For Adobe, it was a real turning point, bringing Photoshop to the iPad, and it unlocked a lot of innovation that seems to kick have started the thought process that begged the question for Adobe - what more can we do to accelerate painting and drawing workflows? That question took them to consider a process that underlies everything that you and I do as creative people. For me, it's what initially sparked my love for creativity - drawing. For Adobe, it was a real turning point, bringing Photoshop to the iPad, and it unlocked a lot of innovation that seems to kick have started the thought process that begged the question for Adobe - what more can we do to accelerate painting and drawing workflows? That question took them to consider a process that underlies everything that you and I do as creative people. For me, it's what initially sparked my love for creativity - drawing.
From the earliest cave paintings, forty thousand years ago, to the doodles that we do on the back of a pub napkin today, drawing and painting are one of the primary means that we use to express ourselves and connect with others. Intricate illustrations, full-length films, websites, even experiences in new mediums like augmented reality, begin with a drawing.
Drawing and painting have been part of Adobe tools for decades, and Photoshop has had brushes since its first release. Drawing and painting still remain one of the most common activities undertaken in Photoshop. So, if drawing and painting form such a crucial part of what we do as creatives, then doesn't that warrant a specific digital tool that will bring the activity to a whole new level? Adobe thought so, and that's why they launched Project Gemini - a new dedicated drawing and painting application for the iPad.
When setting out to create an application that was going to leave you wanting for nothing, they needed to bring somebody on to the development team to see things from the creative's perspective, and who better than somebody who has created more than 16,000 digital brushes that have been downloaded more than a million times. Of course, they asked the brilliant, Kyle Webster. Kyle's aim was always to create something powerful enough for professionals, but easy enough to use that anyone could pick it up and start using it - and it looks like they've nailed it.
Although the user interface looks relatively similar to other Adobe apps that you've already used, Adobe has really thought hard about workflows for artists and illustrators. The first, most noticeable difference is the three brush icons in the top left-hand corner of the screen, and what this nods to is that they've thought about the action that illustrators repeatedly do throughout the day - selecting brushes and colours. Your ability to dock the brushes or colour screens that you're using most frequently affords you immediate access to the tools you need when you need them. You won't find yourself developing repetitive strain injury from clicking away endlessly to get access to the tools you need. Adobe has given you a wealth of the flexibility on how you work so that you can work the way you most enjoy work. During any creative process, I personally feel like the tech needs to feel like it's disappearing into the background so that the creative process isn't interrupted.
Don't worry about having your screen cluttered with panels. The full-screen mode gives you a nice clean minimalist interface to work on. Clicking on a chosen element of your drawing will open a tool panel allowing you to scale up the size or colour of that element, and that's while you remain in full-screen mode. In most applications, you have to come out of full-screen mode to use tools, and that is tedious. This feature alone makes Gemini stand out from the crowd in user experience.
Another great feature of Gemini is your ability to erase mistakes quickly. The eraser activates by merely holding down one finger on the screen. Easy.
Want to switch to another project? Simple, just close the document which automatically saves to the Creative Cloud, so you can go to your desktop and you'll have the exact same file over on your Mac, in Photoshop - with all the same tools and functionality.
Let's talk about dynamic brushes. There's such a vibrant ecosystem around the photoshop brush engine. In fact, there are more Photoshop brushes out there in the world than any other digital brush. The intuitive way that layer management is achieved and how you can use vector brushes and Photoshop brushes together in such harmony means you can produce excellent illustrations in mere minutes.
Now here is the exciting brush news and I'm really buzzing about this - Natural Media Emulation Brushes. Select an oil brush and set it to a thin application and you can paint, seeing the texture of the canvas coming through the paint. It feels so real. If you decide you want a full, more generous application of paint, simply dial up the thickness using a simple slider tool, and a rich, thick texture of paint is applied which is incredibly realistic. It looks gooey; it seems like if you touched the screen, your fingers would get wet. Adding a different colour will blend beautifully the way you would expect oils to on a traditional canvas. It doesn't end there. The watercolour brushes are brilliant. As you start to paint, the colour actually blends and flows across the canvas. You have full control over the amount of water you have your brush by using the same slider that helps you control the thickness of your oil paint. This makes the experience feel genuinely authentic. Add another colour, and the new colour will bloom into the existing colour beautifully. Where this wins over traditional watercolour painting, is that if you don't like an element of your canvas, then you can easily erase it. One of the most challenging aspects of traditional watercolour painting is that when you make a mistake, you're probably stuck with it.
This is going to be a world-class tool for illustrators everywhere. In summary, Gemini brings together true freehand vector and raster illustration to allow you to bring oil and watercolour painting together in an incredibly lifelike way. You'll be able to use all of your favourite Photoshop brushes synced through Creative Cloud. Although this is going to be powerful enough to satisfy creative professionals, I think its versatility and plain fun will inspire renewed interest in amateur artists too.
Released later this year, and as a genuine contender to Procreate, Photoshop and Project Gemini kick off a new era as Creative Cloud becomes available first to the iPad, followed by Windows 10 and Android devices. There's no pricing information yet, but Creative Cloud subscribers can expect to use the apps as part of their membership.
I think this new app may just help to liberate my creativity.
By Michael Lonty