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How to use Lensa and its AI art features on iPhone

Lensa produces interesting results

Lensa is a photo and video editor that offers facial retouching tools for selfies, and it has a feature that processes photos with artificial intelligence. Here's how to use Lensa on iPhone.

Prisma Labs launched the app in 2018 and recently introduced a feature called "Magic Avatars." These AI-generated images turn selfies into works of art in various themes.

Tools powered by AI have gained popularity in 2022, from art tools called Stable Diffusion to companies beginning to sell AI-generated artwork.

Lensa's AI-powered feature has become popular in the last month and propelled it to the top of the App Store charts at one point, though that position has since changed.

Prisma Labs uses Stable Diffusion, a free and open-source image generator, for Lensa's Magic Avatars. Despite the free nature of Stable Diffusion, it costs money to use Lensa, whether for photo editing or Magic Avatars.

It's available on the App Store for free and requires iOS 15 or later or macOS 11 Big Sur and later. Prisma Labs offers some editing features at no cost, but limits free users to three photos per day and a watermark on their videos.

The company has paid plans at different prices: $2.99 per week, $4.99 per month, or $35.99 for a yearly subscription. Prisma Labs also charges for Magic Avatars, which costs $7.99 for 50 unique avatars, 100 avatars at $11.99, or $15.99 for 200 avatars. It does offer a 51% discount with a subscription, however, and includes a free trial.

Magic Avatars

Upon opening the app and navigating through the introduction screens, it displays a prominent yellow button called Magic Avatars. Below that are tabs for photos, videos, and settings.

Magic Avatars come in different styles and colors
Magic Avatars come in different styles and colors

Users must upload between 10 and 20 selfies to create Magic Avatars. The company provides tips for good and bad selfies. For example, a good selfie shows an adult, various backgrounds, head tilts, and angles. Bad selfies include group shots, nudes, and kids.

The app requires users to check a box saying they have reached the age of maturity, which is at least 18 years old.

After taking the required selfies and various button taps, Prisma Labs uploads the photos to their servers and promises to delete them after processing. The app uses a lot of network data, so it's probably not a good option for people on a cellular plan who limit data usage.

Processing also takes time, depending on the number of selfies uploaded. For example, it took Lensa 20 minutes to process the images in their servers and offer them for viewing inside the app.

While the servers process and transform the images, users can close the app to do other things and the app will send an alert when the process is finished.

It generates images in various styles based on the selfies. Categories include Holiday Spirit, Rock Star, Superhero, and others. As Lensa warns, the results aren't perfect and produce glitches and other odd-looking results.

Photo editing controls for retouching faces or changing other aspects of a photo
Photo editing controls for retouching faces or changing other aspects of a photo

Users under the free plan are limited to downloading the results in 1024 by 1024 pixels, and the app offers subscribers 4096 by 4096 pixels.

Photo & Video Editing

The free version of the app limits users to three photos per day, which isn't a great deal unless someone is committed to retouching their face for social media.

Photo editing offers various "Magic Retouch" options for a one-tap transformation and manual edits for saturation, exposure, contrast, highlights and shadows, and other standard editing options. Below, tools for retouching necks, faces, eye bags, eyelashes, and other facial features are displayed as sliders. Lensa can even change hair color.

For a less drastic result than Magic Avatars, there are various art styles for cartoon, retro, black and white, and other effects.

Editing videos is more basic than the photo editor
Editing videos is more basic than the photo editor

Video editing offers filters, adding effects such as snow or adding music to a video. However, the controls here don't provide the same granular control as the photo editing section. For example, no options exist to change highlights, shadows, exposure, or contrast.