Percolator: Brewing Up Mosaic Images

Since the introduction of the iPhone, iPad, and the App Store there have been a number of apps released that serve for quickly editing photos and applying fun and artistic effects. It seems you can now buy any collection of apps at low prices to edit images and apply filters similar to those offered in Photoshop. Of course, Photoshop is a one stop shop for doing just about anything with images, but the learning curve and the price are both quite steep.

For all those out there who don’t want to take the time to learn or just want to apply effects fast there are apps like Percolator. This unique image editor provides a number of options for turning photos into mosaic images in no time. So, let’s get brewing!

The Interface

The layout is pretty simple. There are four buttons to start with: choose a photo, adjust settings (a coffee cup symbol), save and share image (a heart symbol), and info. You can import a photo from your library or take a picture using the iPad’s camera. Once you’ve chosen which picture to turn into a mosaic the app goes to work with amusing coffee related phrases like grinding beans, boiling water, and finally percolating as it “brews” up the results.

Girl Mosaic

This regular picture of a girl reading a book is quickly transformed into gorgeous art!

The whole process is pretty fast, depending on how large the picture size is. This may not look too impressive at first, but the fun is just beginning. Afterwards, three spinners open to show options with categories titled Grind, Brew, and Serve.

How Do You Take Yours?

Grind changes the number of circles used (and thus the size of each circle) with settings ranging from extra fine to coarse. Every time you change this setting you’ll need to “regrind” your picture, but this process is done with some pretty cool animations to keep you occupied in the process.


Percolator "grinding" a picture.

Once you set your circle size to a setting you’re happy with you can move on to the next step. From here on, all changes take place in real time without needing to regrind the picture. Brew gives you the option of a number of filters to apply to the mosaic in order to further effect your photo. There are 8 settings to choose from and they can change the photo drastically depending on which one you pick. There are even a couple star patterns available for a very different look.

Serving Up a Photo

Serving up a photo after applying more filters.

The final step is to Serve up your photo. The settings in this section determine the color of the circles and the color of the outlines of each circle. Here you’re given more options that play on the coffee theme such as black, light and sweet, soy, and stirred. The stirred option comes complete with an animation of a spoon stirring and randomly picks a different color filter until you’re satisfied.

More Customization

At this point it would be easy to think that you’re done, but there are even more ways to customize your mosaic if you dig a little deeper. By tapping the title of each category (Grind, Brew, Serve) more options become available. You can use these settings to further control how much you want to apply each effect and even change things like blending modes and textures. I caught Super Bowl fever and decided to use a picture of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady…

Tom Brady

I found even more settings while editing the NFL's Tom Brady.

This is when I felt like the app really went to another level. What I had been able to do with the basic settings seemed pretty typical for an app of this price, but when I found these advanced settings it really felt like I got more than I paid for. With over 60 settings, including many with clever names, like steepia and rise-n-shine, there are a countless number of combinations.

Once you’ve created your new work of art you can easily share it with others on Twitter, Facebook, through email, or simply save it to your camera roll. I also liked the ability to quickly link over to the Percolator Flickr group and Percolator pictures on Instagram from the information panel to see what others are creating and sharing.

Should You Percolate?

So, is Percolator just an app full of cutely named effects settings or is it actually useful? As I noted earlier, there are plenty of apps available for image editing, but Percolator’s simple interface and focus on doing one thing really well, turning photos into mosaics, make it a stand out. You can use Percolator on the iPhone as well, but it seems more naturally made for the iPad’s larger screen so you can really enjoy these pictures in high quality.

It took all of five minutes to learn the basics of how to use Percolator, but once you start playing with the advanced features you find that this app is far more powerful than at first glance. If you want to add a little more “cream and sugar” to your photo, combining your Percolator photos with effects from other image editing apps will provide even more entertainment and artistic liberty.

My only complaint would be that you can’t export pictures at a resolution bigger than 2048 pixels. However, if you’re looking for a cheap, fun app to change your everyday photos into artistic masterpieces in moments, you should consider Percolator.

Have you used Percolator? Are you interested in getting an app to apply mosaic effects to your photos?


Percolator is a cheap, entertaining app that changes your everyday photos into mosaic masterpieces with ease in no time.