Studio Design by Overlay Studio Inc icon

Studio Design (Free) by Overlay Studio Inc is a sleek app that makes it easy for anyone to create their own design. It is similar to Rhonna Designs and Over, and combines a micro-social network with it like Instagram.

I am a big fan of photography apps on the iPhone, but what I really enjoy are the ones that allow users to get creative and really let their imagination fly. This means taking a photograph, and adding some meaning behind it, making it a source of inspiration for others. Fortunately, there are a plethora of apps to do that, and the latest entry into the market is Studio Design, and it’s definitely one worth your attention.

Studio Design by Overlay Studio Inc screenshot

First off, the interface is designed beautifully, and I can definitely see this fitting in quite nicely on iOS 7. It’s flat, simple, looks clean, and is quite intuitive. I’m also a fan of the color scheme used, as it combines light colors that just fit well with each other. There’s harmony when all of this is combined, and it’s even easy to read, thanks to the Avenir typeface.

In order to use Studio Design, you will need an account. To create one, you just need an email address, but there is the option of using Facebook Connect to quickly fill in the details for you. Once you’re logged in, you’ll find yourself on the main feed. Studio Design consists of five different sections, all of which can be accessed via the bottom menubar: Feed, Reactions, New Design, Search, and Profile.

The main feed is probably where you will spend most of your time in the app. This will consist of the designs that are submitted by people you follow, as well as your own. You can add notes to designs (counted as reactions), “like” them, and even take the base design and use it on your own creation. Other options for individual designs are reporting as inappropriate and bookmarking for reference later.

To create a new design, just tap on the large green button in the center of the menubar. The app will then ask you to choose a source for your base photo, which can be a new capture, imported from your Photo Library, or none at all. If you choose the “None” option, you get a blank canvas that you can fill to your heart’s content with the app’s overlays.

In the editing view, photos will need to be cropped into a 1:1 square format. Photos can be moved and resized with multitouch gestures, or you can use the toolbar at the bottom. Other options include the ability to rotate and flip the image, as well as adjusting the color saturation, brightness, and contrast. There are also filters that can be added to the image, which include a color tint, vivid, B&W, and more. Each of these can also have the intensity adjusted with a slider, so it’s not too over the top if you don’t want it to be.

That’s not all you can do with Studio Designs, after all, this isn’t just another photo editor. If you tap on the button in the top left, it will reveal a side panel with plenty of goodies. Your design can consist of several different layers, with the photo or blank canvas serving as a base. If you saved any designs as bookmarks, they can be dropped into your own design. Otherwise, you can dive in to the Overlays and create your own masterpiece.

Studio Design by Overlay Studio Inc screenshot

Overlays are split up into various categories, such as shapes, textures, crops, text, various themed shapes, and much more. Tapping on your selection will slide into another panel, where you are able to view the current choices available in that category. When you find one you like, tap on it to drop it into the picture, where you can then customize the size, position, and coloring. If you change your mind about an overlay layer, delete it by swiping on it in the side panel.

While the app comes with plenty of options available for free, there is the Overlays Market that features plenty of additional overlay packs that can be obtained for $0.99–1.99 a pop. However, these additional packs will contain at least 20 new elements each, so you do get a good amount of content for the price. I wish that they would have a special bundle though, similar to how VSCO Cam did when they first launched their redesigned app.

Whenever you are done creating your design, the final step is to share and save it. By default, designs will be shared on the Studio Design community, but you can change the default to private in the app settings. The design can also be published directly with a note on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. You can also share it by email or just save it directly to the Camera Roll. Your designs can also be deleted from your profile later if you decide you just don’t like it.

The Search functionality of Studio Design works quite well, bringing up results instantly after you submit your query. The search will go through designers and themes, and display the results in that order (first designers, followed by themes). I would like to see different tabs for users and themes, because the current view makes it a bit of a pain to go through (a lot of scrolling). There are also suggested designers that will always be shown, in case you need some people to follow.

The Settings for Studio Design allow users to update their account details, toggle private designs by default, and auto-export to Camera Roll.

So far, I’m pretty impressed with Studio Design. I may not be a designer, but this app makes it easy for anyone to get into it. The design is minimal and elegant, making it easy to use right from the get-go. The community seems pretty good, as there is a lot of creativity to be inspired by. And for the initial free download, I think it comes with a lot of content, and the IAPs are for serious users.

I highly recommend checking out Studio Design for yourself and put your creative juices to work. You can find it in the iPhone App Store for free.