Adobe Illustrator for iPad Is Finally Available

Adobe Illustrator for iPad Credit: Jhonny Núñez / Adobe
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When Adobe announced two years ago that a “full version” of Photoshop would be coming to the iPad, many photography enthusiasts got excited about the prospect of using Apple’s high-end tablets for a complete end-to-end photographic workflow.

Unfortunately, when Adobe actually released Photoshop for iPad last year, it turned out to be a mere shadow of what many had been hoping for; it seems that when Adobe said “real” Photoshop it simply meant that the iPad version would share the exact same code-base as the desktop version, making it possible to seamlessly round-trip files between both with no conversion of loss of information. In that respect, Photoshop for iPad has been a definite win for many users, but despite frequent updates over the past few months, it’s still a long way away from delivering the same features as its desktop counterpart.

To be fair, cramming 30 years of features into a completely different user interface is no small feat, and Adobe understandably wants to make sure it takes the time to do them right for iPad users, rather than simply trying to replicate the clunkier desktop UI, but in the meantime, it seems a great many photographers are still going to need to rely on a Mac or PC for any heavy photo editing.

Adobe Illustrator Arrives

One good thing that did come of this Photoshop for iPad experience, however, is that it set people’s expectations for Adobe’s next major iPad project — bringing Adobe Illustrator to the iPad.

Much like the Photoshop story, Adobe gave users a taste of what was to come at least year’s Adobe Max event, and now, a year later, Illustrator for the iPad is ready for prime time.

Adobe Illustrator for iPad follows a story that we should now be familiar with; although Adobe has avoided using words like “real” in the description, it’s still the same concept as Photoshop — the iPad version of Illustrator shares the same codebase as the desktop app, so moving files back and forth works flawlessly, but of course, it’s been redesigned for the touchscreen tablet experience and only includes a pared-down list of what Adobe considers to be the most important features.

What’s Here Now

To be fair, Adobe Illustrator for iPad does include everything you’d expect to find in a mobile version of the app, but as with Photoshop, iPad users shouldn’t be misled into believing that it’s going to be a replacement for the desktop version of the vector graphics app.

  1. What’s here naturally includes tools like the pen, pencil, and brush, as well as layers, properties, grid options, and the type tool and path options.
  2. There’s also Apple Pencil support here too, of course, which may by itself be enough for artists to justify doing much of their day-to-day work on the iPad rather than their Mac or PC.
  3. Adobe has also included a few new features for the iPad version as well, such as radial, grid, and mirror repeat to help make the design experience more fun on Apple’s tablet, along with over 18,000 built-in fonts, plus the ability to load in your own.

Like Photoshop, Adobe has taken the time to meticulously rethink the design of each of the tools that have been included in the current version of Illustrator, so they work intuitively and seamlessly, but it also means that there’s a lot that hasn’t yet been brought over.

What’s Coming

Having learned its lesson from the lukewarm reception that Photoshop for iPad originally got, Adobe is making absolutely sure that it manages users expectations this time around, and it’s emphasizing even more so that this is just version one, and it plans to add more new capabilities in a series of upcoming updates.

This is only the beginning of our journey, and it’s one that we are overjoyed to share with you the community, to whom we owe a deep gratitude.

Eric Snowden, Adobe design VP

According to Adobe, it’s already working on effects, more brushes, as well as advanced Sensei-powered features that will enable capabilities like turning sketches into vector graphics.

Adobe Illustrator for iPad is a free download from the App Store, although you’ll either need to unlock it using either a Creative Cloud subscription that includes the desktop version of Illustrator or a standalone $9.99 monthly in-app subscription.

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