If you’ve been ‘around’ for a while in mobile photography, you would notice the many photo-editing styles that exist, fuelled by so many photo-editing apps out there that allow people to make from a small tweak to a complete ‘overhaul’ to any photo in relatively instantly.

One style that started small but eventually grew as one of the mainstream is what I called the Typographic style. I’m sure you’ve seen this style of photo very often in your stream. They are photos with some text in it, often as simple as ‘Good Morning‘ or saying ‘Wish you were here‘, but it could also as verbose as a quote from a famous song, a famous person or a famous book.

This style is so popular that app developers started to release apps, especially created for  this purpose, i.e. to easily add texts to your photo. PicLab HD is one of these apps, except that it does more than just adding text.

In addition to allowing you to add Texts, PicLab HD also gives you Artworks (Stickers, Decorative Elements, Typographic Phrases), Crop and Standard Editing tools, Effects and Filters. Last but not least, you can stack the Texts and the Artworks in Layers, which means you can add more than one of them on to your photo, make it very easy to design a fairly complicated Typographic style photo edit.

Let’s check out each of this feature!

First of all you can load your own photo from the photo album or use the built-in Camera to take photo.

When the photo is loaded to the editing screen you can see the icons for each tool lining up at the bottom. Choose one of them to access more tools.

The Crop tool gives you the options to crop the photo into one of the presets aspect ratio, or you can crop in free mode.

The Standard Editing Tool gives you the options to make brightness, contrast, blur, exposure or saturation tweak to your photo.

The Photo Filters tool allows you to add a preset filter or effect (which you can unlock in return for App Store rating) to the photo. Unfortunately I don’t see anything that I fancy from the list of filter (Instagram has better ones), though the effects, e.g. Swirl, Pinch, Polka Dot, could be interesting to try out.

The Light/Films Effects tool allows you to apply effects like light leaks, film grains, textures, gradients, etc. Again for this type of effects you better off using something like Mextures with superior selection of leaks and textures.  As a matter of fact, PicLab app (the free version – made by the same dev team) seems to have more selection of Overlays compare to it’s HD sibling, though you have to pay for them through in-app purchase.

The Frame tool gives you a small choice of frames you can use. Don’t expect much on this area, frames are not this app’s best feature. I suggest you use other apps to ‘frame’ the edited photo later.

The best feature of PicLab HD is the the Text tool. It allows you to add multiple Text Layers to the photo. You can pick from dozens of cool Fonts, then easily adjust its size, positioning, rotation, opacity, colour, shadow, justification, even kerning and curve (yes you can bend your text easily!).

As mentioned above, PicLab HD features a multi-layer based editing tool which means you can add layers of texts, as well as artworks on the photo. To access the layers tap on the layer tool icon at the top-left corner of the editing screen. This will open of the sidebar which contains a list of existing layers. The top most layer on the list is located in the front where the next layer on the list lay behind it, and so on. To edit a particular layer, tap on it in the layer list. To move the position of a layer (to the front or back), tap and hold the layer in the list and slide it up and down the list.

Lastly, to add ‘icing on the cake’ you can apply one of the cool Artworks, which are grouped into collections according to a particular theme, e.g. Typography Phrases, Christmas, Cartoon, Love, Autumn, etc. The list of Artworks are updated and added over time, though many of them your would need to buy through in-app purchase.

The Text and Layer editing tool is a very powerful feature of this app, you have an absolute control on how you want your text will look like. It almost gives you the power of desktop-class editing tool in your iPhone.

The Artworks feature is also very nice, if you are into this style of editing.  The list of Artworks available are always refreshed, there are always something new that you can use for your next Instagram upload. You do need an Internet connection to update the content.

As for other features, I think PicLab HD is still ‘not there yet‘ in comparison to other apps in the market.  But then again, we didn’t get this app for its filter or its frames 🙂

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