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Driving Photoshop

The real impetus behind these three iPad apps from Adobe is to demonstrate proofs of concept for the new Photoshop Touch SDK, which will enable developers to create apps for tablet devices running Android, BlackBerry OS, and iOS that can drive Photoshop in a client-server manner. These really aren't intended to be standalone apps, though Eazel comes closest to an independent art tool; for that, Adobe still offers Adobe Ideas and plans to keep developing standalone apps.

The Touch SDK will be free to any licensed user of CS5, downloadable from Adobe Developer Connection. Though I haven't yet seen the documentation for the SDK, as far as I can tell it supports any operation that can be scripted in Photoshop.
Photo by: Adobe/screenshot by Lori Grunin

Enable Photoshop

When you update Photoshop, you'll get a new option in the Edit menu that asks you to set up a password-protected service through which the tablet connects to Photoshop.
Photo by: Adobe/screenshot by Lori Grunin

Adobe Color Lava

Of the three apps, Color Lava is my favorite to fiddle with, but like all of them not as useful as one would wish. You create color palettes by mixing primaries, paintlike, with your finger. The longer you paint two colors together, the more they combine. The gray square in the upper left corner is "water"; you dip your finger in it to use it. Tapping the camera icon brings up your photos if you need to search for a reference image. If you're connected to Photoshop, any selected swatch becomes the currently selected color.
Photo by: Adobe/screenshot by Lori Grunin

Adjusting colors

Holding your finger down on any color brings up the adjustment panel, where you can change the hue, saturation and brightness of any color. The dotted circle takes you back to the previous display, and the dotted circle and grid icons in the bottom middle jump you between the swatch palette view and the editing view.

In each of the apps, the Ps icon brings up the server connection dialog. If configured properly, the iPad should automatically list the server and simply prompt you for a password before connecting all the apps.
Photo by: Adobe/screenshot by Lori Grunin


Adobe initially provides instructions on how to use the app, which disappear once you've started to fill up the swatch display.
Photo by: Adobe/screenshot by Lori Grunin


You can create multiple swatch groups; if the swatches into multiple pages, dots appear underneath indicating how many. You can't use the dots to navigate, they're just informational.
Photo by: Adobe/screenshot by Lori Grunin

Swatch sharing

In addition to sending individual swatches, you can send an entire five-color palette up to Photoshop's swatch panel. It also provides the RGB, HSB, and hex codes for the individual colors.

Unfortunately, because the iPad lacks even the most rudimentary color calibration, the palette that you've painstakingly created on the iPad looks quite different in Photoshop. Even an iPad color profile in Photoshop to map the values better on that end would help.

Furthermore, you can't pass the swatches on into Eazel, which I believe is a purposeful limitation of iOS.
Photo by: Adobe/screenshot by Lori Grunin


This is the splash screen for Eazel, a freeform painting app. It's an important screen--it shows you how to use the app, which isn't terribly obvious at first. Basically, you place your five fingertips on the screen and the options--color, size, opacity, undo/redo, and new--pop up. When you lift your hand, the options become persistent, as shown in the next slide.
Photo by: Adobe/screenshot by Lori Grunin


Color and settings get separate screens. To change the size and opacity of the "brush" you drag your finger vertically. The settings option displays two choices: transmit to Photoshop and save to photos.
Photo by: Adobe/screenshot by Lori Grunin

Color selection

Compared with Color Lava, this palette interface is awkward and ugly. Unless you have really pointy fingers (or a stylus), precise color selection is difficult. And unlike the other two apps, Eazel's Photoshop connectivity seems to be limited to uploading paintings; you can't use Photoshop's swatch palette or colors created within Photoshop.
Photo by: Adobe/screenshot by Lori Grunin

Not the painting experience I expected from Adobe

You simply don't have enough control over the way the "brush" behaves to make painting with Eazel even fun; mixing in Color Lava had a more brushlike feel. The amount the paint runs when it hits another color depends on some random amount of time you've allowed it to "dry," and the paint on large brushes always runs on curves. Okay, fine. But even though Photoshop increases the painting's resolution on upload, it doesn't improve the low-resolution, low-computing-power look of the runny paint.
Photo by: Adobe/screenshot by Lori Grunin

Adobe Nav

The problem with Adobe Nav, an app which allows you to create custom tool palettes and use the iPad as a separate tool screen, is that it doesn't really seem to fill a need. It's kind of cool as a proof of concept, showing how closely you can tie the tablet to Photoshop. But power users will find it less fluid than keystroke shortcuts--you constantly have to look over at the tablet--and newbies are better off with third-party custom Flash palettes within Photoshop.
Photo by: Adobe/screenshot by Lori Grunin

Configurable tools

While the ability to customize a tool set out of all the options available within Photoshop is neat, you can't save the different sets, can't attach a specific custom preset to a tool (such as making the square selection tool default to a specific size), can't resize the icons to fit more, and can't get rid of the huge color swatches, screen mode, or 1:1 zoom buttons.
Photo by: Adobe/screenshot by Lori Grunin

Photo browser

Nav downloads a low-resolution proxy version of all the images open in Photoshop, which you can then tote around with you when you disconnect. On one hand, it seems like a clever end run around Apple as a relatively easy way to get photos onto an iPad; it can handle up to 200 images. But it doesn't stash them in Photos, and if you reconnect to Photoshop and they're not open, it syncs them away. When you double-tap on an image it displays really basic metadata: size, color space, and bit depth. All it did was make me wish the SDK could drive Bridge or Lightroom as well as Photoshop.
Photo by: Adobe/screenshot by Lori Grunin


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