App

If you like adding effects to your photos, quickly and easily, read on 

We’ve lost count of the number of photo effects apps we’ve looked at, let alone how many there are on the App Store, but that doesn’t stop people from making new ones! And, in the case of Stackables, we’ll forgive the predictable subject matter as it approaches the problem from a slightly different angle, and makes a pretty good stab at it.

The app is entirely based on preset effects, which are applied to your image and stacked up in layers, hence the name (and because ‘Layerables’ is rubbish). Each preset is applied in real time and, where appropriate, can be rotated in 90-degree chunks.

The ‘Formulas’ are multi-layered presets.  You can make and store your own.

The ‘Formulas’ are multi-layered presets.
You can make and store your own.

You can adjust the strength of the effect in terms of opacity and saturation, and there are 18 Photoshop-style blending modes such as Overlay, Screen, Difference, Exclusion, Hard and Soft Light, and so on.

To use the app you tap one of the six icons across the top to bring up a selection of presets down the right-hand side. You activate the presets, blending modes or layers by tapping one of them, then you can scroll up and down through the options, or tap and drag to rearrange layers. To see your image, you just tap the screen and the menu slides out of the way; another tap brings it back.

The menu across the top selects the type of effect you want to apply. The first provides one of 50 photographic filters, with grain and grunge, flares, light leaks, and bokeh effects. The second has 20 color and contrast adjustments, and is a bit like choosing from different film stock. Icon number three brings up 26 color gradients and vignettes. Perhaps of less importance is the next option which applies one of 19 patterns to the image. Without any control over the size or location, we’re struggling to see many regular uses for these.

Our only gripe is that landscape images are handled in portrait, with no zoom function.

Our only gripe is that landscape images are handled in portrait, with no zoom function.

Adjustment bureau

The fifth icon is your image adjustments, with things like Blur, Sepia, Depth of Field, Posterize, and so on. But there’s also a Color Adjust effect which can be easily overlooked; when applied, the menu at the bottom left provides access to a range of controls for Brightness, Contrast, Saturation, Vibrance, Hue and more, including RGB color balance. If anything this could have been in a menu all of its own.

The sixth option is ‘Formulas’, which provides 23 layered presets, made by photographer and artist Dirk Wuestenhagen, combining Stackables’ effects into one filter. You can make and store your own Formulas and the developer is looking out for good ones to share with the app’s users. Look out for new collections added in future releases.

There are several very neat aspects to Stackables, most notably the layers system which – like Photoshop – offers nondestructive editing; you can play to you heart’s content, and simply delete any layers that aren’t working for you. It also has a very clever preview system, where most of the effects show a thumbnail of how they will look on your image. And with high-res output (up to 16 megapixels on iPhone 5+) you get proper full-sized pictures, to use as you wish.

You can create all manner of cool imagery by layering effects on top of one another.

You can create all manner of cool imagery by layering effects on top of one another.

In fact, we only have one criticism of Stackables and that’s its treatment of landscape photos, which are presented squashed into the portrait canvas and heavily bordered top and bottom. We tried in vain to focus in with the unpinch maneuver, but it’s clearly not an option. If a zoom function could be added in a future update, it would just about make Stackables unmissable.

Price: $1.99/£1.49

Size: 102 MB

Version: 1.2

Platform: iOS Universal

Developer: Samer Azzam

App Store Download button

Stackables Review: Quick and Simple Photo Effects App
“Stackables is simple to use, easy to experiment with, and gets great results. Another one for the photos folder”
For
  • Endless possibilities
  • User friendly
Against
  • Squashes landscape photos
4.5Overall Score