Platform: iOS 7 or later
Brushstroke is a seemingly simple app that turns a photo into a painting. You might think to yourself, so what? But really, it’s a pretty powerful tool that gives teens, teachers, and librarians the chance to use a variety of effects on their photos and is a great way to start discussions on painting techniques, styles, how visual messages change as a result of visual choices, and even artists and art movements.
The way it works is that a user selects a photo from an iPad or iPhone camera roll or takes a photo from within the app. The next step is to crop the image if need be. After that, and I admit it took me a minute to figure out how to get from the crop screen to the painting screen – it’s the > on the top right (as you can see in the images below) – the image is rendered as a painting. In the photos below you’ll see the original version of the photo I painted on the left and the painted version on the right.
Once a photo is turned by Brushstroke into a painting, a wide-array of painting styles are available to render the image in. Choices range from oil and watercolor styles to experimental and abstract styles. You can also add color filters; a canvas type such as primed, rough, canvas, stone, and so on; change exposure, brightness, and add a highlights; and add a signature to a painting. When adding a signature there are a few color choices available and as the signature is created it’s visible on the painting so it’s easy to tell which color will display the best.
After completing a painting it can be saved, shared via traditional social media channels, or even produced and shipped framed and ready to hang in a school, library, or teenager’s bedroom.
Teens who are interested in different styles of art can compare their favorite artist’s paintings to the styles they create with Brushstrokes. Teachers who are working with teens in art classes, history classes, and so on can use Brushstroke as a jumping off point in conversations about the ways in which different painting techniques can be used in order to send a particular message or create a particular emotion.
Turning a photo into a painting might seem like a simple idea. But in reality, to transform the photo into the style most appropriate for the image portrayed takes a lot of thought and trial and error. Critical thinking and problem-solving are a key part of the process.