eXtensions - Monday 6 May 2019


Waterlogue: iOS Favorite Remade for the Mac

By Graham K. Rogers


A few years ago, Tinrocket released an app for iOS that produced watercolor-like images from photo input. It has taken a while, but there is now a version of Waterlogue for the Mac that has more filters than the iOS original and a set of useful adjustment options

In 2013 Waterlogue was developed for the iPhone and I bought it almost immediately. I loved the watercolor style output that I was able to produce from my photographs and still use it regularly today. When it was announced a couple of weeks ago that a version for macOS was to be released on 6 May, I preordered the new version right away.

I was out during Sunday evening when a message on my Apple Watch indicated a purchase had been made; and the only purchase with the price tag shown was Waterlogue for macOS which I had been expecting the following day: 6 April. When I arrived home, the App Store page indicated the download was ready and an email had arrived also showing this was now available. I installed the software and started the app.


The editing screen was initially blank and ready for my photo input. To the left were 22 filters (13 in the iOS version) in three sections: Classic (11), Painterly (5) and Monochromatic (6). To the right were editing tools: Photo, Drawing, Paint, Water, Brush and Paper. Above the editing panel are controls for working operations. To the left are Import and Undo (initially greyed out) and Zoom controls. To the right Styles, which shows and hides the filters panel; New Style, to allow a user to add a self-designed (or adapted) filter to the collection; and Export (initially greyed out).

When I tried Import, I was given three choices: Photos browser, the Clipboard (initially greyed out), and Images from Unsplash.com, a service that allows members to download images. I did not try this, but focused on my own images. The menu that opened offered me imports from Aperture, iPhoto, Photos and Photo Booth. I used Photos where I have current images. This was not always smooth and some images failed to load. This may be because they are in iCloud and were not immediately accessible. When this occurred I exported a file from Photos then Imported directly into Waterlogue.

Although many of the images I use are RAW, the import panel showed these as being full size images in JPEG format. I selected one and there was a slight delay as the file was downloaded. The image was immediately processed with the default Vibrant option. As I ran the cursor over the other filters, a thumbnail image of each was shown giving me an idea of how the processed image would appear. Not all filters will work with a particular image: this is subjective. I clicked on one and the reprocessing took about 10 seconds.


Accessing the tools to the right, I found that "Photo" opened a panel with sliders for Exposure, Realism, and Portrait Detail. An advanced section in this panel revealed White Point and Black Point sliders. As each slider was adjusted, a thumbnail image appeared to give me a idea of how my editing change would appear. When the cursor was released the image was reprocessed.

The Drawing panel gave a choice of drawing media: Graphite, Blue Pencil, Red Pencil, Techical Pen, and Fountain Pen. This introduced subtle changes to the lines that were incorporated into the image output. Sliders for Detail and Line added to the subtlety of changes possible.


The Paint panel offered three Palettes: Natural, Greyscale, Indigo and Sepia allowing instant changes to the appearance of the image. The thumbnail images displayed allow the user to gauge the probable effect quite quickly. The panel has two sliders: Intensity and Contrast.

The Water tool provides 9 different colours and like the Selective Color option in Photos, allows specific color weights to be adjusted. Two sliders are offered: Strength and Softness. The Brush panel has Small, Medium and Large options, with a White Space slider. The Brushes here are not editing brushes, but are used to make overall effect changes to the image appearance. The White Space slider adds or reduces the natural-looking white areas between brush strokes.

Paper offers a number of options that change the texture of the image. There are 6 options: Smooth, Watercolor, Rough, Graph, Cream, and Soft Red. At the top is a slider that offers size adjustment: from 4" to 18". A texture slider lower down roughens (or smoothens) the look of the paper type in use. At the bottom of this panel are border types: None, Simple, Rounded, Natural, and Soft.


When an image has been adjusted to the user's liking, Export allows the image to be saved or used in a number of ways. There are 3 file options: JPEG, PNG and TIFF. Each offers a size option: Small (1024 x 683), Medium (2048 x 1365), Large (3072 x 2048), Giant (4096 x 2731) and Original, which differs with the input.

In the case of the image I was editing, this was a healthy 8256 x 5504. I used this and the TIFF option to give me a file of 91MB, slightly smaller than the original RAW file. A Medium JPEG export was 5 MB.


I loved Waterlogue when it first appeared as an iOS app and have used it to create a number of satisfying images in the last few years. The macOS version continues with the basic simplicity of the iOS app, with some useful additions, allowing a user to make some effective changes to the final appearance of the image. Export options mean the output is suitable for use as personal stationary, web use and for larger printing outputs. The Import function is a little slow and I found that some large images needed to be dragged in or imported in other ways: not impossible, but it could have been a little smoother.

Although the price is a little higher than I had expected at 1050 baht ($32.62), it is well made and builds on the excellence of the original iOS app. It is not an image editor in the usual sense of the term, but offers a specific type of image output that some will find satisfying: Waterlogue is highly recommended.

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. After 3 years writing a column in the Life supplement, he is now no longer associated with the Bangkok Post. He can be followed on Twitter (@extensions_th)



Made on Mac

For further information, e-mail to

Back to eXtensions
Back to Home Page

All content copyright © G. K. Rogers 2019