Adobe has a second major app release for designers coming this year. Sure, Photoshop for the iPad is going to get most of the attention, but for illustrators and designers who dabble in digital drawing or painting, Adobe Fresco could be the real game-changer. In addition to syncing with your Creative Cloud workflow across desktop versions of Photoshop, Illustrator and more, Fresco's marquee feature makes digital painting with watercolors and oils a lot more realistic. Gone are the days when hardness, opacity and a few other parameters were the only variables you could control when painting in Photoshop. Now you can select an oil or watercolor brush and watch in awe as your strokes blend with the wet paint already on your (digital) canvas.
Adobe is no stranger to mobile apps. The company has built dozens over the years and its existing lineup currently tallies 13. They help with tasks like drawing, video editing, photo editing and turning the things you see every day into production-ready assets. If you also count the apps that allow access to your Creative Cloud account or your Adobe-hosted portfolio, that number goes up to 17. They all tap into the company's cloud-based workflow that houses files, fonts, assets and more in one spot. And to varying degrees, these apps allow you to send what you've been working on while you're on the go to full-powered desktop software for further refinement.
With Photoshop and Fresco for the iPad, Adobe's strategy is changing. Until now, the company's mobile apps have brought a piece of the desktop experience to your phone or tablet. That doesn't mean they weren't useful or powerful, but you still couldn't replicate a full workflow until you got back to your desk. For example, there are four Photoshop mobile apps right now, each with very different purposes. As mobile hardware becomes more powerful, specifically the iPad, Adobe is able to bring more of the desktop experience to a tablet. That's how we're getting a version of Photoshop for iPad this year. For the first time, a lot of the desktop tools are finally in one spot to use while away from your computer.
Powerful hardware also enables the key features of Adobe Fresco, the drawing app formerly known as Project Gemini. With recent iPads and the Apple Pencil, Fresco taps into Adobe's powerful Sensei AI to recreate the physics of how watercolors and oil paints interact with paper, each other and the pressure at which they're applied or mixed. Officially called Live Brushes, these two painting options are the real star of Fresco for me.
I took undergrad painting classes as part of my graphic design coursework, so I know firsthand what it's like to work with oil paint on canvas. I know how you can mix and manipulate thick patches of color on the surface unlike acrylic paints or other mediums. How you can leave them for days, come back and they're still wet, ready for your next round of brush strokes or knife swipes.
I also know how incredibly difficult (and rewarding) watercolors can be. Let's just say I found out they weren't for me after a number of failures. In Adobe Fresco, though, there's no fear. You're working on a virtual surface with dynamic brushes that react like the real thing, but are easily undone or put on another layer so you can try something else without ruining your entire piece. You're not wasting materials trying to get it right, and removing the anxiety of messing up is extremely liberating.