Don’t have enough time to read the whole guide? You’ll be well on your way to making fantastic Instagram photos with my two personal favorite all-around apps, Frametastic and LINE camera, which accomplish the two fundamental photo-editing tasks -- creating multi-frame compositions, and decorating pictures -- required for making the perfect Instagram photo!
Between my dozens of photo apps, my multi-step editing process, and my endless Instagram feed, I think it would be fair to call me just a tiny bit obsessive when it comes to Instagram. Since my friends constantly ask me which apps I’m using for editing my photos, I figured I’d write up my top picks and tips for everyone’s benefit! I’ll walk through each app and give a bunch of step-by-step examples for how to achieve a certain effect, referencing the apps I've written about throughout this article.
Note: I use an iPhone, so these are all iPhone apps. However, some of them are available in the Android market as well, and I’ve noted where that applies.
Apps for making multi-frame or collaged layout pictures
A multi-frame layout lets you put 2, or 3, or even more photos next to each other in a single final composition. You end up with a 2-in-1, 3-in-1, etc. kind of photo. Think photobooth strips! The key to finding the best multi-frame app is to find the one that has the frames that fit your needs and the configuration options to give you flexibility in how to use them. Don’t worry too much about apps that boast about how many frames are available; chances are, you’ll use just a few of these frame options over and over again (Except when you simply have to post something with an ungodly number of frames). In general, what you will really need is the ability to change the thickness and color of your frames.
Frametastic - Free; $0.99 in-app upgrade adds more frames
Frametastic is my go-to framing app that provides all the most common layouts I typically use. It also lets me change the thickness and curvature of the frames and it has a couple preset colors. Of all the framing apps I’ve tried, I find this one the most intuitive and simplest to use, and it still provides the vast majority of the framing scenarios I need.
PROCESS: Click the image above to walk step-by-step through the process with me! Original images brought into Frametastic in separate frames; applied effects using Frametastic; added cosmic overlay using Lumie; toned down cosmic effect using PicMix
Diptic - $0.99 (also available for Android)
If you’re willing to pay for your apps, this one is similar in its capabilities to Frametastic, but Diptic can also let you add basic effects to your photos and drag frames to custom positions. For example, if you wanted to start with two equally sized horizontal frames making up the canvas, you could drag down the separator frame edge in the middle to end up with a larger frame on top and a narrower one below. The only thing Diptic didn’t get right is the incredibly long time it takes to save a photo.
PROCESS: Click the image above to walk step-by-step through the process with me! Original image brought into Diptic in 3 separate frames; resized; effects applied; saved to library; added bokeh using Bokehful
Pic Collage - Free (also available for Android)
This app allows you to make a virtual collage out of photos from your library, Facebook, or the web. It’s very useful for compositions featuring an overall background image with additional pictures stuck on top! There are plenty of options for cropping stickers or configuring borders and shadows.
Set one image as the background of the collage and added additional ones on top using Pic Collage; added text using Pic Collage
Poly Frame - $0.99
For the elusive diagonal frame, I use the app Poly Frame. This is a rare layout that doesn’t appear in any of the free multi-frame apps I’ve tried. I’ve also occasionally used the other unique polygonal layouts offered by this app.
Left: Used diagonal frame layout in Poly Frame. Right: Used multi-frame layout in Poly Frame, adjusting the frames to a custom position to best fit picture needs.
Frame Magic Lite – Lite version is free; $0.99 full version includes additional frames
From the creators of Poly Frame, this app allows you to present photos in a photo booth-like stacking, and adjust the exact sizes of each frame. You can also customize the frame background as a color, pattern, or other image entirely.
Set one image as frame background and stacked three separate photos on top in Frame Magic; added text and bokeh in LINE camera