STELLAR SKETCHING This software turns your iPad Pro into a graphics tablet, but watch out for the subscription pricing…
This software turns your iPad Pro into a graphics tablet, but does the subscription pricing model work for you?
Link devices and the connection sizzles: it feels instantaneous
Price £52 per year or £6 per month Company Astropad Web www.astropad.com
Led by former Apple engineers, Astropad is a small company devoted to building creative tools for Apple products. Its eponymous Astropad app (now rebranded Astropad Standard) is a high-quality, affordable way to link an iPad and Mac so you can draw with the former onto the latter, turning your iPad into a graphics tablet.
Now Astropad Studio joins Astropad Standard in the line-up, but whereas Standard is compatible with many iPad models and stylus brands, Studio works only with iPad Pro and Apple’s Pencil stylus. In turn, Astropad has been able to focus on creating the best possible drawing experience.
Studio’s pricing model is also different. Now, instead of a small, one-off fee, you have to subscribe to an Astropad Studio account.
Setting everything up is a bit of a fiddle, simply because of the number of components you’re working with. First, create your Astropad Studio account and set up your subscription. Next, download and install the Astropad app on your Mac and the Astropad Studio app on your iPad Pro. Now run both apps: as long as your Mac and tablet are on the same network, they’ll recognise each other and your Mac screen will be reproduced on your iPad Pro.
On a regular home network with a modern wireless router, we experienced a degree of lag between the Mac screen changing and the iPad Pro updating: noticeable, but not jarring. The wireless network is always going to be the limiting factor. Link your two devices through your iPad Pro’s charging cable, on the other hand, and the connection sizzles: synchronisation between the two screens feels instantaneous.
Astropad has also cut loose with extra features. For example, Studio’s Magic Gestures feature enables you to combine finger taps and Pencil gestures to trigger responses including simulating a right-click or switching between tools.
Astropad Studio is state of the art when it comes to using your iPad Pro as a graphics tablet: it’s superbly responsive. But the type of artist who’ll regard £52 a year as a price worth paying is equally likely to be able to afford, say, a Wacom Intuos Pro.
The gap in quality between drawing with your iPad and with a dedicated tablet has narrowed considerably. But the physicality of the latter (through attributes such as surface bite) mean it’s still a superior option.
Astropad Studio enables you to use your iPad Pro and Apple Pencil as a graphics tablet to paint on a Mac screen. Studio is compatible with Photoshop, SketchBook Pro and other major Mac art apps, so you can start making pressure-sensitive lines in minutes.
Studio’s Magic Gestures feature means you can easily combine finger touches and Pencil gestures to trigger shortcuts or simulate modifier keys.
The exclusive use of Apple hardware means Astropad has been able to include extra features.