Astropad Review - The Overrated Photographer

Astropad Review

So, it may seem a little surprising to have this here, given the iPad Pro isn’t what I would have considered as a professional photographic device, unless professional involves showing customers your portfolio which I guess could qualify.  On my front, I’ll even openly say that I never purchased it for photography, it was purchased primarily as a business tool. In my case, doing workshops is a big part of my business and the ability to do process flow diagrams on a projector, marking up documents or making notes in OneNote were the primary purposes behind the acquisition, albeit an expensive one. As a bonus, I figured my wife may be able to use it on the art side as she does drawing and painting, but never really expected anything on the photography side.  Firstly on the art side (if anyone cares), I had the surface pro 3 prior to this and previously gave it to my wife with a pro art application installed so I wasn’t expecting a whole lot when it came to the Apple Pencil. She tried the Surface Pro once, spent 5 minutes playing with it and gave me a bored look and pushed it back at me as if to say, “Nice, try, no thanks, I’ll stick to my paper and eisels”. When it came to the Pencil, I thought she would be impressed, but I wasn’t expecting the reaction I got. When you hand it to someone who is a physical paint and pencil person and you can’t get them to give it back, you know you have a problem (the problem is we only have one and they’re expensive).  Obviously, most of the people don’t give a &#&^ about art so you’re probably still wondering what this is about if you didn’t read the title) The day I got my iPad Pro, my business partner sent me a note about using the iPad Pro as a second screen for my mac. Great I thought, having a second screen handy on the odd occasion is fairly nice when I am working at a customer, but wouldn’t it be nice if we could use the iPad Pro as a wacom digitiser. Well, apparently I’m behind because some app developer already thought of it and has released something called Astropad which does exactly that, and does it very bloody well. So well in fact that I am dumping my wacom digitiser. The short answer is you install the app on both the iPad Pro and your Mac (not available for windows), start up the app on both devices and the screen is suddenly extended onto your iPad Pro. You can drag and drop your photoshop window onto the iPad Pro where they have a set of Wacom style digital controls on the left hand side of the screen. The Pencil works perfectly in the device and you can use combinations of pencil and finger when you are drawing and want to zoom.  I’ve done a basic screencam of what I am talking about, a little bit of playing around, zooming and writing to give you an idea of what you can do. Obviously you can’t see me holding the pencil but you can see the reactions on the iPad itself. Yes, I know what I have done is not the correct way to do it, but I wanted something that would allow me to create a 2 minute video showing the capability rather than an instructional of the best way to do something. Overall, I think it was worth it just to have this. At one point I was looking at a Wacom android tablet for exactly this reason but when I looked at it, it was massive. Here is a photo of the basic interface (on the left side). You can get this to pop up by tapping on the white circle. The two red circles appearing on the right only appear when you touch two fingers to the screen to show you that it's picked up a touch input to zoom or move the screen around, otherwise with the Pencil, you see tiny pink lines appearing as you draw (doesn't appear on the video because I mirrored screens but it didn't show what was happening on the iPad Pro, only what was appearing on the screen of my computer.) There are a couple of settings in the app itself, largely for shortcuts Here is my video. As mentioned, it's just playing around, nothing exciting. If you go to 5:11 you'll some basic writing in photoshop. If you want something a little better and more professional, have a look at Frank Doorhof's video of the same thing (better quality photos, better quality video)

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