A Painting or is it Repix?
As an artist who has worked with traditional painting materials to create mixed media paintings, I find myself drawn to a painterly approach when I edit my photographs. One of the newest apps that I’ve added to my painterly arsenal is Repix. I find it interesting that when I paint, I go for a realistic effect and when I edit photos I go for a painterly effect. For me the beauty is that place in between – is it a painting or is it photograph? I had the chance to interview the brains behind the Repix app, Ilkka Teppo. (Ilkka has built products and businesses for over a decade at larger companies and start-ups. He’s connecting the dots between business, design and engineering.)
Geri: Please tell me a bit about yourself? How did you get started in app development? How long did it take to develop Repix and how many are on your team?
Ilkka: We are a small team based in Helsinki, Finland and we make apps that inspire creativity. We first started developing apps for mobiles and tablets last year and we haven’t looked back for a second. Repix is currently our main focus. In addition to Repix, we built a funky painting app for iPad called Sumo Paint. We have a strong background in web-based image editing apps.
We have been working with Repix already nine months and have been developing and experimenting with lots of stuff. Our aim is to make Repix the most inspiring photo editor available to users of all abilities.
Photo Credit: Geri Centonze, Portrait of a Young Man
Geri: I love the interface on Repix – when I’m working I almost feel like I’m at my art desk painting. Do you have an art or painting background or did you get traditional artists to help you design the interface?
Ilkka: We spent lots of time and created many versions before finding the right UX. It also helps that we have an awesome designer in our team who is passionate about the right user experience. That’s come through in the app like you say and that’s been great. Recreating a real life experience with the brushes is exactly what we wanted to do and the result of that is that users of the app are being inspired to create so much more.
Geri: What has been the biggest challenge in developing Repix?
Ilkka: To maintain the balance between simplicity and all the things we would like to add. We wanted people to experience the brushes first and based on the feedback, decide what and when to bring more features. Fortunately for us, users of the app so far like our work and are asking for more. That’s the best position to be in.
Geri: In a very highly competitive app category, why do you think Repix has stood out among the rest?
Ilkka: We believe the overall quality and the simplicity of the app are the most important things. We looked at the photo category and its true that there are lots of apps, but overall quality is still fairly low. If you build something that’s beautiful to use and offers something totally unique, you stand a chance of getting success.
Portrait of a Horse
Geri: The latest update was better than I imagined and I understand there’s even more coming. Can you give us a hint as to what’s in store with the next update?
Ilkka: Our aim with Repix is to ensure we keep innovating and introducing new features that our users will love and that will attract new ones too. Right now we’re working hard on some super cool new brushes with some stunning effects, more generic editing tools and overall quality and usability improvements. Overall, we aim to make Repix the most inspiring photo editor available. (Geri’s Note: Since this interview was conducted the latest version of Repix was released and includes Spotlight Filters, Frames tool, improved editing speed, new editing tools, direct sharing to Flickr, full support of EXIF data).
Geri: Do you have any other apps in the works?
Ilkka: We have a few concept level things we are planning, but nothing yet to announce. Stay tuned!
Geri: I can’t wait!!!
If you’re new to Repix, here’s a quick tutorial showing my typical workflow.
Choose your photo from your Camera Roll (or experiment with one of the images in the Starters folder)
Using the editing tools (shown in orange above) adjust Brightness, Contrast, Saturation, Vibrance, Temperature and Vignette. (results below)
Pinch the photo to resize and then using the Erase tool, completely erase your image. (Hint: if you tap the + button on the erase tool the result will be a blank black canvas instead of white)
Choose a brush to paint in your image. For this tutorial, I chose the Daubs brush.
Pinch to enlarge the image and the brush size will reduce automatically which allows for more detail when using the Repix brushes.
I like a little of the image to show through in the detailed areas. To do this use the Undoer tool around the eyes, nose, mouth and ears.
Next I used the Charcoal brush to smooth some of the edges and also added a frame (a new feature with the recent update). You can re-size the frame by pinching with your fingers and tap the plus button of your frame choice to go from white to black.
For this next step I saved the image and opened in Snapseed to rotate 90 degrees to the right.
Next, I loaded the rotated image back into Repix and applied the Stage Spotlight filter (one of the new features available with in-app purchase as of the last update)
One final rotation (using Snapseed) and below is my final painted image.
There are so many more styles you can achieve using this app. I think Ilkka will be reading this, so if you are Ilkka, here is my wish list for the next update:
Ability to lower opacity of the Spotlight Filters
Ability to vary the opacity of the frames
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