Aquarella is yet another interesting app by JixiPix. They’ve made other apps that I recommend, such as Dramatic BW, SimplyHDR, and PhotoArtista Oil. There’s a lot to like about Aquarella, and a couple of things that bug me. Let’s take a look at their familiar user interface. (You can click on the images to see them larger.)
Just like in their other apps, JixiPix provides the user with a lot of presets. The 32 Aquarella Presets will apply a watercolor effect while keeping the colors roughly the same. The 28 TwoTone presets will change the image into a watercolor using two tones instead of all that are present in the original. When working on a two tone image, there is a tone panel where you can choose the two tones you want to use.
If you want to make your own adjustments, or fine tune a preset, tap on the adjust button on the bottom to bring up this panel. The color panel is where a lot of the heavy lifting is done. By adjusting the details, you can get a image with a subtle painterly effect to an image that looks like a rough watercolor. The color detail slider affects how much overall detail is in the image by adding or subtracting the range of colors. The enhancing colors slider adjusts the saturation. Wet Edge Strength adjusts the thickness of the line between colors. Wet Edge Detail also affects the amount of detail in the image. To me it acts like the clarity slider in photoshop or lightroom.
Texture is the paper style that image is painted on. It varies from subtle to a very noticeable canvas.
The wash and Bloom panels both make the image appear more like a watercolor. Think of the Wash as overlaying color on your image. It will change the color in your image slightly, or quite a bit, depending on what the Color Strength and Color Shift are set to. There are an incredible 63 choices in the wash panel.
The bloom is basically adding a texture to the image that makes it look like a watercolor. Some of the bloom overlays have drips or splatters to make it look like someone actually painted it. You can adjust the opacity of the bloom by adjusting the Bloom Strength. If you switch from normal to reverse, it basically inverts the white to black and black to white, giving you even more variety to the 41 textures to choose from.
The Share panel has a number of features to note. First, in the settings panel, you can choose to save your images as low, medium, or high. I always choose high. You can also save your settings as a preset and name it so you can use the same settings in the future. There are buttons to share directly to facebook, twitter, and tumblr. The app will render the image for those mediums, which takes some time.
Not everything was perfect with this app for me. The loading and saving were very slow. They do admit that the app is optimized for the iPhone 5, so thats probably my issue. I’m using an iPhone4, so I’m sure its faster on the newer models. I tested the loading speed multiple times, with the slowest being 37 seconds before it even began to render the image for the first time. The fastest loading time for me was 20 seconds. It seems like 27 seconds is about the average time. In an age of instant gratification, this is a lifetime haha. The save times were much worse. The first few times I saved an image I thought it was taking way too long, so I decided to time it. After a number of tests, 2 minutes seems to be the average time it takes to save a hi-res image.
These are examples that I created. The last one is an example of a two tone preset.
The results are great for an easy to use app. Its fun to play with and theres a lot of room for customization. The wash and bloom overlays are where you’ll be able to really make your photo look like a watercolor. This is an app that can save your photos that might be a little out of focus by turning them into a lovely painting. If you enjoy turning your photos into paintings, Aquarella is an excellent app to pick up.
Rating 5/5 I can forgive the sluggishness because my phone is considered somewhat old now.
Price 2.99 for the iPhone and iPad. Currently 7.99 for the Mac.
Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation), iPod touch (5th generation) and iPad. Requires iOS 5.1 or later. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.
***Full disclosure, I did not pay for this app, I asked for a promo code so I could review it. I’m not being offered any compensation for this review. ***