Quark has released a preview version of Quark DesignPad, a new iPad app that offers rudimentary grid-based design tools. Quark says that with the app it aims to help aspiring designers learn how to create different layouts and get started learning the basics of graphic design.

Users start with pre-defined grid-based designs for standard document types such as ads, posters, newsletters and brochures and can then interactively customize the layouts using multi-touch gestures. Layouts created in DesignPad can be worked on further in QuarkXPress 9.

Quark DesignPad's features include

  • Pre-defined grid-based layout types such as ads, posters, newsletters and brochures
  • Slider controls to adjust the layout including columns, rows, text and picture areas
  • ‘Randomise layouts’ option
  • Text control including fonts, colour, and inset position
  • Colour and opacity control on boxes and frames
  • Copy and paste functionality for inputting text directly into the layout
  • Choice between pictures on the iPad or an online selection of free stock photos
  • Supports both US and international document sizes with selectable units of measurement
  • Guides switch (on/off)
  • Customizable number of columns and rows, text and picture areas, caption positions and more
  • Option to save custom layouts for future reuse
  • Swipe-and-pinch functionality to position, crop and resize pictures
  • Option to add background images as well as floating text and image boxes
  • Email and Tweet functionality to send the design to colleagues and friends directly from the iPad
  • Ability to create a QuarkXPress 9 version of the layout for even greater control to complete the design

The Quark DesignPad Preview app is free to download from the App Store. Quark has not revealed if it will remain free when the full version is released