Layout: Making Photos Look Great

Have you ever thought to yourself, “I’ve got enough photography apps I don’t think I’ll ever get another one.” Nah, me either. The thing is with all that’s out there for the iPad — iPhoto, Snapseed, Filterstorm and many others — they exist because we love taking pictures and we love to edit, filter and rearrange them in as many ways as possible.

After all, our pictures represent our memories frozen in time. With the introduction of apps like these we can add an artistic touch to those memories without having to spend hours learning high-end software like Photoshop. So, if you’re one of those people who can never get enough photography apps then this look at the latest app climbing the charts is for you.

Read on to see what Layout has to offer and how it compares.


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Quite a Few Options

While some apps look to focus on filters, frames, enhancements or other features, Layout tries to give you a little bit of everything. Many may find that there’s no need to use another app in conjunction with Layout because there are so many options available. So let’s get started covering them for you.

This well designed menu gives you quick access to most of the app's features.

This well designed menu gives you quick access to most of the app’s features.

As with many apps, when you first open Layout you’ll get a quick tutorial to help you find your way around. Basically, what you need to know is that there are four buttons on the bottom and a wheel of buttons that pops up for each picture. The buttons along the bottom are for starting or opening a project, deciding your frame layout, designing your frame and sharing with friends. Once you’ve picked a frame layout you can tap on any open space to begin importing and editing your photos.

While there are only 11 templates provided for dividing up your pictures, the options are endless as you can create your own. Before adding any pictures, you can swipe horizontally or vertically on the frame to create new sections, then hold and drag the lines to reposition them. After you get it the way you want it, you can save it as a template to use again later.

Determine how many pictures you'd like to include in your frame and the overall look you're going for.

Determine how many pictures you’d like to include in your frame and the overall look you’re going for.

You can also add splits later by tapping the horizontal or vertical split buttons on the radial menu.

Getting Creative

Once you’ve decided your frame layout, it’s time to stylize the look of the frame. Tapping the palette icon in the bottom bar gives you options for choosing a color using the color wheel or a color picker to use a precise color. If you’d rather use a pattern instead of a solid color there are 100 patterns included to pick from. Set the size of your frame and you’re set to move on!

Choose the size of the framing and what color you'd like it to be, or choose from one of 100 included patterns.

Choose the size of the framing and what color you’d like it to be, or choose from one of 100 included patterns.

Bring up the radial menu by tapping an open space in the frame. The radial menu presents you with eight buttons to access the rest of Layout’s editing capabilities. Tap the photo button to import a picture and then choose the magic wand to apply effects and enhance your photos.

When you first import a picture you are presented with a popup asking if you want to use the enhanced picker. This requires location services and allows you to open photos from Facebook, Flickr and Instagram right from Layout.

In the photo editor you’re given the choice of 13 different effects, some of which have subsets of choices. For example, when you go into the Effects menu you’re presented with ten different filters to choose from. The editor also includes many typical photo editing choices like enhance, orientation, crop, brightness, contrast, saturation and sharpness. There are also redeye, whiten and blemish tools for doing face and skin touchups.

I chose to make myself look like a fool just for all you iPad.Appstorm readers. That's dedication.

I chose to make myself look like a fool just for all you iPad.Appstorm readers. That’s dedication.

The other two buttons here provide a little fun. Add some stickers like 3D glasses, an eye patch and quote bubbles (to name a few) to liven up your collage. Use the drawing tool to sketch whatever you’d like on top of your picture. This is a great way to take yourself back to those middle school days when you would vandalize your friend’s yearbook pictures.

The Rest of the Radial Menu

Other than the photo import and magic wand buttons there are a couple more features in the radial menu. You can split the frame horizontally or vertically from here as well, and distribute the splits evenly if you so choose. You can trash a picture you don’t like and there’s also a face recognition feature to frame a group of people, or you can zoom into different parts of the photo.

Here's a look at all the tools provided by tapping the magic wand button in the radial menu.

Here’s a look at all the tools provided by tapping the magic wand button in the radial menu.

Lastly, there’s a caption button that allows you to edit or remove any captions on your pictures. Pictures that have been imported from social networks automatically include any captions they were given previously. You can edit the justification, font and background of each photo’s caption to add a fun comment or clarification.

If you use a quote bubble sticker you’ll need to create a caption and line it up so the text overlays the bubble.

Other Features

You can also rearrange photos quickly by tapping, holding and dragging them to different areas of the frame. Photos also can be moved in a frame to decide what parts are shown by pinching to zoom in and out as well as dragging them. You can also use iCloud to store your photos and can determine the size of imported photos by small, medium and large depending on how much memory you prefer to use.

Entertaining and Powerful

Overall, Layout appears to have a bright future on the iPad. There are many features for a steal of a price (currently $2.99). Most of all, I found that the app is snappy and responsive, which can be the downfall of too many well designed apps. Most changes in Layout happened fast even when using large picture sizes.

I’m sure as updates come Layout will add things like more filters and enhancement effects, but for now, this is one of the better entertainment focused photo apps I’ve seen.

Have you used Layout yet? Would you be interested in giving it a try or do you already have too many photo editing apps?


Summary

Unlike many photo editing apps that simply provide entertainment, Layout provides fun and a useful set of tools for editing. Make no mistake, this is not going to replace Photoshop any time soon, but for those who like to take a little artistic liberty with their photos this is a winner.

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