On Wednesday, Quark announced a preview release of its DesignPad app for grid-based design on an iPad.

The Denver-based company said that DesignPad, which is available for free, allows aspiring designers to try different layouts and designs via multi-touch gestures. The pre-defined layouts, which can be customized, include ones for ads, posters, newsletters and brochures.

DesignPad Offers New Approach to Design

The designs can be shared by Twitter or email, or moved to its big brother, QuarkXPress 9, for further design.

The company said that DesignPad, with its ability to quickly experiment with different layouts and create a wide range of final designs, was “an entirely new approach to design.”

Gavin Drake, Quark’s Vice President of Marketing, said in a statement that the company was “always looking at innovative ways to make graphic design accessible to the whole spectrum of creative professionals.”

With DesignPad, he said, “everyone can get real hands-on experience,” making the app a “valuable teaching aid,” in addition to being a tool for experienced professionals “to start a design on the go” and then easily share it for feedback.

Quark Releases DesignPad for iPad

In addition to pre-defined layouts, DesignPad’s features include slider controls for adjusting columns, rows, text and picture areas in layouts, a “randomize layouts” option, and text control for fonts, color and inset position.

Color, Opacity Control

There’s also color and opacity control on boxes and frames, text copy and paste functionality, the ability to choose from an online selection of free stock photos, and support for both U.S. and international document sizes with selectable units of measure.

Custom layouts can be saved for future re-use, a swip-and-pinch functionality enables the positioning, cropping and resizing of pictures, and there’s an option to add background images or floating text/image boxes.

For designers who want to work on the DesignPad piece in its higher-end relative, a QuarkXPress 9 version of the layout can be created for use in that app.

Founded in 1981 and named after a building block for all matter, Quark introduced its flagship QuarkXPress desktop publishing program in 1987. In 1992, it released Quark Publishing System to connect contributors in the publishing process, and 2001 saw the release of QuarkXPress Server, a high-performance publishing engine. One of its more recent products is Quark Dynamic Publishing Solution, which provides automated cross-media publishing.