As Android devices grow increasingly more powerful, editing images on your phone becomes something you might actually want to do. Developers seem to be keen on giving you the chance to tweak your photos on the go: From the underwhelming Photoshop Express through the unavoidable Instagram and all the way to the incredibly powerful and enjoyable Snapseed, there is no lack of photo-editing apps. Repix recently joined the fray on Android, coming from iOS, where it enjoyed good success. Looking at the Android version, I can see why: Repix combines a straightforward interface with diverse and powerful editing options, topping it all off with a no-nonsense business model.
The Obligatory Video
Being such a visual app, Repix is best demonstrated with a video. Here’s the official one:
Often, editing a photo on your smartphone actually means pulling up the picture and repeatedly mashing buttons until you get something that looks like it was taken with a broken camera circa 1955. This may not be the epitome of subtlety or artistic expression, but it can be fun, and it’s certainly less time-consuming than actually tweaking your photo with selective tools. Whether you want to apply a filter just to start out your artistic process or if that’s all you want to do to your photo, Repix has you covered:
The app comes with seven built-in photo filters, plus a Shuffle mode which you can repeatedly tap to get different effects. It is here we see Repix’s business model for the first time: At the end of the list you get two entries, Jazzy and Sports, each leading to a filter pack which you can unlock for money. The business model and the way it’s presented is actually one of the things I like the most about Repix: No banners or intrusive ads, just extra features that feel like an organic part of the app. You can also try each filter (using a supplied demo image) before you buy it — just like you get to try the brushes with Paper for iOS.
The filters are diverse, but they’re also heavy-handed: Many of them absolutely clobber the original image, and Repix won’t let you tone them down. If you’re looking to adjust your image more subtly, the next tab may serve you better.
The Adjustments tab lets you tweak the image in more controlled ways, by changing its brightness, contrast, saturation, vibrancy, color temperature, and vignetting:
It’s interesting that vignetting, which used to be a niche effect, made its way to the Adjustments tab to stand alongside with stalwarts like brightness and contrast. Adjustment is done by sliding horizontally across the “volume bar.” This works, but is not as elegant as Snapseed’s full-screen adjustment method, which lets you slide your finger anywhere on the image to tweak the current parameter.
The Main Course: Brushes
We’ve been going through Repix tab by tab, but really, the most important feature occupies the center spot on the tab bar: Brushes. Repix ships with seven different brushes which you can use to draw on your image selectively:
Above you can see my source image (to the right), which I then zoomed in on, and painted over the background using the Charcoal brush which lends everything a “painted over” effect. The end result blurred the background in a way an automated filter couldn’t, really.
While the bundled brushes offer lots of power, there are no less than five different brush packs you can buy, such as Grunge Brushes and Light Brushes:
Each pack is demonstrated with an appropriate image, so you can play with the Light Brushes by embellishing an image of a beach campfire, for example. What’s nice about working with brushes is that you get to be as subtle or heavy-handed as you wish — the control is yours.
Live Brushes are particularly interesting, because the strokes you make are animated — it feels as though the brush has a life of its own, but also makes the results more difficult to control.
Artistic brushes, also shown above, lend your photo a similar effect to what Line Brush can do for free. Basically, you get to turn it into a quasi-painting.
Framing and Cropping
Once you’re done fiddling with the heart of your photo, it’s time to share it. More often than not, you’ll be posting it to Instagram (right?) — which means the square cropping option is going to come in handy:
Above you can see me picking one of the included frames (which come in both black and white), then setting a crop aspect ratio. Once that’s done, you’re ready to share your image with the world.
A Refreshingly Straightforward Business Model
Repix is a powerful image editor. I don’t know if it’s better than Snapseed, but I like the fact that it’s a product in its own right, rather than one tied to a platform (Google uses the free Snapseed to promote Google+). Being able to buy brushes and effects as you need them, or buy the big “master collection” that unlock the whole app, feels like a direct and simple way for the app to make money – a model I hope to see more apps adopt in the future.
Even if you don’t spend a dime, Repix is powerful and fun to use. Take it for a spin and share your results in the comments!