (in this case a midtone cream) is not adjustable.


When you’re happy with a look, you tap the share button and you can save to the Camera Roll, Facebook or Twitter.


Here’s the output of Graffiti on a gray background.


The option to save the preset look without a background is also available. You can flip the switch to save the output as a PNG file with a transparent background.


You can then create your own background and blend the PNG file on top. Below I created a background in iColorma and also used iColorama to blend the PNG file on top.


The 42 backgrounds are not all flat colors. Below I used an Imaengine selfie as input and a gray board background.


The same input is used below on Aerograph’s brown board background. There are also brick and fabric backgrounds.


Sometimes detail is lost in the Aerograph process. Below I’ve blended the Aerograph output with an edge, texture and border in iColorama. The edge brings back the window, door and staircase detail.


Sometimes too much of the original is lost to the background. In the image below, the white boa and the skin of the dancer was left transparent to the background. I blended the original back, but left the hat and portions of the dress as Aerograph processed it. The vignette and text were added in iColorama.


All in all, I like Aerograph. The lack of control over the presets is a problem, but that can be solved with blending in other apps. Most of all, it can just be fun. Enjoy!

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