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  • Repix: Photo Styling With an Artistic Streak

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    As an exponent of photography in a professional capacity, I just like taking photographs, no matter what the equipment in my hand may be, and that includes my phone. Unlike many of my iOS-owning counterparts, however, the range of high quality Androidography apps at my disposal is pretty small. This, in essence, can be attributed to the two main general deficiencies Android is trying to overcome — hardware, and third party apps. For many years, the photographic hardware with which Android handsets have been equipped has been inferior to Apple’s technologies, and, as a result, many development companies haven’t felt the need to bring their best products over to our mobile community.

    Thankfully, things are changing. Both Samsung and HTC nowadays produce handsets which can photographically mix it with the best, and developers are responding; take the example of VSCO Cam, the self-proclaimed “Standard of Mobile Photography,” which is now currently in beta testing on Android.

    Another promising new iOS-derived arrival into the world of Androidography apps is Repix. With a sleek design and a heavy bias towards stylizing, it has the usual ingredients of any self respecting Instagram-inspired photographic offering; but does it have the killer features to elevate it above the competition?

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    First Impressions

    A first glance at Repix suggests that this is a generic, filter-based photo app. Your image, at the top, fills the vast majority of the screen, and below it is a dark-ish menu bar containing five icons, each representing a tool palette. These open in the usual Instagram-like manner, and many of the borders and filters can be applied with one touch. However, a closer examination reveals that Repix is somewhat different from its apparent peers.

     

    Doesn't stand out visually, but it is polished.

    Doesn’t stand out visually, but it is polished.

    Yes, many of the effects are one-touch, but also provided is a range of brush-in effects, and it quickly becomes evident that Repix is as much focused on the creation of photo-based digital art as it is on filtered photography.

    In fact, finding the in-app camera (essentially the standard Android camera) requires some guesswork. I only discovered the main menu — which contains the camera, an effects store and some quick-start images to start creating art with — by randomly tapping around the screen. For your information, it can be opened by tapping the Repix logo in the top-left corner.

    Look – the main menu!

    Look – the main menu!

    Aside from this slight oversight of usability, Repix can be regarded, in the Android marketplace, as a pretty classy visual experience.

    In Action

    Although, looks are not the main concern. “Does it make a good-looking image?” I hear you cry. The answer is dependent on your taste, but more importantly, the answer is also dependent on your preferred mobile editing style.

    The majority of the filters on offer in Repix, for instance, aren’t over the top, and they complement images nicely. This is not an app for the avid filter user, though, as only seven are included in the free app, and even in-app upgrades ($0.99 per pack of four, or you can access everything in the app by purchasing the $5.99 Master Collection) will only get you up to a total of 15.

    The group of filters offered may be small, but it is high quality.

    The group of filters offered may be small, but it is high quality.

    The suite of adjustments is equally high on quality, but just as low on quantity. Each of the six editable image attributes — Brightness, Contrast, Saturation, Vibrance, Temperature and Vignette — can be controlled accurately using the sliding scale provided with each of them, and these adjustments look the part. It seems a shame, then, that there aren’t more of them available, even if it were at the cost of an in-app purchase.

    Basic adjustments can be applied precisely.

    Basic adjustments can be applied precisely.

    A little more choice is provided in the framing section. The apparent selection of eight, which includes rounded and film-like borders, again seems small. However, each of these styles can be tapped a second time to turn them from white to black, and with an upgrade, ten more frames, which happen to be some of the most artistically pleasing frames, enter your toolkit.

    The range of frames is respectably sized, and is, once again, high quality.

    The range of frames is respectably sized, and is, once again, high quality.

    On the far right of the bottom menu is the crop tool. Along with custom cropping, five of the most commonly used aspect ratios are included, and the placement of your crop is a pretty smooth, unfiddly process.

    Brushing

    So far, I’ve covered four of Repix’s five tool palettes, and although they are all competent, the range of options in each of them is a tad disappointing. The fifth is where things shift up a gear in this app.

    The brush palette icon, centrally placed in the bottom menu (for good reason), is where Repix really shines, once again emphasizing its artistic leanings.

    The finger-applied brush effects mirror many of the styles you might find under the Filters menu in the desktop version of Photoshop, ranging from the entirely artistic (the Charcoal brush, for instance), to those commonly used in the digital darkroom (e.g. Posterize).

    The out-of-the-box options are, yet again, low in number (nine basic effects, plus the Undoer and Eraser brushes), but with in-app upgrades, Repix provides a far more impressive total of 31 brushes.

    Brushes are Repix's standout feature.

    Brushes are Repix’s standout feature.

    This quantity hasn’t had a detrimental effect on quality, either. While some of the brushes will only work stylistically with a limited range of images, most appear to be of print quality, and with a bit of mix and match, there is real room here for unique creativity.

    It’s also worth noting that many of the brushes can be adjusted. Thanks to an accidental discovery – here we have another slight usability fail – I found that holding a finger down on the brush tool in use, and then moving your finger upwards, reveals the different modes the brush effects have to offer (e.g. lighten, darken, normal, etc.).

    What is obvious is how to make the brushes bigger. Each brush icon has a plus icon hovering above it, and a tap of this is all that’s required to cover more ground with an effect. Alternatively, the pinch-to-zoom technique offers finer control over brush size.

    Export

    Getting your freshly edited masterpieces out of Repix is a pretty simple affair. Tapping the tick in the far top-right provides a drop-down, which offers to send the image to the various social and file uploading apps on your device, or just to save it to your gallery.

    Exporting your image is a quick, simple affair.

    Exporting your image is a quick, simple affair.

    Conclusion

    At the start of this review, I asked whether Repix stands out from its peers. The answer: not mostly, but it does in a few key areas.

    Most of what it offers isn’t markedly different from the competition in the Play Store, and the volume of options offered by Repix, in some areas, is sub-par.

    However, it must be said that Repix is highly polished, the effects it produces genuinely improve the images they’re applied to, and the quality of all the adjustments on board is commendable. Even the relative lack of editing tools is forgivable, given that the app is free to download.

    So while I can’t truthfully say that Repix is the new stand-out performer in artistic Android photography, it is certainly a worthwhile free addition to your mobile editing workflow.