Astropad turns your iPad into a graphics tablet for your Mac

For years there have been options to add a drawing pad and stylus to a computer, a way for graphic artists to create digital media and drawings. Turns out if you have an iPad, you have another option. Astropad is an app that lets you draw in graphics tools on your iPad with the results displayed in real-time on a Mac.

astropad on ipad and mac

The team behind Astropad — former [company]Apple[/company] engineers — created their own wireless communications method to tie together the screen sharing between an iPad and a Mac. It’s called Liquid, and they say it’s actually twice as fast than Apple’s own AirPlay over Wi-Fi.

astropad peak performance

The app is capable of 60 frames per second refresh rates so everything you draw on the iPad should look equally good when rendered on the Mac. Images are also RGB color corrected on the iPad to match your Mac. Here’s a video demo to show the performance and functionality.

You can use Astropad with your finger, just as you would with any touchscreen iPad app, but a stylus is better. Astropad supports multiple pressure-sensitive pens, so if you already have one of those for your iPad, you can likely use it with the app.

Keep in mind that Astropad itself is really the mechanism to turn the iPad into a graphics tablet; it doesn’t replace graphics apps such as Photoshop for content creation. Instead, it enables the iPad as an interface for such apps.

The $49.99 app ($19.99 for students)  is available directly from the Astropad site as of today, although you can try a free demo before buying. Your computer will need to be running Mac OS X 10.9 or better and you’ll need iOS 8 on the iPad.