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Photoshop on the iPad turns fun, is fantastic and makes you angry


Sarah Tew / CNET

When it grows up, Photoshop on the iPad will probably be great. At the moment, however, I only see a toddler indicating his future potential. Obviously, Adobe has long been laying the foundations for this generation of mobile apps. But as time went on and as technology changed, so did my expectations. So it was inevitable that they did not quite live up to it at the start. Adobe is far from previewing its apps, and now I'm looking forward to my inevitable disappointment when Illustrator ships on the iPad .

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It's great fun to experiment with Photoshop, especially as you go back in time to manually create drop shadows and optimize selection edges by painting in the alpha channel. But violin gets old when you try to get work done. I have repeatedly encountered annoying limitations. All additions are included in Adobe's Roadmap, but unless they are available, it's not worth paying a subscription fee. (Effects and smart filters have placeholders in the UI, so they'll probably appear next.) If you've already subscribed to Creative Cloud, it's not a disadvantage to start the program and do a test drive.

A familiar -ish friend

Photoshop on the iPad is clearly intended for professionals, especially those who are already familiar with its desktop siblings. The high price of at least $ 10 per month as a standalone or as part of any of the subscription options is a dead giveaway, as well as the interface that is likely to confuse newcomers.

The core of the functions consists of masking, retouching and some additional functions, such as: B. Mixed modes that you need to join. For example, there are a large handful of brushes that are not nearly as customizable as Fresco or Desktop Photoshop. It inherits Fresco's great brush eraser, which you can use to erase with the same brush you used to paint.

To be fair, there are not many direct competitors for it. The closest is probably Affinity Designer. This is rather illustrative and combines vector and bitmap graphics, but with a much more advanced feature set. Photoshop Mix, Adobe's free, consumer-focused app, actually has a great deal of overlap – and in some cases better ways to work it out – but it lacks masking tools.

Finding Out How Masks Work, How They Compensate For The Barriers Required To Compensate For Restrictions, are the greatest time savings to become familiar with Photoshop on the iPad. However, Adobe does support the keyboard shortcuts we're used to with a connected Bluetooth keyboard to speed things up. It is invaluable for things like nudging or re-selecting.

Photoshop on the iPad interface. It is not surprising that it is very similar to Fresco's.

Lori Grunin / CNET

Performance is generally excellent, even when working with large files. And that has to be, because the file sizes are increasing rapidly. I did not notice until I waited for some of these cloud documents to also download via great wifi on opening. My biggest file was about 380MB and that's nothing compared to what most pros do. There are also exceptions to this speed, such as manipulating text that I found so delayed that it was frustratingly placed or painted with large paintbrushes in selections.

Apart from the occasional glitches in the first version, the interface also works smoothly. Apart from the keyboard shortcuts, it also has a touch point that changes the selected tool (like Fresco) and the usual gesture support. Since the screen is so small, many options are buried in scrolling panels and overflow menus so that the workspace is not overcrowded. However, you can move the join points and context tool options area to clear them. You do not need an Apple Pencil to work in, but it does help, especially if you grease a lot like me.

Behind the Mask

Unfortunately, masking can be quite inconvenient, and the selection tools are terrible: there is a rectangle, an oval, a lasso and an automask, which is your only option for anything beyond the tedious manual Selection of complex edges goes beyond.

Automask does not leak, anti-alias, or refine controls, and these other three 30-year-old tools have only expired. You can not precisely set the auto-mask sensitivity threshold to determine what a match is. The same drawback that applies to the only other selection link is similar. And do not forget to create a mask from a complex grayscale image. Photoshop Mix has better tools.

Do you want to copy a mask from one layer to another? You can not just cut and paste it. In fact, you can not replace the contents of a layer in any way, which adds to the file size problem unless you are constantly managing layers. Each time you insert or import a new layer is created.

Or do you want to add text? On the one hand, Adobe supports the new font interface of the iPad OS so you can download and install any non-native font as needed. Woo hoo! And if you need typographic tools-even simple tools like line spacing-you can use the desktop application. On the roadmap! Creating text effects manually was fun until I had to edit the text. Then it's not so much fun.

Since there is no way to copy a color or save a swatch, I just said "What the hell!" and made all reds different, instead of memorizing the hex code for it.

Lori Grunin / CNET

There is no way to rotate the entire document if you have decided that it must be landscape instead of portrait. You can not set aspect ratios for cropping. There are no alignment tools. There is no easy way to import another Photoshop file. No swatches, so you can reuse colors for consistency. Roadmap, roadmap, roadmap, roadmap, roadmap.

I'm not a big fan of cloud documents yet. They automatically save what I somehow understand. For example, if you accidentally change the size of a layer on the way out of the app – something I've done several times in this and fresco and did not recognize until I saw the thumbnail update – you'll need to continue your website for personal Assets to be reset to an earlier version.

These are just a few of the issues I've encountered in less than a week. But you get the idea.

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