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My 5 Favorite Snapseed App Tools for Creating Killer Instagram Images

Jan 16, 2018

So right off the top, I have to say that I'm very excited to share with you my top 5 favorite Snapseed app tools for creating killer Instagram images.

Snapseed may be - well, that’s not fair - Snapseed is my favorite app for editing and tuning images for Instagram.  

I’ve been using Snapseed for over two years, and it has been my go-to app for editing photos for Instagram pretty much exclusively.

The only thing I don’t really do in the Snapseed app is something that I don’t think I can do within the app (meaning, I’ve not found it, if it exists), is to watermark the image with my brand logo or any other image I might want to superimpose onto the photo I intend to post.

So first, what exactly is ‘Snapseed?’

Intro - What is Snapseed

Snapseed is a photo editing app created by (well, maybe not created by - I’m really not sure - but owned by) Google.  So if you have some sort of boycott of Google products, Snapseed is not for you.

While you can take photographs within the Snapseed app, that is something I never do.  I much prefer using the camera app that comes with the iPhone.

Oh, yeah - my frame of reference and experience with mobile technology is limited to Apple products - for good or for bad.  So if you are using a different device, you can follow along and I’m sure what I’m sharing here will work on your device.

Snapseed has awesome tools that allow you to tune your image and really make your already high quality images shine even more.

So let’s roll up our sleeves and explore the app.

Navigating Around the Snapseed App

When you open the Snapseed app, you are presented with two buttons to ‘open’ a photo.  Once you do this, you will have options to ‘Open from Device,’ which means it will take you to your albums within your device and you can navigate to the photo you want to select from there.

You have the option for ‘Camera’ which will allow you to take a photo within the device.

And you have the ‘Open Latest Image’ choice which allows you to - wait for it - wait for it - open the latest image you took with the camera on your device.

I generally go with the open the latest image choice, as more often than not I’m posting my latest picture.

However, I also keep photos in my phone to reuse and I tend to store those photos in albums on my phone.  In that case, I’d choose to open a file from my device.

Once you choose a photo, you go to a screen where you have a few choices.

Along the top of the app, you have the ability to open a different photo.  You also have the ability to undo changes, redo changes, revert back to the original, view your edits, and perform a QR Look (scanning a QR code, which I’ve never done with this app).

There is an ‘Information’ button, and I really like this.  When you choose this off the menu, you are given image information details, such as the date and time the picture was taken, the image name, size, and which device took the picture. You are also given a satellite GPS image of the area where the image was taken, along with a pinpoint to show exactly where in the image the picture was taken.

Cool stuff!

So on the bottom of the screen you have “Looks,” “Tools,” and “Export.”

You only use Export when you are ready to save your edited picture.

“Looks” is what you will be on by default.  This gives you, along the bottom, a bunch of popular editing choices to scroll through to determine if you want to shortcut to one of the popular edits without tuning your image on your own.

Note:  You can ‘sample’ everything in this app without committing to the edit, so have fun tuning your image with the preset “looks” prior to doing your own tuning - you might just find something you like.

The ‘Tools’ option is what I tend to use more often than not.

My Five Favorite Tools

Okay, I’ve gotten you this far, but there are a lot of tools in the “Tools” section - and I’m not going to talk about what each of them do or why or why not I might use or not use them.

We’re just going to talk about my five favorite tools within the Tools section.

Tune Image

Okay, this is the first tool I use when I go into the tools section.  I find that almost always, my image is too dark.  So, I want to brighten it before I do anything else.

When I go into the ‘Tune Image’ tool, the default is on ‘Brighten’, so if you swipe your finger across your image left and right you’ll see it darken and brighten.  Set it where you would like it.

To tune your image in other ways aside from brightness, use the second button on the bottom from the left that looks like three little sliders.  You can choose Contrast, Saturation, Ambiance, Highlights, Shadows, and Warmth.

Of course, if you get any results you don’t like, you can exit out of these edits with the big X on the bottom left side.  If you are happy with your edits, you choose the check mark on the bottom right.

The magic wand button is an auto-adjustment feature that I never use.  In fact, I really can’t tell what it does, and no worries - I get what I want without it.

So once I’m happy with the results and I’ve exited out of the Tune Image tool, I move on to my next favorite tool.

Lens Blur

I love the lens blur.

I mean, I really love the lens blur.

Nothing makes the subject of your image pop more than to have it gradually blur as you move outward away from the subject.  

When you first go into the lens blur tool, you will see what looks like a target with a blue bullseye in the middle.  

The blue dot in the middle can be moved around.  That will be the center of the focus.  

The two white rings can be adjusted in all sorts of ways to blur the picture however you want to blur the picture.  

You can use the slider button at the bottom to tune the Blur Strength, the Transition, and the Vignette Strength.

I usually never use the slider button and just tune with my fingers to where I’m happy.  

Just remember, you can move the focus around by pressing down on while moving the blue dot.

In the lens blur tool, you can also touch the second button from the bottom left to go from an elliptical lens blur to a linear lens blur.  That’s fun, sometimes.

Additionally, the second button from the right looks like a stack of tags.  These are preset blur shapes, which I never use.  But, you might like them.

Remember, you can tap the big X on the bottom left to exit out if you don’t like the changes you’ve made.

Once I’ve got my blur just like I like it, I move on to the Black & White tool.

Black & White Tool

Now, I don’t always use this tool for the finished product.  In fact, it’s somewhat rare.

But I almost always try it to see if it works with the image I’m working with.  

When you go into the black and white tool, along the bottom you will find a bunch of preset options for you to try out.  I always try them all.

With each preset, you can use the slider button at the bottom to tune the image brightness, contract, or grain.

Once you’re done here, simply tap the check mark and move on to the next tool.

Vintage / Grunge

Okay, you’re getting a two-fer here.  

I like both the Vintage and Grunge tools.

Both are filters that you can manipulate, and using either is no different than working with the tools we’ve already worked with.

When you select Vintage, you are presented with twelve presets.  They are tuned pretty well from the start, but that doesn’t mean I just accept the default.  I like to play with the app to see what I get.

You can choose to add blur, or remove blur, but that could affect the blur you already adjusted for, so I wouldn’t recommend it.  But hey, you can play with it, see what you get, and if you don’t like it, X out of that tool and then go right back into it.

What works for the Vintage tool, works the same pretty with Grunge tool.  There are 5 preset grungy filters and various preset styles.  These tend to make the photo quite dark, so I use the Grunge tool much less than the Vintage tool.

After tuning the image with the Vintage and/or Grunge tool (yes, I’ve used both - I like combining filters!) I move on and put my frame onto my photo.

Frame Tool

If you look at my Instagram account @Todd.LIVE, you’ll see that for quite a long time I’ve put a frame on each and every photo and video I post to my grid.

I learned this after looking at a feed by @TripleAughtDesign.  That account has fabulous photography and they use frames on every post.

However, they use the same frame for every post, and they only use a black frame.  You see, Instagram already separates the pictures that are posted on the grid with a very small white line.  If you use a white frame, you just end up making that white line bigger, and it’s not very attractive.

If you use a black frame, as on my @Todd.LIVE account (any of my accounts, really, including @SlamDunkSocial and @Grammer.School) you’ll get what I get - nice black frames around each picture separated by a tiny, thin little white line.  It makes the page and grid look great!

The nice thing about the frame tool is that when you go into it, it serves up as a default the frame you used last time. 

Well, I only use one frame, ever, so my grid looks the way I want it to.  So this is a very quick and easy filter to add to your picture.

There are 23 frames to choose from, so find one you like and consider putting it on all of your photos.

Now, think about this.  I also put frames on the videos I post to my grid.  I want the frames on the videos to match the frames on the photos so my grid looks the way I want it to.

So if you use one of these unique frames in Snapseed that is not offered in a video editing app, then you won’t be able to have your frames match between the videos and the pictures.

But if you go with something simple, you’ll be able to frame everything the same and your grid will look pretty.

I use frame 12, just in case you’d like to know what I use.  All of my photo frames are frame 12.  

My video frames are applied in an app called Squareready Video.  I use black with thickness #3, in case you’re wondering and want to go find that.

Combining Filters and Effects

As you can see, I am combining filters and effects.  The interesting thing about this app is that, even though I’ve been using it for a couple of years, I learn how to tweak it in a different way each and every time I use it.  

So play with it and see what you can do with it.

How you edit your indoor photos will be different than how you edit your outdoor photos, so keep that in mind.  Just be ready to play with it and put time into it if you want to dial in something nice for every picture.

And have fun being playful with your photos.  Don’t be scared by all the app offers - instead, embrace it, and master it!  Nothing is permanent when you edit the photo until you go to export it, and even then, you can save a copy of the original so you don’t lose your original.

Saving to the Camera Roll

That’s right.  When you go to save it to your camera roll, you are given the option to save and overwrite the original (which I never do) or to save a copy (which is what I always do).

Sometimes I go back and get rid of the original, and keep the edited version.  Sometimes, I keep the original and ditch the edited version.  Either way, when you save a copy you have flexibility to do what you want with your work, as well as with your originals.

Conclusion - Ready to Import!

Now that you’ve mastered the five tools that I use, and you’ve successfully exported your masterpiece, you’re ready to import it into Instagram.

As you use this app more and more, these edits will become second-nature.  You’ll be making these edits in no time.

In the end, I hope this article has helped you out.  Please feel free to leave a comment below to ask a question, share an app that you prefer for photo editing, or anything else.

And by all means, reach out to me on my preferred messaging account, Instagram!  Right here:  Todd.LIVE

Thanks for reading!




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