With a range of apps that enable you to undertake a wide variety of artistic endeavours, an iPad allows you to be creative wherever and whenever inspiration strikes.
Whether you’re after a word processing app so you can start your novel, or you’re a budding photographer looking to hone your skills, there’s an app for you.
And it’s not just small developers that are getting into the app arts – some of the major players have produced lighter versions of their professional software, such as Adobe’s Photoshop. There’s also a wealth of apps that you can rely on to give you a boost when inspiration is lacking.
Here’s our pick of the bunch from the App Store.
Brushes – iPad Edition
With 19 different brushes, five blending modes and six layers, Brushes – iPad Edition is the most feature-rich release of this popular application so far. The large screen of the iPad makes this app one of the most intuitive and exciting ways to paint or draw with an electronic device, so much so that it has been adopted by many artists. Finger painting has never been so good.
The iPad’s large screen lends itself nicely to video editing with the iMovie app from Apple. This takes what can be a complex task and makes it not only accessible but touchable, with a tactile interactivity that makes video editing more engaging. You get a better sense of assembling the movie using your fingers than you do being once removed by the mouse on a computer. When the iPad is in its landscape orientation, the Video pane appears in the upper-left corner. Tap a source clip to select it, and use the yellow selection handles to choose which portion of the clip to use. The Viewer area to the right displays the current frame, giving you an idea of where the edit point will be. Finished movies can be exported directly to YouTube, Facebook and Vimeo, as well as the iPad’s Photos library.
Adobe Photoshop Express
The very idea of Photoshop on a touchscreen device seems almost too high concept. The good things about Adobe Photoshop Express are that it’s free, easy, intuitive, fast, fun and does what it says it will do. The bad part is that you won’t find all the capability of the desktop version on your iPad.
The interface is simple enough to master: the first tap gets you to the Edit screen where you can select a photo from your camera roll or shoot a new one. You then have a variety of edits available to apply to the image, from crop and rotate to colour effects like Vignette blur and Black and White. Most edits are achieved with a swipe of the finger in either portrait or landscape mode. And you can adjust their strength by the distance you sweep across the screen.
This eight-track recorder includes a range of virtual instruments (synthesised and sampled) that you can play and record with. It also lets you record real instruments jacked into a compatible audio interface as well as sounds recorded with the iPad’s microphone. When launched, GarageBand shows an Instruments screen for you to make a selection from. To play them, tap on virtual keys or drums respectively. You can choose to record by section (an eight-bar section is enabled by default) or, by switching on an Automatic option within the Section menu, you can record a track for as long as you like. Once you’ve finished, you can then edit by shifting tracks forwards or backwards by dragging them. Completed tracks can be exported via email or through iTunes.
Designed for the more serious photographer, Filterstorm Pro is a feature-rich photo-editing app. It contains a suite of powerful tools including curves manipulation, colour correction, noise reduction, unsharp masking and black-and-white conversion. It also includes masking tools, giving you the ability to apply any of the available filters by brush, colour range and gradient, as well as to the entire image. It has excellent support for RAW files and you can also perform batch processing and tagging. Filterstorm Pro is aimed at photojournalists, bloggers on the road and anyone who may want to manage more of their photography from their iPad than their home computer.
Elements – Dropbox Powered Text Editor
Elements is a no-frills text editing app that uses the Dropbox file-syncing service, so anything you create or edit using your iPad can be accessed on any computer connected to the internet through Dropbox. Beyond basic word processing, Elements also offers word, character and line counts, the option to email your document from within the app, and a choice of font. Whether you’re a writer, a student or a professional who needs access to their notes, Elements can work for you.
The ability to blog on the move is a standout feature of the iPad and if you use BlogPress you can post to many of the most popular blogging sites, including Blogger, WordPress, MetaWeblog, MSN LiveSpaces, Drupal, Joomla, LiveJournal and more. The app handles landscape typing, tags and categories, while posting photos is a breeze – you can even post multiple images and change their placement in your blog. You can also upload more than one video to YouTube and insert the player directly into the post. The ideal app for compulsive bloggers among you – guaranteed to get your blog noticed.
The WordPress app does an admirable job of providing access to common features used in the blogging system. It’s ideal for simple posting to a WordPress blog and it supports multiple accounts. You can create a new blog from within the app, but its real appeal is its ability to post to your blog without needing access to a computer.
Color Splash for iPad
Color Splash for iPad removes all the colour from a photo, then allows you to use your finger to put it back in certain areas. Choose an image from the Photos library and Color Splash turns it mono. You have two painting modes and a variety of brushes. Completed images can be saved to the Photos library or emailed to a friend.
The iPad is perfect for showcasing your portfolio of photos or illustrations and several developers have created apps to make this effortless. One of the best is Pad Folio, which features an easy-to-use interface and the ability to customise the app with your company logo. You have the option to create several portfolios in the app, allowing you to maintain dedicated portfolios for particular clients. Images can be added to Pad Folio either through iTunes or via syncing with Dropbox. Whether you’re a photographer, graphic designer, illustrator, architect, model, artist or manager, you’ll find this app indispensable in showcasing your work.