Graphics tablets are ubiquitous tools of the trade for designers. But they're pricey, take up space, and most require some type of software driver, along with a wired connection for power and connectivity.

Astropad

Enter Astropad, an interface app from two former Apple developers that lets users transform their iPad into a drawing tablet that syncs with a Mac desktop. Running on just about any Mac-based graphics program, and working on either Wi-Fi or via a USB, Astropad mirrors the desktop onto the iPad. Astropad's connectivity and detailed resolution originate from Liquid, a technology co-founders Matt Ronge and Giovanni Donelli developed for the app. With the ability to process up to 60 frames per second, Liquid's performance surpasses Apple's Airplay by 30 frames per second, which Ronge and Donelli claim results in very smooth drawing. The image quality exceeds that of a full-sized JPEG saved in Photoshop.

Astropad

With standard iPad features like pinching and zooming, coupled with the automatic palm rejection of a typical graphics tablet, Astropad is an all-in-one resource for the iPad. And because the Astropad is just an interface, it operates the same way with every app, from Photoshop to Illustrator. It also works with pressure-sensitive stylus pens, like Wacom's popular Bamboo line or FiftyThree's Pencil.

Astropad

Astropad is available here for $49.99 ($19.99 for education). Supported on iPads with IOS 8 and Mac with 10.9 or later.