Edit and Create on the Go with Adobe Photoshop Touch for iPad

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On Monday, Adobe launched its Photoshop Touch application for the iPad. This long sought after app runs on the iPad 2, and not on the iPad 1, and it requires that you have iOS 5 installed. The app costs $9.99 which is at the high end of the price range for photo-editing apps in general but Photoshop Touch seems to have got the feature set about right so most people will probably consider it worth the money.

I use the iPad a lot for working with photos I’ve shot using a digital SLR camera in raw and which I’ve resized, converted to jpeg and downloaded to the iPad. Those images I have on the iPad are there because they are funky or because they lend themselves to some artistic play. So, I looked at Photoshop Touch in this light – I wanted to see if it would be part of my iPad image creative workflow. For heavy duty work, Photoshop and Lightroom will remain my tools of trade.

When you launch Photoshop Touch you get two options, viewing the tutorials or doing some work.

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There are 10 tutorials that you can work through each of them is project based so you learn the program by learning a technique not by learning how individual tools work. These are text and image tutorials and not video ones, but they are interactive so you can learn as you go.

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The second option is Begin a Project which is where I’ll start. You get the choice of adding an image from your iPad, the Adobe Creative Cloud, the Camera, Google or Facebook. I chose Local Photos then the Photo Library and an image from my iPad.

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In the main editing area you’ll find the tools on the left, layers on the right and menus across the top. The program pays lip service only to Photoshop. Some icons are familiar but others are more iPad than Photoshop so Photoshop users may find it a bit confusing where iPad artists will find it more familiar.

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You can add multiple images and multiple layers. I wanted to texture this image so I clicked the Add Layer button and selected Photo Layer.

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Once you select a second photo you get to size it as you import it – you can also rotate, flip or skew it too. Click Done to proceed to the editing area.

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Now, with the layer selected, you can apply adjustments to it.

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I chose Curves as this was a texture and I wanted more contrast. There are no adjustment layers so the Curves adjustment is being applied just to the targeted (top) layer. As you can see, you can adjust the RGB composite channel or the individual red, green and blue channels.

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With the texture layer still targeted you can apply a filter to it by clicking the FX button. There is a range of filters including Basic, Stylize, Artistic and Photo. Some add things like drop shadows, blurs and glows and others are more artistic.

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I chose Stylize > Old Photo, configured the settings and tapped Apply. Unlike Photoshop where the foreground and background colors need to be selected before you run a filter, here you can select the colors to use in the filter settings – this really is a feature that Photoshop should have.

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To blend the layers you click the Layer icon and you get a choice of blend modes and the chance to adjust the layer opacity.

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There are no masks but you can use a gradient to fade the effect – when you do the gradient is applied to the layer and you can only undo it by tapping Undo – you can’t go back and edit it.

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You can also add a new Empty Layer and fill it with a gradient.
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And then blend it using a layer blend mode as I have done here.

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I finished by cropping the image and then saving it.

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You can then email it or send it to the Camera Roll or upload the project to the Adobe Creative Cloud so you can access them from there.

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There are limits to Photoshop Touch and one is the 1600 x 1600 pixel image size limit. The text tools are rudimentary and, as a long time Photoshop user, I’d like to see editable masks and editable text. That said, for fixing photos and tinkering with creative projects this program is a welcome addition to the Adobe family.

This app will appeal to a range of users. There are plenty of basic tools that are easy to use but also some more advanced features for working with images. The Scribble Extract tool does a reasonable job of extracting a subject from a background and you can tinker with gradients and fades to get some interesting effects. You don’t need to know how to use Photoshop to use the app but your knowledge won’t go astray.

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Helen Bradley

is a Lifestyle journalist who divides her time between the real and digital worlds, picking the best from both. She writes and produces video instruction for Photoshop and digital photography for magazines and online providers world wide. She has also written four books on photo crafts and blogs at Projectwoman.com.

  • Just what I need – another on the go editing app. I just got over my obsession with spending WAY too much time altering my iPhone photos with Snapseed!

  • @Erin Sorry about that! I truly don’t thing things will ever change – there will always be something cool followed by something even cooler… I am really liking PS Touch though .. the layers are great and the tools it has are lending me to thinking what can I do with that and how can I harness that with my imagery to create something different and unexpected?

  • Bob

    Happily it is also available for Android tablets. Much easier to access photos as many Android tablets allow access to sdhc cards, something the IPad does not.

  • I wonder can it work with RAW images off the iPad card reader?

  • I downloaded this to my ipad last night. Like a big kid, I can’t wait to sit down and play. It already looks MUCH better then the PS Express app (which was a big disappointment).

  • John

    And now we know the aesthetic that PS will be using for its Metro W8 app. The entire app is already built in a W8 Metro motif, cannot wait for this to come to a real computer. 🙂

  • This software is very good for fast moving consumer photographer, since ipad is more portable rather than laptop…….In my country, Indonesia, there are photographers that shot and shot and shot people on a event, edit it, print it, and sell it …….. in very limited time. This app is very good for them

  • Jerry

    It’s a fun little app, there’s no doubt about it. However, I’m still struggling to find a practical application for it. While it has lots of bells and whistles to explore when editing, true photographers will find the 1600×1600 max resolution rather limiting, not to mention the lack of RAW support. This is a toy for killing time (and it’s quite good at that), but will never be the go-to tool.

    Another note… The title of this post is a little disappointing in light of the fact that this app has been available on the Android Market for over a month. Yes, iPads are popular and, yes, the app was just released for iPad, but it would have been a little more unbiased to say, “for Tablets”, or some such thing. I’m just saying.

  • I can’t wait to download it and start using it.

  • Look interesting but don’t think I will download it, Filterstorm does everything this does and more.

  • Sasha

    How does this compare with Filterstorm on the ipad?

  • Val

    How am I able to add background color when I have created layer of photos, a collage. What tool can I use to add background color?

Some Older Comments

  • Val July 28, 2012 01:54 pm

    How am I able to add background color when I have created layer of photos, a collage. What tool can I use to add background color?

  • Sasha March 4, 2012 01:23 am

    How does this compare with Filterstorm on the ipad?

  • Mike Evans March 3, 2012 08:12 pm

    Look interesting but don't think I will download it, Filterstorm does everything this does and more.

  • Gayle March 2, 2012 08:59 am

    I can't wait to download it and start using it.

  • Jerry March 2, 2012 02:38 am

    It's a fun little app, there's no doubt about it. However, I'm still struggling to find a practical application for it. While it has lots of bells and whistles to explore when editing, true photographers will find the 1600x1600 max resolution rather limiting, not to mention the lack of RAW support. This is a toy for killing time (and it's quite good at that), but will never be the go-to tool.

    Another note... The title of this post is a little disappointing in light of the fact that this app has been available on the Android Market for over a month. Yes, iPads are popular and, yes, the app was just released for iPad, but it would have been a little more unbiased to say, "for Tablets", or some such thing. I'm just saying.

  • Dedy Elfika March 1, 2012 04:17 pm

    This software is very good for fast moving consumer photographer, since ipad is more portable rather than laptop.......In my country, Indonesia, there are photographers that shot and shot and shot people on a event, edit it, print it, and sell it ........ in very limited time. This app is very good for them

  • John March 1, 2012 01:26 pm

    And now we know the aesthetic that PS will be using for its Metro W8 app. The entire app is already built in a W8 Metro motif, cannot wait for this to come to a real computer. :)

  • Jeanie March 1, 2012 09:58 am

    I downloaded this to my ipad last night. Like a big kid, I can't wait to sit down and play. It already looks MUCH better then the PS Express app (which was a big disappointment).

  • Brad March 1, 2012 07:15 am

    I wonder can it work with RAW images off the iPad card reader?

  • Bob March 1, 2012 07:15 am

    Happily it is also available for Android tablets. Much easier to access photos as many Android tablets allow access to sdhc cards, something the IPad does not.

  • Helen Bradley March 1, 2012 05:47 am

    @Erin Sorry about that! I truly don't thing things will ever change - there will always be something cool followed by something even cooler... I am really liking PS Touch though .. the layers are great and the tools it has are lending me to thinking what can I do with that and how can I harness that with my imagery to create something different and unexpected?

  • Erin @ Pixel Tips March 1, 2012 03:57 am

    Just what I need - another on the go editing app. I just got over my obsession with spending WAY too much time altering my iPhone photos with Snapseed!

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