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Nik Softwares stand alone application, Snapseed, which is a desktop version of the app for the iPhone and iPad, can be a lot of fun to play with. If you're using Aperture, you can set up Snapseed as your external editor. So, to access it, you only have to choose Edit with Snapseed. If you're not using Aperture, simply open the application, and from within the application's Open dialog, open the file that you want to work with. Snapseed let's you do all kinds of things, including Basic Image Tuning, where you can adjust the Brightness, Contrast, Saturation, and so on.
But for this example, what we want to play with are some of the creative adjustments. There's lots of different things in here that you can go through. But some of my favorites are Grunge, and Vintage, and Frames. Let's start with Vintage. Vintage allows you to very easily add this kind of faded, old world look to your images. As you can see up here at the top left, I'm clicking through a variety of Presets. But naturally, each one of these Presets can be completely controlled. There's a Style Selector, which allows you to choose the color scheme that's being applied to the image. There's also a Texture Selector, which allows you to choose a different texture to overlay into your image.
By default, the texture is quite subtle, you may have a hard time seeing it on your image. However, there is a Texture Strength slider, that you can increase or decrease to bring that Texture in and out of your photo. When you find a look that you like, just click Apply and move on to the next level. Unlike the Nick plugins, which are much more advanced and, of course, considerably more expensive, you don't have quite the same level of control. For example, at this point, I can't go back and make some changes to the adjustment that I just made. I could Undo the entire effect, but I can't go back and change just one slider. Let's add a Grunge look on top of this one.
As you can see, the Grunge is a very heavy-handed effect. Once again, I have various Textures that I can choose from. Or I can simply click the Shuffle button to randomly shuffle through all the different settings. Whenever you're playing with Snapseed, make sure you run your mouse over the image because many of these controls actually have a center control point that you can move around the scene. In this case, I'll go ahead and center the effect over the speedometer here. And then, I can change the size of that by Clicking and Dragging on the Size slider. If I like the effect, I'll just click Apply. The last thing I want to apply in here is a Frame.
I love the Frames in here. And you can get some pretty cool looks by applying these frames to your image. However, here's the thing, I think that applying a Frame at the very end, which is usually where you do it, ends up giving you a much too clean, much too precise frame for this old worn out image. So, here's what I like to do. I actually prefer to apply my frame at the beginning, and then apply all the other effects on top of it. Let's go ahead and revert the photo by choosing from the Photo menu > Revert to Original. Then I'll go to the Frames and choose a frame to work with.
How about this one here? Make it a bit bigger. Spread it out a little bit. And let's make sure it's nice and crunchy. There we go. Apply that, and then I'll very quickly apply a couple of other effects. Let's do a bit of a Grunge look. Apply that to the middle there. I'll apply that Preset, and add a little Vintage on top of that. Love it. Here we go. So now, that edge that I added in is part of the image, but is no longer such a prominent piece that it looks like it was obviously added afterwards. Once you're done, to save the image, simply go to the File menu and choose Save > Save As or Export to iPhoto.
If you're working with Aperture as I am, and you've opened this as an opening editor, you can simply tap Save, and then close Snapseed. And when you return to Aperture, the effect will be updated in the Aperture window. Here's another example of what I did earlier. As you can see, the overall effects can be quite cool. Snapseed is a really fun way to explore different looks, when you really don't know what to do. It's a very creative tool that allows you to have a lot of fun with your images.
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