Adobe Pho­to­shop on ipad?

Vis­ual de­vel­op­ment artist Lizzie Ni­chols has never taken the ipad se­ri­ously un­til now.

Macworld (USA) - - Contents - BY LEIF JOHN­SON

Lizzie Ni­chols tells me she’s mildly in­sulted that paint­ing pro­grams like Pro­cre­ate get stuffed un­der “En­ter­tain­ment” on the ipad App Store.

I can’t say I blame her. Ni­chols is one of the vis­ual de­vel­op­ment artists for Sony Pic­tures An­i­ma­tion’s Ho­tel Tran­syl­va­nia 3: Sum­mer Va­ca­tion, which hit the­aters re­cently and has con­sis­tently racked up praise for its art and an­i­ma­tion (if not its crass hu­mor). Art is her busi­ness— specif­i­cally, the paint­ing of en­vi­ron­ments and props that in­form 3D de­sign­ers how a

pro­duc­tion should look, along with the paint­ing of char­ac­ters—and she does it well. She worked on the pre­vi­ous Ho­tel Tran­syl­va­nia film, and her long list of cred­its in­clude The Emoji Movie, Smurfs: The Lost Vil­lage, Fu­tu­rama, along with free­lance work for the likes of Dis­ney Tele­vi­sion and Car­toon Net­work. And she does al­most all of it with Adobe Pho­to­shop on a Mac Pro with an at­tached Wa­com Cin­tiq Com­pan­ion dis­play.

But that may soon change. Around the same time that Ho­tel Tran­syl­va­nia 3 first started light­ing up sil­ver screens, Adobe con­firmed re­ports ( go. mac­ that it would fi­nally bring a full ver­sion of Pho­to­shop to the ipad next year. And now, for the first time, Ni­chols is con­sid­er­ing mak­ing the ipad Pro an es­sen­tial part of her work­flow.

“If the ipad was able to faith­fully repli­cate what it’s like to use Pho­to­shop on my Mac with a Cin­tiq,” she says, “then I would most likely use the ipad much more than my Cin­tiq Com­pan­ion.”

When Ni­chols says “faith­fully repli­cate,” she means ev­ery­thing. Any­thing less would be in­ad­e­quate.

“Pho­to­shop is the main way I get all of

my art­work done, so the more ways I can ac­cess it, the bet­ter,” she says. “The ideal thing would be to be able to take Pho­to­shop out into the world with my ipad and be able to work away from my of­fice or home stu­dio, with­out los­ing the func­tion­al­ity of Pho­to­shop on my desk­top setup.”

That means that Adobe even needs to make sure that its key­board short­cuts make the tran­si­tion in­tact, as Ni­chols finds they help keep her work­flow “fast and ef­fi­cient. Along with Ap­ple’s Fin­der, they’re also a big part of why she prefers Ap­ple’s ecosys­tem over Win­dows, as she finds the lat­ter ru­ins her groove by sug­gest­ing tools when­ever she hits the Alt key.

The ab­sence of Pho­to­shop is also what’s kept her from tak­ing the ipad se­ri­ously. She’s had an ipad Pro since 2016, but she found it “geared more to­ward the hob­by­ist.” She never har­bored any il­lu­sions that it would re­place her desk­top setup or at least pro­vide an al­ter­na­tive. Again, Ap­ple’s in­clu­sion of Pro­cre­ate un­der “En­ter­tain­ment” did lit­tle to shat­ter that per­cep­tion.

So here we have a bona fide Ap­plelov­ing pro—one who could eas­ily be the star of one of those “Be­hind the Mac” com­mer­cials Ap­ple is air­ing now—and she clearly doesn’t be­lieve the ipad Pro de­serves its name. That’s a prob­lem.

“I saw it as a fancy toy with some po­ten­tially fun paint­ing apps on it, with which I could maybe get some dig­i­tal plein air paint­ing done,” she says.


But let’s back up. How in the hell are we hav­ing this con­ver­sa­tion in 2018? It’s clearly not about the power: We’ve known

ipad Pros are more pow­er­ful than many lap­tops for years now. It’s surely not some Google-like slug­gish­ness to de­velop for Ap­ple: Pho­to­shop has been a Mac sta­ple since its 1990 re­lease. Heck, I know some peo­ple who even think Ap­ple makes it.

Maybe it’s no mis­take that Adobe’s news dropped mere days after a mul­ti­tude of out­lets— Mac­world in­cluded (see page 31)—waxed po­etic about how the App Store changed our lives 10 years ago, in part by bring­ing apps that were for­merly chained to desk­tops into the palms of our hands.

It re­minds us that this revo­lu­tion hap­pened in part be­cause of the en­thu­si­as­tic em­brace of the iphone and ipad by third-party apps. Adobe Pho­to­shop, no­tably, was never one of those. Sure, you could find the watered-down Adobe Pho­to­shop Ex­press ( go.mac­ apx5) and Adobe Pho­to­shop Mix ( go. mac­, but to any­one fa­mil­iar with the real thing, us­ing them felt like lis­ten­ing to some­one ar­gue that vis­it­ing the Statue of Lib­erty on the Strip in Vegas stood in for see­ing the real thing.

It’s time. It’s been time. It’ll es­pe­cially be time when the new ipad Pros come out, as they’re vir­tu­ally guar­an­teed to have stronger chips. As much dig­i­tal ink was spilled on this topic re­cently, I still don’t think folks com­pletely com­pre­hend how rev­o­lu­tion­ary a full ver­sion of Pho­to­shop on the ipad Pro could be. With apps like Pho­to­shop avail­able, mak­ing do with only an ipad seems even more ap­peal­ing than it al­ready is.


Back to Lizzie. She’s a pro, and for all my huff about revo­lu­tion, she knows bet­ter than to ex­pect an en­tirely seam­less tran­si­tion. It’s a wise at­ti­tude, con­sid­er­ing that I my­self have found the ipad Pro lack­ing with some of the sim­plest pro­fes­sional tasks ( go.mac­

For one, she’s con­cerned that the Ap­ple Pen­cil—for all she ad­mires about its weight and gen­eral de­sign—may fall short of Wa­com’s sty­lus.

“It would be fan­tas­tic if the Ap­ple Pen­cil had some kind of click­able button on it— like the Wa­com sty­lus—that I could set to what­ever func­tion I wanted,” she says. “I al­ways have my Wa­com sty­lus but­tons set to Op­tion and Right Click. This saves me tons of time on my Cin­tiq and cur­rently there isn’t re­ally a way to do that with the Ap­ple Pen­cil. “

She also isn’t too hot on the ipad Pro’s slick and glassy sur­face, re­gard­less of whether it’s lam­i­nated or not.

“It’s not a huge is­sue,” she says, “but when I go from sketch­ing on my ipad back to my Cin­tiq, I can re­ally feel the slight tooth of the Cin­tiq screen and it makes a dif­fer­ence.”

But Ap­ple’s an­nounce­ment makes a dif­fer­ence, too. She tells me that if she’d been on the fence about get­ting an ipad Pro be­fore, Adobe’s an­nounce­ment would “def­i­nitely” con­vince her to get one. Judg­ing from the re­cep­tion I’ve seen on so­cial me­dia over the last cou­ple of days, she’s far from the only one.

Ap­ple spends a lot of time play­ing up how won­der­ful its prod­ucts are for creative types, but in the case of an ipad, thus far it’s only been an ideal to strive to­ward. As a re­al­ity, it’s been im­per­fect at best. But Pho­to­shop on the ipad? And maybe Il­lus­tra­tor later? It’s enough to make any creative pro­fes­sional ex­cited about the ipad again.

For Lizzie, it’s a sign that the proper par­ties are once again lis­ten­ing to creative pro­fes­sion­als.

“I think it’s ex­cit­ing to hear that both Adobe and Ap­ple are lis­ten­ing to the peo­ple that use their prod­ucts to make a liv­ing,” Ni­chols says, “so I’m cau­tiously op­ti­mistic that Adobe and Ap­ple will get this right.” ■

An ex­am­ple of how Lizzie ex­plains to 3D mod­el­ers how spe­cific set­tings should look. (Note the Hal­loween date: so ap­pro­pri­ate!)

From en­vi­ron­men­tal and prop de­sign to the paint­ing of char­ac­ters, Ni­chols’ touch can be found through­out most of Ho­tel Tran­syl­va­nia 3.

Young Van Hels­ing as painted by Ni­chols.

Some of the images from the Tinder-like app seen in the film.

Ni­chols’ con­cept art for the un­der­sea sec­tions of Ho­tel Tran­syl­va­nia 3.

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