When I make intro videos and website content to introduce my players to important background, I end up using a fair number of images pulled from the internet. These often need some editing (to remove cars, add cows, change colors, add chaos critters–you know, the important stuff.) I used to do most of that work on my Mac, but these days I find it just as easy to use my iPad to make the changes. There are a host of image manipulation apps out there, but here are a few of the ones I use most often:

PhotoPad: PhotoPad can crop, manipulate basic color and brightness settings, and add a few filters (like negative, sepia, or B&W.) It pulls pictures from your Photo library for quick editing and saves a copy back into the library when done. For images that will mostly work as-is, I turn to PhotoPad because its bare-bones functionality makes it the quickest app to use. If I have too many choices, I get caught up in fixing tiny cosmetic details that don’t really matter, and then five hours have gone by and I still haven’t done any of the statting for the encounters.

InifiFX: This app applies filters to existing image, adding effects such as blur, color change, edges, monochrome, or pencil sketch. It doesn’t do much else, but if you’re looking for a quick but dramatic change, this will do the trick. It will also add those filters to whole video clips.

SketchBook Pro: SBP remains one of the most popular drawing apps on the iPad, and it’s easy to see why. With fully-functional layers, several different brush options, and the ability to fine-tune the width and opacity of your strokes, SBP allows you to make some fairly sophisticated drawings or add carefully-crafted details to the pictures you already have. (Artistic talent is, unfortunately, not included.) Couple SBP with a stylus pen for even more precision. If you’re familiar with PhotoShop, SBP’s features will make sense to you, and you’ll find the transition from one to the other relatively easy.

Sketch Club: I just downloaded Sketch Club, a neat little app that does some of the crosshatching/shading work for you as you draw. It has an interesting set of pens (including an auto-smoothing drawing brush, a pixellated brush for retro images, and a smudge brush;) the ability to set layer blending options (screen, overlay, darken, lighten, dodge;) and a handy option to mirror what you’re currently drawing along either a horizontal or vertical axis. Sketch Club thus offers some functionality for those who want to draw freehand that SBP does not. One of Sketch Club’s most promising features is its zooming layers, which let you zoom into a small part of the drawing to work at a size that makes creating detail easy, then zoom back out and place that detail in the overall image at the correct scale. Finally, Sketch Club allows you to record your drawing session if you want to share your techniques with your friends.

A few choice filters can make a modern photograph look hand-drawn or antiquated, so knowing how to use some basic features of the art software available to you can open up a much wider range of images that will seem appropriately Warhammery (or Pathfindery or Dungeony or MouseGuardy.) If no suitable image pops up on Google, you can quickly create a sketch of your own. Once you get good with the programs you use most often, editing or creating images takes only a couple of minutes and will provide you with evocative handouts or interesting visual puzzles for your players.