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If you want to digitize your art, you have endless software options at your fingertips. But how do you decide which tool is best for you? In this article, we compare Adobe Fresco vs. Adobe Photoshop. These powerful tools have some similarities, but are generally used for different purposes. By the end of the article, you will have a good idea of whether Adobe Fresco or Adobe Photoshop will better serve you and your art. 

What’s the Difference Between Adobe Fresco and Adobe Photoshop?

When comparing Adobe Fresco vs. Adobe Photoshop, there is some overlap in functionality, but there are also some major differences. Adobe Fresco is primarily a drawing and painting app built for stylus and touch devices. Adobe Photoshop, on the other hand, is a robust platform designed for image editing. Below, we’ll cover each of the platforms in more detail, as well as make recommendations for what type of artists each platform is most suitable for. 

Adobe Fresco 

Adobe Fresco is a relatively new drawing program that is available primarily for touch devices—like iPad, iPhone, or a Microsoft Surface Pro device—although it is also available on Creative Cloud Desktop for Windows. 

Adobe Fresco is an app primarily used for digital painting and drawing.
Adobe Fresco is an app primarily used for digital painting and drawing.

Pros

Made for Drawing and Painting (Especially On the Go)

Essentially, Adobe Fresco offers artists a blank digital canvas. You can then use a wide range of pixel, vector, and live brushes to bring your ideas to life on the screen. Because the application is built to be used on portable devices with touch screens and styluses, it’s perfect for artists on the go. Wherever creativity strikes—whether you’re at home, outside, or on the go—you can pull out your smartphone or tablet and get drawing. 

Designed to be used primarily on tablets and smartphones, Adobe Fresco is a great digital painting platform for artists on the go.
Designed to be used primarily on tablets and smartphones, Adobe Fresco is a great digital painting platform for artists on the go.

Large Selection of Brushes 

Adobe Fresco offers a variety of vector and raster brushes. In fact, according to Adobe, the software includes the world’s largest and most advanced selection of brushes. You’ll find a wide range of different textures to choose from, so you can easily translate the idea in your mind to the screen. Some early reviewers report that the sensitivity of the brushes feel accurate and natural, so ultimately, it almost feels like you’re creating directly on paper or canvas. 

The wide variety of brushes available in Adobe Fresco allows you to create nearly any artistic effect.
The wide variety of brushes available in Adobe Fresco allows you to create nearly any artistic effect.

Live Brushes

A new addition to Adobe software, Adobe Fresco’s live brushes were designed to imitate the way real brushes (and paint) work. For example, you can choose to work with watercolor brushes, which allow your strokes to blend and bleed, just like real watercolors. With oil brushes, you can build and smudge paint to achieve the creamy look of real oil paint. For artists who typically prefer to work with the tactile materials of paint, paintbrushes, and canvases, this is an exciting benefit that can simplify the transition to a digital platform. 

When using Adobe Fresco’s live watercolor brushes, your strokes can bleed and blend the paint, just like real watercolors.
When using Adobe Fresco’s live watercolor brushes, your strokes can bleed and blend the paint, just like real watercolors.

Integrates with Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Fresco and Adobe Photoshop can go hand in hand. In fact, if you subscribe to Adobe Fresco on any platform, you will receive free access to Adobe Photoshop on iPad. With access to both of these platforms, you can bring your Fresco creations into Photoshop, where you can then enhance those illustrations with Photoshop’s tools. 

Free Basic Access

The basic version of Adobe Fresco is available for free, so you can explore the tool before you commit. If you want to access additional, premium features, you can upgrade to a paid plan. 

Cons

Lack of Customization for Brushes and Colors 

When comparing Photoshop vs. Fresco, Adobe Fresco’s brush settings offer a lack of adjustments in brush settings. Also, while you can upload customized brushes, you can’t duplicate them. 

In addition, Adobe Fresco does not allow you to input a hex code or create custom color palettes. Instead, you must create your desired color by using the color wheel, adjusting the hue’s opacity, or adjusting the HSB (Hue, Saturation, Brightness) or RGB (Red, Green, Blue) sliders.

No Ability to Add Text

There is currently no text tool in Adobe Fresco, so you cannot add text to your creations. (However, if you use the app in tandem with Photoshop, you can import your Fresco creations and add text there.) Some users—especially those without Photoshop access—find this limiting. 

Best For: Artists Who Paint and Draw 

Overall, Adobe Fresco is perfect for artists who primarily want to paint and draw in a digital platform. The program offers a variety of tried-and-true and brand new types of brushes, allowing artists to achieve realistic textures and brush strokes. Loaded on a tablet or smartphone, Adobe Fresco is perfect for artists on the go. 

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Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop is an extremely robust tool that’s used for everything from photo editing to graphic design. It’s available on desktop or iPad, so you can use it at home or on the go—wherever is most convenient for you. 

Pros

Powerful Photo Editing Tools

One of its primary features, Adobe Photoshop’s photo editing tools are extremely robust. Whether you need to make a slight adjustment to a photo’s exposure or you want to completely transform a photo with superimposed layers of graphics and colors, Photoshop offers the tools to help you achieve your creative goal. 

Adobe Photoshop gives you the ability to edit, retouch, and manipulate photos.
Adobe Photoshop gives you the ability to edit, retouch, and manipulate photos.

Actions

Adobe Photoshop offers the ability to use actions—a set of procedures that can be reused to edit a photo in a certain way. This can help speed up your workflow, especially if you’re editing large batches of photos in a similar way. 

Thousands of Brushes

Adobe Photoshop also offers a large library of brushes to help you achieve any effect you can think of—from spray paint to watercolor. This gives you the ability to draw, hand-letter, splatter paint, and create other artistic images and backgrounds. (And if the thousands of brushes that come with Photoshop don’t meet your needs, you can also find customized brushes available for download across the internet. Or, you can make your own!)

Extensive Graphic Design Capabilities

With Photoshop, you have the ability to create gorgeous graphic designs for everything from posters to website banners to product packaging. The program makes it easy to combine photos, graphics, text, and other effects to create new, cohesive images. 

Skillshare instructor Agatha Vieira designed this stationery using Adobe Photoshop and Procreate.
Skillshare instructor Agatha Vieira designed this stationery using Adobe Photoshop and Procreate.

Cons

Lack of Realistic Brushes 

Unlike Adobe Fresco, Adobe Photoshop does not offer live brushes. With that in mind, you may not be able to create the realistic effects—like oil and watercolor paint—that are possible in Adobe Fresco. 

Complex to Learn 

While Adobe Photoshop offers an enormous range of tools and capabilities, that can make it hard to learn for beginners. While a novice may be able to get a quick feel for Adobe Fresco, it will likely take more time to learn the ins and outs of Adobe Photoshop. 

Best For: Photographers, Graphic Designers, and Artists Who Want a Wide Range of Tools

Many consider Adobe Photoshop the industry standard for photo editing—and for good reason. It’s powerful tools make it essential for any artist who needs a wide range of capabilities that go beyond painting and drawing. For any artists who want to incorporate photo editing and retouching, graphic design, or even animation, Adobe Photoshop is the best choice.

Photoshop and Fresco vs. Procreate

Of course, there are other tools to consider beyond Adobe Fresco vs. Adobe Photoshop. Procreate, for example, is a popular illustration tool made for the iPad. What tool comes out on top when comparing Fresco and Photoshop vs. Procreate?  

Overall, Adobe Fresco is designed for drawing and painting, while Procreate is geared toward a more versatile application, from hand lettering to sketching to drawing.

In terms of Photoshop vs. Procreate, Adobe Photoshop offers more robust capabilities. While Procreate can equip you to quickly tweak photos, it doesn’t offer the comprehensive photo editing tools that Photoshop does. 

However, Procreate is a powerful illustration tool, and for the price—just a one-time fee of $9.99—it can be an affordable option for those who don’t want to commit to Adobe’s subscription model. 

Procreate is a popular tool, available on the iPad, for designing digital illustrations.
Procreate is a popular tool, available on the iPad, for designing digital illustrations.

Summary

Overall, there is no shortage of digital tools to choose from when creating art on your computer or tablet. In the specific comparison of Adobe Fresco vs. Adobe Photoshop, you fortunately don’t have to choose one or the other. By purchasing Adobe Photoshop, you receive Adobe Fresco (on any surface) for free. And if you choose to purchase Adobe Fresco first, you receive complimentary access to Photoshop on iPad. 

With those tools together, you’ll have unlimited options for photo editing, drawing, painting, graphic design, and much more. 

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