Splash Colors FX review - Cheap and easy to use colour effects app

With a hard edge to the brush, you can make geometric objects like this stand out by revealing their colour while hiding all around.

The concepts behind Splash Colors FX aren’t new, you can pick up ColorStrokes on the Mac App store that does exactly the same thing. That thing is removing all the colour at the start of the process then providing a brush to paint it back in. ColorStrokes does this and has a raft of features for recolouring, adjusting the image and then, somewhat bizarrely, creating a tone-mapped effect as well. So, Splash Colors FX has plenty to catch up with. Images can be loaded or drag and dropped onto the interface using any regular file format, except RAW images. Having done so the image is immediately stripped of colour.

Besides the option to zoom in by fitting the image to the horizontal or vertical sides, or just using a gradual zoom, this is now all about the brushwork. The brush has sliders for the size, blur and opacity. The blur component is actually feathering for the edge of the brush. The opacity sets how much colour is restored with a brush-stroke and under this are toggles for Color and Gray. The Color one means add colour back into the image, the Gray one removes the colour again. Obviously there’s some masking going on here but that’s all kept out of sight so that the process is very simple and visual. What’s slightly odd is that setting a custom opacity means that is what level of colour will be shown, regardless of how many times you brush over the image. This is actually a good idea as it’s all too easy to brush over the edge of existing work and create small elements of stronger colour. There’s a global undo button as well that removes all changes. If you didn’t like how it all worked there’s always the invert button that swaps the colour and mono areas around.

This is about as complex as you can get, with a light sepia tone and a muted colour reveal for the subject so that they blend together.

Besides the brush work there’s a basic set of effects covering brightness, contrast, exposure and adding sepia. There’s some problems here because these affect the image on a global basis, regardless of what colour painting has been done. So, with the sepia slider, that colour will not only tone the black and white areas, it also then over-writes the colour ones as well, which really isn’t a good idea. At best you can start using the sepia and stop why you can still tell what the colours are. There should certainly be more control over how all of these are applied.

The final option is to output the image, either by Message, AirDrop, add to iPhoto or upload to Twitter, Facebook and Flickr. Or you can just save or print it.


Although this is extremely cheap and very easy to use, rival app ColorStrokes does exactly the same things but has a lot more extra functions. So, a good start, but at this point needs some more development before considering a good choice for partially colouring images.

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