Prisma: Turning mundane photos into beautiful works of art

Prisma – the latest smash-hit-wonder photo filter app for iOS – is making a huge splash less than two weeks after its official release, with over a million daily users as of Thursday. That's a mighty impressive feat, considering that Prisma is pitted against a practically infinite number of filtering apps in the App Store, which have been around for much, much longer. But there is a good reason for that, a very good reason indeed.

Created by Russian developer Alexey Moiseenkov, Prisma is not your run-of-the-mill photo editing app that just overlays photos with color filters and calls it a day. No, instead – much like Google's DeepDream project – Prisma uses AI algorithms to draw from a combination of artificial neural networks that are fed with masterpieces by some of the greatest artists to walk this planet. The AI technology behind the magic then draws from these artworks to transform your photos completely by recreating multilayered stylized versions of them from scratch.

We've gone through a lot of photo editing and filtering apps here at the office. We won't go so far as to say that we've seen them all, but we've tried out a heck of a lot of them on all major mobile operating systems, and we haven't found another one quite like Prisma. What's more, the app is free right now, features no in-app purchases whatsoever, is not riddled with ads, and processing photos is surprisingly fast. Well, sometimes you'll be hit with a message that Prisma is “over capacity”, due to too many users online at the same time, but that's a small price to pay for what it has to offer.

An abundance of styles

Prisma currently offers a well rounded selection of 35 filters, the latest of which – #GetUrban – was added yesterday, which are well suited for many different styles of photography. Not all of them work all of the time and for all types of photos, and that's only normal. Some filters are more appropriate for portraits, while others for landscapes or still-lifes. “Gothic” and “MIOBI”, for example, work great for color close-up portraits, “Curly Hair” is well suited for black and white portraits, while “Dreams” and “Coloured Sky” create amazing landscapes. The filters are each inspired by a distinctive art style from the last two centuries, and while their names are somewhat ambiguous, the thumbnail on each speaks more than words could anyway.

Currently, Prisma doesn't offer much in way of shooting options. You are limited to a square crop and there are no options for HDR, zoom or timer. You can load photos that you've already made with your main camera app, which is great, but you are still limited to a square crop. Moiseenkov is promising more filters in the coming weeks, so we might see the app's overall functionality expand as well. Until then, we'd advise you to give Prisma a try ASAP.

A few tips:

Don't expect Prisma to magically turn any shot into a masterpiece. Pay attention to lighting and compose your shots carefully. The right composition and lighting is what really makes some photos look like paintings. I have been so impressed with Prisma, that I find myself at times – on my way home from work, or when I'm riding the bus – framing in my mind the everyday scenes that occur around me. Then I'd take my phone out, snap a picture, send it through Prisma, and be wowed yet again by how well it all works. Here are some of our best results using Prisma for your viewing pleasure:

Download Prisma on the App Store



1. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

that 2nd and 3rd cat filter looks good

2. CX3NT3_713

Posts: 2350; Member since: Apr 18, 2011

Smh.. Another iOS exclusive??

3. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

Only a timed exclusive, the Android version will be available later this month.

8. Rose_Dorris

Posts: 1; Member since: Jul 20, 2016

I have downloaded the beta version of Prisma for android from here :

4. shauncusi

Posts: 8; Member since: Jan 11, 2016

every time I use Pixma, it doesn't process the picture. It always shows "Prisma is over capacity" even though I am connected to the Internet. Any ideas on how to fix this?

7. AlikMalix unregistered

Happened to me too coupe of times, keep trying it works after a little while.

5. AlikMalix unregistered

This app works extreemly well. I'm surprised who well it draws lines that contours the lines of the photo. This app is smart. Just hit one of my top favorite apps of all time. It's true, some photos don't work with some of the "filters" (if you can call it that). But I got a masterpiece of my 5 Year old sleeping that I took in the dark - that's is going on a canvas!!! This is the pthoto editing app you really want, along with a pixelmator. One thing I noticed - results are better with photos that haven't been thru some form of filters before you run them thru Prisma App. So if you want to apply a hue or colors to the photo - use prisma app first then apply filters in another app if you must.

6. AlikMalix unregistered

P.S. Cannot find any in-app-purchase options or a payment option. I would like to pay for this app but there's no option. You can also disable the watermark logo in the settings - that's really generous for a free app that works so well. Also looking thru some fine print - this developer is requesting for full rights to your created "artwork" when you use this app. So be careful if you think you're the owner of the created image made by this app.

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