iPhoneography Apps – iColorama Procedural: Studies of a Brush Tip

I created a piece in iColorama the other day that used a variety of techniques. It started simply – just a background and a single dab with a brush tip on a mask. These kinds of works, the ones that use variations on a single theme, are valuable to teach these multiple techniques. So here’s a 10-minute lesson on how I came up with this work, which I entitled “Studies of a Brush Tip”.


I apologize for the fact I had to speak so rapidly to get everything in, but I cover a lot in these ten minutes. Nevertheless, you should be able to follow along as long as you pause frequently.


Here’s the end result of the video.


Until next time, enjoy!

iPhoneography Apps – iColorama: Brush Tips #2

Last time I went over the Colorize brushes, which (for the most part) use assigned colors to paint. I even showed you how to paint with a photo as your brush tip. This time we will take a look at brush types that sample the color underneath them, allowing you to paint photographs. I’ve featured these brush types many times, in discussions on Artist, Rebound, Plane, Clone, Stamped, Edged and Raised brushes. The tip I’ll be sharing is not the operation of these brush types, but a workflow you may not be using that has multiple advantages.

The standard workflow is to load an image, then select one of the types from the brush menu. A white “canvas” overlays your image, and you can use the Background button to change that canvas to another color or an image you have saved that’s appropriate for a canvas. Any brushstrokes you make pull the initial image through the canvas, in the style of that brush type.

This works fine, and many iColorama artists use this method to create fine artworks. But what happens if you want to change the canvas? Make changes to the underlying image because the painting is coming out too muddy? Add another element to your painting? Perhaps more important: what if you are interrupted and want to pick up your painting again later? This workflow I’m describing will solve these issues.

The first thing you have to do is get out of the habit of loading an image and beginning to paint. You have to make preparations. First, just as you would with oils, acrylics, markers, ink, watercolors or charcoal, you have to prepare your surface. Have your canvas created and saved so it is easy to return to. I start with an image the correct proportions for my painting and overlay it with Preset>Gradient.


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iPhoneography Apps – iColorama: Brush Tips #1

A few weeks ago, in a conversation about brushes in iColorama, I was asked, “Is there a resource that describes exactly what each function does and how to use it?” My response was, “No. I have several tutorials on Brush settings – one on Artist, one on Plane and Rebound, and one that covers Abstract, Stamped, Colorize, Shatter and Explode, I think – but an overall general Brush tutorial seems to be something I should put together.” (Since writing that, I have also added a tutorial on the Clone brush.)

I looked at creating an overall general Brush tutorial, and found it to be an extremely daunting task. Artist brushes have 15 different parameters. Stamped also has 15, but some of the parameters are different. Not only am I supposed to explain all those parameters, but I should have good examples of why I would want to use those parameters. Some parameters make obvious changes on some brush types; others are subtle to non-existent. Worst of all: a laundry list of Brush types and parameters would be extremely boring. I’d have trouble staying awake long enough to write it, and no reader would ever get to the end.

So I decided instead to create a series of “Brush Tips” articles, which will explain certain brush types and some of their parameters. I will try to give these articles some kind of context. Today, I will look into how a parameter gives you capabilities that you may not have realized were in iColorama. Next week, I’ll be describing a painting workflow that I think you’ll find extremely helpful, especially if you wish to return to a painting and work on it further. After that, you can expect “Brush Tips” to be a regular, if intermittent, feature.

This week we are going to look at brushes that can apply color directly to a canvas, with no underlying image: Colorize and Paint. In a first for me, I will be using screenshots from iColorama S, the iPhone version of the app. iColorama is not a universal app. The separate apps for iPad and iPhone match very closely, but not entirely. If features do not match, I will try to point that out.


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iPhoneography Apps – iColorama Cloning: from mundane to surreal

Once again, a new release of iColorama adds art tools that further the reach of this feature-packed art app. The latest release brings the Clone Brush, Light leak textures, and a few other tweaks. I’m going to be concentrating on the Clone Brush in this tutorial.

Why use a clone brush? You may, quite frankly, not need it in your artwork. But I’d like to show you some ideas for how to use them that you may want to incorporate into your artwork or just play around with. Here’s a result of play with the Clone Brush that made a nice, vibrant appstract.


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iPhoneography Apps – iColorama Texture Masking

Here’s a technique that may or may not interest you. As stated in the video, textures are usually blended into an image. That means that some of the color of the texture and some of the luminosity of the texture are combined with the pixels of the underlying image. But what do you do if you like the pattern of the texture, but want to use that pattern to apply a grid, or a blur, or a painterly effect to the image? That’s when you might want to create a mask from your image.

Let’s watch the video, then return here for the examples and some further discussion.

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iPhoneography Apps – Bonus post: iColorama’s Blend color sliders

There’s a new group on Facebook called iColorama Formulas and Techniques. It’s built for users to learn this robust app from each other, and limits its posts to explanations of how effects are achieved using iColorama. Of course, some questions arise there as well. One question that came up today requires more explanation than a single screenshot or a silent video recorded in the app can give.

There are settings under the Effects>Blend option that may not be obvious in their use. There are four sliders marked Gray, Red, Green, and Blue, with handles at both ends. I’ve discussed the Gray slider before. By moving the left handle toward the middle, you can have the blacks in your photo drop out. By moving the right handle to the middle, you can make whites drop out. This means that you can make an object on a white or black background “float” over a new background. It’s a kind of quick masking – you can find a picture of an object on a white background and quickly and easily composite that image on top of a new background.

The Red, Green and Blue sliders are not so easy to describe. I put together the following image to help show how those sliders work. It’s got 50% gray, red, green and blue squares. Feel free to copy it and follow along.


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iPhoneography Apps – Three years of tutorials: a recap, an Assembly feature, and an iColorama procedural

On November 7, 2012, I published my first tutorial on Hipstamatic. As usual, on my anniversary, I like to take a look back. But there’s more to this article than a walk down memory lane. There’s a feature currently in beta for Assembly that I’d like to show you, and an iColorama procedural on how to create a multicolored water color painting like this one. So let’s get started!


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iPhoneography Apps – iColorama 3.91: More art choices than you can shake 1000 brushes at

Teresita Garit, the developer of iColorama, is everything you could wish in a developer of an art app: she’d responsive to users and she develops tools that she would use in her own artwork. Every month or two she comes out with a new release full of goodies, presented with no hype. When I say “no hype”, I mean that sometimes it is difficult to realize from her change description in the App Store whether a change is good or monumental. Let’s take a look at the changes for release 3.91 of iColorama. (As usual, these changes are for the iPad version. In this case iColorama S, the iPhone version, mirrors it somewhat but not entirely.)

New Coherence (faster)

The first change adds a few presets to the Style>Coherence function. I will be working today with this image, which was used in my recent class at the mDAC (Mobile Digital Art and Creativity) Summit.


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iPhoneography Apps – iColorama Settings: Continuous Brushing

The latest release of iColorama, in addition to adding some Bristle brushes that are amazing, added several new settings. I explained one new setting, Continuous Brushing, as best as I could on the iColorama Facebook group. Some people, however, are visual learners, so I put together this short seven-minute video to show the before-and-after effect of using the Continuous Brush setting.

The video also shows the box which pops up when the “Warning when leaving a brush” switch is on.

Here’s a screen shot of the new settings, found under iColorama in the Settings app.


One setting that I don’t illustrate in the video is “Variable color by stroke”. I recommend you turn it on. As shown in the image below, when it is off, and the Color Variation slider is increased on a brush, the color changes as you are making a single stroke. When you turn it on, the color remains the same during a single stroke, and only varies when you raise your finger/stylus and start another stroke. I think the new method is much more useful.


Here’s the final image from the video. Enjoy the Bristle brushes!


iPhoneography Apps Bonus – iColorama Range option

There was a recent question on the iColorama Facebook page about the purpose of the Range command. I decided to put together a quick blog entry to help explain. There is a silent video embedded here, and the explanation of that video is right here.

Range is used to build a mask. In other masking tutorials, I have explained how to use the Threshold command to build a black and white mask which can then be re-imported. When you create an iColorama mask, black reveals the changes you are making, while white conceals those changes. Black reveals, white conceals. When you use the Threshold command to create a mask, as I show in the beginning of the video, the resulting blacks and whites are based on the luminosity, or brightness, of the underlying image. So as I adjust the Threshold, you can see that both the dark green leaves and the dark trunk are turned to black, while light green, blues and grays are turned to white.

But what if you want to mask certain colors instead? When you want to change the greens in the image, but not the reds of the same brightness, you turn to the Range command. I use the Blacks color picker, and the eyedropper tool, to pick up a green color, and everything turns black. Then I pick a light blue from the sky with the Whites picker, and the mask begins to take shape. I choose another color with the Whites picker, and another green with the Blacks. I Apply those changes. Then, since I know that I will not want the changes to apply to anything in the lower part of the image (green or not), I paint white over the bottom. Then I save the mask, return to the original photo in Steps, and re-import the mask in the Brush Mask area.


My first change uses the Hue command to change the color of the leaves to pink. The resulting image is below.


Of course, just because I use color to determine the mask doesn’t mean I have to change the color. In the second example I use Tensor and Painterly>Van Gogh 1 instead.


I hope that that gives you an idea of what Range can do for you! Enjoy!


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