Getting started with the powerful photo editing app from Google: Snapseed

With just a little bit of editing we can dramatically change the look and feel of a photo. Today we are going to take a look at my favorite photo editing app, Snapseed from Google. It is one of the most powerful photo editing apps you can get your hands on, and best of all it is free. Snapseed can be a little intimidating simply because there are so many features to it. So lets dive in and get your feet wet.

The first step is to download Snapseed from the Google Play Store. After installation, you can open the app up and get started. Thankfully there isn’t a registration process which requires your personal information.

Next open an image. (All edits are based on the first image)

Edits are based on this image.
Edits are based on this image.

Once you’ve opened an image you can click the little circular button on the bottom right which looks like a pencil . That is the symbol for the editing function. First you’ll be greeting with the Tools category. Here’s a tutorial of some of the Tools which Snapseed offers. (these instructions are from Google help)

The order in which Tools and Filters are applied matters. For example, adding Frames before adding Lens Blur will blur the frame. If Frames is added after Lens Blur, the frame will remain sharp.

Compare in one click.Tap and hold within a Tool or Filter to reveal the before image. Or from the home screen, tap and hold the image itself.

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Tools

Tune Image

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Tap to automatically adjust the tonality of an image. For more precise adjustments, swipe vertically on the image to access the edit menu. Once an option has been selected, swipe horizontally to enhance. The menu includes:

  • Brightness Darken or lighten the entire image.
  • Contrast Increase or decrease the overall contrast of the image.
  • Saturation Add or remove vibrancy to the colors in the image.
  • Ambiance A twist on contrast, adjust the balance of light in the entire image.
  • Shadows Darken or lighten only the shadows in the image.
  • Highlights Darken or lighten only the highlights in the image.
  • Warmth Add a warm or cool color cast to the entire image.

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Crop – Cropping removes the edges of an image to improve framing

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Recompose the image by first tapping to select the desired aspect ratio. From there, tap and drag the edges of the crop area to resize. Reposition the crop by tapping and dragging the crop area to the desired location.

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Rotate

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Tap or to rotate the image 90° counterclockwise or clockwise. Or, swipe directly on screen to free-rotate the image.

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Brush

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Here, the swipe of a fingertip becomes a brush for advanced editing. Change the size of the brush by zooming in and out of the image. Tap to access the menu of brush effects:

  • Dodge & Burn Subtly and selectively lighten or darken areas of the image.
  • Exposure Increase or decrease the the exposure of selected areas in the image.
  • Temperature Paint cool or warm tones on the image selectively.
  • Saturation Increase or decrease color vibrancy on the image selectively.

Within each brush, select or to change the opacity of the brush, or select Eraser to erase previously brushed areas. Tap to view a preview of the brush strokes in orange.

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Healing

Healing is one of the neater features from Snapseed where you can eliminate unwanted spots or objects from an image.

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Simply brush or tap unwanted spots to watch them disappear. Tap or to undo or redo any edits.

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Vignette

“In photography and optics, vignetting (/vɪnˈjɛtɪŋ/; French: “vignette“) is a reduction of an image’s brightness or saturation at the periphery compared to the image center. The word vignette, from the same root as vine, originally referred to a decorative border in a book.” – Wikipedia

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Adding a vignette can be a powerful way to emphasize a subject. Tap and drag the blue dot onto the subject of the image. Use a pinching gesture to expand or restrict the vignette’s center size. Swipe vertically on the image to select either Outer Brightness or Inner Brightness, then swipe horizontally to enhance:

  • Outer Brightness Swipe to the right to brighten the outer edges of the image, or swipe to the left to darken.
  • Inner Brightness Swipe to the right to brighten the center of the image, or swipe to the left to darken.

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Filters

Lens Blur

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Emulate the swings and tilts of a large format camera to create blur and draw attention toward a subject. Toggle between and to switch between a linear or elliptical focus. Use a pinching gesture to alter the size, shape, or rotation of the focus. Select the desired shape of any specular highlights that appear within the blurred areas by tapping . For additional adjustments, swipe vertically to access the edit menu. Once an option has been selected, swipe horizontally to enhance. The menu includes:

  • Blur Strength Swipe to the right to increase the strength of the blur effect.
  • Transition Swipe to the right to increase the distance of fade between the in-focus and blurred areas.
  • Vignette Strength Swipe to the right to darken the edges of the image and incorporate a vignette with the blur.

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Frames

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Stylized borders can be the perfect finishing touch. Tap to choose a frame style. Many frames have multiple variations of the same style, so tap on the frame thumbnail again to view any available variations. Swipe horizontally on the image to increase or decrease the size of the border that overlays on the image.

Frames apply on top of the image so that they do not alter the final image size or resolution. If a frame covers important image details, re-crop the image to leave room for a frame overlay.

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Black & White

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For timeless black and white images, tap to select a preset black and white style. To simulate shooting with a colored glass filter over the lens, tap to add a color filter, if desired. Swipe vertically on the image to adjust Brightness, Contrast, and Grain. Once selected, swipe horizontally to enhance:

  • Brightness Darken or lighten the image.
  • Contrast Increase or decrease the overall contrast in the image.
  • Grain Add natural-looking grain to the image. A value of 0 will ensure no grain is added.

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Vintage

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Evoke feelings of nostalgia by making any image look like the color film photos of the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. Tap to select a color style. For more precise adjustments, swipe vertically on the image to access the edit menu. Once an option has been selected, swipe horizontally to enhance. The menu includes:

  • Brightness Darken or lighten the image.
  • Saturation Add or remove vibrancy to the colors in the image.
  • Style Strength Increase or decrease the effect of the chosen style.
  • Vignette Strength Swipe to the right to darken the edges of the image and incorporate a vignette with the vintage coloring.

Tap if a vignette blur is also desired.

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Save, Share, Export

Save the edits by tapping SAVE.

Share the image by tapping and selecting Share

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Summary

Snapseed is one of the most powerful photo editing apps you can get on a smartphone or tablet. Best of all it is absolutely free to use from Google.When you save an edited photo, don’t expect it to show up at the top of your Photos menu. Expect it to show up right next to the original photo you were editing as it simply uses the same name and adds a -01, -02, -03 respectively.

If you would like to learn more, or see the full list of features, head on over to the help center at Snapseed help center Google.com.

Google Play Store – Snapseed

iTunes – Snapseed

 

 

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