Review: Two apps for Android that enable you to create realistic 8-bit artwork that looks like it is from computers fromt he 1980s.

If you long for the 1980s and the era of the 8-bit computer, you will love these two free Android apps that let your turn photos into convincing 8-bit artwork and create funny avatars.

There are two very different apps here and one is a photo tool, while the other is an avatar creator that produces headshots. Both are different to the sort of software we normally use for these tasks and they create artwork in the style of 1980s computers and hand-held game consoles.

If you like retro style graphics from computers like the Commodore Pet, GameBoy, VGA PC, and others of that era, you will like these apps.


8Bit Photo Lab, Retro Effects

Price: Free | By: Ilixa | Size: 18MB (installed) | Android: 2.3 and up

8Bit Photo Lab is an app that enables you to apply special effects to photos to make them look like graphics from an 8-bit computer from the early 1980s or from hand-held game devices. Why? It's just for fun!

The opening screen enables you to choose between taking a photo using the phone’s camera or loading a previously taken snapshot saved to the device's camera roll.

At the bottom of the screen is a toolbar and the first item displays a series of filters that can be applied to the image. These include Commodore Pet, CGA (graphics from an early PC), Gameboy, Apple II, VGA and others. There is also a button to apply a random effect.

There are 13 image effects for free and several more that can be unlocked with a Pro upgrade costing (UK) £2.39. Upgrading also removes several restrictions on other features used for manipulating images. However, there are a lot of tools that can be used for free.

 8Bit Photo Lab app for Android editing screen 8Bit Photo Lab app for Android

There are the usual ones that you would expect to find in a photo editor, such as contrast, brightness and saturation. However, these all work on the 8-bit pixelated images and not always in the way you would expect. The retro nature of the image changes the way the usual photo controls work.

A text tool enables you to write headings or captions for the image, there is a crop tool, and other tools that do weird things that you can experiment with, all in the name of art.

8Bit Photo Lab is just for fun and you can spend as much time as you want exploring all the effects. There are quite a lot of them. The resulting image can be saved or shared using the usual Android sharing options. It is a great app.

8Bit Photo lab image



Price: Free | By: Studio Wookmon | Size: 6MB (installed) | Android: 2.3.3 and up

8BitMe also produces images that are like the artwork from old 8-bit computers, but this app is very different to 8Bit Photo Lab.

It enables you to create a headshot avatar, such as might be used for accounts in forums, on user profiles for various services, email, and so on.

In the middle of the screen is a head and 10 tiles at the bottom are used to change its various attributes. The first changes the shape of the face, the second switches between different hairstyles, the third alters the eyes, another changes the nose, one adds glasses, different hats, and so on. The last tile changes the background.

The idea is that you select each of the facial attributes at the bottom and then use the arrow buttons left, right top and bottom to browse the variations, such as hair colour, length, style and so on. The facial attributes are a mixture of male and female and the only way to see them all is to go through each one with the arrow buttons.

A randomiser selects attributes at random to create unusual faces.

 8BitMe app for Android creates 8-bit avatar images 8BitMe app for Android creates 8-bit avatar images

You could use the app to create an image that is like yourself or as you would like to be seen. You could even create an image that looks like someone you know. Why? Well, apart from saving the the face or sharing it through the usual Android share options, it can be assigned to contacts on your phone.

The button in the top right corner opens the phone contacts list and you just select the person to assign the image to. This could be just for fun or for when contacts don’t have a proper photo.

8BitMe is just a simple app for creating 8-bit style faces. It’s free and it’s entertaining.