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Mextures for iOS review: An excellent interface for arty photos

Instead of adding filters to your photos, overlay a combination of authentic 35mm film textures to make your images pop.

Jason Parker Senior Editor / Reviews - Software
Jason Parker has been at CNET for nearly 15 years. He is the senior editor in charge of iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.
Jason Parker
3 min read

Editors' Note, April 11, 2014: This review has been updated with new features and fixes in version 2.0.


Mextures for iOS

The Good

Mextures lets you combine textures from actual 35mm film scans. The layer system is extremely intuitive, letting you switch to any layer to edit textures.

The Bad

Mextures forces you into making square photos for sharing purposes.

The Bottom Line

With tons of film textures, a layer manager, and a well-designed interface, anyone who wants to try something different with their photos should download this app.

Mextures is a photo editor that focuses on applying multiple high-resolution textures to your images for some truly unique results. This app isn't like most photo editors that have you add a filter or a frame and then save the image; instead it requires a good amount of experimentation, mixing and matching textures to get the look you want.

Obviously, there is no shortage of photo editing apps in the App Store, so Mextures has its work cut out for it going up against popular apps like Camera+ or Afterlight. But Mextures approaches photo editing from a different angle, letting you use real film scans as overlays for your photos. What results are full, rich effects that you can layer and fine-tune to make great looking pictures.

Exploring the interface

On the first screen there are three buttons across the bottom: Camera, Inspiration, and Library. Camera and Library are self-explanatory for selecting a photo to use in the process, but the Inspiration button is where you'll find a gallery of Mextures images from other users that can give you ideas for how to use the app.

Mextures' well-designed interface makes adding textures easy (pictures)

See all photos

After only a little fiddling around you'll realize that the key to Mextures is using a combination of textures to get the results you want. Created from actual 35mm film scans, the textures in this app give you everything from grainy overlays to light leaks and fine-tuned gradients you can combine together. Each has a slider so you can adjust the strength of an effect on your image. There are 130 textures to choose from, but with an included layer manager, and the ability to combine multiple layers, the possibilities are almost limitless. You also can move or rotate each texture over the image to get the exact look you want.

Formulas and Polish

Mextures has its own language for certain features, but once you get to know them, your images will turn out much better. For example, when you find a combination of textures you particularly like, you can save it as a "Formula" to use on other photos. From there you can grab an image, switch to Formulas, then apply the same combination of textures to a different image. If you want to see some good examples of how to mix and match textures, there are well over 100 pre-made Formulas in the latest version of the app you can either browse for ideas or use on your own images.

Also new in Mextures 2.0 is the ability to share Formulas with other Mextures users, and import their formulas to use on your own pictures through the Formula Manager.

"Polish" is a new feature in version 2.0, which refers to more basic adjustments like exposure, contrast, tint, white balance, fade, and several others. You can adjust each of these with a slider to change the effect to your liking, but Mextures 2.0 also has several Polish presets as well. So once you've added a few textures, you can use Polish to adjust the image further to make the colors pop more with saturation, switch over to black and white, or experiment with several other fine adjustments.

Sharing your images

When you're finished, Mextures has a number of options for what to do next. You can save to your photo library, open in other photo-editing apps on your iPhone, or share your work with Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. Unfortunately, with Instagram's limitation of square photos, Mextures won't let you edit full-size (landscape or portrait) images.

There's one confusing thing here that I should probably point out. While Instagram is an option in the share screen, when you touch it, the app switches to the "Open In" screen where you'll need to hit Instagram again. I'm sure it's just an oversight, but it ought to just open directly to Instagram from the first screen.


Mextures is a unique app among the photo editors in the App Store. With tons of textures to choose from, a layer manager, and a well-designed interface, it's easy to experiment with overlays, make your own formulas, and discover new things to do with your images.

Mextures was already sort of in a league by itself using real film scans as overlays. But with the latest update, the ability to fine-tune your work with Polish features, a bunch of added overlays, and several other tweaks, this app is a must-have for any iOS photographer looking to try something different.


Mextures for iOS

Score Breakdown

Setup 8Features 8Interface 9Performance 9