Adobe's Photoshop Touch App in Review

April 15, 2012 11:31 pm

Tags: Adobe, iPad, Photoshop, Photoshop Touch, touch apps

Product Review: Photoshop Touch App

file_480479.jpgPhotoshop Touch is Adobe's newest addition to its mobile apps family (formally an Android only app; now available for iPad2 and above). This seemingly little program is packed with an abundance of powerful tools for manipulating photographs, as well as creating images from scratch. In many ways, it's similar to the first versions of its parental program Adobe Photoshop, and the less-powerful, but still talented sibling, Adobe Photoshop Elements.

Photoshop Touch is the perfect on-the-go app. It is loaded with special effects and editing tools designed for the manipulation of digital photographs. As would be expected for an under $10 app, Photoshop touch does have its limits: maximum image size is 1600 x 1600, and the created images only save to .jpg, .png, and the new .psdx Adobe file format. However, even for its limitations, Photoshop Touch earns the iconic Photoshop name.

Adobe is renowned for creating several ways to do the same function. So it is with Photoshop Touch. For example, there are several unique menu items that allow you to upload/download images to your Facebook account. Although the shortcuts can come in handy, it can also become confusing when searching for a gateway to perform a specific function.

Unlike the Adobe Ideas app, Photoshop Touch is not intuitive. Even for veteran Adobe Photoshop users (like myself), Photoshop Touch has an initial learning curve that often requires searching the "Adobe Photoshop Touch Community Forums" for answers to seemingly easy questions. In fact, the first item on my Adobe Photoshop Touch wish list would be an actual online "help manual," not merely a community forum to post questions and wait for answers. Once learned, however, the Photoshop Touch features and functions become instinctive and, more importantly, fun! In fact, after working with Photoshop Touch for a week, I am finding it a "can't live without" iPad 2 app.

Opening Screen

Upon opening Photoshop Touch, the first screen viewed is a portal that opens/saves images, as well as a storage area for housing images manipulated in Photoshop Touch. The main feature of the Opening Screen is to provide users easy access to: open and/or save an image (from a variety of sources), create an image from scratch, and/or tryout one of the built-in tutorials (currently 13 built-in tutorials).

Top Menu: (1) Adobe Creative Cloud upload & access (2) Save to: Camera Roll  [iPad's native file storage] and Facebook, email, print (3) Create new storage folders (4) Duplicate Image (5) Delete Image (6) Upload to Facebook (7) Photoshop Touch Settings [portal to Adobe Account, Photoshop Touch Preferences, Access to FB, access to Photoshop Touch Community Forum]. Bottom Menu: (1) Create a New Project & set screen size (2) Retrieve images from: Local Photos [iPad's native file storage], Adobe Creative Cloud, iPad camera, Google image search engine, Facebook download.

Every image that you work on in Photoshop Touch is saved to the Opening Screen. It becomes both a storage area and a holding space. On the Opening Screen you can create specific folders to house the images you are working on. You can also transfer images to a variety of other storage sources: the Adobe Creative Cloud; your Facebook account; iPad's native storage area Camera Roll, send as an email, or print directly from Photoshop Touch utilizing iPad's AirPrint.

Getting Started

As I previously mentioned, Photoshop Touch has a slight learning curve. Utilizing one of the 13 built-in tutorials is an excellent introduction to the program's little idiosyncrasies (navigating the hidden toolbar's tools for example).


Once you've tried your hand at the tutorials, or if you just want to jump into the program, you can create a New Blank Project, or work with an image from one of the many import sources. If you opt for creating an image from scratch, click the first icon on the bottom menu of the Opening Screen. Doing so will open the New Blank Project window, where you can set the image's width and height. The maximum width and height is 1600 pixels by 1600 pixels (72 dpi), which is the perfect size for the iPad 2 workspace, and for posting online images. If you later want to enlarge the image for print purposes, simply upload to Photoshop CS5 or higher, and resize from there.


Another option, and one that Photoshop Touch excels at, is importing a photograph for manipulation by clicking on the blue "Begin a Project" box located on the Opening Screen. Clicking on the "Begin a Project" blue box will take you to the Image Portal Screen.


From the Image Portal Screen you can add an image from: Local Photos (iPad's Camera Roll), the Adobe Creative Cloud, instantly add a photo taken with iPad's camera, download an image from Google (choosing from topic, color, and/or copyright), or from your Facebook account.


User Interface 

Once an image is selected, it opens in Photoshop Touch's main workspace. This is where you really get to see the power of Photoshop Touch. The user-interface (UI) has a similar look and feel to Adobe Photoshop, with the Toolbar residing on the left, the Layer's panel on the right, and the Main Menu Bar along the top.


When opening Photoshop Touch for the first time, the 7 visible tools on the toolbar may seem limited. However, if you slide your finger to the right on any of the tools with "arrow tips" you'll discover a treasure trove of Photoshop's most popular tools … along with Photoshop Touch's exclusive Scribble Tool. When a tool is selected, its icon appears on the top of the toolbar. Clicking on the top icon reveals the specific tool's options; as well as the Undo and Redo buttons, and the hide toolbar arrow.

Located within the top Menu Bar are numerous special effects and editing tools, the option to hide the Menu Bar, and also a button to clear the workspace of all bars, leaving only your working image visible.


The Effects menu is divided into 4 categories: Basic, Stylize, Artistic, and Photo. Within the individual categories are a total of 28 powerhouse special effects. Each effect has its own options for optimal creativity.


Not only can you enhance your images with the Effects options, but Photoshop Touch also includes 12 Adjustment functions. For a mobile app, Photoshop Touch's adjustments are surprisingly the full-fledged versions, allowing for an infinite and intricate manipulation of images.


Even without all the above extras, the most exciting aspect of Photoshop Touch is the fully-functional Layers Panel. Even though Photoshop Touch only allows for a maximum of 16 layers, each layer can be duplicated, hidden, and individually manipulated.

Within the Layers Panel you can add & manipulate layers, or click the small arrow and hide the Layer's Panel

You can also create a new blank layer, or even add an instant layer by taking a photo with iPad's built-in camera.


Special Features

Once you become familiar with Photoshop Touch's UI, the endless hours of fun begins. In fact, Photoshop Touch gives you so many creative tools for editing and manipulating photographs, and/or creating images from scratch, that the creative possibilities are only limited to your imagination.

Painting and Drawing 

Although Photoshop Touch's main function is photographic manipulation and editing, you can also create drawings from scratch, or paint on a blank layer that resides on top of a photograph. I prefer working with an iPad stylus, but finger-painting can also give excellent results.

Example of painting on layers over a photograph taken with iPad's camera

Drawing is not precise (even when using a stylus), but it's still functional. I found that using layers was essential to creating a drawing from scratch. Also, just for the fun of it, if you double-click quickly on the Layers Panel, a rotatable 3D image appears of your drawing, displaying the layers from different angles.


The Text Tool

Adding text is easy … simply click the Text Tool located on the "More [&]" dropdown menu. However, once the text resides inside a layer, it automatically transforms into a non-editable entity. Text can still be manipulated (warping, changing color, adding a shadow), however you can only make changes to the text using image manipulating or editing tools. This works fine, with the exception of not being able to correct misspellings, or adding additional text to your original text.

Text Tool, layer duplicated, Effect//Moonlight Filter used on bottom duplicated text layer, and transform filter

The Scribble Tool

Extracting a subject from a photograph has never been easier with the new Photoshop Touch Scribble Tool. Click the "keep" button under the Scribble Tool options, and then draw (with either your finger or a stylus) around the subject. Next, click the "remove" button and draw around the outside of the green "keep" line. Then click "Extract," located on the Edit dropdown menu.


If needed, tweak areas using "Redefine Edge," located on the Select dropdown menu. Once your extracted image is perfected, add a new layer by clicking the "Add Image" icon (located on the Menu Bar), and bring in a background image layer. You can then add new layers or manipulate the ones you have.

Adobe Creative Cloud


If you want to manipulate your image even further, first save your image without flattening layers. All saved images initially reside on Photoshop Touch's Opening Screen. Layered images are saved in Adobe's new .psdx format; which can then be uploaded to the Adobe Creative Cloud, and downloaded to Adobe Photoshop CS5 or CS5.1 (with the aid of the free Adobe Creative Cloud Desktop Plug-in).

When importing from Photoshop Touch to Photoshop CS5, all layer properties stay intact

When importing from Photoshop Touch, through Adobe Creative Cloud, and into Adobe Photoshop CS5 (or CS5.1), all layer properties created in Photoshop Touch stay intact. Once you import the layered image from Photoshop Touch into Adobe Photoshop, you can then work on each layer with the full array of Adobe Photoshop tools and plug-ins. Save the image (layers and all) into your desired file format on your computer's hard drive (or upload the image back into the Adobe Creative Cloud).

Finding Saved Images 

Images created in Photoshop Touch are all saved on the Photoshop Touch Opening Screen. From the Opening Screen, you have the option of relocating your Photoshop Touch created images into numerous storage areas. For example, to move an image into Camera Roll, click on the second icon on the top menu of the Opening Screen and select "Save to Camera Roll." A popup menu will appear which allows you to save the image in either a .jpg or .png format. Layered images need to be saved in either the Adobe Creative Cloud, or stored into Photoshop Touch folders. The one exception: "screen captures" are automatically stored in your Camera Roll files as a .png format.

Also, when initially saved, all images are automatically titled "untitled" numerically. Clicking on a title will bring up the "Rename Project" screen, where you can type in the new image title.

In Conclusion

With all of its features and functions, it's easy to forget that Photoshop Touch is a mobile app. For the avid Adobe Photoshop user it's second nature to compare (and sometimes ponder) over the lack of certain familiar features or functions. In fact, if Photoshop Touch was not such a powerful program, it would be easier to forgive its limitation. What's hard to believe is that a mobile app can be so powerful, and at $10, it is affordable to the masses. Photoshop Touch is a must-have, how-did-I-ever-live-without-it app for iPad 2.

  • System Requirements iOS: Operating system: iOS 5, Devices: iPad 2 or higher
  • System Requirements Android: Operating system: Android™ 3.1 or higher, Display size: 8.9-inch or larger, Display resolution: 1280 x 800 minimum, Camera Recommended

Photoshop Touch purchasing, additional information, and extra tutorials:

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April 16, 2012

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Article Comments

deemarie ( posted at 7:29AM Mon, 16 April 2012

Thank you for reading my review of Photoshop Touch. I invite you to view Monday Morning Blues ( ) created in Photoshop Touch. If you have created an image using Photoshop Touch, and posted it to your Renderosity Gallery, please add your link to this review's opinion box. We'd love to see what big things can be done with this little app. Dee Marie

camera ( posted at 9:35AM Thu, 19 April 2012

A very well accomplished and creative description of Photoshop Touch but I think I'll stick with CS5 with my much larger monitor. With your information I can see the effort provided by Adobe well illustrated by you and can avoid the app thanks to you.

deemarie ( posted at 8:24AM Mon, 23 April 2012

Hi Camera, Thanks for your comments. If you own a tablet, I still highly recommend you give Adobe Photoshop a try. Obviously Photoshop Touch is not a replacement for Adobe Photoshop. It is however a great "take anywhere" version, for those of you who already own and love Photoshop (and who doesn't love Adobe Photoshop?). I understand that "you" already own the full version of Photoshop, however Photoshop Touch is an excellent introduction, especially for anyone wanting to explore Photoshop for the first time. Dee Marie

dawn ( posted at 6:45PM Thu, 26 April 2012

Thank you so much for your review of PT. I have an IPad 1 and it doesnt work on it so I'm contemplating upgrading to either an IPad 3 or waiting for the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 to come out hopefully in June, so I can use this app. i have Photohop 7 and haven't used it much in years...been oil painting instead but would like to get back into cgi..

deemarie ( posted at 5:20AM Fri, 27 April 2012

Hi Dawn, Be sure to drop me a note when you upgrade your iPad or to the Samsung. I know that you will enjoy Photoshop Touch. For $9.99 it's a great way to take Photoshop with you wherever you go. Thank you also for taking time to post a comment to the review. Dee Marie