An iPad is not a Mac. Likewise, you won’t find Photoshop– with the same capabilities as the Mac version– on an iPad. What you will find are a few hundred Photoshop-like wannabes for iPad. And, Affinity Photo.
This is about as close to Photoshop on an iPad as you can get, given the robust flavor of Photoshop on Mac and Windows, and the limitations inherent within iOS itself. Wait. What? Isn’t there a Photoshop app for iPhone and iPad? Yes. And, No. It’s called Photoshop Express, and you know what that means.
Officially Like Photoshop
Two of the more unfortunate aspects of my daytime job are the application requirements for my Mac. That means Microsoft Office; not because it’s that great, but because that’s what everyone else uses, so we go with what’s compatible vs. something less expensive that does what we need to do and nothing more.
That also means Adobe Creative Cloud, a veritable suite of applications that do everything, one of which is Photoshop. ACC is subscription-based. Photoshop is subscription-based. That means you pay for the privilege, not of ownership, but to use it until the next check clears the bank (so to speak). Plus, as it is with the inherent overkill in Office, Photoshop for many of us is the same. Overkill. Overpriced. Overly complicated, complex, and thank God for all those night classes and Lynda videos.
If you don’t want to pay by the month forever and ever, and you don’t want the complexity and learning curve associated with Photoshop, then you may well appreciate Affinity Photo for iPad. No, it’s not iPhone-based. Like, ‘Why?‘ With graphic design and photo enhancement apps you need screen real estate. Size matters.
It’s like Photoshop on the iPad. Familiar tools rim the sides and top. Select what you need and get added options via a slide out, pop out pane. That gives you access to unlimited layers, with effects, masking, blending, filters, and even vector drawing tools.
Photo even handles 360-degree images, multiple channels, all the brushes you need (more than 120), but also brushes and nozzles you create yourself. Typography does not take a back seat, either because you get kerning, tracking, baseline, leading, indents, and full justification.
Every image can be cropped and straightened with a tap but everything snaps into place, too. Affinity Photo is not Adobe Illustrator, but like Photoshop, the iPad version comes with vector drawing tools for shapes, Boolean geometry operations, as well as complex shapes and vector paths.
Affinity Photo for iPad is much like Affinity Photo for Mac version. But with your finger. Panels and controls pop out when needed, drop back when unused. Because iPad’s multi-touch gesturing works so well, you’ll see fingertips and tools that are sensitive to pressure, angles, tilts, and everything you’ve come to expect in a desktop app, but in your hand.
Add Apple Pencil to the mix and you can dodge, burn, clone, patch, and fix blemishes and pixels with ease. Not only can images on screen be enhanced with levels, curves, HSL, shadows, and dozens of other Photoshop-like tools, but everything can be layered in with the non-destructive changes you expect. Whether is lighting, blurs, tilts, shadows, glows, blurs, or whatever you need, it’s all real time. You touch, you see. Just like on the Mac but with finger instead of mouse.
As is the case with Office, most of us just don’t need all the tools and capabilities found in Photoshop, but we need enough to get the job done. You’ll pay less for Affinity Photo than Photoshop’s subscription fee for a few months.
Any caveats? A few. You’ll need an iPad Air 2 or later, one with Apple’s A9 CPU, but it works best on one of the iPad Pro models. As many pixels as there are on an iPad Pro, there are never enough, and unlike Affinity Photo or Photoshop on the Mac, you just can’t add another screen. iOS 11 promises some useful multi-tasking options including drag and drop and improved file management. And don’t expect to download Affinity Photo on the iPad and become a Photoshop-like guru overnight. If you use Photoshop you’ll feel at home. If not, you’ll still need to learn the curve.
As value apps for iPad go, this one is hard to beat, and Adobe’s own graphic and photo enhancement apps on iPad don’t do as much.