Retro Image Editing with 8Bit Photo Lab

Do you sometimes long for the pixilated blocky graphics from your youth? Yea, me too. Well, Android users rejoice. You can create your own 8-bit works of art with 8Bit Photo Lab from Ilixa.

Features

8Bit Photo Lab is a free app that allows you to adjust the color, resolution, and dithering of your photo to give it the look of the pixilated screens from the 80s. There are several pre-set filters to get you started including filters that mimic the look of the green screened Commodore, the sepia tones of a Gameboy, or even the multicolor output of the Apple II. I felt like I was back in grade school playing Tass Times in Tonetown on the old Apple IIe. Browse the slideshow to see my examples some effects.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In addition to the pre-set filters, there are a wide variety of controls so you can continue to manipulate the color, resolution, and dithering. You can even introduce the banding of a CRT screen and some image glitching. It is fun to try out the different controls to see how it changes your image.

8Bit Photo Lab editing screen.
8Bit Photo Lab editing screen.

The editing interface is very easy to use. When you are done, you can save your images to your device or share them out on social media.

 

The free app is probably good enough for you photo dabblers out there. For the rest of you, you might want to upgrade to the pro version for a mere $2.49. This gives you a bunch more presets, pallets, and effects, as well as more control over the settings. The pro version also gives you a higher output resolution.

Other Apps by Ilxia

If the name Ilxia sounds familiar, it is because I already reviewed their app Mirror Lab. You can read my review here. They have another fun photo editing app called Mosaic Art Lab.

Mosaic Art Lab is, again, a free app with pro upgrades available for $4.49. The interface is similar and as easy to use as 8Bit Photo Lab and Mirror Lab. One of the features I like in Mosaic Art Lab is the Random button. The Random button will select a random image on your device and apply a random filter. Using it you tend to get some amazing happy accidents.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In the Classroom

In the post about Mirror Lab, I listed several ways you could use the app in the classroom.  For example…

  • Explore the different filters and have your students all create a different image based off of one starter image.
  • Build student visual literacy skills and have students create images based on different emotions. Have them write about why each image represents each emotion. Make sure they use their visual vocabulary.

Those ideas hold true for both of these apps as well. You could also…

  • Create some of your own images and have the students use them as starter images for stories, poems, or musical compositions.
  • 8 Bit Lab would be a great tool for having students create images that go along with their favorite sci-fi stories.
  • App-smash and try using a combination of the three apps to layer on special effects. Granted, this is also a great time to discuss the trap of over-editing an image.

For me, anything that gets your students taking and editing photos while building their creativity is fantastic!

Ilxia has developed a wonderful suite of editing apps that are fun and easy to use. Whether you use them in the classroom or use them to create your own art, they are all worth exploring.  Download them all today and start creating! Share your art in the comments. I’d love to see what you and your students create.

Create Animated Infographics with Animaker

I love a good infographic. There is something special about the creative combination of art elements, design principles, data, and information that just makes my eyes and brain happy. Give me a well-designed animated infographic and my eyes and brain are overjoyed!

As much as I love looking at them, I love creating them even more! I’m always on the lookout for new tools to help me create beautiful things with data. Today, I found Animaker. Today is a happy day.

Creation Made Easy

View of the editing screen.
View of the editing screen.

Animaker is a web-based platform designed to give businesses, students, and teachers the power to create amazing animated infographics, posters, presentations, and videos. The interface is fairly simple to use.

I spent about an hour creating my first six scene video complete with moving text, animated logos, and data. I didn’t start with any tutorials. I just jumped right in with a template as my guide. The editing interface is similar to many of the other tools out there. There is a timeline for each scene where you can manage the effects and timing of your assets. The premade templates are very helpful because you can use them as a guide as you create your own scene. However, even if you start with a blank scene, it is easy to layout your design and create something new. It didn’t take long to figure out how to use the design tool to create my video. I love a tool with a small learning curve.

When you are done creating, you can save your project. With the free plan, the video can be exported to Facebook or YouTube. Upgrade your account for more creation tools and sharing options. Here the pricing schedule for individuals and businesses.

Educator Plan

Educator Dashboard
Educator Dashboard

For the educators out there, there is Animaker Class. Get started with a free account and you can give the tool a try with up to 25 students. From your educator dashboard, you can manage your projects, create a class roster, manage class assignments, and send students messages. You have limited space and features with the free account. Upgrading to the premium opens up a lot of tools and functionality. The cost is $10/month per teacher and $.02/month per student. Read more about the differences between the two plans on their pricing page.

This was a fun tool to explore. I can see tons of ways teachers and student can use this in the classroom. Have your students collect some data and then use this tool to communicate their findings. Discuss the use of goods design principles and data visualization strategies. Let them loos in the tool and see what they create.

Here is my first video. Not too bad for my first try. Have fun creating amazing infographics!

Beautiful Web Pages Made Easy With Adobe Spark Page

This is not the first time I have written about Adobe Spark. For last year’s 30 tools in 30 days, I reviewed both Spark Post and Spark Video. You can read my review of Post and Video by following the links. However, I did not review the final tool in this suite – Spark Page.

Visual Portfolios and Digital Stories

Adobe Spark Page gives you the same simple tools you find in Post and Video. In a short time, you can create visually stunning web pages. Like Post and Video, Spark Page’s main focus is on the images. There are several tools to help you create a page that highlights your images.

Here are a couple of examples of pages made using Adobe Page.

The first I created for the STEM Read Podcast to display pictures we took while recording an episode with author/illustrator Tom Lichtenheld and Dr. Rhonda Robinson. (Here is a link to the episode if you would like to give it a listen.) The second is a sample of my photography and the third is my daughter’s art portfolio.

You can see from the examples that the pages you create are more than just static web pages. There are some nice scrolling and image display features. Want to see more, check out their inspiration gallery.

Key Features

Make Images  Videos and Web Stories for Free in Minutes   Adobe Spark.png
Adobe Spark Page – Easy Editing

Adobe page has a ton of features that make this an easy tool for building a visual web page.

  • Formatted blocks – You build your web page in blocks. You can select the type of block you want and then add your images, text, video, or buttons.
  • Embed videos – You can add videos easily to your site. Create videos with Spark video and then add them to your page. with a simple click.
  • Upload images from anywhere – Not only can you upload images from your computer, Spark Pages also connects to Lightbox, Dropbox, Google Photos, and Google Drive. If you don’t have your own images, you can search through Adobe’s bank of stock images.
  • Apply Themes – Change the look and feel of your page by applying different themes. If you have a paid account, you can set up a custom theme using your brand management settings.
  • Free – Just like the other Spark tools, Page is free. However, you can upgrade to the premium account if you want to manage the look and feel of your brand and remove any Adobe branding. Read more about the pricing on their Pricing Page.
  • Adobe Hosting – Adobe hosts all of the pages you create using page. You do not need an external host.
  • Sharing – When you publish your page, you get a shareable link. You can also share your page through Facebook, Twitter, Google Classroom, or email.
  • Link updating – If you update or modify your page, you can update the link to push out the changes. No new URL needed.

In the Classroom

All of the Adobe Apps are wonderful tools for the classroom. With Spark Page, your students can create amazing visual stories that look like they have years of training. Here are just a few ideas for how to use this with your students.

  • Art portfolios – As you can see from the example above, Page is a fantastic tool for creating visual portfolios. I like the combination of text and images that allows your artists to write captions and artist’s statements about their work.
  • Informational web page – Instead of having them write a research report, have them put together an information page about a topic they researched.
  • Visual resume – Have students create a visual about me page. Focus on different audiences. What would a professional page look like versus a personal page? This is also a good time to talk about what you should and should not share online.
  • Science journal – Create a science journal that documents an inquiry project through text and image.
  • Reflective journal – In my visual literacy class, I do a Photo A Week challenge. Having my students create a reflection journal using their images would be a great way to capture their learning.
  • Digital Stories – Whether your students are creating works of fiction or non-fiction narratives, have them tell their story through building a page.
  • Class magazine – Turn your students into journalists and have them create a class magazine. Assing different content sections to different teams and let them work together to publish a magazine. Create multiple pages and pull them together into a Google site or other website tool.

There are so many other ways you could use Spark Page in your classroom. You could even create your own visual resume to highlight some of your own professional wins.

If you do not have a free account yet, go sign up for one today and start playing with the amazing set of tools!

Works of Art with your Phone using Mirror Lab

Today I decided to take a little time to explore my artistic side and see what I can create using Mirror Lab. Mirror Lab by Ilixa is an app for Android and iOS that gives you the ability to turn your pictures into kaleidoscope, fractal, geometric, and glitchy works of art. You can get started with the free version and upgrade to pro if you need the extra functionality. I did all of my manipulations using the free version.

Overview

Edit screen on Mirror Lab
Edit screen on Mirror Lab

Using the app, you can take photos from your phone and apply a wide variety of special effect filters. These are not your typical Instagram filters, these filters add special effects such as mirror images and multiple mirrors to create unique works of art. To begin, open a photo and choose your filter. Each filter has different settings. You can also move the image around to create different effects.

The beauty and simplicity of this app is addicting. I spent a few hours playing around with the different effects on several images that were on my phone.

According to the app information page, there are over 50 different filters and effects you can apply. If that is not enough for you, for $4.99 you can go pro and add a bunch more.

After you are done creating your image, you can save your image. In the free version, you save the image as a JPEG. Upgrading to pro gives you the ability to save as a PNG. The Pro version also bumps up your working resolution from 3 Megapixels to 12.

Image Examples

Here are a few side-by-side comparisons of a starting image and different filters.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In the Classroom

The obvious use in the classroom is to create amazing images. Here are a few ways to use Mirror Lab in the classroom.

  • Explore the different filters and have your students all create a different image based off of one starter image.
  • Build student visual literacy skills and have students create images based on different emotions. Have them write about why each image represents each emotion. Make sure they use their visual vocabulary.
  • Have students take pictures of their world. A picture of something familiar and have them use the filters to make the familiar into something different.
  • Take pictures of ordinary objects. Use the filters to change the images. Have students build their inquiry skills and see if they can figure out what was in the original picture. Have them support their thoughts with evidence.

These are just a few ways you could use this app with students.

Whether you want to use the app for your own creative pleasure or you are going to use it with your students, Mirror Lab is an excellent create app. It is easy to use and fun to see your images transform into something amazing.

Have you created works of art with Mirror Lab? Share your images in the comments.

 

3D Design with Morphi

I will admit that I am not a designer and have very little experience creating 3D Designs. I tinker but that is about it. There are a lot of 3D design tools out there with tinkerers like me in mind. They are easy-ish to use yet powerful enough to create some amazing things. Morphi is one of those tools.

Morphi Overview

Morphi is a multiplatform application for creating 3 D designs. It is available for Windows, Mac, and iPad.  The tool is relatively easy to use and has some interesting features. The app costs $9.99 per device for up to 20 devices. Over 20 and the cost goes down to $4.99. I played around with the windows version using the 15-day free trial.

Features

I spent about an hour checking out the tool. I did not watch any tutorials, I just jumped right in. The controls are fairly intuitive. Here are some of the features I liked.

  • You have the ability to create shapes, text or free draw. I really like the free draw because you can turn on symmetry points and create some fun designs. Morphi4
  • Convert your 2D drawings into 3D designs in the click of a button. The image to the right is a 3D version of a scribble I created using a 5 mirror symmetry setting. I first drew the image and then converted it to 3D. Now I have the ability to change the height and size and combine it with other elements.
  • Create, group and combine shapes. In the image below, I was able to combine some simple shapes into a little house. No, it is not a complicated one but I also only spent a couple minutes moving my shapes and getting them to align. There are some useful align tools to help you get the shapes into the right place in 3D space. Not as easy as it looksMorphi
  • Your creation can be exported as an STL so it can be 3D printed. I did not try this but it seems straightforward.

There are some other features mentioned on the website that I did not get a chance to try out such as texturing tools and augmented reality editing. I hope to play with those more through the course of my 15-day trial.

In the Classroom

If you are using 3D modeling in your classroom, Morphi might be a tool to consider. It is a great way to get all your students thinking in 3-dimensional space. The drag and drop features and easy to use controls make creating fairly simple. Not really simple because creating in 3D is not super easy. It can actually be really hard. The Morphi interface makes it easy to navigate in 3D space and create shapes. I also really like the 2D to 3D features. That is a great way to get your students started. Morhpi has more information about classroom uses on their educator page. There are also some great ideas for what to have your students create and some tutorials videos to help you get started.

I am looking forward to spending some more time in this app during my 15-day trial. For $9.99 a device, it seems like a pretty powerful tool to get you creating 3D masterpieces.

Are you or your students using Morphi? Share some of your designs? I’ll leave with one more of my amazing creations. Don’t judge – I only played with it for an hour. I think it is beautiful!  Enjoy!

Morphi2