If you were to take Apple’s marketing at face value, you might think that the latest generation of the iPad Pro could be a true computer replacement. But can it replace a Wacom Intuos or Cintiq? In this video, Michael Woloszynowicz reviews retouching on the iPad Pro with the use of Astropad Studio.
In the above demonstration, Michael has a 12.9″ iPad Pro running Astropad Studio, plugged into a MacBook Pro via USB, with an image open in Adobe Photoshop. Before Astropad, there were similar applications such as Duet, which enabled using your iPad as an external display or input device. However, the performance of Astropad is leaps and bounds above the competition. The cost for using Astropad Studio is either $79.99 annually, or $11.99 a month, which means adding a subscription fee to your retouching tablet of choice.
Admittedly, Astropad Studio performs well, with minimal lag, making it an excellent option for illustrators and designers. Where the specifics tend to go astray for retouchers, is with the lack of built-in hover with the use of the Apple Pencil.
Astropad Studio does include a three-finger gesture that enables a workaround hover, but if you are repeatedly healing or cloning and sampling areas of an image, those additional gestures can add up to a lot of extra time.
Other aspects of the iPad Pro such as the smoothness of the Apple Pencil, the inability to calibrate the display, and the difference in screen aspect ratio make this setup not ideal for professional, full-time retouchers.
If you already own an iPad Pro and do not have a Wacom graphics tablet, or you are a nature photographer that is not doing pixel-level retouching, then this could be a viable solution. For those that need an efficient and accurate graphics tablet, however, Wacom is still the way to go.