Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

MakerSpace: Instax Mini Fun

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I have had an Instax Mini camera sitting in my house for some time, but Thing 2 (now a Tween, how did that happen?) recently discovered it and fell in love. She started asking me to go on walks with her and now we go on nightly walks and take pictures. And because she has spent some time in the Teen MakerSpace at my library she knows all about photo booths, so she asked me to help her make one and some props so that she could have her friends over and take pictures of them. And as always happens, this got me started thinking about all of the ways we could use the Instax Mini in teen programming.

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Thing 2 taking some pics with her Instax Mini

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The Instax Mini is an instant camera that produces pictures on the spot. The camera itself can be purchased for around 55 to 65 dollars. It comes in 3 sizes, the 7s, the 8 and the 9. If you can, I recommend purchasing the 9 because it comes with a close up lens. You can purchase a close up lens for the other editions, but you might as well buy the 9 which comes with the lens. The Instax mini is fun and instant, but it doesn’t have a lot of versatility in terms of things like shudder speed, focus and flash. In fact, the flash always goes off and it is recommended that to avoid over exposure in some situations you may want to cover the flash with electrical tape. There are some user guides out there and I recommend taking a look at them.

The Ultimate Fuji Instax Camera Comparison – Photography Concentrate

The Key Differences Between the Instax Mini 9 and Mini 8

Using your Instax Mini 8 | Some Tips & Tricks – Heidi Swapp

Let Your Creativity Show in an Instax! · Lomography

If you buy the film in bulk each pictures costs an average of anywhere between 60 and 65 cents. Be careful when buying the film, because it can go as high as $1.00 a picture. You can buy film with a plain white border or buy film with decorative borders. Fuji even occasionally releases specialty film, like Alice in Wonderland or Lilo and Stitch. You can buy sticker frames or acrylic frames for your pictures, put them into photo albums, or make a variety of cool crafts with them. You can even buy small scrapbooking stickers and decorate the border yourself.

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This is a Instax pic with a pre-purchased sticker frame. Teens can make their own frames using scrapbook paper or patterned vinyl. Cut it by hand using a stencil or using a cutter like the Silhouette Cameo.

I’ve already made one crafty display for my pictures and Thing 2 is working on one of her one that will take up a large chunk of one wall. In fact, I started a Pinterest board of Instax Mini ideas that I’m planning on trying to implement in a makerspace.

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A co-worker and I recently did our final outside outreach event of the season and we made an “I Love My Library” sign and used the Instax Mini camera to take pictures that we gave to attendees to take home and remember the library. Kids were amazed by the instant photo and their parents were excited to have a blast from the past.

Some ideas I have include:

For Teen Read Week: Have teens create a tripdic (a series of 3 pictures) that relate somehow to their favorite book. Display the pictures and see if other teens can guess what book it is. This can be set up as a bulletin board or display wall and be an interactive promotion.

For Banned Books Week: Set up a jail cell or photo booth and take pictures of teens with their favorite “banned” books. Again, this would make a fun display.

Let teens take a picture or series of pictures and decorate or display them. They can create frames, wall art, magnet frames and more. In fact, we have a Silhouette cameo and you can purchase magnet sheets that can be cut with the Silhouette Cameo. Cut out frames, then cut out a piece of vinyl to decorate the frame, and you have a great fridge or locker craft.

MakerSpace: Rhonna Designs Photo and Collage App Review

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Behold, I have found a new photo app! As I mentioned last week, a friend fell into a button maker group and they talk a lot about two things:

1) The Canon Selphy printer, which I reviewed last week and

2) The Rhonna Designs app, which a lot of people in the button making community use to design their buttons.

rhonna1For more information about Rhonna Designs, visit their homepage

Rhonna App information at the iTunes stores

Here’s a look at some photos created by the Rhonna Design app from the Rhonna Designs homepage.

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And, since you know I love a good photo app, I decided to try it out. For you. I’m a giver.

As you can see, the Rhonna Designs app specializes in making Instagram ready pics and memes by layering photos, backgrounds, texts and graphics. There is a pretty steep learning curve for this app, but once I figured it out I was able to make some quick and easy graphics for this post in literally one minute.

The Basics

Technically, there are 3 Rhonna Design apps: Rhonna, RhonnaCollage and Rhonna Magic. You can buy one for $1.99 or buy all three in a bundle for $4.99. I made the mistake of buying just one and realized it is better to have all three. Each app in the package does a very specific thing and then you can open your photo in the next app to do that specific thing.

Let me try and clarify, it’s kind of confusing.

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App descriptions screen cap from Rhonna Designs home page

Rhonna Designs has a collection of backgrounds which you can use or you can use your own photo. You can then add text or a variety of stickers. In this app you also have some filters, frames and a mask feature. If you buy only one of the apps, this is probably the one you want to buy.

Rhonna Collage allows you to make a collage, just like the name says. You can pick a layout or begin with a blank page and create your layout. I have tried a lot of collage apps and this one is probably my favorite in terms of how it lets you choose a background and layer pictures over the top of it.

Photo made using Rhonna Collage

Photo made using Rhonna Collage

Rhonna Designs Magic uses layers and allows you to use a variety of filters and effects to enhance your photo. For example, you can use Bokeh lighting, light leaks and blur effects. It also has a “candy” feature which allows you to color your photos. One of my favorite features in Instagram in the title shift, which allows you to blur edges and pull the focus on a specific part of a photo. Blur effects allows you to do that same thing here. Bokeh lighting allows you to add light flares allows you to play with the lighting on your photo. If you don’t like an effect, you can just go in and delete the layer.

Photo then opened in RD Magic and transformed using the candy function

Photo then opened in RD Magic and transformed using the candy function

This is a photo I transformed using something from all three of the apps:

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And here is a photo I created using Rhonna Designs made into a button. The background is a background provided in the app, I then just layered stickers and texts using this years Teen Summer Reading theme.

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I spend a lot of time using photo apps, and overall I liked this one. I still don’t think it does everything I would like one app to do and I kind of hate having to open it in another app to do some of the magic effects. I do, however, really like many aspects of the collage app. In fact, I like everything it does, I just wish it did them all in one place and for one lower price. And like many apps, there are additional in app purchases for things like more text fonts and sticker options, so it can get pricey if you let it.

I do have a digital media lab in our Teen MakerSpace which consists of a bank of iPads with pre-loaded apps, and I would definitely consider adding these. Though you can do a lot of these same things with a free Canva account, which has a lot more versatility when using a tablet. Though it works very quickly and pretty easily for a smart phone app. So if you’re using a smart phone, definitely check out this app. If you’re using a tablet or a PC, I also recommend researching Canva before making any purchasing decisions. It’s also important to note that although a basic Canva account is free, there can be some additional purchases in using that as well.

I would recommend this app, depending on what you want to use it for. If you are looking for quick, mobile and something to use on your smartphone, it definitely has a lot more options in one place, especially if you are primarily going to be making Instagram pics and memes. Many photo apps do one or a few specific things, and all together this app bundle does a lot of things in one place.

There is also a PC version of Rhonna Designs that you can use, which I have not tried.

More Digital Media/Photo App Reviews at TLT

How Did You Do That? Photo Apps Version – Teen Librarian Toolbox

Fused (with an assist from the Silhouette app) – Teen Librarian Toolbox

Aviary – Teen Librarian Toolbox

App Review: FotoRus

App Review: Candy Camera

App Review: Enlight

App Review: Prisma

App Review: A Beautiful Mess

Book Review: The Summer of Jordi Perez (And the Best Burger in Los Angeles) by Amy Spalding

Publisher’s description

summer of jordiSeventeen, fashion-obsessed, and gay, Abby Ives has always been content playing the sidekick in other people’s lives. While her friends and sister have plunged headfirst into the world of dating and romances, Abby’s been happy to focus on her plus-size style blog and her dreams of taking the fashion industry by storm. When she lands a great internship at her favorite boutique, she’s thrilled to take the first step toward her dream career. Then she falls for her fellow intern, Jordi Perez. Hard. And now she’s competing against the girl she’s kissing to win the coveted paid job at the end of the internship.

But really, nothing this summer is going as planned. She also unwittingly becomes friends with Jax, a lacrosseplaying bro-type who wants her help finding the best burger in Los Angeles, and she’s struggling to prove to her mother—the city’s celebrity health nut—that she’s perfectly content with who she is.

Just as Abby starts to feel like she’s no longer the sidekick in her own life, Jordi’s photography surprisingly puts her in the spotlight. Instead of feeling like she’s landed a starring role, Abby feels betrayed. Can Abby find a way to reconcile her positive yet private sense of self with the image others have of her?

 

Amanda’s thoughts

If you are not reading Amy Spalding’s books, you are totally missing out. Her dialogue is A+ and I always want to be best friends with all of her characters. This book was no exception.

 

17-year-old Abby has always viewed herself as the quirky, funny sidekick in her own life—the one who watches cool things happen to other people and is there for advice and clever one-liners. Because of this view of herself, she kind of can’t believe it when Mexican American Jordi Perez, who is cute, cultured, serious, and seems to have it all together, reciprocates her crush. Both girls get a summer internship together at Lemonberry, a faux vintage clothing store. Abby runs a fashion blog and Jordi takes excellent photographs. Though they’ve gone to high school together, they don’t really know each other—in fact, Abby can’t even remember Jordi’s name at first. It’s a summer full of unexpected things for Abby, who also ends up becoming best buds with Jax, a lacrosse-playing friend of her best friend’s boyfriend (Jax is convinced this makes them friends-in-law, so of course they should hang out). Jax ropes Abby into eating and rating burgers all summer as part of his dad’s new Yelp-like app. Jax is a gem of a character—funny, supportive, and so much more than the cliche that it seems like he may be. While Abby has a cool internship, a rad girlfriend, and great friends (including some unexpected new ones), it’s not all roses. Abby repeatedly mentions that she’s fat. When she says something about being fat and Jax starts to say she’s not, she points out to him that she is, which isn’t bad, but “acting like fat’s an insult is.” She’s cool with her body and her weight, for the most part, though she is a little self-conscious especially when she and Jordi start making out (a not-so-unusual feeling for anyone). Though she runs a fashion blog, she never posts pictures of herself on it. She’s particularly self-conscious about pictures of herself, not because she doesn’t like to look at them, but because she would like to avoid all of the fat-hating comments from people who may view them. It just seems easier and safer to not put herself out there. Then there’s the issue of her mother, a food blogger, who seems to constantly view Abby as a disappointment. Abby is pretty sure her mother would prefer her to be straight and thin, things she more or less says outright to her. But despite the feeling of being a disappointment to her mother, things are mostly going great… until they aren’t.

 

This book has a super wide appeal—it’s an excellent romance full of joy and happiness. Abby’s zest for fashion is contagious—my own closet is full of mostly black and extremely boring, but I loved reading about Abby’s outfits and the clothes at the shop. Though there is a fight and some fallout/heartbreak, this is a feel-good book with tons of charm, humor, and heart. This funny, sweet, summer read was the perfect thing to spend a blizzardy day off of work reading. 

 

 

Review copy courtesy of the publisher and Edelweiss

ISBN-13: 9781510727663
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Publication date: 04/03/2018

MakerSpace: Making a Photo Booth Prop Holder

Yesterday I completely re-arranged and marketed our Teen MakerSpace. As a librarian, this is indeed my idea of a good time. But one thing that has always bothered me is the way we display our Photo Booth Props. As you may know (if you don’t, hi new readers!), we have a lot of photo booth props. We like to make thematic units as new tie-ins come about. But we’ve never had a good way to display them. In fact, they were laying flat on a shelf like this before yesterday – check out the upper left hand corner:

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Awkward, unattractive, hard to get to and easy to make a mess. In other words, not good at all. So yesterday Teen MakerSpace Assistant Morgan and I had a conversation that went like this:

Morgan: I wish we had a bucket or something to display them in.

Karen: We do, but they still get all wobbly and fall over and stuff.

Morgan: What about using that trashcan over there.

Karen: Oh, gross.

**pause**

Karen: We’re a MakerSpace, let’s make one!

So I went into the office and looked around and we have a stack of empty shoe boxes that we can maybe do something with. And it hit me – WE CAN MAKE A PHOTO BOOTH PROP HOLDER. And we did.

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Here’s what we did:

1. We filled our shoe box with rocks to make it heavy so that it would stand up straight. The rocks were placed in a plastic ziploc bag and duct taped to the bottom of the box. The weight is 100% necessary for balance.

2. We covered our box in duct tape to make it attractive.

3. We used a screw driver to poke holes in the top to place each individual prop stick in. This keeps them all nice and neat. No more flopping over! There was much rejoicing.

Now it sits, sturdily I might add, next to our photo booth. See, we used our making skills to solve a problem and make items more accessible. I’m going to call that a win.

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To learn more about our photo booth or photo booth props, check out these posts:

Making Photo Booth Props

Building Our Portable Photo Booth

TPIB: Turn your Instagram pics into Photobooth bookmarks

Building Our Portable Photo Booth – Outreach at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County, Day 2

photobooth12Yesterday I shared with you that this week was all about outreach and introduced you to our basic format. Today, I’m going to share with you how we created our portable outreach photo booth.

Our primary outreach event is called First Fridays, which is a downtown festival with food trucks, an outdoor concert, and an opportunity for local businesses to promote themselves with booths. On average, we have noted that we talk to anywhere between 200 and 400 people in the space of 3 hours. We had a module where we made buttons, and it turns out they are very popular but making 300 buttons in 3 hours can be exhausting. And after 3 First Fridays, we wanted to kind of spice it up and show a different side of the Teen MakerSpace. So we decided to make a portable photo booth. This turned out to be a fun and popular decision.

We needed a photo booth that was easy to transport and set up/take down. After a lot of research, we used this as our model. We only made on slight change in that we have to different sizes of cross bars so that we can have a smaller or wider photo booth depending on the size of the space we are in. Also, we have both a green screen and a black background. We just bought cheap sheets at the local store and these work fine.

photobooth1Supplies needed:

PVC Plastic Pieces/Pipes

(These can purchased at Lowe’s or some other home repair store)

2 pieces of PVC elbows (for your top connectors)

4 pieces of PVC “T” connectors (2 for your middle cross bar, 2 for your feet)

10 pieces of PVC cut to 3 feet (2 for your back cross bars, 4 for your height, and 4 for your feet)

2 pieces of PVC cut to 5 feet (if you wish to have a larger width photo booth)

Please note: all your pieces of PVC pipe should be the same. We used 3/4 of an inch in diameter. In this picture shown we have used the smaller PVC pipe for our crossbars.

Additional Supplies

  • A black flat sheet (technically you can use any color that you would like)
  • A Kelly Green flat sheet (if you want to use your photo booth as a green screen)
  • Alligator clips (to hold your cloth in place)
  • Various sizes of binder clips
  • Some type of banner
  • Photo booth props (tomorrow we will talk about making your own)

Our total cost was about $50.00, including one sheet.

Setting Up the Photo Booth

Once you have all your pieces cut to the correct size, setting up is easy. As I mentioned, we have to sizes of cross bars so our width can be either 3 feet across, which fits one person, or 5 feet across, which accommodated groups pretty well. We have used it both as a green screen and as a basic backdrop. You will need at least 2 staff to set up and take down the portable photo booth. I also recommend making step-by-step photo instructions.

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After you set up your frame, you’ll need 2 people to drape your sheet over the frame. Especially if you are using it as a green screen, you want to pull your sheet as tight as possible. Wrinkles can cause lighting issues which can cause the green screen to not be properly replaced with your software. Good lighting is really important when using a green screen as well.

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We used both binder clips and alligator clips to pull the material tightly in the back and keep it in place.

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We made a banner so that people knew who we were using triangles, string and giant letter stickers. We eventually made gears to decorate our banner, which is not shown here.

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Signage is very important – as is creating a hashtag. People were invited to take their own pictures and staff used their devices to take pictures as well using the library’s account. All pictures were tagged with the hashtag so that patron’s could go find them online. In addition, we had a slip of paper that we handed to each person telling them about the library, about the hashtag, and inviting them to come into the Teen MakerSpace where we could show them how to print their picture and make it into a button or use some of our photo apps to add text and filters.

Tips and Tricks

The night we first used our portable photo booth turned out to be a really windy night. We had to have staff sit on each side of the photo booth with their foot on the bottom bar to keep it stable. We are talking getting a bar of rebarb to slide through the bottom to help with this in the future. We also discussed sand bags, though we are hesitant to add more bulky, heavy items to our set up. Just know that if you are outdoors wind can be an issue and you may need a stabilizing agent.

For the larger size booth – 5 feet across – we cut the PVC pipe to 5 feet. This means that we had these longer pieces to carry. We are talking about cutting them in half and adding another connector so that all the PVC poles are shorter and we can fit them into a larger gym bag. The jury is still out on this.

Final Verdict

I love the portable photo booth! Everyone had a really great time and it was very easy to set up and take down. And to be honest, it was easier on staff then making 300 buttons in 3 hours.

Here are some of the pictures we took . . .

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Tomorrow, I will share with you how we made our own photo booth props, what worked . . . and what didn’t.

App Review: Prisma

Knowing my love of photo apps, several people have wanted to make sure I know about the new Prisma app. Prisma allows you to transform your picture into a work of art based on the styles of many famous artists. It’s actually a fairly easy app to you, in part because it is limited in functionality. It does all the work, so there isn’t a lot that you, the user, have to do. You can manipulate the degree to which your photo is changed, you can split the screen so only half the photo is changed or the two halves of the photo are changed to different degrees, but you don’t have to worry about things like contrast or brightness or exposure.

Let’s look at what it does. Here’s my original photo:

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There are currently 29 filters to choose from. They include things like Gothic, Transverse Line, Paper Art and Mondrian. They also have my personal favorite, Heisenberg. Yes, that Heisenberg, from Breaking Bad. Here’s what the picture above looks like using some of the filters available on Prisma. I took screen shots so you could see the name of each filter being used.

prisma9 prisma3 prisma2 prisma1 primsa8 primsa7 primsa6 primsa5 primsa4As you can see, it does in fact turn your photo into a stunning work of art. And it is very easy to use. You literally just choose your art style by clicking on it, the app does all the work, and then if you would like you can adjust the degree of filtering by swiping your finger from left to right on the screen.

I can see using this filter to create some cool pictures and then downloading them to do things like add text to make end cap signs. Or bookmarks. Or incorporating the pics into flyers or on social media.

Or you can create pictures and mod podge or transfer them onto canvas or wood blocks. Make them into buttons or key chains. There are lots of creative opportunities for this app. The best part: it was totally free.

MakerSpace: Green Screen Photo Booth, app review and tips and tricks

As part of our MakerSpace, I decided that I wanted to set up a Green Screen Photo Booth, though the truth is that I know nothing about doing green screen photos. So I started by trying out a variety of apps on our iPad stations.

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Apps investigated include:

Verdict:

For our purposes, I felt that Green Screen Wizard Mobile was the easiest to use. It doesn’t have as much versatility as the others, but as a pure shoot, snap and replace your background type of app it is hands down my favorite.

Green Screen Studio, for example, wanted you to wipe away all the green screen, which was time consuming and required a delicate hand. I wanted an app that would automatically replace all the green, which the GS Wizard app did quickly and easily.

The Green Screen by Do Ink app is a really more complicated app and needs more hands on tutorial to get teens using it. I recommend it more for a classroom or program setting.

There are several other green screen apps that you can try, but if you want a simple 3-step process app then this is the app that I recommend and am using. We wanted and need an app that is easy to use so that casual users coming into the MakerSpace can have a fun photo session but not have to have a lot of background instruction.

How it Works:

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Step 1: Take Your Photo

It is literally a 3-step process. You take your first picture, which you have set up in front of your green screen. Here I used some of my Doctor Who Funko Pop toys and a green piece of poster board purchased for $1.00 at a local store (I tested this all out at home first and then in my Teen MakerSpace):

You can then take or upload a background picture. There are some backgrounds you can use with the app or you can add your own. You will, of course, want to be careful about copyright.

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Step 2: Load your background image

As you can see, the app replaces everything that is green with your background image. It’s quick and simple.

After you save your image, you can then make a few small edits if you would like. For example, you can make your foreground image larger or smaller. You then simply save your image and it’s truly magic.

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The 10th Doctor and Tardis in space via green screen

We tried several different scenarios to see what worked and were pretty happy with them all:

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Thing 2 visits the beach from our living room

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Thing 2 floats in space

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Thing 2’s stuffed panda bear floats in space

Setting Up Our Green Screen Photo Booth:

To set up our photo booth in our MakerSpace, we simply used a green colored tri-fold presentation board. It cost us $3.47 at a local craft store and fits perfectly in our window space.

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Green Screen Photo Booth with instructions for teens

I put up a variety of props close by and some tools to make their own additional props.

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Our assistant director tries out the Green Screen Photo Booth in the Teen MakerSpace at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County (OH)

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Our teen page tries out the Green Screen Photo Booth

The GS photo app is loaded onto our iPads so that they can be easily used. Here you will see a teen editing his picture.

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Our teen page edits his Green Screen photo

And just for fun, we took it to the next step and printed them out in smaller sizes and used the images to make buttons on our button makers.

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The Green Screen Photo in various stages, including as a super cool button

We’ve had a lot of fun with this station, both at home and at the library. It was very inexpensive. But the best part was how quickly and easily we were able to make successful projects and feel like we had learned something new while having fun.

You can also take this a step further if you would like, uploading your GS images into an app like GIFfer or stop motion to make a stop motion movie.

Additional Resources:

How to Do Green Screen Photography on an iPad at School

Diary of a Techie Chick: Green-Screen Effect on the iPad

How to Use Green Screen Effects on iPads – HubPages

App Review: FotoRus

It’s been a couple of weeks since I talked about a photo app, so you probably thought that my obsession with photos and photo apps was dying down – but no! It is alive and well, I have just been waiting for the right moment. Like now, now feels like the right moment to discuss with you an app with a few fun new features that I have found.

fotorusFotoRus is an app that does multiple things. You can create a collage, add a sticker or edit like a pro using the pro edit feature. My two favorite things about FotoRus are the Mag Library feature (InstaMag) and the PIP (photo in a photo) feature.

Mag Library

Mag Library is short for magazine library. Here you can select a magazine spread layout and add your photos. You can’t do a lot of editing, which is the downside, but if you are looking for quick and easy layouts it is a definite plus. Even when switching to Pro Edit I couldn’t get rid of a few pieces of text that I wanted to. There are a ton of fun and creative layouts to choose from.

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PIP

The PIP feature allows you to create a dual picture effect. I made holiday cards this year using the snowflake picture. There are also images like camera view finders, bottles, smart phone screens and, my other personal favorite, the audio cassette. As you can see, it kind of puts the picture in the background as an out of focus image and then it highlights it inside the selected picture.

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The App Details

Description from iTunes:

Including Professional Edit, Beauty, Special Effects, Sticker, Secret Album, and InstaMag!

【Sticker】
Apply hundreds of stickers with funny, cute and girly themes. Make your photo more expressive!

【Classic Collage】
Over 100+ Square, Portrait, Landscape, and Strips format and styles to suit all your artistic needs!

【Pro Edit】
Over a dozen powerful and must-have editing functions such as Filters, Scenes, Adjust, Lighting, Light pen, and etc! Come check it out!

【InstaBeauty】
Try our real-time beauty camera and take the perfect-looking selfie! Use our rich function sets to further edit your selfie including: Remove blemishes, whiten skin, remove eye-bag, and many more!

【InstaMag】
The most fashionable designer-style collages and posters! Easy, beautiful, with all kinds design styles to choose from.

【PIP Camera】
The most creative and professional-studio selfie with one tap of a finger! #1 in over 40 countries! Great for making your profile photos.

【Secret Album】
Protect you secret photos from others!

This app is available for both iTunes and on Google Play. It is free and there are ads.

You can also download FotoRus for your PC. I have not done this and can’t tell you how it works on the PC, sorry.

There are other apps that do some of the same things as FotoRus. For example, you can do a lot of the editing in Aviary, you can add text with Over, you can make collages with a wide variety of apps, and you can add stickers with apps like CandyCam and A Beautiful Mess. FotoRus is the only app that I have found that can do the PIP feature. And, as I mentioned, I really like the InstaMag layouts. For these features alone, I recommend this app.

For more app reviews check out the MakerSpace section or Tech Talk. Or click on the Tech Talk or App Review tag.

App Review: Image Chef

Recently, The Teen had to do a complex poetry assignment. One of the poems she had to create was a Concrete Poem, a poem that takes a shape. I would like to point out that the subject of her poem was me – go Mom! But we went looking for a way to easily create the shape poem. The most obvious answer is Tagxedo, but for me the task was an opportunity to explore new apps. This is how I stumbled upon Visual Poetry, which is a part of Image Chef. You can download Visual Poetry separately, but I highly recommend just getting all of Image Chef.

Description

“Now with video! Do amazing things with photos & text using ImageChef. Use our amazing photo and text templates, or arrange text and stickers manually. Output as images, animated GIF, or videos that you can post to Instagram.”

Image Chef is an app, but it is also an online resource as well. It is a photo manipulator, but it also does text images as well. Basically, Image Chef is a really cool resource. And, depending on what you are doing, it is really quick and easy to use. In a matter of minutes I made these three images:

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You can do the most basic elements for free, but you have to upgrade to the Pro version to remove the watermark or get HD images. The online Pro Version costs $9.99 a week, $24 a month, $49 for months or $100 for a year. That’s a pretty steep cost in my opinion. Similarly, the app itself is free but there are in app purchases necessary to unlock the full potential of the app. However, if all you want is a quick and easy but fun visual, this is a really good starting place. It has the least amount of functionality in terms of manipulating designs, which is what makes it so quick and easy to use. So users desiring more control over the details will want to look elsewhere, but it is definitely a good starting point and a great place for fun. And it is a great place for those who want to create Memes.

It does have some GIF, animation and video options, but I have not really tried to use those yet.

Pros:

There is a large number of image options to choose from. And I do mean a large number – the publicity materials say there are “1000s”.

It is quick and easy to use.

It’s fun.

Cons:

Unless you want to pay high dollar amounts for the pro version, you are stuck with a watermark and other restrictions.

You can’t manipulate the details as much as you can on some other apps.

Bottom Line:

It’s not my go to image app, but it does some fun things that I can’t do on other apps so I am definitely a fan of the fun.

MakerSpace: Unconventional Printing

makerspaceLook, we all know that I am obsessed with photo apps and pictures of my kids. But it’s not just for me, it’s for the teens – I swear. One of my favorite teen programs I have ever done – and I have repeated it several times – is a program called Renovate Your Room. The concept is simple: teens love to decorate their rooms and I love to decorate my house, so we make stuff to decorate. It’s a fun way to get teens creating and while they do this they are engaging in self expression, creativity and more.

As I move more into a MakerSpace model with an emphasis on STEAM programming, I have added more tech to the process, but the end product is still the same: creating original artwork by teens to decorate their space. I would love to be able to create images and cut them into glass or vinyl or even wood, but that kind of equipment isn’t in my future. But I have found a variety of ways to print my images onto things other then paper to take my creations up to the next level.

The first step of the process is to get teens hands on tech to create images. You can do this using a desktop, a laptop, a tablet or a smart phone. You can use a variety of apps and programs, which I frequently review because I am in fact obsessed. To be completely honest, depending on what I am trying to create, I will often use a variety of apps. Very seldom do I produce something in just one app or program because most of the times they do different things. That’s part of the learning process, figuring out what creates what effect and deciding the best tools to use to create the final product you envision. Sometimes trial and error is involved and that’s okay.

Then, after you create your image, you have to find a way to make art out of it. The most basic thing to do of course is to print it off and frame it. But I have been exploring ways that you can take your creation to the next level with some unconventional printing.

Printing Onto Burlap

unconventionalprinting3Just by chance I stumbled across these burlap sheets that you can feed through your printer. They have a more standard burlap brown color and I bought a white burlap sheet. They came in a set of 3 sheets for under $3.00, which was a pretty reasonable price. I will say that for me, they came out crooked every. single. time. But that’s where you are forced to get innovative. I trimmed the edges to straighten my printed piece out and then fixed it with matting, Washi Tape and more.

It worked pretty well. The only thing I will say is that it works better with shapes and words as opposed to pictures with more finite detail, like faces. I think it would look amazing with silhouettes.

 

Transfer Paper, part 1

unconventionalprinting4The other day I was helping some teens on the teen areas as they set up and tried to print images on transfer paper. This was my introduction to the process and I am totally hooked. So I bought a pack of transfer paper and it comes in a pack of about 10 sheets for $10.00, basically a dollar a sheet.

I then made everyone a t-shirt. And I do mean everyone. For Thing 2’s shirt here to the left, I made my image using the Fused App. She is obsessed with The Flash and is always showing us how she runs fast like him so I incorporated that into my design. After creating my image I downloaded it and added the text using PowerPoint. I used PowerPoint because that is the program that I have on my laptop, any graphics program will do.

To make your image transfer successfully you MUST FLIP IT INTO A MIRROR IMAGE. This is incredibly important if your final creation has words or numbers. If you do not flip your image, it will come out backwards on your final project. No bueno.

Transfer Paper, part 2

unconventionalprinting2A great number of my previous Renovate Your Room projects involved Mod Podging pictures onto canvas. It works, I’m not dissing the process. BUT YOU CAN GET A BETTER FINAL RESULT if you use photo transfer paper.

In order to successfully use the transfer paper to get your image onto a canvas, you should remove the staples from the canvas and put the canvas on a flat surface so that you can get good leverage to iron your photo transfer on. Getting good leverage it very important to the transfer process. After your photo transfer is complete, you can use staple gun to staple the canvas back onto the frame.

Again, if you have words or text you’ll want to flip and do the mirror image thing. I made the canvas above using a combination of 2 apps: Aviary and Hipstamtic. I used the Eiffel Tower sticker in Aviary to create the base image and the Shangai filter in Hipstamatic to make the cloudy pastel effect. I adore this filter.

I did go ahead and Mod Podge over my final image to kind of seal everything in. I also went ahead and painted the edges to kind of blend everything together. In future planning I would size my final image so that the edges folded over the frame edges to give it that gallery frame effect.

Print Your Insta

unconventionalprinting1After finally setting up a wireless printer in my house – to practice MakerSpace stuff – I learned a very hard lesson: If you print your Instagram photos directly from your smart phone photo album they are automatically resized to 4×6 in size. This is not the effect I am going for. But do not fear, if you want the small square sized pictures – there is an app for that! Print Your Insta is a theoretically free app (more on this in a moment) that you can use to print your Instagram pics at home in a 3.5 by 3.5 size. I said theoretically free because you do have to pay for the $1.99 upgrade if you want to remove the watermark off of your photo. I do so I paid the small fee.

I have printed a large number of my Instagram pictures now and they are all over my house and I am in love. I bought a larger frame – I believe it was 16×20 – at a thrift store and made a collage of my prints which now lines my hallway. We have also created our own magnetic frames using duct tape, magnets and clear contact paper to create pics for the fridge. That process is outlined here.

Clear Vinyl Sticker Paper

This is a thing I have not yet tried, but it is right up my alley! You can buy clear vinyl sticker paper and use it to make stickers to label jars, boxes, etc. You could also make personalized candles, cups and more. There is a tutorial here, here and here.

Have fun finding creative ways to take your MakerSpace dabbling up a notch by engaging in some unconventional printing. You don’t necessarily have to buy fancy laser engravers to achieve some MakerSpace type of creations, you just need to engage in some unconventional printing and teach teens how to take that and apply it creatively to the every day objects of their lives. My library doesn’t have the space or budget for laser printers and wood engravers at this point, but we can definitely by some different types of printing mediums and help teens learn to create their digital images and then use some more traditional crafting processes to make their own creations.

And my house is looking great as I experiment and explore at home to take this information back to my teens!