Adobe has promised more intuitive and efficient creative experiences for the on-the-go content creators for the last year or two. The previously released Premiere Rush gives video creators mobile options to create captivating video. Lightroom CC is great for photographers who want to edit image files.

But wait. There’s more up Adobe’s sleeves with the forthcoming Photoshop for iPad as well as the recently released beta version of Adobe Fresco for iPad.

SEE: Choosing your Windows 7 exit strategy: Four options (TechRepublic Premium)

What is Adobe Fresco?

Adobe first mentioned Project Gemini at the 2018 Adobe Max conference, but has since renamed the product Fresco. Fresco is a digital sketching, drawing, and painting app, which mimics the authentic feeling of drawing or painting on a digital device such as an iPad. The app focuses on providing artists with all the tools they would normally have at their disposal in a studio such as different brush or pencils types, different inks and paint, as well as digital tools such as layers and blend modes.

I had an opportunity to try out the beta version of the app. I was curious to see if this app and UX was really as natural as promised. And to Adobe’s credit, the experience is quite nice for a beta product.

Fresco features

The app features a layout very similar to the “lite” version of Photoshop or Illustrator on an iPad. The interface is intuitive and packed with tool tips to guide users along the way. Different brushes and pencils are available, or you can even import any custom brushes you created or downloaded online into the app (Figure A).

The brushes emulate the same movements of a brush on a real canvas. Couple this with the pressure sensitivity of the Apple Pencil on your iPad, and you’re not going to skip a beat in getting used to the digital workflow.

Figure A: On Adobe Fresco the brushes will emulate the same movements of a brush just as if it is it on a canvas in real life.
Ant Pruitt

The attention to detail Adobe uses is noteworthy with regards to flow, paint, and ink type. When using water color paint, the digital screen takes on the physical characteristics of a canvas absorbing the water-based pigment. Users will notice how the paint bleeds away from a brush with just a tap or with heavy pressure. It’s quite magical to see. Oil painting reacts in its more viscus fashion as a stiff brush leaves thick marks on the canvas creating texture only found in oil paintings. Blending paint colors on artwork is unbelievably close to the experience of physical canvas or paper (Figure B).

Figure B: Blending paint colors on artwork is unbelievably close to the experience of physical canvas or paper
Ant Pruitt

Using layers

I enjoyed using layers in Fresco just as I would in Photoshop. When in Photoshop, I tend to create certain adjustments or manipulations so that I’m not destructively processing an image. This also allows me to use layer masks to cover or reveal portions of my images on underlying layers. Fresco offers this functionality, and it works beautifully. While I was on a long cross-country flight, I spent time doodling in Fresco and utilized the layer capabilities to create a rendition of my view of the aircraft’s wing over the midwestern countryside (Figure C).

Figure C
Ant Pruitt


Adobe Fresco is currently in beta, but you can request access to the beta program via Adobe. The full release will come later in 2019 according to Adobe. I predict we may see it as soon as November 4 during Adobe Max 2019.

Fresco will only be available on iPads running iOS version 12.4 or higher. Specifically, the iPad Pro, third generation iPad Air, fifth and sixth generation iPad and fifth generation iPad Mini. The Apple Pencil is not required, but I highly recommend it for optimal user experience. Stay tuned for more release information regarding Adobe Fresco in the coming weeks.