If you have an iPad, or have thought about getting one, then you might wonder about how it can increase your productivity (or at least bring you a bit of entertainment). As an artist, it’s nice to have the iPad for catching up on design blogs while I wait for my son at one of his many sports practices. But I’ve also recently begun using it as a design tool. There are many drawing and painting apps designed for the iPad that can turn some of those snippets of wait time into a creative refuge. I’ve tried four of them: Adobe Ideas, 53 Paper, Artrage, and Procreate. Here’s my take.
Adobe Ideas interface.
Adobe IdeasCost: Free
Adobe Ideas is easy and intuitive. It gives you a basic selection of 5 brushes, control over the brush size, control of color, and control of opacity. It also gives you 10 drawing layers plus a photo layer for each sketch (so you can easily trace a photo).
Unlike the other apps reviewed here, it is vector based, which can give your drawn lines a pleasing smoothness. However, don’t expect to be able to manipulate handles or paths like you would in Adobe Illustrator (AI) or other vector programs. Adobe Ideas doesn't have them. If you open the file in AI you can access these vector manipulation tools. Unfortunately, the only way I found to do so was to sync the Ideas file to my Creative Cloud (CC) account, where it will appear with an .idea extension. From my CC account, I was able download the .idea file to my desktop and open it in AI, where I could edit paths, handles, etc. But if you just want a JPG or PDF of your drawing, you can easily either email yourself the PDF or save a JPG to your Dropbox account.
My biggest complaint about Ideas, which probably wouldn’t have been a complaint at all if I hadn’t used Procreate first (see below), was the lag/stroke gap. As with many drawing programs, as you move your finger or stylus across the screen, the line you are drawing lags slightly behind your finger/stylus—that’s called lag or stroke gap. I found the lag in Ideas to be a bit frustrating as it caused me to make many errant marks.
You can’t be the price (free!), though. And, because of its ease of use, Ideas is a great app with which to get your feet wet when you venture into the world of tablet digital art.
- easy to resize pen, choose colors, alter opacity
- up to 10 drawing layers plus a photo layer for each sketch
- vector based
- will pair with a pressure sensitive stylus
- drawing lag/stroke gap
- can’t edit vectors using paths/handles/anchors unless you have a creative cloud account + Adobe Illustrator
Paper by 53 interface.
Paper by 53Cost: Free (but not really)
Paper by 53 has received a lot of hype, including an Apple App of the Year Award (2012), so I felt compelled to check it out. While the app is beautiful and fun to use, I felt that compared to the others I tried this one fell short. By far the best thing about Paper is it has amazing watercolor and pencil tools, which render beautifully and realistically. Another strong point is that there is virtually no drawing lag/stroke gap, making the experience more like drawing on actual paper and allowing you to forget you are in the virtual environment.
Despite these strong points, and in an apparent effort to keep the program “no frills,” Paper leaves out a lot of features that I consider essential to a digital drawing program. There is no ability to resize your drawing tool or adjust its opacity. There are no layers and no ability to import a photo and draw over it. You can only work in landscape mode (not portrait mode). And, the free version of the app comes only with one tool (the one that looks like a calligraphy pen). The rest of the tools are available through in-app purchases at $1.99 each. You will spend nearly $9-10 to get all the features available in this app, making it the most expensive of the bunch.
- beautiful watercolor and pencil renderings
- virtually no lag/stroke gap
- very simple, straightforward app
- no ability to size brushes/pens
- no layers
- undo/redo is not intuitive and takes getting used to (gesture only)
- no pressure-sensitive stylus option
Artrage for iPad interface.
Artrage for iPadCost: $4.99
Artrage for iPad, along with Procreate, tends to be at the top of the list for serious artists. And with good reason. There is an unbelievable selection of brushes and tools—each completely editable, including the brush wetness so you can blend color under the brush as you paint. This blend feature alone is a major draw. Another appealing tool in the Artrage app is its color wheel. It is easy to use, allowing for selection of hue, saturation, and lightness. There is even an option to add a metallic feel to a color. Other plusses include an unlimited number of layers which each have a selectable blend mode, like “multiply” or “color burn.” The app also allows for easy import photos for tracing or reference.
If you already use Artrage on your desktop, the Artrage iPad app has the advantage of easily sharing your paintings between the two applications via iTunes or Dropbox, including all of your layers. If you don’t have Artrage on your desktop, you can share via PNG or JPG. Of course, that means you will not be able to access your layers in a program like Adobe Photoshop.
Unfortunately, as much as I wanted it to be otherwise, my experience with Artrage for iPad was a frustrating one—I found the app to be disappointing in its responsiveness. The problem wasn’t just a lag/stroke gap. If that was all I experienced, all may have been forgiven because the rest of Artrage’s fabulous feature set. What frustrated me the most is that the whole app just ran slow: every time I “pushed” a button or tried to select a tool the response time was so slow that I’d “push” a second time, actually negating the first “push." This caused me to then have to “push” the button yet again. Artrage seems to be aware of this problem because they address it in their “help” menu. They suggest that since it is a memory intensive app, all parked apps should be closed and the iPad be rebooted. Despite taking these steps, however, I found the app’s performance didn’t improve.
- large array of brushes, each completely modifiable
- easy color changes
- beautiful paint blending
- unlimited Layers, each with blend modes
- ability to import photos
- easily share your Artrage for IPad paintings with Artrage for your desktop computer
- supports pressure sensitive styluses
- sluggish responsiveness overall
- cannot import layers into other programs, like Photoshop
- no auto-save feature
Like Artrage, Procreate is a favorite among digital artists—and happens to be my personal favorite of the bunch. It comes with an amazing array of brushes, each completely customizable. Color is easily selectable in terms of hue, saturation, and brightness. Brush size and opacity controls are easily accessible as you draw (just to the side of the drawing surface). Up to 128 layers are available, each customizable in terms of opacity and blend mode, and you can import an image to trace over it. Unlike the apps reviewed above, Procreate has the ability to make selections and then move, scale, and modify those selections. For those familiar with Photoshop, you will feel right at home. And, Procreate allows the export of its files via Dropbox or iTunes as .psd files for further editing in Photoshop—all layers preserved.
One of the strongest features of Procreate is its painting engine. It is fast. Super fast. The proprietary engine allows drawing in real time—no lag whatsoever. I tried this app first, and unfortunately for the other apps I tried, I became spoiled with the fluidity of the experience. None of the rest really measured up.
While a great advantage of Procreate is its ability to modify brushes in a myriad of ways, the options may be overwhelming to a first-time user. If you’ve ever modified the brushes in Photoshop, you catch on pretty quickly, but it does require a little bit of experimentation. I also found that the ability to make selections was not super intuitive, and I had to read the (very readable) manual to fully understand the power at my fingertips.
- unbelievably fluid drawing experience—no lag whatsoever
- wide array of brushes, each completely modifiable
- easy color changes
- up to 128 layers, each with blend modes
- ability to import photos
- ability to export as PSD
- ability to make selections
- pressure sensitive stylus supported
- not as intuitive as some of the other apps
Adobe Ideas Super-intuitive and easy to learn, this app is great for the beginner as well as for anyone already invested in the Adobe Creative Cloud ecosystem and who wants to be able to directly edit their vector drawings without having to go through LiveTrace.
Paper by 53 The minimal interface on this app, along with its responsiveness make it best for quickly rendering no fuss sketches and ideas.
Artrage for iPad This feature-rich app is best for anyone already using Artrage on their desktop or for those who find the blend features (both in terms of paint and layer modes) to be vital.
Procreate A feature-rich and super responsive app that is best for those familiar with Adobe products and who want to further edit their drawings in Photoshop~Sarah
| |A death knell could be heard around the Adobe Max conference in Los Angeles today as it was announced that Creative Suite is to be no more. There will be no CS7 because CS6 is now officially the final release of the series. In its stead, Adobe will offer all of its design software exclusively through the Creative Cloud (CC). Starting in June, the "next generation" of Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and all other CS programs will be available on a subscription basis through the Cloud. Adobe will continue to offer CS6 to consumers for the foreseeable future, but they will no longer be updating it.
Word in the tech world has it that Adobe is making the switch to CC to ensure a more constant source of income. Instead of making lots of money once every other year when a new version of CS is launched, they can now rely on a more steady flow of income from subscriptions through CC. It is also thought that software piracy has weighed heavily in this decision. With a subscription based service, it will be more difficult for users to share programs illegally, thus relieving Adobe of what had been an enormous scourge to their business.
No doubt there will be blow back from customers as a result of this announcement. At first glance, it's easy to assume that a subscription will be more expensive and less desirable than owning off-the-shelf software. Numbers have been crunched by many in the industry, however, (refer to Sarah Schwartz's cost analysis of CC vs. CS from July 2012) and the general consensus is that users will save money as long as they subscribe to multiple applications. And, we still get to keep the software on our desktops. If that's not enough to move you forward in the CC direction, Adobe is promising lots of new features and perks to those who subscribe.
It seems like this is the way software use is heading, so like it or not, resistance is futile!-Kiera
A big thank you is owed to the Guild's very own Jill Turney and Sarah Schwartz for the informative Illustrator and Photoshop tutorials that they presented at last week's meeting. Those of us who were in attendance were impressed by your knowledge and grateful that you took the time to prepare and share that valuable information with us!If you were unable to make it to the meeting or you just want to see the presentations again, the videos for the tutorials are now available for member access. You can find a list of links and passwords to access the videos in our Google Groups. In addition, Jill prepared handouts for her tutorials and they are available for you in our archives.Thank you again Jill and Sarah! We look forward to more tutorials in the future.
Want to learn some techniques that help make repeats faster and easier? Does color matching on your printer plague you? Or, are you still stumped on how to make seamless overlapping motifs on the computer?
Join us for our next meeting on Thursday, April 18 from 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm to learn some Photoshop and Illustrator tips and tricks!
| |With our Adobe tutorial meeting coming up this week, I thought I would share a great tool that I just discovered—a super helpful map of keyboard shortcuts for Photoshop (CS6).Using keyboard shortcuts can add up to loads of saved time when working on a computer. However, many people are reluctant to jump the learning hurdle to make shortcuts a habit. There's no better time than the present to start practicing! The more you use them the stronger your muscle memory will become and the more you will love them!
Below is a helpful chart of shortcuts for Photoshop CS6 created by the folks at Zerolag. Click on the image to see a larger version and bookmark it for future use. Their layout of the commands on a keyboard diagram is such a great idea—more helpful than a straight list. Take advantage of this wonderfully visual tool!-Kiera
Image from zerolag.com
Many of you may have noticed that Adobe is offering some alternative pricing and packages for its Creative Suite products, including Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. You can buy these packages individually, bundled together in Creative Suite Standard, or as subscriptions to each software program or to Adobe’s new Creative Cloud. But which is the most cost effective way to buy it?
The answer: It depends!!
What is Creative Cloud?
Let’s understand what Adobe is offering under its new product Creative Cloud. Creative Cloud is a membership service giving you access to all of the following applications: Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Muse, Acrobat X Pro, Flash Professional, Flash Builder, Dreamweaver, Edge Preview, Fireworks, Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects, Adobe Audition, SpeedGrade, Adobe Prelude, Encore, Bridge, Media Encoder, Business Catalyst, Typekit, Story Plus. Really.... you get access to all of that for the $49.99/mo subscription price! Plus you automatically get all of the upgrades to the applications as they are released as well as access to 20GB of cloud based storage and syncing. It sounds fabulous! But is it worth it?
Here’s Adobe’s pricing as of 7/21/12:
Overall Cost of Creative Suite Standard with Upgrades vs. Creative Cloud Subscription
Let’s look at the total cost of Creative Suite Standard CS6 vs. a subscription to Creative Cloud. For this analysis I am using today’s prices, so it’s not going to be completely accurate, but it will give you good direction. We know the subscription to Creative Cloud is about $600/yr. But what is the annual cost of Creative Suite Standard per year?
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If you like to stay up to date and upgrade every year, here’s your total cost:
$1299 initial purchase + $549/yr upgrades, then
- after two years, your per year cost is $924 (($1299 + $549)/2 years),
- after three years, your per year cost is $799 (($1299 + $549 + $549)/3 years), and
- after four years, your per year cost is $737 each year (($1299 + ($549x3))/4 years).
In fact, it takes FIFTEEN years before your overall costs will be $600/yr.
(When evaluating annual upgrade costs, I chose to use the $549 cost instead of the $275 because it is unlikely that upgrade costs will be $275 every year as it seems that $275 is a one-time thing for CS5.5 only. In addition, Adobe tends to incentivize the annual upgrader by offering a lower price for those who own the most recent version, hence I did not use $699 since $699 is used for upgrading from versions at least two versions displaced. Of course, the analysis assumes that the upgrade costs do not vary from year to year. This analysis also assumes Adobe outputs a new version every 12 months.)
Now, let’s say you upgrade every two years instead of every year. In that case, you would pay $1299 up front and $699 every other year thereafter. After four years (initial purchase plus one upgrade), you will have spent about $2000 = $500/year.
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Conclusion: Considering the entire costs of the software package, if you upgrade every year, it is cost effective to get the Creative Cloud membership. If you upgrade every other year, though, you will experience cost savings over Creative Cloud by purchasing Creative Suite Standard outright.
(Why did I choose 4 years as the timespan for my evaluations? Because that time period is relevant for the biennial upgrader who will have purchased the program and one upgrade.)
Creative Suite Standard Upgrades Only vs. Creative Cloud Subscription
But what if you’ve made the investment in Creative Suite a year or two (or more) ago, and now you’re deciding which way to go in terms of general cash-flow? Let’s do the analysis again, but let’s take the initial purchase cost out of it since the investment has already been made. We’ll just look at upgrade costs vs. subscription costs.
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If you are upgrading annually, we’ll assume the cost stays at $549. You save $50 a year over the $600 Creative Cloud subscription. You have to decide if that $50/year is worth saving or worth spending to get all of the benefits Creative Cloud offers (access to all of the applications, regular upgrades, access to 20GB cloud storage).
But if you are only upgrading biennially at $699, you will be spending upgrade fees of about $350 annually. So when compared to the Creative Cloud membership of $600/year, you would be saving $250/year.
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Conclusion: When looking only at upgrade costs for cash-flow, if you like to upgrade annually, even though it’s an additional $50, it may still be worth it for the Creative Cloud subscription for all the extras, even if you just use one additional app or the cloud storage. However, if you only upgrade biennially, while you won’t get the upgrades as quickly, you will be saving a good chunk of cash if you buy outright.
Overall Cost of Individual Program (PS or AI) vs. Individual Subscriptions
What if you don’t have Creative Suite, but have purchased either Photoshop or Illustrator individually? Should you subscribe to the individual program?
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Overall cost with annual upgrades
If you only own Photoshop and you upgrade annually your cost per year over four years will be about $325/yr (($699 initial price + three years of upgrade costs)/4 years). In contrast, annual subscription fees will be $240/year, so over four years, you are better off buying the subscription. Illustrator will also be better by subscription (($599 initial price + (3x$249))/4years).
Overall cost with biennial upgrades
If you only upgrade every two years, your price/year over four years for Photoshop will be $225 (($699 initial cost + $199 upgrade)/4 years), so you’ll be slightly better off buying outright. With Illustrator, your price/year over four years will be about $212 (($599 initial cost + $249 upgrade)/4 years), so again, buying outright is the way to go.
Overall cost of both programs
Now if you buy both Photoshop and Illustrator individually (you don’t need or want the entire Creative Suite Standard package), your per year cost over 4 years is $662/yr ((($699 + $599 initial cost)+(($199+$249)x3))/4 years). You are better off with with the annual subscriptions to both applications ($480/yr) or even the Creative Cloud membership ($600/yr). If you only upgrade biennially, your per year cost over 4 years is $437 ((($699 + $599 initial cost) + ($199+$249 upgrade))/4 years)... so better to buy outright and upgrade.
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Conclusion: If you upgrade annually, subscriptions are the better deal. But if you are a biennial upgrader, stick with buying the program outright... the overall costs are lower.
Individual Program (PS or AI) Upgrades only vs. Individual Subscriptions
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Now let’s assume you have already made the investment in the programs and are just trying to figure out the better deal for cash-flow. Taking the initial purchase price out of the equation, a subscription for each individual program will cost you $240/year. Upgrade costs for Photoshop are $200/year and for Illustrator are $250/year. So the subscription for Illustrator is the better deal (but not for Photoshop).
If you are only looking at upgrades vs. subscription of both applications combined and take the initial purchase price out, your annual upgrade cost will be $450, so you are better off buying outright with annual upgrades.
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Conclusion: Looking at upgrade price vs. subscriptions for cash-flow, for the annual upgrader, the Illustrator subscription has a slight edge over outright purchase, but the biennial upgrader should buy outright.
One last note
If you are at all considering the Creative Cloud membership, through August, Adobe is offering Creative Cloud incentive pricing for current Creative Suite users (CS3 and above): $29.99/mo (with annual commitment) for your first year. That’s only $360 for your first year! ~ Sarah
Did you miss our meeting on Monday? Well fret not! Videos of the live tutorials have been posted in the members-only archive available from our Members page. In addition to the seven live recordings by Monday’s presenters (Sarah Schwartz, Jill Turney, Ben Corrales, and Ruby Geisler), there are two bonus videos from Will Tait. PLUS there are some supplemental notes too!
If you don’t remember the password that was emailed to you when you joined, please email email@example.com
If you have additional questions about the techniques demonstrated, please use the members-only Forums to ask the presenters.
You may spend countless hours working in Photoshop each week, but have you double-checked your software's settings and preferences lately? Your design life may be just a bit sweeter after watching Frederick L. Chipkin's free video tutorial "Maximizing Adobe Photoshop's Desktop and Preferences for Textile Design."
Chipkin, a textile designer and author of the book Adobe Photoshop for Textile Design , also offers reasonably priced tutorials on photo-draping, coloring textile designs, color reduction, creating plaids, and putting designs into repeat on online education website CraftArtEdu. Click here to view Chipkin's profile and broadcasts.
Photo from www.craftartedu.com
Have you ever tried using textures in your designs? They are a great way to add interest without adding motifs to a design. I like to use textures from www.cgtextures.com. They have tons of free textures for download as well as lots of tutorials.
Image 1 (Before texture is applied)
Below is an example of how I applied texture to Image 1 (created in Photoshop).
I used two textures downloaded from CGTextures:
1. The first is found in Marble:Other, and is MarbleOther0001 (Texture #3195)
2. The second is found in Fabric:PlainFabric, and is FabricPlain0027(Texture: #3144).
I downloaded the largest images in both instances.
Back in my Photoshop image....
Step 1 - Marble Texture:
I created a new layer and moved it to the top of the layers palette. I then pasted the Marble texture into the new layer and set it to "overlay" mode. I resized the texture to fit my image (I did not try to tile or repeat it). I created a “curves” adjustment layer and a “hue/saturation” adjustment layer, to take down the contrast and remove the color in the Marble texture. I clipped both of these adjustment layers to the Marble texture layer (so that the adjustment layers only apply to the Marble layer).
The left Image is the original downloaded texture from CGTextures. The right image is the result when the original image is modified with adjustment layers.
Step 2 - Fabric Texture
Next I created another layer, moved it to the top of the layers palette, and pasted in the fabric texture, setting the layer to “soft light” mode. I resized the texture to fit my image (I did not try to tile or repeat it). I created a “hue/saturation” adjustment layer to remove all the color. I did not need a curves adjustment layer for this texture because there was not a lot of contrast. I clipped the adjustment layer to the fabric texture layer.
The left Image is the original downloaded texture from CGTextures. The right image is the result when the original image is modified with adjustment layers.
Step 3 - Group the Textures
Finally, I created a new group and placed both the Marble layer and the Fabric layer in the group (along with their respective adjustment layers). I placed the group at the top of the layer palette (above my original Image 1 design layers). I set the new texture group to “pass through” mode.
Image 2 (After texture is applied)
The result is Image 2.
As you can see, in this design, I found the best results by adjusting the layers to be desaturated and without too much contrast. I just played with the layer modes until I found the ones that worked.
Have fun with textures!
Fabric designer Heather Ross will be holding a couple of workshops this April in New York. The workshops will be focusing on using Photoshop to create repeating designs. Students should have a basic understanding of the program and bring their own digital drawing tablets (or purchase one at the class). Mac computers will be provided. The fee is $550. For more information on Heather's workshops please visit her blog.