Add stunning 3D effects to your photos with this new app

Seamlessly blend 3D objects into 2D scenes with Matter, a fab new creative app for iOS.

We love to keep an eye out for the best iPhone apps for designers, and we're particularly keen on Pixite's series of iOS apps that enable you to add cool patterns and effects to your photos; check out Fragment and LoryStripes for two earlier examples. Pixite's latest app, however, takes this idea to a whole new level.

Matter is an amazing app that lets you spice up your images by adding impressive 3D effects – from simple geometric shapes to gloriously complex architectural structures – to them, complete with realtime shadows and reflections.

It ought to be complex, but in fact it's really easy to use. Simply pick a photo – if you can't find one, Matter comes with access to a 'Free For All' online photo library – and choose something from one of Matter's four packs of models; you can then move, rotate and scale your object with simple gestures, choose a colour and style for your model, and even add your own texture if you want to get really hands-on. We've found that it does a pretty good job of creating its own reflective textures, though.

To make things more realistic you can completely adjust the position, opacity and strength of the object's shadow, and to properly blend it into the environment there are handy masking tools that enable you to erase portions of the model or shadow.

Finished? You can export your image and share it via all the usual channels (there's a #matterapp hashtag you can use on Instagram; Pixite will be keeping an eye on it and featuring the best edits on Matter's Instagram page), or you can go back and add further effects or even send it to one of Pixite's other apps to give it an added graphical twist.

And if static images don't quite do it for you, there's also a video export option that you can use to create a short animated loop of your object spinning, pulsing and hovering in the photo. Take a look at this imaginative use of it by Faastwalker: a video for Boards of Canada's Corsair that adds an extra level of realism by filming Matter's output with a handheld camera.

Interested? Matter's available now from the App Store for $1.99/£1.49.


Jim McCauley is a writer, editor and occasional podcaster, and is available for space parties.