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Adobe unleashes trio of iPad apps for Photoshop

Image and video manipulation outfit Adobe has released three iPad apps that turn the touchscreen tablet into a virtual sketchbook, toolbar and paint palette for Photoshop CS5.

The first of the trio, Adobe Eazel, works with version 12.0.4 or later of the ubiquitous and increasingly adjectivised (how many times have you heard someone say, "That's been Photoshopped"?) photo-footling software, allows anyone with an iPad, a Wi-Fi connected computer and £2.99 to spare, to use their fingertips to paint freehand images onto the touch-screen.

Adobe says you can achieve amazing colour blends using a new painting technology that offers a new kind of interaction between 'wet' and 'dry' virtual paint. Your resultant scribbles can be instantly exported to the full-blown Mac or PC software with a single click, or saved to the iPad and e-mailed at a later date.

The multi-touch interface allows users to switch colours, opacity, brush size and other settings by placing five fingers on the screen simultaneously.

Adobe Nav turns your iPad into a portable toolbar and thumbnail library for Photoshop, allowing users to select familiar tools using a Wi-Fi connection, and to select and manipulate libraries of up to 200 images. At £1.19 this may not offer quite as much fun for your cash as Eazel, but anyone using a single-screen set-up for Photoshop work will be aware that your workspace can quickly become crowded with tabbed menus and toolboxes, eating up the amount of image you can actually see.

The tool set displayed is fully customisable, allowing you to build a personal set-up with up to 16 frequently-used tools. Tapping any image in Nav also makes it the active document in Photoshop CS5.

Last, and probably least, comes Adobe Color Lava (we're hoping the UK spelling will be localised at some point) which, for £1.79, allows the creation of custom colour swatches using the age-old finger painting techniques much beloved of small children the world over.

Adobe says you can dab and smudge your way to unique colour swatches using five base colours, which can then be transferred to Photoshop CS5. We can see this one being of use to interior designers and the like - but we'd like to see the iPad's camera coming into play to sample real world colours, an obvious use Adobe seems to have missed.

We can't see anyone rushing out to buy a powerful computer, a copy of Photoshop CS5 and an iPad just to use these varyingly useful tools, but if you've already shelled out the three grand or so you'd need to suitably equip yourself for some high-end image manipulation, coughing up another £5.97 for all three shouldn't be too painful, and may even provide some inspiration.