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By Justin Seeley | Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Adobe Creative Cloud 2014: What's New for Designers

Adobe Creative Cloud - 2014 Updates

Today Adobe has announced major updates to its Creative Cloud subscription service. This is known as the 2014 release of Adobe Creative Cloud and included changes to all three pillars of the platform including desktop apps, mobile apps, and services.

What’s New in Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator got some amazing updates today. You can view the biggest updates in my Illustrator 2014: Creative Cloud Updates course, but some of the ones worth mentioning here are Live Shapes, and the revamped Pen Tool. Live shapes allow you to easily round corners of rectangles and also change the shape of the corners on the fly, without having to use any special modifiers or tools. The Pen Tool now gives you a live preview of where your paths are going to go before you add an anchor point. This will be a huge win for anyone new to Illustrator or those who were previously afraid of the Pen Tool because of its (seemingly) erratic behavior.

What’s New in Photoshop

Photoshop also saw some cool updates today. The biggest one, for me, was the revamped 3D workflow which makes it easier than ever for beginners to get started with 3D. Adobe has simplified the tool set for 3D and has tried to make it easier for 2D designers to dip their toes into the 3D pool. Other enhancements to Photoshop include live focus masks, font previews, smart guides, and the ability to find & sync missing fonts using Adobe’s Typekit service. For more info on what’s new in Photoshop, check out Deke McClelland’s Photoshop 2014: Creative Cloud Updates course, and Chris Orwig’s Photoshop for Photographers: 2014 Creative Cloud Updates.

What’s New in InDesign

While Adobe glossed over the new features of InDesign during their presentation, I can tell you first-hand that there are some really great things in this release. Most notably is the ability to quickly and easily create fixed-layout ePUB documents. There’s also a new table workflow which allows you to drag & drop rows and columns to reorganize your table data like never before. For more info on that, check out my InDesign CC 2014: Creative Cloud Updates course.

What’s New in Muse

Adobe Muse was showcased big time during today’s announcement, and for good reason. The app itself has been completely redone as a native application on both Mac and PC, which means the interface now looks like an actual Creative Cloud application. The app sports several new enhancements to existing workflows as well, but the big reveal today was the new in-browser editing service. Now, regardless of where you host your Adobe Muse website, you can login via http://inbrowserediting.adobe.com and perform live edits to your website. For designers working with clients, this is going to be a complete game–changer, in my opinion. You’re now able to make edits to a live website, in a collaborative environment, without the need for special software. Now that’s exciting. For more info on Muse, check out our courses Muse Essential Training, and Up and Running with Muse.

Collaboration Enhancements

Another brief, but important, feature that Adobe showed off during their event today was the new collaboration workflows for designers & teams. Basically this new workflow will allow people within a group to share a folder of files, sync those files via Creative Cloud, and perform live edits to those files with the results showing up on their co-workers machines. For people in a remote environment, this is going to be huge. Of course, most features like this demo well, so we’ll have to test it out to get a true sense of just how magical it is. However, if it works as advertised–wow.

New Mobile Apps

Adobe introduced a whole new lineup of tablet/mobile apps today during their event. Let’s start by talking about Lightroom mobile, which is now available on both iPhone and iPad. Lightroom now allows you to sync photo collections from your desktop, to the cloud, and have them show up on your mobile device for editing on the go. They use something called Smart Previews to accomplish this, and the files are linked to your original RAW images, so when you get back to your desktop all your modifications show up instantly on your photos. In addition to that, they also added star ratings to Lightroom for iPad/iPhone and the ratings you give will also sync to your desktop via Creative Cloud. You can download Lightroom for iPad and Lightroom for iPhone today at the iOS App Store.

Also announced today was an app called Photoshop Mix, which allows you to perform content aware edits, and masking on photos on your iPad, and then have those edits sync directly to the desktop for further editing later. Again, the demo they showed off was pretty impressive, and I’m hurrying to download and test it out for myself. My guess is that as more photographers continue to use mobile devices on location, Adobe will continue to innovate in this space. I think it would behoove you to get up to speed now and start figuring out where some of these apps can fit into your workflow. You can download Photoshop Mix from the iOS App Store.

There were two other mobile applications released today, Sketch and Line. Sketch is a free-form sketching app that is supposed to be a close representation of hand-sketching in a notebook. I’ve had an opportunity to go hands-on with this app a few weeks ago, and I can tell you it’s the closest thing I’ve found to a natural drawing experience on a tablet. The app features many different inks, leads, and brush types, giving you the ability to simulate pencils, charcoals, and even sketch markers. You can download Sketch from the iOS App Store.

Line is a precision drawing app. While I haven’t spent much time with it personally, it certainly looks like something that will interest technical illustrators and architects alike. The app has a built-in ruler feature that allows you to quickly and easily create straight lines, circles, and french curves. This is ideal for someone who might be drawing car or product mockups on the go. You can download Line from the iOS App Store.

New Hardware Devices

The last two mobile apps that I mentioned, Sketch and Line, integrate with two new hardware components that Adobe released today called Ink and Slide (previously Mighty and Napoleon). This is Adobe’s first venture into the hardware business, and it’s definitely interesting. Ink is a bluetooth enabled pen stylus and slide is its companion ruler. At $199 for the pair, it’s definitely not the cheapest iPad accessory on the market, but both have some unique features that should appeal to creatives and digital artists.

Ink is the pen component, and it sports the finest nib (endpoint) of any stylus I’ve ever used personally. I had an opportunity to use it quite a bit at a recent conference, and I was shocked at how small the tip was. Most iPad stylus devices have a large rubber tip, but this one has a much firmer, more svelte tip that really mimics the look and feel of an actual pen. Though many people praise the lightweight design, I personally prefer a pen with a little more weight when drawing.

The best part about the pen, however, is the Creative Cloud integration. Your pen is personalized to you and your Creative Cloud account, making it easy for you to take things like Kuler color themes and load them from one iPad to another. This is great for people who work in a team environment and want to collaborate using multiple devices. There is also an LED light on the reverse end of the pen, making it easy to identify yours from someone else’s and also whether or not the pen is currently connected to a device.

The ruler, Slide, is the second piece of this puzzle. Slide allows you to create straight lines very quickly and easily in apps like Adobe Line. I played with this recently also, and I think it’ll be a great addition to anyone’s creative tool set. However, if you aren’t a fan of the physical device, most of its functionality is baked into the mobile apps themselves, making it easy for you to get the same results without having to keep up w/ another piece of hardware.

Final Thoughts

Today was a big day for designers, photographers, and videographers alike. I’m sufficiently impressed with the announcements Adobe made today, and excited about where they might be headed in the future. Hopefully this is just the tip of the iceberg.

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