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An Online Portfolio: Your Professional Story

The ninth (and final) installment of I Went to Adobe Creative Camp at SXSW 2015… And all I brought back is a series of blog posts, the firsthand account of a first-time Adobe SXSW Creative Camp attendee.

Promoting Your Creative Work on the Web with Roxanne Schwartz

Behance_2 For those who don’t know, Behance is the leading platform for sharing and discovering creative work. The numbers on the left offer up the number one advantage of posting work on Behance… Exposure. More than 200 million page views each month of exposure.

Not only does Behance have free online portfolios, it’s also the bones of ProSite, a customizable website builder that enables people to use custom domain names and easily sync Behance projects to it. What a lot of people don’t know is that ProSite is included with a Creative Cloud subscription (and the integration makes it super easy to share work).

Roxanne, a community manager at Behance, has seen thousands of web portfolios. She knows what works and what doesn’t when it comes to showcasing creative work online. She had some good ideas about how to think about this hugely important promotional tool.

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Portfolios and profiles (words used interchangeably throughout this post) are always-on creative showcases. Make sure they represent you well when people stop to look:


  • Let the work take center stage. Viewers spend only a few seconds looking through portfolios. Make sure yours is easy to scan and that the work is the center of attention. Cluttered portfolios are frequently over-compensating for mediocre work.
  • Behance_3 Curate your best work. There’s truth to the saying: You’re only as good as your last project and your portfolio is only as good as your worst image. A few great images are better than a lot that are just okay. If there’s something you’re not proud of, leave it out.
  • Use eye-catching images. People have very short attention spans so catch their eye and keep them interested. Make sure that images are large, clear, and consistently sized. And remember, this isn’t a client hand off, it’s a portfolio… Be selective. It’s not necessary to show everything.
  • Share the backstory. Don’t be afraid to show process—from early sketches to finished work. People love knowing how and why things were done. Offer up details.
  • Highlight things that give you an edge. Don’t be afraid to mention awards, accomplishments, or testimonials.
  • Keep your portfolio fresh. This is a living, breathing document so resist the temptation to bulk it out with old or irrelevant work. The best portfolios are current portfolios.
  • Keep in touch. Make sure your contact information is up-to-date and easy to find. And add social accounts; email isn’t the only way to reach people.
  • Tell a story about yourself. Stories are more interesting than a list of past jobs. Spend some time thinking about how to represent yourself and your work with words.
  • Give credit where credit is due. Worked with a team? Don’t overstate your role and give credit to everyone who worked on the project with you. People appreciate being publicly acknowledged and giving credit where it’s due will ALWAYS make you look good.
  • Get feedback. Make sure your portfolio is ready to share with the world. Other people’s impressions are extremely valuable; ask friends and colleagues for critiques.
  • Share personal work alongside client work. It shows passion, commitment, and the ability to self-start.
  • Make your profile part of your project process. Working on a project? Set aside some favorite images to include in your portfolio. Once the project ends, documenting the process will be a snap.
  • Promote your work. Sharing isn’t bragging. Pick two or three social channels, connect them to your portfolio and share. Maintain an active presence, and respond to people when they comment.
  • Follow people who inspire you. Be thoughtful about the people you follow; it’s not only daily inspiration but a great way to build the foundation of a creative network. And don’t forget to network in person at local events.

A final four. Questions to ask yourself about your online profile/portfolio:

  • Can people easily find and view your work?
  • Does it represent you well?
  • Have you gotten feedback from friends/coworkers?
  • Do you have a plan to review and edit it?

My Conclusion (Roxanne summed it up nicely for me):

Behance_4
 
Read the wrap-up of Session 8: The Art of Making (Great) Videos with Dave Werner

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The Art of Making (Great) Videos

The penultimate installment of I Went to Adobe Creative Camp at SXSW 2015… And all I brought back is a series of blog posts, the firsthand account of a first-time Adobe SXSW Creative Camp attendee.

Make Social Media POP! with Video with Dave Werner

It’s easy enough to agree on the persuasive power of video, but how to actually make one? Dave didn’t have enough time to dive deep into his process, but he shared what he’s learned over the years—usually by doing the completely wrong thing and learning from his mistakes.

SocialVideo_1 When something moves, it catches the eye. And when someone tells a good story, there’s momentum. Photos and books tell stories for the eyes, but they’re static and silent; songs tell stories for the ears, with the element of time, with no visuals…

“Video combines the visuals of a photo (moving at 24fps), the storytelling of a book (being told through dialogue, acting and cinematography), and the forward momentum of music.”

 

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Take it up a notch

“Ninety-five percent of people are just going to shoot with an iPhone; your videos will really start to stand out and you’ll start to differentiate yourself if you develop a vocabulary of techniques.”

  • Edit ruthlessly. It takes a lot of time to pull-together a compelling video. Dave’s five-minute intro took him five days to make and he watched it over 50 times—changing bits at a time.
  • Overlay B-Roll. Particularly good for videos of people talking for long periods, Camera A focuses on whatever’s driving the main narrative and Camera B shoots action that amplifies it, then the B-Roll shots are overlaid to keep the video visually interesting. (Dave used the technique every two or three seconds in his intro video.)
  • Have a rough plan. I know when I get really excited about a project, I just want to jump up grab my camera, and shoot. But videos turn out better with planning. Then again, improvisation works too: The “tripod” Dave used for his intro video? A chair, with a cardboard box, a food storage bowl, and a tissue box… with his iPhone perched on top of it all.
  • Refine audio. Someone could have the flashiest, best looking video in the world, and if the talking begins and it’s impossible to hear… it’s a fail. Quite simply: There are a lot of tools to help make voices loud and clear. Use them.
  • Add a look. There are people in Hollywood whose jobs are to work on the color of films. So it’s probably worth it to spend just a few minutes on it; shadows, highlights, saturation create an enormous visual payoff.
  • Don’t use canned titles. Don’t use terrible fonts, drop shadows, or funky animation. Typography is every bit as important as actors. Get creative: a sticky note with writing, chalk on a sidewalk, sketches on napkins, magnetic letters, anything that connects to the theme of a video
  • Add explosions. OK, so it’s probably not necessary to add explosions to everything, but they do help keep things interesting. That’s the beauty of special effects: They aren’t expected. All of a sudden things just start exploding.
  • End with a call to action. Don’t lose people when the credits roll. Never finish with “The End,” always give interested viewers a next step.
  • Always tell a story. Add a narrative layer that takes people through the entire video. There’s a reason why people tell stories. They’re easier to remember. Don’t need a story? Try one anyway.
  • Learn from the masters. Developing an eye for video means getting inspired by every. other. video. everywhere. Emulate things that look cool. Try everything.

 

Sharing with the world

Dave recently released a three-minute cover of the Sesame Street classic I Don’t Want To Live on The Moon. It took him about nine months to complete, was filmed entirely with an iPhone 6 Plus, and was edited and composited with Adobe Premiere Pro CC and After Effects CC (watch The Making of I Don’t Want To Live on The Moon). Look for cameos by Iron Man, Sponge Bob Squarepants, Buzz Lightyear, Voltron, Optimus Prime, and Princess Unikitty.

For sure video is prominent in social media, but each platform treats it differently. In addition, social media changes constantly; what’s true today may be ancient history tomorrow (actually, since Dave’s session, Twitter introduced Periscope). Dave learned a few things when he social-shared I Don’t Want To Live on The Moon:

  • YouTube: The second most used search engine (after Google) is the best bet for crossing platforms (desktop, mobile, set-top boxes, game consoles) and creating a channel of content. Always make a custom thumbnail and add a title, description, and tags.
  • Facebook: Either a) upload the video directly to Facebook or b) post a picture with a link to the video in the description (embedding a video by linking to the URL makes a not-so-eye-catching and much smaller thumbnail).
  • Twitter: YouTube, Vine, and Twitter videos show up as embeds, Instagram and Facebook videos don’t. But, what seems to play best on Twitter, among all the words, is an image. With a link to the video.
  • Instagram/Vine: Best for short video messages and teasers. Also perfect places to experiment with new video techniques.
  • LinkedIn/Personal Blogs: Write a longer post and embed the video in it.

My Conclusion: Have a story to tell? In an era of short attention spans, video could be the best way to tell it. So… Look around. Frame the shot. Get things ready. Record.

Dave’s SXSW session in his words: Making Social Media POP! with Video and Making Your Videos POP!

 
Read the wrap-up of Session 7: Story Structure Secrets with Christine Steele

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Stories Are Everything

The seventh installment of I Went to Adobe Creative Camp at SXSW 2015… And all I brought back is a series of blog posts, the firsthand account of a first-time Adobe SXSW Creative Camp attendee.

Story Structure Secrets with Christine Steele

“It doesn’t matter whether it’s short- or long-form, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, whether I have 1 minute to build it or 90, whether I’m writing a screenplay in Microsoft Word, or a script program, or an application for video editing…. everything I create is a story.”

For Christine story is everything. For an hour, she shared her principles of storytelling and the story structures she uses when editing or writing or producing or directing… anything.

Story_1_Theme

From good to great

The generally accepted definition of a theme, is a central idea in a story or work of art. Christine takes it a step further: it’s not just the idea; it’s the unfolding and advancement of the idea. There has to be change. There has to be progression. And the material (the story) has to be effectively structured around it.

Audiences are engaged by compelling narrative. It’s true for commercials, promos, animation, feature films… Any writer has to identify the most powerful themes in a story, then use those themes to develop it.

But which themes are most powerful? And what makes a story great? Two words: Universal truths.

Story_2_UTruths

The heart of the matter

Universal truths are those things that any human in any place in the world can identify with:

Fairness. Justice. Fear. Jealousy. Love. Power. Loss.

Great storytellers look for elements that express universal truths. Then, they’re subtle in their depiction of them so viewers can experience them in the personal and unique ways that help them make sense of the world. Because, after all, stories are how people identify with the circumstances of others.

Story_3_OStrong

Build strong

How ideas are introduced and how stories are structured is key: Writers have to get readers to want to know more, to want to know what’s next. Quickly.

Right out of the gate writers present the most compelling issues—where and when. Then, they create pace and tension by spurring the audience to ask questions before deliberately and skillfully answering them. But… timing is everything: Wait too long and viewers could lose interest. Provide answers too quickly and there’s no anticipation.

So, decide on the questions. Write the material to get the audience to ask them. Then decide when to answer or when to provide the information they need to answer themselves.

Story_4_3Act

Unfold, then move on

“I usually use a three act story structure; it doesn’t matter what I’m writing because it’s possible to write an arc with emotion and story in 30 seconds.”

Act 1: Tell the audience what the journey will be
Act 2: Unfold/build the journey
Act 3: Tell the audience how the journey ended

Three minutes or three hours… each scene in a story serves  its progression. Writers can master its unfolding by determining the information viewers must comprehend from each scene to make sense of the story. Dole out that information. Then, move on from a scene when the questions have been answered.

Everything builds to the answer to the most important question of the film—the climax. How long it takes to get that information across is up to the writer. But once it’s out, good writers don’t drone on. They know that viewers are no longer listening.

My conclusion: Good storytelling helps people make sense of the world… it’s why we listen.

Christine tells stories with Adobe’s Pro Video Tools. Watch her Ask a Video Pro session to learn how she does it: Filmmaking Workflow with Premiere Pro and Creative Cloud

 
Read the wrap-up of Session 6: Going from Design to Code without Going Insane with Ryan Stewart and Sarah Hunt

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Translating Design… with Code

The sixth installment of I Went to Adobe Creative Camp at SXSW 2015… And all I brought back is a series of blog posts, the firsthand account of a first-time Adobe SXSW Creative Camp attendee.

Going from Design to Code without Going Insane with Ryan Stewart and Sarah Hunt

Adobe product managers Ryan and Sarah both have design and development in their blood. Ryan’s a front-end developer who codes design. Sarah’s a graphic designer and web developer. You could say they understand each other.

DesignCode_1

Design. Code. They’re different. (Obviously.)

Designers finesse every detail (spacing, kerning, colors). Then they hand their work off to developers who, despite notes and explanations, don’t really seem to “get it.” It’s not that developers aren’t doing the best possible job interpreting; it’s because design doesn’t equal code. And because the transition—from design to code—isn’t always a smooth one.

“Photoshop Archaeology” is how Ryan refers to the time a developer spends inside of Photoshop looking at what’s there, trying to figure out properties, dimensions, colors, and fonts; using measurement tools; and ensuring that design decisions will translate to the web. There was no alternative to “doing it by hand.” Until now.

Enter Creative Cloud Extract. Where design is translated for coders. And, just like that, the designer developer collaboration improves.

Extracted from the content of the PSD is a style guide; used forever in print, they certainly aren’t a new concept, but it’s at this point that a designer can collaborate with a developer to determine which design decisions are most important and begin to understand the relationship between a final design and the code used to create it. And since Extract has been added to Brackets, an open source code editor, the style sheet can be opened and worked with inside Brackets in the browser—a place developers are very comfortable.

Also inside Brackets it’s possible to select a layer from a PSD inside the code editor to get contextual code hints to see how designs translate into CSS. In addition, developers can isolate individual layers and trim them. All in one step. Trying to go in and isolate individual layers, crop around them, and manually adjust the canvas used to be a super time-consuming process. Not anymore.

DesignCode_2

Between the break points

It can be difficult for designers, who can get carried away with design perfection, to remember to design for the responsive mediums they’re targeting, and to create assets that can be used on different screens and still look right. Although there’s actually more control now over how things look on the web, developers are hyper vigilant of the capabilities of the medium and it’s critical that designers are too. Content needs to flow and design needs to stand up between standard break points (not just for desktop, tablet, and phones but for things like smaller browser windows).

DesignCode_3

Who’s watching the assets?

Designers obviously create the assets, but it’s developers who have to be aware of how they’ll perform and make sure they’re as small as humanly possible. And, who’s responsible for updates? Actually making changes that get uploaded? Those things vary from team to team. So communicate. About everything. Use whatever works: Slack, Trello, GitHub Issues, Creative Cloud folder collaboration.

Then talk. And talk again. Have conversations. Walk someone through something. It’s the only way for everyone to be happy with the end result.

And designers… start learning about CSS. Look at the code. Try to determine what it means and how to communicate about it. It will enrich collaboration and the design work will be so much better because creative decisions will be made inside the box of the medium. Most importantly, though, it provides the technical knowledge to champion and defend design decisions.

My conclusion: Designing and coding. It’s a complicated collaboration. Extract makes it an easier one.

Read the wrap-up of Session 5: The Evolution of the Web with CJ Gammon

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Pushing The Web Forward

The fifth installment of I Went to Adobe Creative Camp at SXSW 2015… And all I brought back is a series of blog posts, the firsthand account of a first-time Adobe SXSW Creative Camp attendee.

WebForward_1

The Evolution of the Web with CJ Gammon

“The web connects us globally and it’s hard to imagine a future where we aren’t more connected because of the foundation of it. Given that technology and the web changes so fast, it’s not difficult to imagine the web of the future looking very different from the web of today.”

CJ Gammon works at Adobe creating interactive experiences and applications focused on web technologies. His session posed the question: How do we simplify the creation of complex content, make it easier for everyone to create, and also raise the bar for developers who are pushing the web forward?

WebForward_2

Rich experiences and dynamic graphics

“When we think of native platforms, we often think of native games and the rich 3D experiences that are created on them. What if I want more, what if I want direct access to the GPU to create really amazing experiences?”

The web has consisted, for a long time, primarily of high-level extras and lower-level APIs (like CSS and SVG). But what about taking full advantage of the hardware?

  • WebGL Specifications: From the Khronos Group, it enabled developers to use canvas elements to create rich, complex 3D web graphics.
  • WebGL: For rendering the rich textures and effects of native consoles (unfortunately, difficult to write).
  • Three.js: One of the most popular cross-browser WebGL libraries for the display of animated and 3D graphics. It simplifies the code-writing process.
  • Leap Motion: Released with a JavaScript library, it enables people to gesturally interact with content and software. A unique experience right inside of the browser.
  • Hybrid applications: The web is getting really good at providing access to hardware (cameras, phones, and game pad APIs) that expands the potential for native-type experiences.

WebForward_3

“Peripherals offer experiences that we’re able to integrate using the web’s APIs.”

Thanks to devices like Oculus Rift and Google Carboard, it’s impossible to talk about the future of the web, without mentioning Virtual Reality (VR). It can be achieved on the web with WebGL and rendering in stereoscopic view, but it requires access to the application data (so the application moves along with someone moving their head).

WebVR makes that possible. The experimental API uses JavaScript to provide access to the data in VR devices through a browser. MozVR, Mozilla’s Virtual Reality team, is exploring how to bring WebGL and game-like experiences to VR and playing around with what traditional web experiences might look like through a VR headset.

What kind of experiences could these technologies enable in the browser? As an example, something like Google Street View might look VERY different: Right now, it’s mapped photos that create a 360-degree view. Very cool. But static. Although there are logistical issues, the technology exists to attach VR cameras to drones that capture images in flight that people can experience through VR headsets.

WebForward_4

Designers and their tools

“What about designers? How do designers create content for these more complex experiences. Not everyone is going to be able to write their own tools, so how do you tap into the tools that designers are already using?”

Designing is visual. And the tools designers are used to working with have rich GUIs that accelerate their ability to create:

  • 3D: The rich models, textures and animations of 3D applications can be combined with WebGL. A plug-in for three.js, packaged with the three.js library enables use of Blender, an open source 3D modeling and animation tool. Designers can work where they’re comfortable and developers can work where they’re comfortable.
  • Photoshop for graphics: Adobe Generator for Photoshop CC, essentially a node server running inside Photoshop; developers can write JavaScript scripts that actually tap in to the application.
  • Animation: Flash changed animation by enabling designers to easily create and share animation everywhere. With support for custom platforms, developers can write plug-ins that allow the export of anything in any format.

My conclusion: New workflows. Existing tools. Collaborations. Hybrid applications. A mass approach to simplifying the creation of complex content on the web.

Want to hear CJ’s talk in his own words? He recorded his session.

 
Read the wrap-up of Session 4: How to be a More Inefficient Designer with The Made Shop

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The Journey of Design

The fourth installment of I Went to Adobe Creative Camp at SXSW 2015… And all I brought back is a series of blog posts, the firsthand account of a first-time Adobe SXSW Creative Camp attendee.

Learning How to be a More Inefficient Designer with The Made Shop

Inefficient_1

“We view our process, our journey from not knowing to knowing, as our work.”

Like everyone, the founders of The Made Shop have been taught to value efficiency (time, after all, is money), but when they looked closely at the projects in their portfolio, many of them had a common thread: They’d been created “the hard way,” using tools they’d never used before, ideas they’d never tested, and paths they’d never previously followed. It made them question whether efficiency was all it was cracked up to be.

During their session, subtitled “How I Learned to Stop Worrying And Love Inefficiency,” they shared projects and maxims and explained how to introduce friction into the design process, how to un-automate procedures, how to design the hard way, and still consistently create solutions that imaginatively address client needs.

Inefficient_2

“Not to find the answer but to ask the questions… that’s the job of the designer. Selling answers, that’s a product. Selling questions, that’s part of the process. We start with the idea that the client comes with the questions and it’s our job, and they’re paying us, to come up with the answer. But that’s not quite the right way to think of it.”

The “right” answers don’t always ensure the best solution. If designers only take on work they know… that is, projects for which they answers come easily, they sell only their most tested capabilities to clients. Only their most-accepted answers.

But clients call on designers for new. For unique. For innovative. So… Question. Learn. Explore. Then begin the process again with every new assignment.

Inefficient_3

“Limitations act like a funnel; they direct focus and, because they cut away other options, produce a really pointed end result. When starting a new project, where you start directs the shape of it in an inevitable way.”

Creative minds wandering unencumbered by money or time or rules… it’s the creative ideal. Unrestrained imagination and problem-solving. The ability to stretch creative muscles. Afterall, controls are not for creative thinkers trying to solve problems for a living. Unfettered creative freedom is how other designers come up with meaningful and memorable solutions. Right?

Well, that’s for sure the knee-jerk reaction: Constraints (a lack of time, of budget, of experience) as not good for the design proces, stumbling blocks to work that’s valuable, rich and, well, creative.

The opposite is true.

Inefficient_4

“One of our favorite methodologies is to work with tools we’re unfamiliar with…. that we don’t exactly know how to use. Sometimes, although difficult to use, they give us exactly what we needed in the first place—even though we didn’t know that when we started.”

Want a new solution for a problem you’ve solved before? Use tools that are unfamiliar, follow paths that are unknown, and say yes to projects that scare you:

Analog. Digital. Tools provide the direction of the solution. Unfamiliar tools force finding new ways to do things.

Sidetracked by an idea? Follow it. See where it leads. Not sure whether it will work? Not knowing is the first step toward knowing.

Say yes. Despite obstacles, lack of knowledge, or limitations. Dive into projects with no prior experience, no answers, and no expectations about how they will go. “You’ll be,” says The Made Shop, “inherently and unavoidably in an inefficient place.”

My conclusion: The goal of design is to NOT make things exactly the same, or in exactly the same way, every single time.

Read the wrap-up of Session 3: Failure As A Creative Catalyst with Erik Natzke

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Between Failure and Success

The third installment of I Went to Adobe Creative Camp at SXSW 2015… And all I brought back is a series of blog posts, the firsthand account of a first-time Adobe SXSW Creative Camp attendee.

Failure as a Creative Catalyst with Erik Natzke

“Anyone here who has not failed as a creative, raise your hand, stand up, and walk out the door. Because THAT is not how creativity is born. Creativity is born through struggle, through strife, through what happens every day when someone decides, ‘I’m gonna go try this.'”

Over the next hour Erik walked the audience through his career, and its portfolio of projects, and the serendipitous collision of challenges, setbacks, successes, efforts, and decisions that led him to…. now. Over a dozen stories, each connected by the thread of a falter, a restart, and success.

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“Never turn things down. Especially if something is a challenge for you. Test your reach not your grasp.”

Doubt plagues people in creative professions. More often than not, instead of believing, “I got this,” internal conversations are more of a faltering, ego-crushing, “I don’t know if I’m going to be good at this.”

Pushing through the insecurities is possible because of people who’ve gone before, who’ve also been troubled by finding satisfying resolutions and answers that address the needs of a creative brief. Every creative difficulty is supported by a community that knows the reward… of a solution that was hard to come by.

Failure_2

“Everyone is always going to come to you to do exactly what you’ve done before, so you have to force yourself to evolve… unless you’re really happy with what you’re doing. I’m constantly trying to make sure that what I’m doing is something I enjoy.”

Each project leads to what’s next. An obvious statement perhaps, but Erik delivered a stern warning to the audience to be careful about choices, to not make them based on dexterity, or comfort, or convenience. But to always be doing those things that fuel passion. Because looking back at a career through a lens of “I stuck with what I did well,” might not be so satisfying.

Instead of spending a lifetime doing only what you’re “good at,” do what you love. Make a move. Make a change. Even if it’s painful.

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Erik’s first project at Adobe was We Are The Creative Class, “a rallying cry to the passion, the pain and the power of commitment to creative. It’s a creativity anthem that embodies the struggles and strife of the creative profession.”

Erik ended up at Adobe because he wanted to work on the tools that have played such a big part in his creative process. And, during the almost three years he’s been at Adobe, he’s created beautifully-memorable bodies of work like the TED All-Star Portraits and was the principal designer for the build of Adobe Brush CC.

But Erik’s first uplifting project for Adobe almost didn’t happen because of a series of Herculean constraints:

My conclusion: A creative path, littered with projects that didn’t go as planned, is not always an easy one, but the successes, the result of inevitable failures… worth the suffering.

 
Read the wrap-up of Session 2: Moving from Graphic Design to 3D Object Design with Paul Trani

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3D Printing: What You See Is What You Get

The second installment of I Went to Adobe Creative Camp at SXSW 2015… And all I brought back is a series of blog posts, the firsthand account of a first-time Adobe SXSW Creative Camp attendee.

Session 2: Moving from Graphic Design to 3D Object Design with Paul Trani

GraphicTo3D_1 Adobe evangelist Paul Trani is a designer. With an eagerness to exploit any technology he can get his hands on, he operates on the assumption that other designers feel similarly. Which is probably why he spent an hour showing a room full of design industry professionals how to make the jump to 3D printing with Adobe Photoshop CC—software that’s been in their creative arsenal all along.

The tools make it easy

Everyone in the creative industry has been called upon to function across design disciplines, to jump from technology to technology, to use programs and processes they’ve never used prior. Usually with built-in time constraints, those leaps require them to figure things out as they go and learn along the way. They manage, according one of Paul’s opening remarks, because “the fundamentals of design don’t really change it’s the technology behind them that changes.”

Therein lies the heart of his presentation: When it comes to 3D printing, designers don’t have to use unfamiliar software to get the job done.

Photo courtesy of Rachel Luxemburg.

Photo courtesy of Rachel Luxemburg.

A gateway to 3D

Adding 3D capabilities to Photoshop CC wasn’t an effort to rule the world of 3D (it will never replace 3ds Max or Cinema 4D Studio or Rhino3D); it was instead intended to help designers move from modeling to printing. To simplify bringing in files (.stl, .obj, .3ds) from other 3D programs, and to use for creative exploration: to look at something from all angles, move it around, create a light source, change its size, design its surface… then from there, print whatever’s on the screen.

Paul’s ultimate point was that Photoshop CC is an introduction. Designers wanting to get in on 3D printing, don’t have to feel overwhelmed by the process because the same software they’ve been using for years provides the fundamental features for effortlessly jumping in and out of it. It’s a platform for exploring the possibilities of 3D, without the headaches. And that’s more than enough.

My conclusion: Photoshop CC, with its fundamental features, and its familiar UI, make it the perfect gateway to 3D design and printing.

 
Read the wrap-up of Session 1: Revamping Adobe Photoshop CC for Screen Design with Zorana Gee and Charles Pearson

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I Went to Adobe Creative Camp at SXSW 2015

…And all I brought back is a series of blog posts.

What follows is the firsthand account of a first-time Adobe SXSW Creative Camp attendee: Two days. Nine hour-long sessions.

Session 1: Revamping Adobe Photoshop CC for Screen Design with Zorana Gee and Charles Pearson

Photoshop CC project manager Zorana Gee opened with a brief evolution of Photoshop (and a reminder of its beginnings as a graphic design tool) then launched quickly into the industry trends that prompted Photoshop’s designers, product managers, a cultural anthropologist, and a team of designer advisors to begin the creation of Photoshop for Design.

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A return to the needs of designers

The Photoshop team gave anthropologist Charles Pearson an assignment that sounded simple enough: Hang out with young designers, see what they’re making, how they’re making it, and where they gather inspiration… essentially, figure out what makes them tick. Charles spent a boatload of time with design firms and designers learning how teams use Adobe’s best known software.

During hundreds of conversations, he confirmed that Photoshop is ubiquitous in design studios, but he also heard comments like: “Photoshop is not a concise tool for what I do,” “I only use 10% of what Photoshop has,” and “I need to focus on my design and there’s too much UI.” He actually discovered a disconnect between Adobe and these young designers—who felt like they didn’t really have a relationship with the company or its 25-year-old application.

From a negative comes a positive

The Photoshop CC team had some work to do. Not only did it need to continue its onslaught of innovation in the next build, it also needed to reconnect with the design community and build-out design features and workflows.

What began as the addition of features to address designer needs (one-click font resolution, link Smart Objects. layer comps, CC Libraries) has evolved to include a complete rethinking of the design features in Photoshop.

They call it Project Recess

The collaboration—between the Photoshop team and a group of designer advisors that first saw comps, then prototypes, and ultimately builds of the new version of the software—means that every major feature in the next major release of Photoshop will have been designed and developed using the insights garnered from a well-defined feedback system.

After Charles finished describing the genesis of Project Recess, Zorana previewed some of its features in an abbreviated version of her Adobe MAX Sneak (below) from late last year:


 

My conclusion: Designers, keep an eye out for the Project Recess release of Photoshop CC. It will be a gift.

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Two Days of Adobe Creative Camp at SXSW 2015

We’re headed to SXSW Interactive to host Creative Camp, two days of lessons, insight and conversations about creative tools and the creative process with Adobe evangelists, product managers and design experts.

sxsw2015

Take a look at our packed schedule:

 

Friday March 13

11:00am–noon
Revamping Photoshop for Screen Design with Zorana Gee
Come join us as we dig into the full and behind-the-scenes story on the revamping of Adobe Photoshop CC for screen design. For the past two years, a small group of designers, researchers, and management has been reaching out to Photoshop CC’s design users and listening to the complaints, smiling at the praise and, most importantly, learning. And with that knowledge we’ve set into motion a number of responses meant to improve designer workflows. As we weave in and out of this story about how an iconic piece of software is being transformed to meet new demands, we’ll share new projects (and perhaps products) from the tireless Photoshop team.

12:30–1:30pm
Moving from Graphic Design to 3D Object Design with Paul Trani
Seemingly overnight a new industry has emerged: 3D printing. And while it’s easy to get excited about the technology, it’s the design of the 3D objects that really matters. Thankfully the new 3D printing capabilities in Adobe Photoshop CC allow graphic designers to take their design skills in new directions and create, perfect, preview, and print 3D designs in a familiar environment. What was once on your screen can be a physical object in front of you.

This session teaches what you need to know to bring ideas and designs into the physical world, including the different materials for printing, how to use your own printer or a printing service, how to market 3D design services, and more. Learn what will you can create and where will this new industry can take you.

2:00–3:00pm
Failure as a Creative Catalyst with Erik Natzke
It’s often said that change is good, but the reality is that change can be scary especially when it involves taking a new job or working on a new creative project in an area that you’ve never worked in before. It can be even harder when everything doesn’t go as planned and you encounter challenges, setbacks or failures.

In this session principal designer Erik Natzke will talk about his experience leaving his own agency to come to Adobe, and building his first iOS app, Adobe Brush CC, and the challenges he encountered along the way. Erik’s goal for Brush was to let designers extend their creativity and engage them to play more but the app development process wasn’t always fun or smooth, and solutions didn’t always appear right away. Ultimately the journey of getting through all the setbacks led Erik to discovery and launching a truly delightful app.

3:30–4:30pm
How to be a More Inefficient Designer with The Made Shop
Are you well-organized, methodical, and competent? Is your work productive, effective, and streamlined? Well, we can help. We’ve all been taught to value efficiency (because obviously time is money), but the religion of efficiency comes to us from industrial revolution assembly lines with the goal of churning out the same product repeatedly with as little variation as possible. And that’s not the goal of design.

In this session, The Made Shop will share tips and tricks for Introducing friction, indecision, and waste into the design process; misspending time and energy; making things the hard way; un-automating simple procedures; and consistently producing downright inefficient design.

 

Saturday March 14

9:30–10:30am
The Evolution of the Web with CJ Gammon
The web has changed a lot in just the past few years and continues to grow in exciting ways. We have new devices and interaction paradigms as well as increasing expectations from users. In this session we’ll explore inspirational examples of where the web is headed and what new opportunities they provide and we’ll look at demos and techniques that allow us to take advantage of what we have today while looking to the possibilities of the future.

11:00am–noon
Going from Design to Code without Going Insane with Ryan Stewart & Sarah Hunt
Designing and coding for the web is complicated for designers and developers working together; designers have to produce designs for various screen sizes, developers have to turn those designs into code, and they have to finish as quickly as possible. We’ve all been there, done that, and felt the pain. But, help is here. Learn about new workflows for designers and developers to work better together. Learn how to share information from a PSD without needing to red-line or write a “spec” defining how to use layer comps for designing various screen sizes, and explore techniques for optimizing assets and code. While you might not be ready to kiss each other you’ll be going from PSD to code in a snap.

12:30–1:30pm
Story Structure Secrets with Christine Steele
Learn how to hook viewers with a compelling opening structure questions that engage the audience; identify when it’s time to move from one scene to another; and learn how the rules of three-act structure can be applied to films of any length. From shorts to features or documentaries, your film will benefit by applying classic techniques to create a strong story structure.

2:00–3:00pm
Make Social Media POP with Video with Dave Werner
One of the best ways to reach your customers is through social media and while words and pictures can be interesting, a sure-fire way to capture attention on social is with engaging video. If you’ve never made a video before, it can be overwhelming to figure out where to begin: How do you get your message across in a short amount of time and find the right balance of entertainment vs. information? How should you plan before you shoot to capture the best possible material to work with? How do you edit? And how do you decide where to post your videos? 
In this session you’ll learn how to create video content and give it a professional look and sound, with Adobe Premiere Clip on your iPhone or iPad, and how to share it on social media for maximum reach.

3:30–4:30pm
Promoting Your Creative Work on the Web with Roxanne Schwartz
Your online portfolio is one of the most important parts of promoting your creative career—but just how do you do that? It can be daunting to get started. As a community manager at Behance, the world’s largest creative portfolio platform with over four million members, Roxanne Schwartz has seen thousands of creative portfolios on the web; she’ll be sharing what works (and what doesn’t) when it comes to showcasing creative work online. Even non-designers can create a knockout online portfolio by following best-practices learned from top creatives. From guiding principles to the nitty-gritty details, this session will teach you the best way to promote your creative work online (on Behance and elsewhere) and expose it to the right people.

Join us for one, or all, of our Creative Camp sessions in Salon E at the JW Marriott on 110 E 2nd Street and be sure to be a part of the conversation on Twitter with #adobeSXSW.

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