The first fully featured, truly professional photo editing tool for iPad

It’s a rare event when an app can completely change how you use a device. When the iPhone was released in 2007 and then when the original iPad was released in 2010, our world’s drastically began the move from desktop to mobile workspaces. Over the past decade, app developers have been innovating their methods to keep up with how people work with the mobile technologies and it’s really become the focus for most people. The mobile devices are quickly catching up to and surpassing the power of many stationary workstations so it’s only fitting that the software is modified to work alongside them.

One of my primary uses of a computer is to edit photos and design graphics. For many, many years, I honed my craft using Photoshop like so many graphic designers did. When the tide began to turn, and Adobe changed their model for purchase to a subscription-based one, I made the decision to look for a Mac-based product that would operate in the same manner and would still provide me with the tools to create breathtaking images and designs. It was a tireless search because there were many developers who were trying to make a Photoshop alternative for professional users, but there were lots of failures. Finally, two years ago, I found Affinity Photo for Mac. It’s a beautiful, powerful photo editor that operates in very much the same way that Photoshop does. The wonderful thing about that is that there is a very small learning curve for proficient users of PS.

I said all that to say this — Affinity Photo is now available on the iPad.

Affinity Photo for iPad REVIEW

When this announcement was made earlier this month at WWDC that Affinity Photo for iPad would be released soon, I was ecstatic. That rare moment where a device changes completely was about to happen for me. You see, I love the mobility that an iPad affords me, but I still find it limiting because I’ve never been able to find a photo editor that is powerful enough for me. I really love having the tools that professional-grade photo editing software provides and you just don’t get that with a lot of the options out there. The release of Affinity Photo has changed the way I work with my iPad. Before installing it, I would use my iPad for writing, but when it came to editing any photos, I would switch off to my MacBook Pro. This really makes it difficult to have an efficient workflow. Since I’ve acquired Affinity Photo, I’ve been able to be much more self-sufficient on my iPad.

Affinity Photo for iPad REVIEW

Affinity Photo for iPad is built on the exact same platform and backend as the Mac version. The developer, Serif Labs, made sure the app was fully optimized to take advantage of the iPad’s hardware and touch capabilities. One of the improvements made for the iPad version was that all the rendering, adjustments, brushes and filters have been fully hardware accelerated using Metal to ensure the best possible performance. Affinity Photo is a very impressive photo editor and it has a lot of features that make it a first-class app. Here is just a sampling of some of them.

  • Full support for unlimited layers, layer groups, adjustment layers, filter layers and masks
  • Open RAW and other images in a dedicated pre-processing workspace
  • View histograms, blown highlights, shadows and tones as well as EXIF information
  • Massive collection of effects available, including blurs, distortions, tilt-shift, shadows, glows, lighting
  • Intuitive selection brush and refinement makes selections simple, even down to strands of hair
  • Dedicated Liquify persona gives freehand control over warps, twirls, pinch, punch, and turbulence
  • Huge library of painting, drawing, textures and professional DAUB brushes included
  • Professional-grade file standards
  • Open, edit and save Photoshop® PSD files
  • RGB, CMYK, HDR, Greyscale and LAB color spaces
  • End-to-end CMYK workflow with ICC color management and OCIO support
  • Full 16 and 32-bit per channel editing
  • Work with all standard formats like PNG, TIFF, JPG, GIF, SVG, EPS, EXR, HDR, PSD, and PDF

Affinity Photo for iPad REVIEW

The iPad version of Affinity Photo has not let me down and is very much like it’s older Mac brother. It’s built to look and feel like the desktop app so you’re not fumbling around trying to learn a dumbed down mobile version of a desktop app. Having a full photo editing platform that really gives me that opportunity to size, resize, use layers, and so much more, is incredible. I used to find myself getting aggravated attempting to get images just right and I would find myself using my iPad less and less. Now, it’s like a brand new device for me. When I use Affinity Photo on the iPad Pro, I feel in control of my creations and don’t have to interrupt my workflow. I feel as if I could travel much lighter now and not worry if I will need my laptop on my day or weekend trips.

For testing purposes, I tried Affinity Photo for iPad on two different iPad models — the iPad Pro 12-inch and the new iPad Pro 10.5-inch. I decided to do two main functions – coloring, which used the Apple Pencil and then some basic color shifts with an image. This was the main method of testing for Affinity Photo for iPad because I already had experience with the app in general, I really wanted to try it with iPad-specific features. The Apple Pencil is probably my favorite accessory for the iPad Pro so it was really great to be able to use it with an advanced photo editor like Affinity Photo. It’s a precision tool with a precision app. I downloaded an image of a peacock and used the pencil to color in parts of it. I will admit that it will take practice to use the pencil with Affinity Photo. Since this was my first foray with this app and this accessory, I didn’t color inside the lines the entire time. Affinity Photo has all kinds and sizes of brushes and I had to find a good balance as I was adding color to the peacock.

Affinity Photo for iPad REVIEW

The second test I did was to adjust the color on an image of a backlit keyboard. I wanted it to pop a bit more and appear more vibrant than the original image. So, I adjusted the exposure, saturation, contracts, and vibrance settings. Since this was sort of a trial and error test, I just moved the sliders around until the colors were what I wanted them to be. It’s a completely different user experience on the iPad because instead of using a mouse or trackpad to make your adjustments, you are using the pencil or your finger to slide across the screen. It honestly starts feeling like something out of Star Trek and I love it.

Affinity Photo for iPad REVIEW

Finally, the main reason I feel that Affinity Photo is a game-changer for content creators like me is because you have full use of layers. This feature more than any others is what has kept me from being able to fully edit graphics on the iPad. Now that Affinity Photo has brought that to the a mobile platform, I have complete freedom to edit photos and make brand new creations. In the example below, you will see the before image and the after with multiple layers of edits included. I had the first image, but wanted to isolate the horse in it and place it on a different background. Then, I wanted to add another object into the new image. So, I found the hut and cut it out of its existing background so that I could add it in. I also had a black layer so that I could erase or paint out parts of images that didn’t need to be there. To me, having the ability to have multiple layers to an image really makes for a professional-grade photo editing app.

Affinity Photo for iPad REVIEW

Affinity Photo for iPad REVIEW

Affinity Photo has really become my go-to photo editing platform on my Mac over the past couple of years. It’s got everything I need and completely replaces Adobe’s Photoshop for me. It’s what I consider ‘essential’ and right after 1Password, it’s the first app I install on every new Mac or clean install. So when I learned that Affinity Photo was being released for the iPad at WWDC 2017, I was stoked. I had no words except maybe, “I have to have that app!” I mean, when you see something that changes the way you use a device and know it’s something you have to try, you go for it.

If you are a creative professional and want to get more from your iPad, I would suggest downloading Affinity Photo.

DOWNLOAD – Affinity Photo for iPad – $19.99 (regular price $29.99)

For more information, visit affinity.serif.com.
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