I recently discovered and purchased the ValueViewer App for the iPhone. This app was endorsed by PleinAir Magazine so I figured it would be good. The premise is very good – take a photo of a scene with your iPhone camera then let the app break it down into a few values (lights and darks) so that you can rough-in the appropriate values to start a painting. Getting the values right, from the start, is a very important part step for producing a representational painting. The basic functionality of the app does allow you to capture a scene, break it down into 3 values and allows you to play around with the composition by zooming in on the image and cropping it to one of 3 common canvas/frame proportions (3:4, 4:5 & 11:14).
However, beyond the basics there is not much to this app. The following shortcomings quickly become obvious:
- can’t save the grey-scale image (so you can’t upload the image or print it)
- only 3 values (black, white and grey). I would like to see it selectable to 5, 7, 9 or 11 values
- only 3 set frame sizes (no ability for user to define others) and
- you can’t toggle between portrait and landscape orientations
I do like that there are 7 setting that allow one to adjust the scene for high or low key image. That is you can choose a 2-scale image (mainly black with a bit of grey or mainly white with a bit of grey) or five 3-tone (different proportions of black, grey and white) between these extremes.
So overall this app show promise but I’m afraid it’s not really ready for prime time – certainly not at a $4.99 price. In the current version (version 1.1 released 2011 July 22) I’m not even sure it would be up to the value of other 99 cent apps. The ad in PleinAir magazine does promise “more features coming soon” and it was on the basis of that promise that I made my purchase, to show support and provide encouragement for the developer to take this app to where it should be. It could be a very handy tool for painters working en plein air or in the studio.
Addendum: a new version (2.1) of this app was released in April 2012 – see my thoughts here.