ArtStudio and mixed-media digital collage on the iPad

Lately, I've been working primarily on my iPad 2 instead of my desktop computer; being able to sit on the sofa and enjoy a movie with my husband and still be productive at the same time is so nice! Far and away, my favorite app is ArtStudio. It's basically a mini Photoshop, with amazing functionality, all for less than the cost of a venti nonfat mocha frappuccino with no whip and chocolate drizzle.

I have absolutely no affiliation with the creators of this app, so forgive me if I sound like an advertisement, but ArtStudio is perfect for the type of work I do and I really can't say enough good things about it.

There's a lot that I want to say about ArtStudio and how I use it, so I'm planning to do a series of posts; in this first post, I'm going to discuss some very basic info about sizing your canvas and importing your digital collage elements.

The maximum canvas size in ArtStudio is 2048 x 2048 pixels. If you want to print your final art at 300 ppi without upsampling, this means your printed image will be 6.82" x 6.82". For my purposes, though, 300 ppi is overkill and I get perfectly lovely results printing at as little as 150 ppi. I like to take advantage of the maximum canvas size available to me, though, so since I want my printed image to be 8 x 10, I set the height of my canvas to the maximum size of 2048 (this gives me 204.8 ppi to work with when I'm ready to print) and my width to 1639 (8" x 204.8 ppi = 1638.4).

An important thing to note about ArtStudio is that if you import an image that is larger than your canvas size, it will be reduced to fit, rather than hanging off the edges of your canvas as it would in Photoshop. For instance, if I import this square image of my background texture at 2048 x 2048 into a 1639 x 2048 document, instead of cropping the width to 1639 prior to importing it, it will be reduced to fit the 1639 pixel width. This leaves me with a 1639 x 1639 square that doesn't fill the entire canvas, like this:

You can scale an image to fill the canvas once you've imported it, but of course this will reduce the quality, so be sure to size your images to fit your canvas before importing them for the best results.

Another important thing to keep in mind is that if you transfer your images from your computer to your iPad by syncing, iTunes will "optimize" your images, i.e., make them smaller. The simplest way around this is to email images to your iPad instead of transferring them by syncing. When you open the email on your iPad, just tap and hold the image and choose "Save Image." The image will be saved in your camera roll at its original size and can now be imported into ArtStudio.

In future posts, I'll discuss more of the creative aspects of ArtStudio, like how to make and save custom tools, using effects, how to work within some of ArtStudio's limitations, and my own process for creating a collage in ArtStudio.