Here is a crappy, unfiltered photo.
I call it “Still Life with Typical BuzzFeed Lunch.”
And here is that same photo with a variety of weird and wonderful filters applied.
I tested these all on an iPhone 4; most are also available for Android and tablets. They vary in cost from free to a couple of dollars, and I only included ones that loaded relatively quickly, were intuitive to use, and allowed me to use pictures I already had on my phone (rather than requiring me to take a photo in-app).
This filter turns even the ugliest photos (see above) into BEAUTEOUS WORKS OF ART. Even if you’re not generally a taker of selfies, you will become overwhelmed with the urge to see your own face rendered in gentle yet powerful brushstrokes, as well as every other object you encounter.
This wickedly trippy and endlessly customizable app comes from the same developer (Tinrocket, by John Balestrieri) as Waterlogue, and it shows: you’re able to play with every conceivable element of your image, from the shape to the size of the “dots,” to the point where it’s nearly impossible to just run your picture through once.
3. Toon Camera
There are tons of cartoon-izing apps available, but this one stands out because of its attention to detail. Look at that beer label! Look at those horrible weird specks on that orange! Rather than making your images blocky and silly, it actually gives them a certain kind of elegance.
4. Color Splash
(THIS IS VERBATIM THE PLOT OF THE GIVER.)
Again, there are many color isolation apps to choose from, but I found this to be the most subtle and accurate in terms of shade. Also it makes it easy for you to color in any section of the photo you’d like even if you have stubby uncoordinated sausage fingers and thought this kind of thing was totally beyond your grasp.
Direct this app onto your desk. Direct it onto your face, or a bird, or the remains of your lunch. It will never not completely impress you.
Why would you want to make your photos look gross, you ask? Shhhh. This app would probably better serve you if you used it to spice up a landscape or your fixie bike, rather than something meant for human consumption. But for real, it’s free, and offers a fairly wide range of textured filters you won’t find elsewhere.
Another app that was basically made for landscapes, this allows you to play around with light and shapes in a totally new way. You can overlay one of the many pre-made filters or make one of your own. (A note, though, that if you want to edit your photo for contrast, brightness, etc., it’s probably best to do that beforehand in a different app before applying one of these guys — this is more focused on the aftereffects.)
Even the free version of this app gives you tons of options for layering images; bonus points because it allows you to adjust filters and settings on each individual layer as well as the overall picture. Also look at those cool dogs.
This app, by Code Organa of the aforementioned Toon Camera, is sheer delight. There are myriad style, palette, and texture options, and you can even sign the corner of the picture when you’re done BECAUSE ART.