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Adobe Color Lava iPad App Review

Smudge, Dab and Blend to Create Color Schemes on Your iPad

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating


Adobe Color Lava for iPad Main Screen

The main screen of Adobe Color Lava where you can mix and blend colors with your fingers and save color sets.

UI © Adobe, Screen Shot © Sue Chastain

What is Color Lava?
Adobe Color Lava is an iPad app for mixing colors and creating color schemes. Color Lava can directly connect to Photoshop via WiFi to change the foreground color, and can transmit color schemes directly to the Photoshop swatches palette.

Version reviewed: Color Lava 1.0.1 (pre-release)

Cost and Compatibility:
$2.99. Requires iPad running iOS 4.3 or later. Photoshop connection requires Photoshop CS 5.1 or higher.

Color Lava Pros:

  • Provides a natural way to mix colors digitally by smudging, dabbing and blending.
  • User-friendly and easy to navigate.
  • Directly connects to Photoshop CS5.1.
  • Create color schemes based on saved photos.

Color Lava Cons:

Adobe Color Lava for iPad Color Themes

Adobe Color Lava includes an organizer which lets you name and delete your color themes, view color values, and share you color sets.

UI © Adobe, Screen Shot © Sue Chastain
  • The built-in camera on iPad 2 is not supported.
  • The app unexpectedly shut down a number of times during my testing.
  • As a result of the crashing, I inadvertently over-wrote my saved color themes a few times.
  • Overpriced for what it is.

Color Lava Description:

  • Mix colors interactively with your fingers and save color themes.
  • Import photos to use for color mixing.
  • Dip your finger in a virtual water well to clean it while mixing colors.
  • Name your color themes.
  • Transmit colors to Photoshop (CS5.1 or higher) as the active color, or to the swatches panel in Photoshop.
  • Email color schemes for importing into other Adobe applications including Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign.

Using Adobe Color Lava

Adobe Color Lava for iPad Color Theme Information

You can view details about the color themes you create in Color Lava, then send them to Photoshop or email them.

UI © Adobe, Screen Shot © Sue Chastain
Adobe Color Lava allows you to paint colors on a palette and mix them with your fingers, then save them as color themes of five colors. Two color wheels are provided as starting points, one with black, white and gray tones, and the other with standard colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet). In addition, you can double tap on any of the colors to adjust its hue, saturation, and brightness. You can also import an image from the iPad's photo library to use in mixing and creating color themes.

As you mix colors on the canvas, you can dip your finger in a virtual water well to clean it. Alongside the color mixing canvas, five color squares are provided for saving the new colors as a theme. Simply tap a square, then tap the canvas to save the color to that square.

Icons at the bottom of the screen allow you to switch between the color mixing canvas and the color theme organizer. In the color theme organizer, you can click the Edit button to rename or delete your color themes. Double clicking on a color scheme displays information about the colors including color values in RGB, HSB, and HEX code.

Color themes can be sent by email or transmitted to Photoshop over WiFi . When you email a color theme, Color Lava will send two PNG files (one containing the swatches and color values, and one showing the paint canvas) and one Adobe Swatch Exchange ASE file, which can be imported into other Adobe applications including Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign.

To send color themes to Photoshop, you must be running Photoshop CS5.1 or higher on the same network and have the remote connection server enabled. With the Photoshop server running, your active color is automatically sent to Photoshop as the foreground color. When you choose the "Send to Photoshop" option from the color theme organizer in Color Lava, it sends the colors directly to Photoshop's swatches palette.

Adobe Color Lava is well-designed and quite engaging, and I think artists will enjoy mixing colors this way. At $2.99, I think the price is a bit high for what it is, but Adobe Color Lava is a fun app which also provides practical applications for artists and designers.

Adobe Color Lava in the iTunes App Store

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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