If you’re a professional designer then you’ll no doubt be faithful to your laptop or desktop machine for graphic design work because they’re both easy to use and powerful. But one thing that many people dismiss in the design world is the use of the iPad as an additional design tool. The Apple brand has, after all, become heavily associated with the design industry so why shouldn’t the iPad also be useful here too? This post aims to look at the pros and cons of using the iPad as part of your design process.
Con – Lack of Power
One of the biggest pitfalls of these devices is the drastically reduced computing power and storage space; two of the most important aspects of a machine used in design work. This means that the iPad already can’t be used for all the same tasks which can be carried out on a desktop or laptop machine. This is down to the fact that the iPad is primarily designed for web browsing and running much more basic applications than more powerful machines. This does not, however, mean that it has fallen at the first hurdle when it comes to using it for design processes; we simply need to use it for slightly more basic tasks.
Con – User Interface
Obviously, the main feature of the iPad is the touch screen technology used to interact with the device. This is an attractive feature when using the device for everyday tasks, however when it comes to design work it becomes clumsy and inaccurate. The way around this problem is – and I’m sorry for having to say this – to buy yourself a stylus. This is an unfortunate necessity, but if you want to create detailed drawings or engage in any other intricate and awkward design tasks then it really is worth it. It won’t feel natural to begin with as the iPad is absolutely not designed to need a stylus to operate, but you will start to enjoy the benefits after a while.
Pro – Portable
We all know that laptops are designed to be portable, but most are still heavy and can be a pain to carry around for more than half an hour. This is where the iPad shines and becomes every travelling designer’s favoured tool. If you need to get on a train and want to get some work done without taking up an entire table seat with a bulky laptop, you can. They are also super handy when you wish to quickly present some work or your professional portfolio (for which there are apps) and get your ideas across whilst eliminating the issue of waiting for a laptop to start and load programs.
Pro – Apps
There is an abundance of apps aimed directly at the professional graphic design industry which will transform your iPad from a distracting toy into a fully-fledged tool to add to your designer’s arsenal. Here are some examples:
- iDraw – a vector drawing and illustration app offering many of the same features and tools as Adobe Illustrator including canvas layering, pen tools, path editing and PDF exporting. This app makes drawing and combining complex shapes surprisingly easy and produces professional results, and £5.99 it’s a no-brainer.
- iMockups – If you’re involved in large scale projects such as web design tasks then you will know that planning out and mocking up is a hugely important first step along the way. The iMockups apps and other apps like it allow you to create basic mockups using wireframe formats which helps you focus on the most basic details and get your ideas together effectively for £4.99.
- Air Display – Many designers use multiple programs at once and, therefore, need all the extra screen space they can get. This is another place where the iPad comes in handy. With apps such as Air Display you can set your iPad up as an extra screen next to your laptop or desktop monitor and drag and drop tasks and windows between the two. Nifty! £6.99.
- Adobe – Unsurprisingly, Adobe are working on a series of apps aimed at the design market to make your iPad even more in tune with the tasks you carry out on your main computer. Adobe Nav, Adobe Colour Lava and Adobe Eazel are just 3 of the apps already available and there are more to come if the rumours are to be believed. Check out the Mobile Apps section on the Adobe website for more details on these.
Pro – The iPad Pro to be exact!
You may have already heard the rumours of the new iPad Pro which is set to be revealed by Apple in the near future. There is a great deal of speculation and discussion around this topic and many are unsure what to expect. What we can expect, however, is a much larger tablet aimed at the professional market. When it comes to using a tablet for graphic design work, a larger screen can only be a good thing. Bigger screen, more detail, more useful! It is also unlikely to weigh anything close to what a laptop does, even with the bigger dimensions, so it will still be highly portable. Along with the increase in screen size to around 12.9 inches, we can also expect an increase in processing power, possibly with a more advanced version of the 64-bit A7 chip from Apple. As with the rest of the details, the release date of this device is uncertain and estimated anywhere between summer 2014 and winter 2015. Vague, but still exciting!
The iPad is still inching slowly and tentatively into the graphic and web design territory; however it can certainly be said that it has its place and will only get more adept at providing useful solutions as computing technology advances. So in short, yes you can justify the purchase of one of these to yourself for graphic design work, it’s worth it.
Post contributed by freelance writer Rachael Pegram on behalf of The Snugg