Adobe's new Ink stylus (left) and digital ruler, Slide.
Adonit Adobe's new Ink stylus (left) and digital ruler, Slide.

Yesterday Adobe formally launched a stylus and digital ruler that represent the software maker’s first foray into commercial hardware development. For use with Apple’s 4G iPads running iOS 7, the tools improve drawing precision while hearkening to analog design techniques.

Adobe Ink is a pressure-sensitive, thin-tipped digital pen with a three-sided, hydro-formed aluminum casing that gently twists for a secure grip. Users can alter the thickness of the lines they draw by applying more or less pressure to the tip. The stylus syncs with Adobe’s Creative Cloud to let users access and apply preferences and content from their personal accounts such as drawings, photos, and color themes.

Adobe Slide is a physical tool that helps users draw straight lines and accurate shapes as they cyber-sketch freehand. For use with Adobe’s sketching apps, the ruler can be placed atop the iPad’s screen and displays rules called “hint lines” that can be loosely traced for a precise effect. A button on the physical ruler lets users change its function from providing straight guidelines to displaying other geometries such as circles, squares, and triangles, as well as curved lines and interior and industrial design elements such as flora and fauna, fashion figures, and—curiously—Herman Miller furniture.

Sketch created using Adobe Ink and Slide.
Adobe Sketch created using Adobe Ink and Slide.

Adobe also introduced three iPad drawing and photo apps: the limited-feature social-sharing Adobe Sketch; the photo compositing and masking app, Photoshop Mix; and Adobe Line, which lets users emulate conventional drafting with French curves and straight lines in plan and elevation modes. Sketch and Line can be used with the Ink and Slide tools or without a stylus.

All three sync with the company’s Creative Cloud and were created using its new Creative Software Development Kit (SKD), which gives third-party developers access to Adobe APIs (application programming interfaces) in order to create tools that improve compatibility between the company’s desktop and mobile software while making its Cloud-based image editing more robust. The SKD is currently in a private beta test, but Adobe said in a statement that it expects a formal beta launch in the near future. Additionally, the company added an app that lets users access the Creative Cloud from iPad and iPhone devices.