Software Workshop: An Intro to Adobe Photoshop Touch | Popular Photography

Software Workshop: An Intro to Adobe Photoshop Touch

The world's biggest imaging application goes mobile

Photo: Debbie Grossman
Our original shot (top left) came in flat, so we added contrast (top right), then tried some effects (bottom row).

Adobe Photoshop Touch, the tablet version of Photoshop that launched late last year for Android devices (and just became available for the iPad) is no replacement for the Photoshop on your computer. But it packs surprising power—supporting layers, levels, and curves—and even makes use of layer blend modes.

For now, images are limited to maximum pixel dimensions of 1600x1600. So what’s this app good for? Some creative pros are using it as a way of making quick mockups on the go—a photo sketchbook of sorts. For enthusiasts, it’s a way to add the kinds of photo effects that are popular right now, but on a more sophisticated level.

The interface takes some getting used to, particularly if you are well-versed in the computer-based version of Photoshop. Tools in the toolbar appear and disappear, and menu items are represented by new icons.

Here’s a brief look at what Photoshop Touch can do, from importing to adding effects and sharing. Even if you never try the app, it’s an interesting glimpse into the future of image manipulation. As tablets get more powerful and high-speed Internet connections more common, we expect that full-scale image editing will soon be possible on portable, touchscreen devices.

Step 1


Start by bringing in an image. Because this is an Internet-connected tablet, image import works differently than it does on a computer.** From the home screen, tap the Add Image icon.** You can add a photo that’s on your device, shoot a new one with the tablet’s camera, grab one using a Google search, pull one from Facebook, or choose one that you’ve uploaded to Adobe’s Creative Cloud service. Tap your file, and then tap Add to begin editing.

Step 2


Tap the Adjustments menu to choose from an array of tools. Thumbnails provide a preview of each tool’s function.

Step 3


As in Photoshop, the toolbar is on the left, layers live on the right, and commands and adjustment menus run across the top of the screen. Start by adjusting curves. Since the app offers no adjustment layers (for now, Photoshop Touch provides no method for nondestructive editing), click the plus sign in the layers panel, and choose Duplicate Layer from the menu of options. Then tap the Adjustments menu and choose Curves. Adjust the curve by tapping to add points and dragging the points up or down. Click Apply when you have finished.

Step 4

The Effects menu provides several ways to change your image’s look. You can add as many layers as you like and adjust them individually

Now add some effects.** With your curves-adjusted layer selected, tap the Effects menu and choose Photo > Sleepy Hollow, then pick your intensity and tap apply.** Adding a single effect is good, but the power of Photoshop Touch is in the layers. So tap the plus icon to duplicate the layer, and add the Grainy Night effect. Adjust the amount of grain and brightness, then tap Apply. Finally, blend the top layer with the one below by tapping on the layer adjustments icon and switching the blend mode to Screen.

Step 5


Want to give your picture a different style? Scrap the top layer. To do so, tap the layer options icon and choose Delete Layer. Then tap the plus, and tap again to add an Empty Layer.** Choose Effects > Artistic > Scratches to create scratches on the blank layer.** Adjust for the look you want, then tap Apply. Add a vignette by creating another empty layer, then going to the & menu and choosing Add Gradient. Adjust its effect on the layer below by changing its blend mode and opacity.

Final Step


Photoshop Touch isn’t just about effects—you can make quick selections and swap out backgrounds, replace a color with an alternative one, or make elaborate composites. When you create a project that you like, hit the output icon to choose your method of sharing. You can send your picture to Facebook, share by email, print, or save it to your device for export using any other app that can access your photos.