Adobe Shows Three Amazing iPad Apps That Work with Photoshop

Forget Flash — Adobe’s latest iPad experimentations are way more interesting than a plugin to let you view restaurant websites. The three apps — Eazel, Lab and Lava — all link to Photoshop CS5 running on a Mac or a PC, and let you use the multitouch display to control various functions.

Eazel lets you finger-paint on the iPad and then transmits the results to Photoshop. You can use wet or dry paint, control the size and opacity of the brushes, and a “Particle-stroke painting” engine lets paint spread out for a few seconds before it dries. The most amazing part, though, is the control UI.

Plop down five fingers and a control appears at the tip of each. Move the appropriate finger to adjust color, opacity, settings and brush size. flicking your thumb left or right will undo or redo. This looks like something that should be in every app, not just drawing apps.

Next up is Nav, which puts the Photoshop tool palette on the iPad’s screen with big, easy to hit icons. The 4×4 grid is customizable, so you can pick your 16 favorite tools, and touching them selects the tool on the desktop machine. It also lets you browse and duplicate open documents on the iPad’s screen. This one is simple, but may turn out to be the most useful.

Finally, Lava is a color-mixer. Anyone who has mixed oil or acrylic paints on a palette (or old piece of wood, or plastic, or whatever) will know that it is far more intuitive than sliding widgets on-screen. Lava lets you do this, interacting with colors directly and using the results in Photoshop.

All of these apps, which aren’t yet available, use Adobe’s new Photoshop Touch SDK. This software development kit lets anyone write iPad apps that interact with Photoshop.

These apps how what Adobe can do when it’s not fighting with Apple over Flash. They also show what multitouch can do when you stop thinking in desktop metaphors. I can’t wait to try them. They may even make me start using Photoshop again.