AutoPainter HD by Mediachance icon

AutoPainter HD ($1.99) by Mediachance is one of a large number of image-filtering apps that allow you to add effects, in this case painterly ones, to any picture.

What makes AutoPainter a standout, however, is that instead of offering an overabundance of styles rendered with minimal imagination, they offer only four. But each was created with so much attention to detail, the results are nothing short of artworks themselves.

What also sets AutoPainter HD apart is the gorgeous way it shows you the artistic steps in the process of rendering your work. Take a look as I add a Van Gogh effect to a night time photo. The process and video take two minutes:

The included styles are:

Aquarell: Running colors, water removal, dry scratches: Intended for flowers, landscapes, old buildings or people.

Benson: Inspired by work of Frank Benson. This style has a sunny palette with Mediterranean tones. It enhances inner light and color harmony and works best on sunny landscapes.

Cezanne: Inspired by late works of Paul Cezanne. Painted on an artistic paper, the quick brush strokes with warmth and chalk details. Ideal on flowers and still life.

Van Gogh Inspired by Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”, discover the signature swirls, bended reality and blue tones with orange details. Best for night photography and landscapes especially with water reflections.

AutoPainter HD by Mediachance screenshot

The GUI is stunning and, frankly, idiot proof. Select an image from your iPad library, select the effect and watch AutoPainter work it’s magic.

If this seems like a sophisticated tool, with too few effects there is a reason. AutoPainter HD (and it’s iPhone and OS X versions) are based a much more robust PC program, Dynamic Auto Painter, that focuses not only on painterly styling’s, but also on portraiture.

The developers are working to integrate the features from the PC program to the other versions (which are currently all identical except AutoPainter Express on the Mac App Store yields a much higher resolution output image), but they have to deal with the limitations of the iOS device’s processor capabilities.

More is to come, rest assured, but Mediachance would rather release high-quality filters gradually than throw in everything, however pixelated or unrefined, at once. I applaud that approach and look forward to thoughtful updates.

And, all that said, there is a lot you can do with just the four. All it takes is creativity and some multitasking.

One of my favorite features within AutoPainter is that you can stop the transformation process at any point, so you can fine-tune your results, albeit in a linear manner.

AutoPainter HD by Mediachance screenshot

But as a talentless hack with creative aspirations, I was inspired to find additional uses for the app.

Try adding a cut-out of a person from one of your snapshots using an image editor.

(If you have a Mac check out my new favorite photo editor Acorn – The Image Editor for Human. It’s a full-featured, but simple, alternative to Photoshop.)

Then use AutoPainter HD to add, say a Cezanne effect. Now overlay the rendered person on a Cezanne background and ta-da, you can star in your own iconic work.

The only thing I would like to see added is social network integration and emailing to show off the end results. In this first release you can save your work to the device’s photo library, but that’s it.

I rendered a Cezanne still life, and “Starry Night” to see how the filters would respond to their inspirations and I was impressed by the results.

AutoPainter HD is one of the most sophisticated photo-filtering apps I have seen on the App Store. It yields extraordinary “painted” results. The GUI is golden and the process is a pleasure to watch. This is a must have for creative types who wish they could paint like the masters, but need a little help. Get it!

Want to win a copy for Mac or iPad? Just leave a comment about how you would use AutoPainter HD or AutoPainter Express, and I will pick the most creative replies as winners.

I did not secure iPhone codes, but if you ask nicely, perhaps someone will be happily surprised.

Be sure to specify which version you want and good luck!

Contest Closes Monday, April 25 at 6:00pm PDT