New iPad app: Composite

I take a great deal of inspiration from the abstract art of the 20th century and through my own work I often aim to replicate these aesthetics in a digital context. In particular, I’m pretty enamoured by the neo-dadaist collages of Robert Rauschenberg. These pieces consist of silk screen prints from magazine images overlaid with paint. Using this technique, Rauschenberg found that he could comment on modern society using the very imagery used to shape that society.

Estate, 1963 - Robert Rauschenberg

Estate, 1963 - Robert Rauschenberg

Buffalo II, 1964 - Robert Rauschenberg

Buffalo II, 1964 - Robert Rauschenberg

About a year ago I decided to write some software which would allow me to paint using this approach. I wanted to build a mobile app that would give users the ability to paint using a live video stream. Unfortunately the technology to allow me to realise this idea had not yet been released. This could be achieved with a smartphone but I required more screen space. I needed an iPad with a camera. In March this year, the iPad 2 was released with both a front and back facing camera. Bingo! I proclaimed, and snapped one up straight away.

I’m excited to announce the release of Composite, my 3rd mobile app, and my first for the iPad 2. Composite allows you to remix your surroundings to create artistic compositions. Users are given the opportunity to paint pictures using the live video stream from their device’s front and back facing cameras. Simply point your iPad towards your subject and start painting to reveal it. A variety of control over the brush and video stream is offered to allow for a huge range of different aesthetics. These include brightness, contrast, colour offset, alpha, blur and thickness.

More than anything, I’m looking forward to seeing how people use Composite. In addition to being a tool to create finished compositions, I believe it would be excellent as a quick sketch pad for artists and illustrators to combine ideas on the go for future pieces. I also think it would be great in schools to help teach kids about art. As with Fracture and Konstruct I have created a Flickr gallery to showcase the best submitted artwork. I can’t wait to start filling it up with your work.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

In terms of the credits, I was responsible for the concept and development. My fiance and in-house designer Juliet Lall took control of the design and all branding, including the Composite website. The app was built using openFrameworks.

So install it, paint some outstanding compositions and please email your best work to submissions [at] to be featured in the Composite gallery. And if you like it, feel free to review it.

Available on the iPhone

17 Responses to “New iPad app: Composite”

  1. 1 Sowa Mai August 10, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    can’t wait to try it. fracture was lots of fun

  2. 2 jim hall August 10, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    looks ace! Now buy me an iPad 2

  3. 3 jamesalliban August 10, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    Haha! Cheers mate. It’s in the post.

  4. 4 saddoris August 22, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    Looks like a fantastic app. My own work has been largely influenced by Rauschenberg as well as Cy Twombly. What are the available export sizes from within Composite? Will it export larger than 1024×768?

  5. 5 James Alliban August 22, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    Thanks very much. You can export at 720×976. I’ve had complaints about that. Some would understandably like a print quality image but the quality of the iPad 2 camera coupled with the processor intensive work going on behind the scenes, this is not realistic.

  6. 6 Gerhard September 19, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    Hi James,
    this is really a great app.
    A higher resolution would be great, but I understand the problems with the hardware.

    It would be nice to add the option, to “load” already taken photos from the camera roll to include some parts of the photos into the final composition.


  7. 7 Waleed K. Fareed December 5, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    the apps looks crazy
    great blog btw, amazing


  8. 10 Lyndon December 29, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    The app looks amazing and can hardly wait to try but…you say it’s for iPad 2…what about iPad 3 (aka, the new pad)

  9. 11 James Alliban December 29, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    Hey Lyndon. Yes it’s working on iPad 3, 4 and mini.

  10. 12 Lyndon January 1, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    Thank you, will be purchasing it soon

  11. 13 Conor January 2, 2013 at 9:19 pm

    Love the app! It’s amazing! Is there any plans to take it to iPhone? I’d LOVE to have it on my iPhone so I can take it everywhere. I know you said the screen size is an issue because of the size but I wouldn’t mind it at all! Haha

    • 14 James Alliban January 2, 2013 at 9:25 pm

      Thanks Conor. I am in the process of creating an iPhone version at the moment but it is taking a while as I have to do it in my spare time.

      It was actually ported to Windows Phone last year and it works very well so I’ll admit I was wrong with my initial screen size worries 🙂

  1. 1 Rauschenberg-Like Collage in a New iPad App: Composite Trackback on August 12, 2011 at 5:31 pm
  2. 2 Amazing iPad app Composite – create artistic compositions « Little bites of Creative inspiration Trackback on August 17, 2011 at 12:28 pm
  3. 3 Composite for Windows Phone 7 « James Alliban Trackback on December 23, 2011 at 5:19 pm

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