3 Free Photo Editing Apps for Artists & Instagram Users

3 Great Photo Apps for Artists and Instagram Users!

If you’re photographing for social media (especially Instagram), you might find that it can be tricky to get just the right light and color in your photos. Natural light makes a huge difference, but isn’t always possible. That’s when a bit of editing can come in handy. So, if you’re aiming for those light and airy photos, need to adjust colors, or edit videos — here are a few phone/tablet apps that I love and use often:

(As of 1/19, all of these apps are free to download and use the features I mention, though some offer in-app purchases for things like filters, etc. I am not affiliated with the apps in any way, I just enjoy using them.)

1. Snapseed (Brighten up shadowed edges or remove nail holes!)

Why I love it: there’s a selective tool that will allow you to brighten specific spots. If there’s a shadow on one corner of your photo and you want to lighten it to tie in better with your Instagram feed, this is such an easy way to accomplish it! Shadows be gone! The are so many amazing tools on this app if you’re willing to spend some time on it. The vignette tool is another great one if you want the edges of your photo to be lighter, as it the vignette can go either direction (darker or lighter).

How to use the selective tool:

Load your photo. Select the tools category at the bottom, then selective.


Once you’ve clicked on ‘selective’, you’ll be able to add markers to the spots that you want to adjust. Make sure the add/+ button is highlighted in blue, then click the spot you want to adjust (you can delete or shift it later if you didn’t hit the right spot).

Click on whichever marker you want to adjust and it will turn blue. The B stands for brightness. If you move your finger up and down, you’ll see other options like contrast, saturation, etc. To adjust the brightness (or any of the others), move your finger left to make the area darker or right to make it brighter. As you can see in the photo above, I’ve brightened the lower left corner by +11. I continued on and did the others until it looked how I wanted (shown below). All done!


How to use the healing tool:

One more awesome feature on Snapseed is the healing tool. This is helpful if you’re trying to remove nail holes from a wall or a speck of dirt on your photo, etc. Little defects like this are easily removed! Below, I’ve used the tool to remove nail holes in the wall.

How: Choose the Tools category, then choose the healing tool (with the bandaid-like icon). You’ll simply tap on the area that you want to be ‘healed’, watch it turn red for a second, and then the spot should be gone! If it didn’t work quite right, there’s an undo arrow that you can push.


2. A Color Story (adjust both photos AND videos!)

Why I love it: It’s user friendly and doesn’t take a lot of time to figure out (like some others). It can even edit video or apply a filter to one! Most photo apps I’ve tried don’t load videos, so that had me very excited. It also has a grid feature that allows you to preview your Instagram feed before making a new post. Check this one out if you’re looking for artistic filters - there are many unique sets available to purchase at a reasonable cost and there are also some free ones. There are quite a few fun lighting effects, too, including bokeh and sunlight flare. If you’re willing to sift through free vs. paid options, you’re likely to find some features you’ll enjoy.

3. Adobe Lightroom CC (Modify an individual color!)

Why I love it: If you’re used to using Adobe programs, you’ll probably like this one best. It can be a bit overwhelming if you’re not used to editing. There are a LOT of adjustment functions, but hands down, my favorite is the ability to adjust individual colors. If you’re a painter, you know that certain colors never seem to photograph properly (turquoise, I’m looking at you). So, if a color isn’t popping quite as much as you’d like or you just need to tweak the hue or saturation a little, give this app a try.

How to adjust an individual color:

Open the photo you’ll be adjusting. Select the ‘color’ tab and it will drop down will several options. Click on the color wheel (highlighted in a blue square below). Now you’ll see individual colors that you can select (green is selected below). Choose the one you want to adjust and then play with settings that appear below — hue, saturation, and luminance. The settings shown above (temp, tint, vibrance, saturation) will adjust the entire photo, so use only the three below. Like most editing apps, if you make a mistake, there’s an undo arrow (at the top on this one). The sample below shows how I’ve edited green trees to be warmer.


I love sharing helpful tips, so feel free to comment if there’s a topic you’d like to know more about and I just may create a post about it!

Follow along on Instagram @hmr.art to stay updated! I’m also excited to hear what you think of these apps and if you have any tricks of your own to share with us.