I grew up reading science fiction books and loved the cover illustrations with vistas of alien worlds. I particularly remember the great paintings of Chesley Bonestell, an architect who later in life became a premier illustrator of space scenes. He also worked on some classic sci-fi movies like Destination Moon.
This brings me to Alien Sky, a new US$0.99 iPhone app that will easily transform your images into something that can recreate that eerie outer space look on your own photos.
The app features illustrations of galaxies, moons and planets. It also includes gradient filters and lens flares. You select an object and drop it on top of an image from your photo library, or take a fresh picture with the iPhone camera. Once the object is layered over your photo, you can change the size or rotate the object to any angle. It can then be saved to your picture roll, or shared via email or Twitter. It can also be directly imported into some photo editors on your iPhone like Photo Splash or Photogene. Of course, once in your camera roll, the image can be opened by any image editor.
The results with some western landscapes I had were excellent. Maximum output resolution on my iPhone 4S is 3072×3072.
A couple of changes I would like to see include some masking features which would let an object go behind something in the foreground like a rock or a building. For now, you can work around it using some of the objects in the library which have only partial images and move and rotate them near rocks or other things. Also, the app is not universal and it would be great on the iPad at full resolution.
I talked with developer James Grote who told me he is working on including masking and there will be an update that makes the app universal. For now it works natively on the iPhone and iPod touch.
Alien Sky is a very slick app, and if you have a fondness for science fiction illustration, you’ll enjoy playing with your own photos.
I’ve included some images I did while testing the app for this review. They are in the gallery below.
Gallery: Alien Sky