Creating Abstracts on a Winter’s Night

Featuring the apps, Deco Sketch and Decim8

An iPhoneography Apps Tutorial by David Hayes

I will have to admit that I probably did have too much wine the evening I created the images in this tutorial…but sometimes that just happens. I’m not saying you have to do this (drink too much wine) before you try out these apps. Wouldn’t hurt either…

I will also have to admit that the two apps featured in this time are not the easiest to figure out and to come to love. Actually most folks I’ve talked to about these apps either love them or hate them. I’ve come to love them. (Note: I created all the images using my iPad. These apps are also available for your iPhone so either platform would work.)

abs1Let’s start with Deco Sketch….

abs2You’ll first be prompted with this screen. I picked “blank canvas.”

abs3Then choose your canvas orientation. I picked 1:1 (A) and clicked on the check mark icon (B) to put this in place.


And yet another prompt for a color palette. I picked the one indicated in the screen shot.

abs5 Time to get started with my sketch! I clicked on the icon shown in the low right corner…

abs6 I picked this color. I wanted BRIGHT!

Background established. Let’s sketch! I clicked on the icon in the lower left corner (A) which brought up the drawing palette. Picked the rectangles (B) and then shape (C).

abs8 One last step before I can start “sketching”. I need to pick a color for my shapes. So…I clicked on (A) and (B)…and nice blue!


I started in the lower right corner of my “canvas” and dragged my stylus upwards at a 45-degree angle. I then went to the far left and dragged towards the right. All of this gave me the patterns you see in the screen shot.


That’s one pattern done. Let’s do a second. Repeating the same steps, I clicked on (A) and (B) to pick a fan pattern.

abs11Then I picked the indicated color…


Going to the top left corner, I dragged my stylus downwards creating a nice fan pattern from one corner to the next.

abs13 Needs a third pattern. I’m going to combine all the steps into one screenshot but they’re the same as the last two. Picked a sketch pattern (A, B) then a color (C), and starting from the same left corner, put down this pattern (D). This will finish this image. Time to move over to Decim8!


Here’s the final image. Nice…but wait until you see what Decim8 does to it!!!


The opening screen for Decim8 gives you a bit of a preview of what’s ahead. (Again…while I used my iPad, the iPhone version works in the same manner.)


I’ve opened Decim8 and brought in the Deco Sketch image in this screen shot. Now the real fun can begin! The real beauty behind Decim8 is its total randomness! Which is why many don’t like it, as they can’t control what they get!! (Well…there is a way of sort-of-control.) In any case, I first clicked on the dice icon (A) that tells Decim8 to mix up a set of its filters. I then clicked on icon (B) to start the process.

(The lab flask icon (C) takes you to the filter selection screen where you can choose your own combinations…but that still won’t determine just how this app uses those filters!)

Also, up in the top control panel…red (A) opens the camera app, red (B) goes to your camera roll, red (C) lets you share with the world, and red (D) saves your image to your camera roll. Thought this quick tour might come in handy…


Looks like I got a little ahead of myself…sorry about that! When you click on the dice icon I talked about in the last step, you’ll get this screen telling you it’s making its picks. Then you click on icon (B)!


This little flashing symbol will the come up letting you know that Decim8 is mixing things up…


After many attempts…reloading the source image, clicking on the dice, and the start button…and trying again…I finally was given this image! A big difference from what I started with! To help you out, I’m going to give you the filters that Decim8 used to create this image. (I clicked on the lab flask icon and then checked which filters were highlighted.) In this case they were: “Agency” and “Brainfeed3r”.


One image is never enough when playing with Decim8! Here’s the second one I accepted. This time the filters are: “Sigstop” and “Interface”.

abs21Third time is the charm! This version is my favorite! The filters used are: Brainfeed3R and Precog1.

So there you are…three totally different abstract images from the same source image, all from the comfort of my chair on a winter’s night. Give these two apps, DecoSketch and Decim8 a try!!

As always, please don’t be shy with your comments and questions, as I do love hearing from you.

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

Photo Craft_160 Learn more about digitally altering photographs in Photo Craft: Creative Mixed Media and Digital Approaches to Transforming Your Photographs by Susan Tuttle and Christy Hydeck.






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