Text on images — that’s the idea behind messaging, poster art, greeting cards and scenic displays. And font freaks (you know who you are) will always be on the lookout for ways to mix text into snapshots and vacation photos. Happily, dressing up your photos with text can be done right on your mobile phone with a variety of font photo apps.
We chose nine apps for iOS and Android from the large number out there that can superimpose text or artistic stickers on your pictures. Some are free, some have free versions, most have additional in-app purchases, while others cost just a couple of dollars.
Word Swag, $2.99 from Oringe, lets you either place type over your image or cuts out a mask within your image to create an original, pleasing special effect. Three icon controls dominate the easy-to-use interface: one cycles through the styles, another gives you a choice of colors, and a third controls transparency and background brightness. Word Swag also offers standalone patterns that you can use as backgrounds for independent typographical creations.
Cycle through formatted text in an assortment of styles and decorative badges, and sample each one on your photo to see which looks best. Gestures change the size of the type or tilt. A separate workspace lets you write your message or choose from a series of quotes — a nice touch.
Phonto is a simple, free app that gives you plenty of opportunities to dress up your images with text in a large variety of decorative fonts, or to add text inside thought bubbles, placards and badges. A large assortment of stickers such as stars and hearts can be placed in various colors and angles. Use your finger or the arrow keys to move elements around on the canvas or tilt or change size and color.
Stenciled shapes and letters give you a nice cutout effect. You can even use Phonto to add fonts to your collection on the phone, just in case the large built-in collection is not enough. In-app purchases allow you to set and change themes, which are locked in the free version. Despite its ease of use, Phonto is very slick.
Hi Mom’s Typic comes in three versions: Free, Plus and Kids. I started with the free version and was largely satisfied. With your image available, you’re presented with the first of a set of editing cards. Sample fonts appear with size and drop shadow controls for your text. You can align text to the left, right or center, but if your text is too long you have to manually break it up.
The free version has some rotating ads at the bottom — not pleasant, but to be expected. There’s a limited supply of colors, but the design elements let you decide on the degree of opacity and shadow you want on the lettering. The app is simple and elegant.
With its circular navigation, choice of numerous fonts and flexible gesture-based composition, Over is easily one of the more versatile mobile font utilities. Just shoot or choose your photo and tap the Add Text or Add Artwork tabs. After typing in your text and choosing a color, a circular wheel emerges with a number of editing choices, including alignment, opacity, size and kerning.
You’ll want to scroll through the large number of fonts available and tap to instantly sample as many as you want directly on your picture. There are also a limited number of free line art drawings that you can superimpose on your image: a grid appears on the canvas to help you position the artwork. Any time you want to change an element of the image, just tap on the yellow arrow to bring up the navigation wheel. Over offered an excellent value in providing a great many fonts, and to a lesser extent line drawings, for 99 cents.
Masking images into letterforms is not especially complex, but it is a process if you do it in an image editor like Photoshop. Easy Tiger Apps’ Font Candy simplifies it with this mobile app. Choose a colorful image and you get the masked interface with a default font. Each color tile adds a tint to the mask and a slider bar adjusts the effect. A small square toggles the colors between the background and the text, with the image still inside the letters.
When masking letters, it’s nice to have them the center of attention, so I tend to use large, wide fonts for the job. You can adjust size and kerning, mix different fonts and words together, scale, crop and add color washes to the image,
BubbleFrame from FreshProduce doesn’t just let you add text to images, it lets you create sophisticated layouts with text that follow a path. The app comes with a variety of complex built-in bubble templates that you can move and adjust with some manual dexterity, but you can just pick a simple one to get started. Inside each, you can place a photo or video or mix the forms. All frames and the images can be adjusted for opacity and tint with drop shadows.
When you add lettering from a large choice of fonts (or install custom fonts), you can position, rotate, kern and make the text look just the way you want it. It’s like having InDesign or Quark on your phone. BubbleFrame has a lot of parameters and thus something of a learning curve. Because of the small space in the phone, elements are mostly moved via sliders rather than fingertips. If you are looking to create something really specific, BubbleFrame’s many cool capabilities are easy to discover.
PicLab, nominally a photo editor, offers a range of easy-to-use typographic elements and attractive display and decorative fonts in addition to filter effects that you can use on your photos. The built-in font collection lets you do the usual things, such as resize, rotate and adjust opacity. Multiple text layers let you mix fonts together for nice poster-type effects.
After you lay in your first layer of type, there’s an option to use the pencil to draw in other lines and doodles with your fingers. If you want to throw something together fast that is actually worth looking at, PicLab will not waste your time. Default versions of the app are free, but an HD version optimized for the iPad is $1.99, and getting rid of the watermark will set you back 99 cents.
There’s something intriguing about overlaying words and images as opposed to simply conveying a message, and WordFoto from bitCycle makes your images pop with typographic splendor. Once you delve into the app, you see how easy it is to get started with immediate preset styles. However, you can create your own presets too by mixing up the text foreground and background color, image, blur, and shadow as well as saturation brightness and contrast. Then choose up to five fonts you want to use, and you have a completely unique presentation for your favorite image.
The app comes with some basic words and phrases, but you can easily add your own word or word set for more profound labeling and messaging. In this case, a word is worth at least 1000 pictures.
Bucket Labs’ Stickr is for people who want to type on their images with minimal time and fuss and express that sticker aesthetic. Stickrs lets you choose from a colorful assortment of some 300 designs and place them anywhere atop your image for a scrapbook-like effect. That doesn’t mean the outcome will lack your personal touch. You still have the ability to change color, text, photo filtering effects, and more.
When your image lands in the Stickrs interface, you can crop and filter, but keep the tableau in mind because you want the filtered image to go nicely with the sticker (or stickers) you choose. Built-in Stickers come in basic designs, shapes, illustrations, paper and paint variations — plenty to start with. Stickr, which is $1.99, makes it easy to choose your own color scheme, type and size. Specialty stickers such as hands, icons and travel are available as in-app purchases. Stickrs gives a different, high-quality take on image text, and the variety is welcome.
These are just nine of the coolest, most unique and diversified apps I tried for adding text to your photos. Take them for s spin and see what you think. Do you have any favorites not mentioned here? Let us know in the comments below.