April 7, 2016

Review: Painteresque Photo Effects for iOS.

Photo editor from a parallel universe. ★★★★

Whatever photo editor you’re using—well Painteresque is the diametric opposite of that. It’s based on the way artificial intelligence sees things and intensifies detail in unphotographic-like ways. It’s set up to be exceptionally easy to use: just choose a style and save. But lurking under the hood are the robo-controls that are very different than what’s used in traditional digital photography, like the Blobby Retinal Model switch. While exceptionally easy to use for effecting your photos, there’s quite a learning curve if you want to monkey with Painteresque’s settings. But the results are well worth it.

+ Numerous preset styles + Quick preview of styles + Save your own styles + Tweak each style with Fine Tuning + Saves at full resolution

- Styles don’t sync between devices - Styles can’t be exported

How to use Painteresque.

The create your own Style, choose Do Nothing from the Styles screen and then Fine Tune. While the effects you can create are wild, don’t discount Painteresque as a “normal” photo editor. It controls color and contrast in a way that standard photo editors aren’t built to, often with results that feel like an intensified reality.

What the sliders do.

It’s difficult to explain these in non-robotic terms, but here goes:

Scroberizing section.

  • Retinal Model Blobby is a hybrid of AI and the way the eye sees. It can be more pleasing, while Sketchy is more pure AI. |
  • Gray Strength is probably the most useful slider. Up to +50 looks very HDR. Beyond +50 gets very gritty. Down to -20 softens. Below -20 blurs.
  • Red/Cyan Strength and Green/Purple Strength These increase or decrease the strength of these colors. Useful for emphasizing or muting specific colors. The colors remain balanced if you use the sliders in tandem.

Color Mayhem section

  • Grey Invert Flips the gray tones to negative.
  • Grey Contrast Drag right to darken the darker grays and lighten the lighter grays. Drag left to minimize the difference in the gray range
  • Gray Shift Drag right to move the mid spectrum into the highlight range or drag left to move it down to the shadow range. Works somewhat like an Exposure control.
  • Rotate Color Shifts colors across the rainbow. Useful for toning.
  • Red/Cyan and Green/Purple Invert These switches flip the colors. Used together, they have somewhat of a negative effect.
  • Red/Cyan and Green/Purple Contrast Adds contrast to the two colors selectively from the rest of the spectrum.
  • Red/Cyan and Green/Purple Shift Shifts the two colors separately.
  • Black Trim Have never really seen it do anything.

Some recipes for Painteresque.

Unfortunately Painteresque isn’t wired for iCloud to sync custom settings between devices, nor can you share your settings between users. Here are some of my custom filters. If a slider or switch isn’t mentioned assume it’s at zero or off.


This is a bolder version of Painteresque 2. Creates a saturated color sketch.

Slider Setting
Grey Strength +80
Red/Cyan Strength +40
Green/Purple Strength +40
Grey Contrast +15
Red/Cyan Contrast +10
Green/Purple Contrast +10


This was designed as a photo enhancer to bring out raindrops on leaves. It’s useful for making images look more bold, but still “normal”.

Slider Setting
Grey Strength +20
Red/Cyan Strength +40
Green/Purple Strength +40
Grey Contrast +15
Grey Shift -15
Red/Cyan Contrast +10
Green/Purple Contrast +10


This is a BW graphic novel effect, somewhere between a photo and a painting.

Slider Setting
Grey Strength +60
Red/Cyan Strength -100
Green/Purple Strength -100
Grey Contrast +30
Grey Shift -15


Works with most any image to make it look a little more real. It lightens the shadows and darkens the highlights while increasing contrast. (As mentioned, this app is not plagued by the restrictions of standard photo editors.) Gives images a slightly warm and saturated look, with a touch of life’s grit.

Slider Setting
Retinal Model Blobby
Grey Strength +60
Red/Cyan Strength +25
Green/Purple Strength +25
Grey Contrast -5
Grey Shift -5
Red/Cyan Contrast +60
Green/Purple Contrast +20

If you have filters you’d like to share here, send me the settings. Thanks.

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