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Software Review: Adobe Creative Cloud for Designers

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Back in April of 2013, Adobe Systems announced that it was going to discontinue its line of creative suites and now focus on the Adobe Creative Cloud that it rolled out with its CS6 launch. Creative Cloud is a subscription-based offering based on a hub for making, sharing and delivering creative work, centered on what was once the Adobe Creative Suite software.

Membership provides users with access to download and install every Adobe CS6 application along with other applications such as Adobe Muse, Adobe Edge, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, and more. Adobe Creative Cloud members will have access to application upgrades, including new CS point-product features, before they are launched as part of major CS updates, as well as inventive new products and services as they emerge.

Adobe Creative Cloud for Designers
Adobe Creative Cloud

Adobe Creative Cloud membership is US$49.99 per month, with an annual contract. A special introductory offer of US$29.99 per month for current owners of CS3, CS4, CS5 and CS5.5 products is also available. You can subscribe to individual items as well. If, for example you use only Adobe Photoshop, you can license it for $19.99/month. If you want to understand what this all means to you, see my review of Adobe Creative Cloud for Photographers in which I go over some of the implications of the move to the Creative Cloud.

Creative Cloud for Designers includes the designer tools Adobe Photoshop CC, Adobe Illustrator CC, Adobe InDesign CC, Adobe Muse VV, and Adobe Kuler. I reviewed the changes for Photoshop CC in my review of Adobe Creative Cloud for Photographers and so for this one I will begin with Adobe Illustrator CC.

Adobe Illustrator CC

Adobe Illustrator is a vector-based graphics editor. It was first developed for the Apple Macintosh in 1986 and is the companion product of Adobe Photoshop. It wasn’t until the mid-1990s with Illustrator 7’s ports for both Windows and Mac that Illustrator became the standard for the design industry.

Adobe Creative Cloud for Designers
Adobe Illustrator CC

So what is new with Illustrator CC?

Touch Type tool: This gives you a new way to design with type. You can take and manipulate discrete characters within a type object as if they were individual objects. There is no need to set each letter separately or convert text to outlines and ungroup the result. Instead, using simple on-character controls, you can scale, rotate, and reposition each letter individually, as well as distort letters vertically and horizontally. The best part is that the text remains editable, so you can change the font, modify kerning, tracking, leading, and baseline position, or edit the text at any time.

Images in brushes: Art, Pattern, and Scatter brushes can contain raster images, so you can paint with a brush made from a photo, quickly creating complex organic designs with simple brush strokes. As with all Illustrator brushes, strokes can be reshaped and modified at will – when you modify a path, the artwork adjusts accordingly. Use new corner options to fine-tune the brush, giving it automatically created corner tiles that provide a perfect fit at internal and external corners.

Adobe Creative Cloud for Designers
Adobe Illustrator CC

Font Search lets you find that perfect font more quickly with the new search and font-filtering menu. Quickly preview your font shortlist by applying fonts in context in your design, and then pick and mark favorites that you might want to use again. You can type in any part of the font family name, mark your favorites for finding quickly, and see instantly how different fonts look in your background.

Multiple-file place: Import multiple files into your Illustrator layout at the same time and with new control. Now you can define the location and scale of your files — images, graphics, and text — and use new thumbnail views to see where each file will go and how big it will be.

CSS extraction gives you the ability to generate and export CSS code, an efficient way of maintaining the integrity of your design. You can then use the new CSS Properties panel in Illustrator to produce CSS code. Your developer creates an HTML page containing basic structure and content, then can incorporate the CSS code into an HTML page using a code editor such as Adobe Edge Code CC or a text editor such as BBEdit.

Area and point type conversion provides the ability to instantly switch between area type and point type. Text object conversion is now instantaneous so you can design freely in your text layouts. And you can work just as easily with imported type, switching formats at any time.

Auto corners for pattern brushes allow you to get the corners you want without extra steps. Create pattern brushes swiftly with auto-generated corners that perfectly match the rest of the stroke. No need to tediously create special corners for your sharp angles.

On-art Free Transform lets you move, scale, and rotate objects directly using a touchscreen device. Or use a mouse or other pointer right on the artboard to transform objects in a more immediate and intuitive way.

Adobe Creative Cloud for Designers
Adobe Illustrator CC

Behance Integration provides the ability to explore, sort, and organize the creative world in real time. With Behance now integrated with Creative Cloud, you can find inspiration, showcase your work, get feedback, and gain global exposure for your portfolio. And with Creative Cloud, you can track it all in a single activity stream and get immediate feedback from the creative community. As you perfect your work and upload new versions to Behance, the community can follow the evolution of your project and post comments along the way.

Sync Settings – Set things up the way you like to work on any of your computers, Mac or PC, and any of your other computers can sync so that anywhere you go, your settings go with you.

File packaging automatically gathers and saves the necessary fonts, linked graphics, and a package report into a single folder. This gives you the ability to efficiently hand off Illustrator files to Production or keep your working files organized by packaging up your project.

Un-embed images that have been placed and embedded in an Illustrator file. You can quickly make images available for editing or extract files embedded in artwork you received from someone else. Links to the image files are created automatically.

Expanded Links panel options let you get more complete information about any placed file via the Links panel, where all of your placed elements – images, graphics, and text – appear, so that you can track them with greater control than ever before.

InDesign CC

First introduced in 1999, Adobe InDesign is the base of the publishing platform. It is targeted at designers, publishers and anyone who job it is to create professional layouts for periodical publications, posters, print media, and more. It is now taking on more responsibility in the world of electronic publishing and supports content consumption on various electronic devices.

Adobe Creative Cloud for Designers
Adobe InDesign CC

So what is new with InDesign CC?

A more modern UI, updated so that the user interface is consistent with Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, making it easier to work across your Adobe applications. And now you control the brightness of the UI so you can see your layouts more clearly.

Faster Performance from new under-the-hood improvements throughout InDesign keep you working quickly and smoothly. Harness all of your system’s RAM with native 64-bit support. See the greatest improvements in speed and stability when printing and when exporting PDF and INX files.

HiDPI and Retina display support means that from text to complex artwork, every element of your design will have greater clarity and vibrancy, thanks to support for the high-resolution Retina display on the new MacBook Pro.

Adobe Muse

Adobe Muse CC lets designers create HTML websites for desktop and mobile devices without writing code. Design web-standard sites just as you design print layouts, using familiar features, keyboard shortcuts, and hundreds of typefaces. Engage visitors by adding interactive elements such as slide shows and contact forms using built-in tools. Then, publish with the Adobe Business Catalyst service to take advantage of in-browser editing and site-hosting benefits, or publish with any hosting provider.

Adobe Creative Cloud for Designers
Adobe Muse CC

So what is new with Muse CC?

Parallax Scrolling gives you the ability to engage and delight your visitors by creating stunning motion effects that work with the scroll. This means that you can create stunning effects with just a few mouse clicks, like make images and elements move in different directions at different speeds when scrolling with a mouse.

In-browser editing lets you enable site owners to make simple edits to their live websites hosted on Business Catalyst, via a web browser. You can then choose to merge the edits back into the original Adobe Muse file.

As I said before, no longer will there be an 18-month wait between releases. For some products we get six or seven new features now, and other products, only one or two. As you can see with Adobe Creative Cloud for Designers, you get quite a number of updates across a number of products.

In this group, Illustrator is the clear winner, with the Touch Type tool, images in brushes, font search, file packaging, and all the rest of the new updates, but InDesign and Photoshop both have pretty good added features as well. When you accumulate all of this together with what I highlighted in my previous review, at least to me, the Creative Cloud is getting better and better.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.