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How to Use Photoshop on iPad

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Edit images using your touch screen and Apple Pencil

If you have a Creative Cloud account from Adobe that includes Photoshop (even at the $10 per month Adobe subscription), you can get the popular photo editing program on your iPad.

Which iPad Models Does Photoshop Support?

Photoshop will run on a wide variety of iPads running iPadOS 13.1 and later, including all versions of iPad Pro, iPad 5th – 7th generation, iPad mini 4 and 5th generation, and iPad Air (3rd generation and iPad Air 2).

You can also use either generation of Apple Pencil that works with your iPad. Adobe recommends the iPad Pro 12.9-inch and the second generation Apple Pencil as the best tablet for Photoshop, however.

How Photoshop for iPad Is Different

Photoshop for iPad is very similar to Photoshop for Mac and Windows. The file format is exactly the same, too; any Photoshop files you save as Cloud documents will be available on the iPad or your desktop or laptop computer.

Still, Photoshop on iPad doesn’t do all the things the app can do on a computer; several features are on the way, like curves, refine edge, rotate canvas, improved brush sensitivity, and Lightroom integration. Vector-based tools like shapes are not as yet supported or promised.

You can use your fingers or an Apple Pencil to select tools and apply brush strokes, transformations, or selections to your document. You can also use Apple Pencil to select layers in your document, move images around, or draw directly on the photo to make adjustments or create special effects.

The Photoshop workspace will look familiar to anyone who’s used Photoshop before. The Home screen has a left-hand column, where you can select Home, Learn, Cloud Documents, or Deleted files. Near the bottom of the column, you can choose Create New, and Import and open.

–> Learn: Has Hands-on tutorials and an interactive tour of the interface. Below that are video tutorials that you can use to learn more techniques. Create New gives you the option to choose a Print, Screen, or Film and Video-sized document, along with the ability to name it, set the dimensions, change orientation, choose a document resolution, and set a background color.

–> Import and open: Lets you grab a file from your Camera Roll, Files app, or even take a new picture with your iPad camera.

Adjusting Your Photoshop Preferences on the iPad

Tap the little gear icon in the upper right corner of the Home screen to set some preferences like the Color theme, Font name language, Touch preferences, Adobe account options, and the like. Just tap your way through the options in the left-hand column and set it how you want it.

Once that’s all covered, it’s time to open a document and get used to the workspace.

Using Photoshop’s Workspace on the iPad

Just like any professional app, you’ll need to get familiar with Photoshop for iPad’s interface.

–> First, create, import, or open a document in Photoshop on iPad. Then you’ll see the main toolbar on the left. Tap the little cursor icon, called Move, and it will let you move selections, layers, and the whole document when you tap it.

–> The Transform icon is next, and it looks like a polygon with dots in each corner. This will let you change the shape and size of anything you’ve selected. Tap the Transform icon and you’ll see the options available in a little toolbar to the left.

–> To select items, you’ll use the Select tool, which has the Lasso, Quick Select, and Rectangular or Elliptical marquee options. Simply tap and hold the tool to choose which option you want. There’s also a Select Subject icon that will have Photoshop try and grab a person or object in your photo with AI.

Note: Any icon with a little triangle in the lower right will show you all its options with a long press.

–> The Brush tool (looks like a paintbrush) is next, and you can set your brush settings and choose different brushes (long press) here. The Erase tool is just below, which will erase portions of your image or selection. You can long press to apply different brushes to the Erase tool, as well.

–> Next is the Fill tool, which looks like a paint bucket. Long press to choose between Fill and Gradients. The Heal tool, next on the way down the toolbar, will let you retouch and fix things in your image. You can long press to change this tool into a Clone stamp.

–> The next tool is Crop, which lets you choose a portion of your image, rotate, and re-center if needed, while the Type tool just below will create a type layer so you can add text. The Place photo tool lets you add photos from either your Camera Roll, Libraries, or Camera.

–> The Eyedropper tool lets you sample color from any layer in your document, while the Color chip lets you set the foreground and background colors for your document.

Navigating Photoshop’s Header Bar

Looking to the top of your iPad screen, you’ll see Photoshop’s Header bar, which contains useful information and tools.

–> The Home button is in the upper left corner; this will take you back to the Home screen from any document. The Filename is then written in the middle of the Header bar, along with the Zoom percentage.

–> To the right is a group of icons, including Undo and Redo arrows. Tap these to fix mistakes or re-do steps. The Cloud docs help icon will show you when the document was last saved and whether you’re online or off. Simply tap to get that info.

–> The Send to icon looks like an iOS Share button. A tap here will let you save and share your work to Photos, Files, or any other Share destination (set by iOS). A tap will give you the Publish and Export option to output your document as PNG, JPEG, PSD, or TIFF, along with File size and Format options. , while the Quick export button lets you share a snapshot via iOS’s basic share sheet.

–> The final icon in the upper right of your screen is the Help button. Tap here to browse tutorials and take the in-app tour, as well as view gestures, touch, and keyboard shortcuts, see the Photoshop user guide, participate in the Community Forum, or send feedback to Adobe.

–> Finally, on the far right of your screen, you’ll see the Taskbar. Just like the Toolbar on the left, you can long press to see options for any icon with a little triangle in the lower right.

—> The first two icons are the view/properties icons. Tap the top Compact layer view to see thumbnails of your layers in a simplified view. Tap the next icon, Detail layer view, to see your layers in a stack with masks, layer names, visibility properties, and the content of groups.

—> The next icon down is the Layer properties icon. If you tap this, you’ll see the selected layer , blending options along with a couple of (unsupported as yet) other things like Effects and Smart filters. You can also tap the Dimensions here to set a layer’s position or dimensions numerically.

–> The Add layer icon will do just that, but when you long press it, you can choose to add an Adjustment layer or a New empty group, as well (or paste something you’ve copied to the clipboard as a new layer). The Layer visibility eye icon, just below, will toggle your layers visibility on or off.

–> Tap the Add layer mask icon, which looks like a dark circle on a rectangular white field, if you want to add a layer mask to hide or reveal parts of your layer. Tap the Add clipping mask button next (looks like a rectangle with a bent arrow coming out the left) to hide or reveal parts of the layer underneath your selected layer.

–> The Filters and adjustments icon will give you access to Gaussian blur and Invert, two basic adjustments. The three dot menu just below, Layer actions, will show you a big list of things you can do with your layers, like lock, delete or rename layers, and merge down or visible layers.

You should now have a basic working knowledge of how to get around in Photoshop for iPad. Be sure to spend some time in the video tutorials and Hands on documents to get a feel for what you can do with this powerful mobile photo editing app.

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