Personal Projects

Distressed FX

Ocasta’s creative director by day, developer by night, this was the life of Steve for a long time. He has always been interested in app development and being surrounded by talk of it all day at work he thought he would try his hand at it, which led him to create Distressed FX. The photo app lets you add texture and colour to your photos which gives them a warm and weathered feel for an added professional effect.

The making of it 

The name and artwork filters are by Tennessee artist Cheryl Tarrant, who Steve collaborated with online. Cheryl already sold Photoshop packs so she suggested making an app for them. Steve did all the programming which he taught himself, he wanted to know how it all worked ‘under the hood’. The first version of the app launched in 2012.

Distressed FX app  distressed FX app  Distressed FX app

One million downloads in 24 hours 

After it’s launch the app started to get popular so Steve decided to do some updates to tidy it up, it was also picked up by a popular iPhoneography blog. The app which is usually 99p saw one million downloads in 24 hours when they made it free for a day. It shot to #1 in the app store charts in 24 countries and reached the #1 spot for the top photo and video app in 43 countries.

Building the app has forced him to become very organised as it was quite time-consuming juggling it with having children and his job. It has taken him three years to update to Swift language which Apple introduced to its development environment, and build a shop so that people can buy extra packages. He did the odd twenty minutes here and there and managed to complete it.

So who is using it?

It’s very popular with a wide range of users, from professional photographers to an older demographic who have rediscovered their creative side. He says the great thing about mobile apps is that they give people accessibility to creative tools, meaning they can bring out their artistic side and immerse themselves in their hobbies which they may not have been able to do otherwise.

People around the world have used the hashtag #DistressedFX 90,000 times, he found it very fascinating to see his app being used for so many photos. Recently the app has had a big impact in Japan, where it appeared 51 million times in the space of five days for ‘New Apps We Love’ on the Apple App Store. This has inspired him to get the description translated into a few different languages.

Distressed FX app

Happy Customers 😊

The app has an average star rating of 4.5 with some very happy customers;

  • “For beginners right through to pros, if you shoot photos you must have this app. The finished results are simply superb…in my opinion, better than ANY other app available.”
  • “Without a doubt the best vintage effect photo app I’ve ever come across.”
  • “Love this app! Especially since the recent update. I am using this app more than any other such as Instagram or Vintique as I think the quality is so much better.”


Top tips 

When he started he wasn’t sure if it was even possible, it was a massive task to do especially starting from scratch. But he learnt not to think of it as one huge task and to just tackle it bit by bit.

Making the tool has helped him in work, before he would hear terms around the office which were alien to him, then after a little while he would know what they meant. This has helped him design things with a better purpose and he can now have more clued up conversations with the developers as he can talk to them in their language, this has really supported his design work.

Steve would recommend that all designers have a go at making themselves familiar with the development side of things, even if it is just to read up so that they are more clued up on the language. He thinks overall it is good for all disciplines to understand each other, because it makes you appreciate how hard or time-consuming it is to do things and thus work better together.