Slideshow: How to export iPad artwork

Thinking of using your iPad to create artwork for printing or sharing with friends or clients? Digital artist Kyle Lambert walks us through the export options available to you.

Export options

In its short lifespan, Apple's iPad has become an incredible companion for artists around the globe. When you combine its slim portable design and impressive performance with the multitude of creative apps available to experiment with, the iPad is really the ultimate digital sketchbook.

But if you are thinking of using your iPad to create artwork that can be printed or shared with a friend or client afterwards, it is important to understand the export options available. Can you enlarge the artwork afterwards? What are your format choices? Can you create a video detailing your process? To answer these questions and more, I'm going to take a look at some of the export options available across a range of art apps on the iPad.

[Kyle Lambert is a UK-based visual artist specializing in painting, illustration, and 3D animation.]

Export basics

Before we look at some of the many options available, let's cover the basic operation of exporting a piece of iPad artwork out of an app. In most cases, you must first exit the edit mode of your artwork and enter the gallery area, where you need to find an Export or Share button. The button is often in the form of a square with a curved upward arrow above it, as shown here.

The first option is to export your artwork to the iPad's Photos or to the Camera Roll. This is a quick way to get the artwork out of the app and into the iPad's general photo storage area. From there you can perform most of the tasks you'd want to do with a photograph. Often I use this method to re-import the artwork into a different painting app to continue working on it.

Email and online sharing

Another common export method is email. Once selected—depending upon the app—you may be able to choose a format, orientation, or size.

After that, an email window will open inside the app with your artwork attached. Other export methods include printing directly from the app over WiFi, Dropbox, Facebook and Flickr, or connecting via iTunes to access the individual art files.

With Apple's iCloud service, we will likely see big changes to how art apps manage and allow access to files.

Resolution requirements

To ensure that the maximum amount of detail in your painting is exported, be sure to set the appropriate canvas resolution at the very beginning. For example, when using Ambient Design's ArtRage app, you have the choice of increasing the canvas size to a maximum of 2048-by-2048 pixels—double the native iPad display resolution.

Some apps don't offer this option or require the processing power of the iPad 2 to enable the larger canvas options. Other apps allow you to create artwork that is resolution independent so that your art can be scaled larger than the size at which it was originally created.

Taptrix's Brushes app offers a companion Mac application called Brushes Viewer, which can essentially re-render your paintings at up to six times the original size. Other resolution independent applications include InkPad and Adobe Ideas, which produce infinitely scaleable vector artwork.

Exporting layers

If you are exporting your artwork for casual printing or sharing, then including layers may not be that important. But if you intend to continue working on your artwork with a desktop editing package, maintaining your layers may prove critical.

For example, AutoDesk's SketchBook Pro app offers full .PSD export, which will allow your artwork and its layers to be opened in a graphical editing package such as Adobe Photoshop.

Desktop companions

One interesting trend still in its infancy is the idea of iPad Art apps that communicate directly with desktop applications. The first great example of this is Adobe's Eazel app, which can connect over WiFi to Adobe Photoshop CS5.

There is a simple Transmit to Photoshop button within the app, which instantly transfers your artwork from iPad to Desktop—ready to let you continue the workflow. This level of integration offers a streamlined way of exporting artwork from the iPad and may soon be adopted by other art apps.

Video export

The Brushes app has a free desktop application called Brushes Viewer for Mac that allows you to export your iPad artwork at higher resolution. But the application also has another amazing feature—it converts your painting into a time lapse video showing each brush stroke you made as you produced it.

You can export the video in a range of sizes and formats and upload it to websites such as YouTube.

Performance art

One final consideration for sharing your artwork is the iOS screen mirroring feature. With a VGA or HDMI adaptor, you can connect your iPad to a high definition television or projector and begin creating artwork in front of a live audience.

Viewers will see everything that is on your iPad's display including palettes, menus, and zooming. This is a great way to demonstrate techniques without the audience having to crowd around the person holding the iPad.

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