When you first launch Snapseed, you’ll be prompted to add a photo. No biggie, throw one in there. This is one of my obligatory airplane window seat photos. Add new effects and adjustments by hitting the big “+” in the bottom right corner.
QUICK TIP: You can see the size of your image in pixels by hitting the menu button in the top right and choosing “Settings & Details”. Spend your time working on big and beautiful images!
The Layout and UI
As a graphic and web designer, I like to see beautiful and smooth UI (User Interface). This interface from Snapseed is fast and beautiful and smooth. It’s pretty easy to pick up and learn too. User interface is like a joke, if it has to be explained, it’s just not that good. Snapseed wins big points with an easy to use app.
How to Edit a Photo with Snapseed
I start by using “Tune Image” to start adjusting. Check out my before and after as well as my settings in the screenshots below. NOTE: I love the histogram in the bottom left. It will let me know if I am adding too much contrast and making any areas of my image are solid white or solid black–you DON’T want to see spikes in this histogram near the little white dashes on the left and right!
Next I’ll hit the “Selective” feature to try to target some of the blues in the water and darken them and increase the contrast to give those clouds more depth. Hit the little “+” icon in the bottom bar to add a new selective point. TIP: Pinch to see the auto-mask feature which will contain your edit within that selected area.
With this tool, slide side-to-side to add Brightness, Contrast, or Saturation. Side up or down to choose Brightness, Contrast, or Saturation. I’m pumping up contrast to make the clouds have stronger shadows on the ocean and then increasing brightness a little bit and dropping saturation a little bit too.
Next I’ll play with transform. This is something that, up until now, I could only do in Instagram. Play with the horizontal and vertical perspective settings and watch the magic. Use this for straightening doorways, or rotating an image a little, or adjusting the true perspective of an image. In this case I’m looking to tip the photo a little to make the plane wing appear a little longer in the photo.
Spot Repair (How to get rid of acne in my selfie)
Maybe the most difficult tool to figure out in Snapseed, the spot repair tool also is incredibly helpful. You can quickly remove acne or pimples in any selfie now! The spot repair tool seems to only have one “spot” size that it can “repair”, but you can pinch and zoom in or out and see the outline of the size of the spot repair tool as you zoom in. I can zoom in and get rid of one tiny little cloud very, very easily by just touching it! It’s a tiny little cloud I got rid of, but if you look closely, you can see it’s gone.
Dodge and Burn
One of the coolest things I saw was the brush tool here in Snapseed 2.0. This brush tool allows you to dodge and burn (digitally paint parts of your image brighter or darker), this would essentially allow you to get a very commercial looking effect on your smartphone photos. You can also paint in orange or blue temperature adjustments or saturation/desaturation. Just use the little arrows at the bottom of the screen to change the power of the dodge/burn, temperature, or saturation adjustment. I just wish they had included an “undo” button on this screen so you could undo an errant brush stroke. I have a ridiculous example in one of the screenshots here so you can see the dodge/burn effect overdone to show you what it looks like.
Sharpening is always a great feature to have in an app. You add sharpening by using the “Details” tool. In here we have both “Sharpening” and “Structure”. Sharpening will give you nice, crisp edges, but structure gives you this cool midtone punchy effect. Just beware not to overkill on the structure. It will quickly give your photos that fake, over-baked HDR look. Blech.
Snapseed has a large selection of new filters. Some of these filters are questionable at best, but there are a few, like Black & White, Tonal Contrast, and Grainy Film that look like they are useful. Included in them is the Lens Blur feature. Lens blur allows you to selectively blur your image. Use your finger tips to pinch and rotate the blur until it is perfect, then add the amount of blur you want and the transition of the blur and dump the stupid vignette for good measure. Boom! You can quickly bring emphasis to one area of your image. Again, use this effect sparingly, it can get over done quickly and look very amateurish.
The big calling card for the latest Snapseed update is the ability to edit without permanently adding those effects to you photo. This allows you to tweak your image even when you’ve continued work on the photo or even if you decide to come back days later after you’ve saved it to your camera roll.
VSCO cam allows for non-destructive editing in their app, but Snapseed allows you to keep layering on effects and really go back in and refine things like multiple temperature changes and sharpening or even crops and perspective changes you’ve made to your photo. It’s a really powerful option. Just hit the little number in the top right of the photo editing area and choose the step you wish to edit or delete and make the change you need to make.
One quick tip to add here is that you can even mask certain effects by selecting that effect from the stack over effects that you’ve applied to your image and hit the little brush-in-box icon and use your finger to paint where you want the effect to be applied. Just one more cool feature that Google has thrown into the mix for us to play with. Masking can be a very useful feature whenever you edit photos on the iPhone.
Hit the save button and choose to save the photo, but make sure you select the “Modify” button to allow yourself the ability to have Snapseed edit this photo in the future. It’s a great feature!
Snapseed: Things I Still Want To See In This App
The first update in nearly two years by Google for the Snapseed app makes this nearly the perfect image editor (in my humble opinion, at least). I really wish there was an undo button for the dodge/burn brush tool and I also wish there was a “tint” option. See, usually when editing images you can edit the orange/blue tones (temperature), but with good image editors, you can also edit the green/purple colors (tint). I wish we had that tint control in Snapseed. With Snapseed you are able to edit photos on the iPhone with ease and have a massive amount of control at your fingertips. This new update is a really, really good one.
Side note: This update is only compatible with iOS 8, so you best update now if you’d like to give this app a whirl. It’s a shame, but the price that we’ve gotta pay to keep pressing technology forward.
iPhone 6 mockup used in this article available over at PixeDen.