For iPad owners with creative flair, this has been a good couple of weeks. Pixelmator and Canva, two brilliant but very different desktop design environments, both made their iOS debuts. The early feedback has been promising, but I’m not satisfied with hearsay — here’s a closer look at what the new apps offer…
Pixelmator for iPad ($4.99)
Mac users will know Pixelmator as an enticingly-priced Photoshop Elements alternative with a slick interface. The same goes for this new iOS app, which has been beautifully crafted to suit touchscreen control.
On the photo-editing side of things, there are a lot of adjustments on offer. Color edits — such as curves, exposure and saturation — are all accessed via one menu, and each slider is big enough to get ahold of easily. Brush adjustments take up another section, with the performance of the retouching tool a particular highlight, along with the ability to brush in color edits selectively. Crop and straighten options are also present, and the effects palette provides a large set of Instagram-style filters which emphasize distinctiveness over subtlety.
However, design and digital art haven’t been neglected. The app provides a large library of templates, and it can work with multiple layers. These can include imported images (great clipboard support here), shapes (with stroke and fill), text, or freehand painting — a large choice of brushes makes this app pretty good for illustration. Plus, there’s support for PSD files.
Overall, Pixelmator’s first steps on iOS have definitely been worth the wait.
Pixelmator for iPad is available now via the App Store for $4.99.
Canva (free, in-app purchases)
Canva launched online last year, offering a remarkably easy way of creating professional-quality graphics, banners and print designs via templates and a WYSIWYG editor. In some respects, the iPad app is every bit as good as the web version, but the smaller screen occasionally makes Canva’s in-depth controls a little hard to handle.
That said, the essential Canva experience is still present. You pick out a template — there are many, many to choose from — and then customize it with your brand’s colors and name. You can also add images of your own, or use Canva’s in-built image search, which provides access to stock photos in five different libraries. This is where the app makes its money, because these stock images are paid for with an in-app purchase.
If you’re comfortable using an app like Pixelmator, you may actually find it easier to use than Canva. But if a full-blown image editor seems daunting, or you just need to use stock images in designs while on the move, then Canva is definitely a good option.
Canva is free to download in the App Store.