Ammonite Fragments © Glendon Mellow. This is an original oil painting of mine I manipulated using the app Fragment.

Here's a new photography app that could be useful for a number of sciart illustration and art applications: Fragment.


iOS devices.

What it does:

Fragment can quickly add seemingly random mixtures of fragmented shapes and effects to photos you have stored on your device with just one tap.

You have full control over all of the elements the one-button option manipulates as well: fragment shapes, sizes, rotation and placement; colour, focus, saturation, contrast, brightness, and inverting.

I liked to open up a photo, tap through the random options for inspiration, then cancel and start over and use subtler effects pulled from the random ones I just whipped through.


Like a lot of photography apps such as Instagram or Halftone, Fragment uses techniques that have long been possible with more intricate desktop programs like Photoshop and Gimp and packages specific ones into simple 1 or several tap applications. There's nothing here you couldn't do in Photoshop, but it will be faster and more direct in Fragment.

That said, this can lead to an over use of effects in a photo, something I'm guilty of pretty often. In my opinion, Fragment effects are best used sparingly.


The most obvious use for Fragment if you were to use it to illustrate a science blog or for science communication is editorial: to make an otherwise bland or repetitive image appear new and surprising. I think it could be great for leading an article or story for someone without a lot of time or budget but who wants an original image.

Specifically, Fragment is fantastic for altering the relationship between two subjects within a photo, much like Cubism was when it dealt with traditional subjects like portraits. You can create distance, intimacy or disreflections between subjects easily.

Here's a photo of my nephew viewing a beluga whale a few years ago at a marine park, after I put it into Fragment:

Viewing the Beluga © Glendon Mellow

By manipulating the shape and view of the beluga, I can create more distance and a sense of alien-ness between the viewer and the animal than the original photo had with its nearly invisible glass. The unreality and unnaturalness of the marine park is thus highlighted. As I say, this is the type of application that could be good for an editorial piece.

It's also a lot of fun to play with. Worth getting.

Here's a few more examples:

Photo of a shark © Glendon Mellow. I originally took this photo in Jamaica, made an Instagram and now altered it some more in Fragment. The circle of inverted values is an old trick to highlight and lend an ominous look to an image.

Here's a fun one. I digitally painted some yellow and pink together with a painting app, then put the image into Fragment. After, I saved the image and added text and cropped it in Photoshop. A quick splash of colour to lead an story.

Here's a before and after:

Trilobite Boy and Gargoyles © Glendon Mellow. A rainy, gloomy picture before uploading into Fragment.

After putting Trilobite Boy through Fragment, I chose a series of circles to simply mimic raindrops and highlight his Chuck's.


See also:

Illustrate Your Science Blog Using an iPhone