Oil and WaterLive brushes are Adobe Fresco's main event, headline feature flagship. Fresco's live brushes use a built-in graphics engine to simulate the behavior, color, and texture of watercolor and oil paints. You can choose the size and texture of the brush, and the pressure you use will change its intensity.Fresco includes more than 1,800 digital brushes designed by artist Kyle Webster. It's a massive brush library built into Adobe Creative Cloud. Search for the kind of texture, vibe, or material you're looking for and Adobe will show you a sampling of professionally designed digital art brushes.
Once you've chosen a brush, paint flows from it as if it were the real thing. Watercolor paints pool and swish across the screen like they would on canvas, giving every painting a unique sense of texture and balance.Painting digitally has many benefits, too. If you prefer precise, clean watercolor compositions, you can set boundaries to keep colors from running into one another. You can also alter the flow, intensity of the paint, and how the fluid interacts with other elements on the page. Even when I was performing simple tasks, like trying to capture the colors of a sunset, Fresco’s watercolors felt liquid and intuitive.
Oil painting on an iPad may seem heretical to purists but Fresco replicates the feel of painting with real oil and pigment in a way I haven't seen before. You can blot your oil in one spot on your canvas and mix colors right there to find the perfect blend. There’s something meditative about mixing colors on the canvas rather than just picking values from a color wheel. The paints behave like real paints, meshing together to create new colors which you can sample directly with your brush. You can also adjust whether or not your brush will refill itself; As you paint your colors get less and less vibrant because there's less "paint" on your brush.There is a learning curve, like any Adobe product, but Fresco feels more approachable than many of its denser programs. There are even tutorial videos built into the app to show you what it can do, and how you can better use the more advanced features. The tutorials are intuitive, helpful, and helped me brush up on some of my skills that had sagged in recent years.
Universal ExportsThere have been pro-grade art apps on the iPad Pro for a while now. Procreate and Clip Studio are the reigning champs, used by tons of different digital artists, and for good reason. They turn the iPad Pro into a professional workstation you can carry with you anywhere you'd take a sketchbook. But there are a couple features they lack. Chief among them is a reliable way to manage your files.Adobe Fresco's integration into Creative Cloud means you don't have to think about saving, backing up, and syncing files between your iPad Pro and your desktop, laptop, or smartphone. Your files live everywhere you have Creative Cloud installed, so you don't have to worry about losing files as you ship them between your devices. This also means you can export your work directly into other Adobe apps like Illustrator and Photoshop if you need to apply some finishing touches or prepare an illustration for printing. Eventually Fresco should also become available outside the iPad.Auto-syncing to the cloud isn't all creampuffs and daffodils, though. It does cost money. If you're not already a Creative Cloud subscriber, it's yet another monthly subscription that costs $21 to $53 per month, depending on your plan. Procreate, on the other hand, is a one-time purchase of $10.
Refreshingly RobustAdobe Fresco will officially release in late 2019, first on iPad and then other platforms. It works well on any iPad with Pencil support, but you'll get more details on the iPad Pro. Read our iPad buying guide to learn more about Apple's lineup.
Fresco has been a fun app to try. It put a smile on everyone's face who I let try it, and should work well for seasoned digital artists or newcomers with an iPad, Apple Pencil, and a desire to draw. Taken as a whole, Adobe Fresco is a great choice for aspiring and professional artists. It's easy to see it becoming a new standard for digital art, but how quickly it’s adopted will remain to be seen.
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