iPhoneography Apps Tutorial: Creating Backgrounds

Creating Backgrounds for Fun and…

An iPhoneography Apps Guest Post by David Hayes

As I become more and more interested in digital art I find myself looking for cool backgrounds to build my images on and around. While there are many online sources where one can purchase ready made digital backgrounds, it is just as easy to create these yourself using many of the apps you already have. In this article I’d like to show you how I created four different backgrounds using my iPad and all using the same source “canvas.”



Let’s start with the app, Laminar Pro. (If this workhorse is not in your toolbox, you really should consider adding it. While Laminar’s interface can be a bit daunting at first it doesn’t take long to master. )

I clicked on the camera icon in the top left corner (A) and when the Photo Sources menu appeared, I then clicked on “Blank Canvas.”


I then set the resolution size of the canvas and picked a background color. Clicking “Done” puts this all into place.


I now have a source canvas to create my backgrounds. I’ll first save this background to my Camera Roll before I use Laminar Pro’s “Fx Effects” to create my first one. Clicking on the indicated icon, I opened the Save menu.


I clicked on “Library” (A) which saved this background to my Camera Roll. Once this process was completed, I clicked on “Done” (B) and then “Fx Effects” (C).


The first Effect library I used was “Stylize” (A) and the “Fresco” filter (B). This in place, I clicked on the Check icon (C) to move onto the next Effect.


In the “Vintage” library (A), I chose “Space” (B). Liking this, I clicked on (C) to go to yet another effect. (The best backgrounds always have lots and lots of layers!)


This time, I came out of the “fx Effects” mode and switched to the app’s “Render” functions. Laminar Pro has a great “Lighting Engine” effect that I knew would be perfect for my galaxy in the making background!


Placing the “Source” point to the top right and the “Target” point in the center of my “Space” effect makes my galaxy pop out! After adjusting the “Strength” to full, I once again clicked on the check mark to put this all into place.


I then saved this background to my Camera Roll…and later on will move it into my “Background” folder that I have in my iPad photo folder library.


One background created, three more to show you! The next app I used was another favorite of mine, Distressed FX.

I pulled the source background into this app and clicked on “Choose” to get things started.


I went immediately to the “Birds” filter in the top row…and picked “Gathering.” That was an easy decision!


The next choice wasn’t as easy as there are many great filters in this app’s second row. I eventually picked “Tarnished.”


I finished this background using the “Settings” menu that is accessed by clicking on the slider bar icon in the lower right corner. I played around with each of the settings until I liked what I saw!


And here’s this finished background! Two down, two more to go!!!


Mextures is another one of my favorites…a great set of filters and effects that can be layered into great combinations. This one is another must have app!

As before, I opened the source background from my Camera Roll.


First Texture library I used was in the “Emulsion” set.


“Roosevelt” was my choice in this set. After clicking on this filter, I then clicked on the “Magic Wand” to activate the blending modes.


I first clicked on “Darken” (A), adjusted the opacity (B), and the put it into place by clicking the Check Mark icon (C).


Next up…the “Landscape Enhance” set.


Following the same sequence, I picked “Blue Skies” and then went to Blending Modes.


“Hard Light” was my choice this time…and as before, I adjusted the opacity, and then put it all into place by clicking on the Check Mark.


One last layer…and this time it will come for the “Grit and Grain” set.


There were spring snow flurries in the air, so “Blizzard” it was! Of course I went to Blending Mode…


“Difference” worked best with this one…and as the first two, I followed the same sequence to make it so!


All done with Mextures! Here’s the finished background!


I couldn’t leave without using the classic of all grunge apps, pic grunger!


I opened the source background…to which the app applied its default Effect. Not the one I wanted, so I first clicked on “Effect.”


In this group I picked “Cracked.”


After playing around with “Strength,” I left it at 100%.


Moving over to “Style”…”Gig” was my choice!


I skipped “Border” as I wanted the finished background to be borderless and clicked on “Texture.” In this group, “Wood” worked for me!


I really like this background! A nice grunge feel to it. Love it!!

So there you are…four different backgrounds from the same source background. I did all four in probably less than an hour. Yeah, I could have played Angry Birds…but this was more fun!

David Hayes is a photographer, mixed-media artist, painter and explorer of life. Visit his blog at clearerreflections.com.

Photo Craft_160You might also enjoy Photo Craft: Creative Mixed Media and Digital Approaches to Transforming Your Photographs by Susan Tuttle and Christy Hydeck.





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