Originally published September 26, 2019. Scroll down for news about the 1.9 update.
Adobe has released Fresco 1.0, its new digital drawing and painting tool for the iPad.
The app combines AI-controlled color effects for natural media with pixel and vector brushes, allowing the creation of a range of illustrations and conceptual drawings.
Mixing AI controlled natural media effects with raster and vector tools
Fresco – then codenamed Project Gemini – was first announced at Adobe MAX last year and combines Photoshop's brush engine with new functions for natural media in addition to a new version of Photoshop CC for iPad.
The Live Brushes system is based on Sensei, Adobe's machine learning system, to recreate the behavior of real oil and watercolors.
Adobe describes the software as a "replication of (organic) organic interactions" between pigments and paper, which mimics the surface texture and the mixing and drying behavior of physical colors.
In addition, Fresco offers a range of more traditional pixel brushes – there are "over a thousand" Photoshop brushes according to Adobe – including kits that recreate dry media like pencil and pastel, ink and marker.
There is also a limited selection of vector brushes that Adobe calls "clean, sharp, and infinitely scalable lines and shapes."
Vector and pixel or live brush strokes are stored on separate layers within a document. You can convert a pixel to a raster layer in one direction.
The layer system also supports groupings, layer masks, and the same blend modes as Photoshop.
Fresco includes a color wheel, basic color adjustments, and a fill-bucket tool, though early user reviews cite the lack of a quick selection or magic wand tool when coloring line drawings.
For interoperability with other software, Fresco exports in PSD, PDF and PNG formats. It also automatically pulls files from Sketch and Draw, Adobe's existing drawing apps.
Monthly subscription fee to use the premium functions
Unlike Sketch and Draw, Fresco isn't free – at least not for professional use.
Although there is a free starter plan, the premium features are an in-app purchase. Like Adobe's desktop software, it's a rental system priced at $ 9.99 / month.
In Adobe's online documentation, we did not find any functional comparison between the free and paid version. However, Engadget reports that the free version has a limited number of brushes.
In contrast, Fresco's most obvious competitor, Savage Interactive's popular iPad painting app Procreate, version 5.0 of which has just been announced, is a one-time payment of $ 9.99.
However, the premium version of Fresco is available with Adobe Creative Cloud subscriptions – for both the All Apps and Photoshop CC Single App plans. So, if you're already an Adobe user, you might get these for free.
Updated November 5, 2019: Adobe has released Fresco 1.1. The update makes the app compatible with Windows 10, which runs on Microsoft Surface tablets and Wacom's Mobile Studio Pro.
A full list of supported devices can be found here.
Updated May 19, 2020: Adobe has released Fresco 1.6: the most functional update since launch.
Changes include a clean multi-colored eyedropper option that samples multiple adjacent colors in an image at once. This creates a swatch that can be used with Fresco's live brushes and most of the pixel brushes.
The update also adds a vector trim tool for cleaning up vector graphics, known as "the first of a series of trim tools." plus a new ruler on the screen.
It is now also possible to use Photoshop blending brushes in Fresco with vector shapes captured with Capture, Adobe's smartphone app for converting photos to vectors.
Other changes since Fresco 1.1 include support for the PSB file format for importing large Photoshop documents as well as support for standard Photoshop keyboard shortcuts.
Updated on August 21, 2020: Adobe has released Fresco 1.9. The update adds a new preview for brush stamps: an on-screen size and shape indicator for Photoshop, pixel, and eraser brushes.
Other changes since 1.6 include Snapline, which works similarly to brushstroke smoothing in Photoshop, removes wobbling from hand-drawn lines, and supports Photoshop-style clipping masks.
Pricing and system requirements
Fresco 1.9 is available for iOS 12.2+ and Windows 10. It's now compatible with any Windows device that uses a Surface Pen or Wacom Pro Pen and is running an up-to-date Nvidia or Intel GPU. See full system requirements.
The basic app is free, but the premium features are $ 9.99 / month. The Premium Edition is also available as part of Photoshop Single App Subscriptions for $ 31.49 / month or All App Subscriptions for $ 79.49 / month.
For more information on the new features of Fresco, visit the Adobe blog
For more information on what Fresco is doing, visit the Adobe blog
Editor's note: At time of publication, linking directly to the Adobe Fresco product website will redirect you to the Creative Cloud subscriptions page. However, you can find these via the blog post linked above.
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