Adobe’s newest painting and illustration app for the iPad, Fresco, is launching on the App Store today. The app is free for Creative Cloud subscribers, and non-subscribers can download a free version that has most of the same features, but lacks some brushes and limits the file export size to iPad screen resolution (so that means no high-res files). There’s also an option to buy a standalone version of the app for $9.99 a month, which comes with the first six months for free if you purchase before December 31st, 2019. However, any new features added to the app later will only be available to users with a Creative Cloud plan.
The blog post announcing the release is written by artist Kyle T. Webster, whose custom Photoshop brushes were so indispensable that Adobe hired him and incorporated his brushes as part of a Creative Cloud membership. Webster runs through the various kinds of art you can create with different brushes — starting with Live Brushes, which are the oil and watercolor brushes that use Adobe’s AI platform, Sensei, to recreate lifelike brush strokes. If you’re using oil paints, depending on the amount of pressure you put on your Apple Pencil, the app can display the texture of the canvas showing through the paint, or show the brush marks and definition of the amount of paint applied. For watercolors, the colors can bloom and bleed into one another.
Fresco will also let users import Photoshop brushes, which is a feature that rival illustration app Procreate (notably a one-time purchase of $10) has announced it will bring to an upcoming version. However, the two apps each have core features the other does not: Adobe Fresco will have a leg up on Procreate with its vector brush, which can create infinitely scalable drawings and allow artists the freedom to continue working on the same file in Illustrator. Meanwhile, Procreate has a Text tool and animation features that only make it a more attractive, on-the-go option for designers, cartoonists, and animators. But whatever app artists end up choosing as their main iPad illustration app, it’s clear that the options are looking better than ever.