Adobe Systems Incorporated

From Critique to Collaboration: The Creation of Adobe Comp CC

Scott Belsky and Khoi Vinh‘s friendship precedes Scott’s tenure at Adobe, so when Scott approached him with an invitation to collaborate, it didn’t take long for Khoi to accept. In fact, in some ways, the collaboration, between the co-founder of Behance and VP at Adobe and the former design director of the New York Times, seemed pre-destined.

Since its introduction, Khoi had been touting the merits of the iPad as a creative tool: “I’ve always seen it as a really capable piece of hardware that at the same time imposes some really wonderful constraints. When you’re using your finger to manipulate things, you lose a sort of fine-grained ability to ‘get things absolutely perfect.’ I’ve always looked at that as a benefit.” He didn’t know it at the time, but the iPad environment he felt so strongly about (the one that forces people to focus on concept rather than execution) would become the foundation for Adobe Comp CC.

But it wasn’t Khoi’s appreciation of the iPad, or the fact that he’d built an app called Mixel in 2011, that prompted Scott to call him in the fall of 2013. It was, instead, Khoi’s skepticism about Creative Cloud. Khoi summed up the reason for Scott’s call in a recent blog post: “The perception at that time was that a CC subscription was a scheme to allow Adobe to charge repeatedly for software that previously users could buy just once. That’s what he wanted to discuss.”

From that conversation, things moved quickly forward.

By the end of 2013, Khoi was working as a consultant to Adobe with principal product manager Will Eisley and director of design Eric Snowden on what would become Comp CC. Khoi remembers, “Adobe assigned prototyping engineer Renaun Erickson to the project and for a couple of months it was just the two of us trying to figure out the fundamentals of the app, its basic concepts, what was important, what wasn’t.”

Critique_1Their ideas began taking shape when they realized that the key to the app’s success would be enabling people to get what’s in their heads onto the screen as quickly as possible. It meant they needed a “drawing engine.” One that would enable people to draw, move things around, and resize them—with familiar touch-screen gestures. Khoi explained it like this: “With Comp CC, you don’t access a different tool to get a box or crop a picture or create a block of text; you draw a box with an X in it and get a picture object into which you can put an image and crop it, or you draw several horizontal lines to generate a block of text. It’s much more natural. It’s much faster. And, most importantly, it’s much different than working on desktop software.”

Critique_2They intentionally kept the build media agnostic and with a focus on brainstorming. The canvases are familiar, but they are blank; there are no tools for pagination or trapping ink, and no library of interface widgets or pulldown menus. Because it keeps the focus on rapid-fire iteration, it’s a welcoming tool for conceptualizing juxtapositions of type and image for any medium.

It wasn’t long before it was time to share the build with an audience.

When Khoi presented during Sneaks at Adobe MAX 2014, the application was about 60% done. He remembers, “Not all the gestures were in there, the history feature was still pretty fragile, and as far as exporting to the desktop apps, I think only InDesign CC worked at that time.”

By the end of 2014, however, Comp CC’s two most important features were in place.

The ability to export files to Adobe’s primary desktop design applications makes Comp CC a powerful addition to an ingrained workflow. Many mobile apps have great approaches to creative exploration, they’re just not as attuned to a designer’s needs. Khoi believes that’s Comp CC’s game-changing feature: “We put a lot of emphasis on building those bridges to Illustrator CC, InDesign CC and Photoshop CC; I’m willing to bet that the bridges we created, to what designers already use and what they’re comfortable with, will be really powerful for people.”

As for the history feature that saves every iteration of every layout… it’s the team’s acknowledgement that ideas flow continuously. People don’t come up with one idea, jot it down and move on to the next one. But since any need to “manage” brainstorming sessions runs counter to the course of creativity, the saved history relieves, entirely, the burden of worry about preserving concepts, while also giving people the ability to scroll back in time—maybe even to the point of rediscovery. (Note: The feature is demoed in Khoi’s Sneaks video beginning at 3:40) A similar history scrub feature, already in Adobe Photoshop Sketch and Adobe Illustrator Line, provided the perfect interface but Khoi mentioned a characteristic unique to Comp CC: “You can actually go back and mess around with something you worked on 20 minutes ago but then whatever you did between then and now is preserved (you won’t lose it just because you elaborated on something).”

That’s the condensed version of the Khoi Vinh-Adobe partnership and the launch of Comp CC.

Now that Comp CC is in the hands of the creative community, Khoi knows the collaboration isn’t over, “For it to succeed and for us to effect meaningful change to ingrained workflows, we have to listen to feedback and understand how people are using it.”

And about Khoi’s skepticism of Creative Cloud… it, ultimately, fell away: “It wasn’t until I collaborated on Comp CC that I truly understood why Adobe made this huge move to Creative Cloud. It’s not about ‘renting’ software that we used to buy; it’s about a connected ecosystem of tools that’s only possible with the cloud. I was won over to the strategy.”

9:04 AM Comments (0) Permalink

Marcus Thomas LLC, A Creative Union

An agency, with a long history of using Adobe creative software for all of its marketing and PR creative work, makes the move from Adobe Creative Suite to Adobe Creative Cloud for teams.

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Marcus Thomas LLC is the product of a union between two of Northeast Ohio’s oldest and largest independent advertising and public relations firms: Marcus Advertising, founded in Cleveland in 1946; and Ira Thomas Associates, founded in Youngstown in 1937. With decades of experience, Marcus Thomas recognized the importance of digital spaces early on and transformed into the fully integrated marketing agency it is today.

By upgrading to Adobe Creative Cloud for teams, the agency simplifies licensing management while providing designers with access to a wider range of Adobe creative software.

“Our clients are on the latest software and it’s important that we are too. Working with Adobe Creative Cloud for teams keeps everyone on the same software version, from incoming interns to freelancers and clients,” says Amy Gressell, digital asset and creative systems manager at Marcus Thomas. “This eliminates the extra work that comes from constantly converting files and trying to manage multiple versions of software in house.”

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Opening doors to creativity

The Creative Cloud Packager also makes it easy for Gressell to package products and updates for designers depending on their software needs. For most of the active Creative Cloud for teams users at Marcus Thomas, Gressell delivers a standard package of applications including Adobe Photoshop CC, Adobe Illustrator CC, and Adobe InDesign CC. Those working with website design also use Adobe Flash Professional CC and Adobe Dreamweaver CC, while video editors work with Adobe Premiere Pro CC.

People don’t have time to learn something entirely new every time they want to use new software, so we appreciate the usability and consistency of the Adobe user interface across applications,” says Gressell. “Not only does it help our designers transition to new versions of software, but it also gives people a starting point when they want to experiment with other software.”

Marcus_3Web designers are starting to work with Adobe Muse CC to develop advanced website designs in a visual interface, while many designers have added Adobe Photoshop Lightroom to their workflows for its range of fast and simple photography editing features.

“We previously only offered a limited number of products to our design teams because it was too costly to buy separate full Creative Suite Master Collection licenses,” says Gressell. “The range of software in Adobe Creative Cloud for teams gives our designers a chance to experiment with new workflows to produce more creative work and meet our clients’ high standards.”

Read the Marcus Thomas LLC case study.

10:38 AM Comments (0) Permalink

Collaborate Using Creative Cloud Assets

At its heart, Creative Cloud is all about collaboration. It brings different creative professionals—designers, illustrators, video artists, web developers, and others—together and helps them work efficiently and spend more time being creative.

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Sharing folders and Libraries; two primary ways to collaborate using Creative Cloud.

Collaborate with files

Real projects are seldom single files. Even the simplest project has multiple design assets: documents, fonts, graphics, illustrations, and so many more. Also, it seldom happens that you’re working in isolation. In the real world, you need to collaborate with other creatives, service providers, vendors, and, of course, customers.

Collaboration_2 You can use Creative Cloud Assets to collaborate on single files or a folder of files. All collaborators then have access to the actual files that they can view and work on. This collaboration greatly reduces the work of “zipping” files and folders and then having to keep track of the various versions. All collaborators synchronize these files on their computers; Creative Cloud for desktop app keeps all files in sync and makes sure that everyone has the latest and greatest copy.

Collaborate with Libraries

Creative Cloud Libraries are collections of creative assets and design elements that you can use across Adobe desktop and mobile applications. When you share a library, collaborators can contribute assets to it. Libraries are a great way of organizing team-level assets and artifacts, and maintaining consistency across large projects.

Once ready, you can share the library with other members of your team, so that everyone is using the same approved assets. Use Libraries to quickly transfer design assets across your team for use in a growing list of supported apps on both mobile and desktop. Your team can then work on projects whenever they feel inspired. You won’t have to worry about stray versions of assets and can rest assured that all deliverables adhere to and use the correct design elements.

Collaboration_3 You can invite someone to share files and Libraries using the Creative Cloud website or from within the Creative Cloud desktop applications that support this feature. At the time of writing this blog post, Adobe Photoshop CC, Adobe Illustrator CC, and Adobe InDesign CC are the Creative Cloud desktop apps that support library collaboration. In addition, you can access and use library assets from within several Adobe mobile apps. Collaborators are authenticated using their Adobe ID or Enterprise ID. If some collaborators don’t already have an Adobe ID, they’re given the opportunity to create one.

Useful resources

Looking for more information on collaboration in Creative Cloud? Check this list:

 

That’s our perspective on Creative Cloud collaboration; let us know how you’re using these features in your workflows.

7:46 AM Comments (0) Permalink

Adobe Comp CC, The Best Thing To Happen to Layout Ideation Since The Cocktail Napkin

The latest addition to our family of mobile apps is a powerful tool for visual thinking and a new connection between the mobile and desktop applications in Creative Cloud.

Announcing Adobe Comp CC, a free app for the iPad that enables the rapid creation of layout concepts for mobile, web, and print.

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The road to product launch

When we began adding connected mobile apps to Creative Cloud, we knew they would change the way people worked. We knew that enabling people to work (really work) away from their desks, capturing thoughts and ideas and concepts as they flew through their minds, that we could enhance the creative process.

Built on the Adobe Creative SDK, Comp CC couples intuitive iPad gestures, fonts from Typekit, and the personal assets stored in Creative Cloud Libraries to provide designers with the perfect mobile brainstorming and layout work surface. Then, with a single click, comps can be sent to Adobe InDesign CC, Adobe Illustrator CC, or Adobe Photoshop CC (where CC Libraries assets and fonts from Typekit are also synced) to fine-tune and finish the work. It’s this powerful connection back to the desktop, where designers do so much of their work, that makes Comp CC, and all of our mobile apps, so valuable.

The app made its first appearance at Adobe MAX in October 2014 when Khoi Vinh, former design director of the New York Times, revealed it, and his collaboration with Adobe, during the Project LayUp Sneak. He said of that collaboration, “The company’s deep expertise in creative software plus the comprehensive power of their Creative Cloud platform were essential to this product—only Adobe could have brought Comp CC to life.”

From brainstorm to layout

As energetic as sketching with pencil and paper, Comp CC, amps up the ideation phase of the design process. Then it enables designers to add polish to the quick-gesture comps with custom type and personal creative assets.

CompCC_4But the true beauty is in how those ideas, achieved rapid-fire no-holds-barred, are managed. No need to save ideas that may or may not make the cut. A single source file and a rich history feature mean that every iteration—that’s every single version of every single layout—is saved. No need to distinguish between creative genius and creative missteps; a quick drag of a few fingers left or right on the screen move through the file backward or forward in time, to view every comp.

What’s more, at any point it’s possible to pause. And export. Not just a .jpeg or .png, but an InDesign CC, Illustrator CC, or Photoshop CC file with live, native objects. So… Comp CC moves effortlessly between quick-sketching brainstorms on mobile, to our desktop application, to refined output. All without ever leaving Creative Cloud.

Scott Belsky, vice-president of products at Adobe sums up its power: “Comp CC takes advantage of the iPad’s advanced touch screen with an intuitive interface and makes the beginning of the design process integral to the finished result. Doing creative work on a mobile device is only useful if the results can be opened on the desktop, where the project can be perfected in a precise, professional-grade tool like InDesign or Photoshop.”

A family of connected apps

Comp CC joins Adobe’s family of Creative Cloud mobile apps: Adobe Illustrator Draw, Adobe Illustrator Line, Adobe Photoshop Sketch, Adobe Premiere Clip, Adobe Photoshop Mix, Adobe Shape CC, Adobe Brush CC, Adobe Color CC and Lightroom mobile for iPhone, iPad and Android.
 

Capture a layout wherever. Capture a layout whenever. Capture a layout now. Download Comp CC.

Adobe Creative Cloud. Where innovation is ongoing. Give it a try. It’s free.

9:01 AM Permalink

Aaron Draplin and The Collaborative Poster Project

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Aaron Draplin is joining Adobe at HOW Design Live.

And, in collaboration with Adobe and boutique printer Mama’s Sauce he’s also fronting Draplin in The Cloud—part commemorative poster design, part portrait of a new work process, and part collaborative art project—using Adobe Shape CC and Adobe Illustrator CC.

Draplin, along with Adobe evangelist Paul Trani will be presenting a lunchtime session titled Draplin Takes Mobile to Desktop about capturing shapes in Adobe Shape and taking them into Illustrator CC. He’ll also be presenting in the Adobe booth, a sort of reenactment of his design process.

He had a few things to say about this uniquely-challenging creative collaboration:

Draplin_1 From shape to design. We know you’ve used Adobe Shape a bit. Tell us how you see it fitting into your design process long term? I’ll sketch something and take a shot of it, let the thing show up in my Library, and will have vectors to refine. From paper to digital, a little quicker. Then I’ll grab that vector, lock it on the art board, and draw over it, refining the idea. It’s another fun way to capture an idea. But mainly, it eliminates steps for me. Instead of having to shoot it with my phone, load the shots to my machine, let the cloud grab it, and then place the shot? From four steps to one.

The assets for this poster will be a compilation of vector icons solicited and gathered from other people’s Adobe Shape CC captures. Tell us a bit about how you think that will work. The world’s moving faster and faster. I’m having to learn new ways of capturing my thoughts, based on what’s within an arm’s reach—paper, steamy shower glass, my desktop computer and, more and more, my phone. Using these new mobile apps, you can bridge that gap. Quick and clean. And I’m starting to rely on it in my process.

It will be fun to see stuff come flying in, out of my control. And then, making new out of it all. That randomness sounds fun. I’ll be at their mercy. Out of my element.

And about that… People on the Internet, whom you’ve never met, sending in submissions for you to design around; that’s a broad collaboration. Nothing can go wrong there, right? Not one thing. Ha! I mean, if it’s weird or mean or creepy, I reserve the right to hit the “delete” button. But for the most part, I anticipate the stuff being submitted with good spirit behind it. Let’s make something cool.
 

Mama’s Sauce: From Shape CC to Illustrator CC to screen print

This project wouldn’t have been possible without the participation of Mama’s Sauce, an incomparable boutique printer. Because their knowledge of hand-done print processes is profound, we dragged them into a conversation about this project and a larger one about vector-to-handmade printing:

When we said, “We want you to screen print a project that got its start on a smartphone with a mobile app,” did you want to run for the hills? No way. Screen print, letterpress, foil printing—they’ve all come a long way from painting on emulsion, moveable-type, hand carved blocks, chemical etching… you know, the historical processes of putting graphics in a form able of being printed on paper. While all of those are super viable still, each with their own purpose and/or aesthetic, these days, 100% of what we print in our shop comes from a digital or raster file. Considering that the average smartphone has more computing power than the spacecraft that brought us to the moon (you may want to fact check me), there isn’t much a phone can’t do these days. They’re certainly smart enough to produce vector and raster files. I mean, I do it all of the time with Adobe’s mobile apps. It’s crazy how I’m needing my computer less and less.

How do you feel about the concept now that you know a bit more about Adobe Shape and its integration with Illustrator CC? A light went off. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I didn’t realize that you could send files so easily right into our pre-press workflow. The idea of moving in that direction for receiving files is super appealing.

Talk a bit about how screen printing is the perfect complement to vector art and a digital process. It’s powerful when vector meets makers; and digital designers have embraced hand-made output in a big way. I don’t think anyone is forcing it either. It’s a natural fit. The more digital we get in our processes, the more people want to stay connected, not to fight progress, but to keep more options on the table. It’s happening in a multitude of ways too: People are scanning old wood type, exaggerating halftones in their designs, and creating aesthetics based on old production techniques that were once solely practical in nature. And when people wanted more out of the old presses, not just their type and halftone aesthetics, but rather the rest of their printing capabilities for their vector art… polymer plates came along. Modern plate-making for letterpress and modern film-making for screen print—these processes make old world printing the perfect complement for designers wanting to print work on a traditional press.

For anyone who might want to use a mobile-to-desktop-to-screen-print process, what’s most important for them to know?  Begin where you are. If you see something inspiring and want to know how it would look 1-color, how it would vectorize, you can snap a pic and see that nearly instantly. Gone are the days where you have to email yourself a file, drag to the desktop, open the asset and then get to work. You work can begin wherever.
 

Draplin in The Cloud: The collaboration

Aaron will select shapes from online submissions and incorporate them into a commemorative poster which will be printed in a limited run of 1,000 and given away at HOW Design Live. (Not attending HOW? Don’t worry, the poster will also be available as a digital download.)

Wondering how to get a shape on Aaron’s poster? It’s pretty simple. Open Adobe Shape. Capture a shape. Submit it to Aaron through the app. Get more details from Collaborate with Draplin… as an alternative, the process in the words of Aaron Draplin:


 

Check our microsite to see what else Adobe’s got going on at HOW Design Live.

9:03 AM Permalink

A Small(er)-Screen(s) Version of Adobe Illustrator Draw

Optimized for the large (and larger) screens of the iPhone 6 (and 6 Plus) Adobe Illustrator Draw for iPhone works on any iPhone running iOS 7.1 or later.

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Yep, that’s right. Adobe’s popular freeform vector drawing iPad app, is now available in an iPhone version. And it’s in the iTunes App Store… along with an update for Adobe Illustrator Draw for iPad (more on that further down).

Different. But the same.

This initial release of Draw for iPhone differs from Draw for iPad in only two (minor) ways: There’s no stylus or Touch Slide support and no integration with Adobe Shape CC. Other than that, Draw for iPhone consists of the same vector drawing tools and controls organized in the same UI as Draw for iPad. Which means, a whole long list of features:
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  • Five expressive vector pens and an eraser.
  • The ability to customize drawing tools for opacity, size, and color.
  • One photo layer and up to ten drawing layers for each drawing.
  • Layer controls with the ability to duplicate, merge, flip and scale, and define layer opacity.
  • Up to 6400% zoom for finessing details.
  • The ability to send drawings as vectors to Adobe Illustrator CC, or incorporate them into designs in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator CC.

And, because we’re trying to keep this short, that’s not even a complete feature list. Get the whole story about Draw for iPhone by giving our pocket-sized drawing app a try: Download it free from the iTunes App Store.

Or, stick with the big(ger) screen.

If the iPhone provides what seems a scant drawing surface, there’s still Adobe Draw for iPad. And, although it may be hard to believe, we’ve made it even better with the inclusion of an often-requested feature: an Eyedropper to quickly and accurately sample colors.

We’ve also added support for Pencil by FiftyThree and Wacom’s Intuous Creative Stylus for iPad, (along with Adobe Ink and Adonit Jot Touch). And, now, not only are drawings automatically saved to the Projects folder (so even work you’re-not-yet-sure-you-care-about can’t be lost) but now that there’s also Draw for iPhone, drawings will automatically sync between the two devices when someone is using both versions of the app.

Get the update in the iTunes App Store and get drawing with a better-than-ever version of Adobe Draw for iPad.

And what about Adobe Ideas?

Been using Adobe Ideas and worried about getting projects out of that app and into Adobe Draw? Don’t. Import all of them or bring in just a few: Included in both the Draw for iPad update and the Draw for iPhone release is the ability to do a speedy batch import of existing Adobe Ideas files saved to Creative Cloud.
 

Our mobile apps are even better with a Creative Cloud membership. Haven’t tried it yet? Give it a trial. Free.

10:19 AM Permalink

Nature’s Path Organic Foods: Healthy Food, Impactful Packaging

This leading maker of organic foods supports consistent creative by implementing Adobe Creative Cloud for teams.

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Nature’s Path Organic Foods is the largest independent manufacturer of organic breakfast and snack foods in North America. Making tasty organic, sustainable food is the family-run company’s passion. The Nature’s Path team loves finding new superfoods and developing delicious, new recipes that pair healthy eating with social responsibility.

Making delicious organic food allows Nature’s Path to take care of people and the planet. In everything they do, from sourcing ingredients to designing packaging, the Nature’s Path team strives to leave the earth better than they found it. The company’s design team supports that mission by doing what they can to make the packaging as environmentally friendly as possible.

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Worldwide brand consistency

Highlighting the company’s drive and commitment, Nature’s Path offers hundreds of products for sale in more than 40 countries. For the in-house graphics team, this translates to the need to create a wide range of packaging designs that are fresh and eye-catching, while conveying a consistent brand worldwide.

“We work closely with each other and our vendors to develop packaging we’re proud of,” says Jeff Deweerd, creative team lead at Nature’s Path. “We’re always sending files back and forth, which means that standardizing on the latest and greatest design software with Adobe Creative Cloud for teams streamlines workflows and reduces incompatibility issues.”

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Time well spent

With Adobe Creative Cloud for teams, the graphics team at Nature’s Path gains access to all of the creative software it needs.

Printed materials and artwork are designed using Adobe InDesign CC. Designers can easily bring in visuals from other Adobe software, such as photographs edited in Adobe Photoshop CC or logos developed in Adobe Illustrator CC to enhance designs. Designers also rely heavily on Illustrator CC for signage, promotional graphics, and flexographic packaging designs for plastic or metal wraps and pouches. And, everyone working on the same up-to-date versions of Adobe creative software means smoother collaboration, less time spent exporting and repackaging files, and more on developing ideas.
 

Read the Nature’s Path Organic Foods case study.

10:17 AM Permalink

The Streamlined Creative Process of 3B Scientific

The global marketing team of this manufacturer of medical education equipment and content is more efficient and productive thanks to the collaborative features in Adobe Creative Cloud for teams.

3B_1The international group of companies known as 3B Scientific specializes in the manufacturing and marketing of educational materials for the science and medical fields. Headquartered in Germany with affiliated companies in more than 100 countries, 3B Scientific produces product lines that include artificial skeletons, anatomical models, medical training simulators, acupuncture and therapy products, and a wide range of biology, chemistry, and physics equipment.


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Collaboration across borders

The marketing team at 3B Scientific uses Creative Cloud for teams to develop catalogs, brochures, logos, internal documents, websites, mobile design ads, direct mail pieces, and even T-shirt designs. Adobe Photoshop CC provides excellent image enhancement tools, while Adobe Illustrator CC is the go-to solution for logos and graphics, and Adobe InDesign CC supports creative layout for print pieces.

Although the marketing group previously used Final Cut Pro for video editing, the company is taking advantage of the wide range of software in Adobe Creative Cloud for teams by switching to Adobe Premiere Pro CC and Adobe After Effects CC. “Working with Creative Cloud for teams means that we have all of the creative tools we need at our fingertips,” says Joseph Allen, senior graphic designer at 3B Scientific. “We can also experiment with new software at any time to expand our skills and creative offerings (our graphic designers, in particular, appreciate the chance to play around with it).”

3B_3 In addition to the benefits that come with standardizing software, 3B Scientific takes advantage of the cloud storage available with its Creative Cloud for teams membership to simplify sharing files. When downloading files to individual desktops and working with colleagues in different time zones, it can be difficult to keep track of which files are the most recent; cloud storage solves this problem, helping marketers around the world quickly locate the latest versions of projects and files. “Rather than emailing files back and forth, the cloud storage gives us a central area to store and sync files,” says Allen. “It streamlines our processes to make collaborating anywhere in the world incredibly simple.”

Creative Cloud for teams also syncs projects, settings, and even fonts for users who take work home. By creating seamless workflows and collaborative processes, it enables the global marketing team to be more efficient and productive. “Coordinating with colleagues in Europe and Asia can be a time-consuming process. There are many opportunities for our lines to get crossed, which can cause miscommunications and delays,” says Allen. “With Creative Cloud for teams, we’re improving our communication and collaboration, which ultimately enhances our ability to share valuable knowledge with customers worldwide.”

Read the 3B Scientific case study.

12:37 PM Permalink

A Productive Pairing: Banner Engineering and Creative Cloud for Teams

Banner Engineering, a leader in industrial and process automation, brings marketing and technical literature in-house with Adobe Creative Cloud for teams.

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Founded almost 50 years ago as a small electronics engineering firm, Banner Engineering has grown into a global leader in process and industrial automation. The company provides customers worldwide with industry-leading photo eyes, sensors, machine safety equipment, and lighting devices that increase efficiency, monitor quality, and safeguard employees.

Small team big output

The company currently offers thousands of innovative products and develops hundreds of new solutions every year. Despite its impressive product line-up, the company operates with a small marketing team that handles almost all marketing and technical documentation, including product and company brochures, tradeshow displays, success stories, product packaging, technical illustrations, videos, software GUI graphics, and a comprehensive printed product catalog with more than 1,000 pages.

Banner Catalogs“We have a lean marketing team for a company of our size, producing the output of teams two or three times larger,” says Delaine Suess, senior graphic designer for corporate branding in the marketing department. “We need to work as efficiently as possible.”

Banner has been using Adobe creative software as its standard for graphics and documents for the past eighteen years, but in a budget-conscious environment, didn’t always have the funds for every software upgrade. Now, with Adobe Creative Cloud for teams, Banner has access to the latest versions of all creative software.

The right tools for the job(s)

Marketers use Adobe InDesign CC for documents, including Banner’s comprehensive, 1,000-page catalog. Adobe InCopy CC enables copywriters to proof and make quick changes to InDesign files even when working simultaneously with designers, making the proofing process faster and more consistent. For diagrams and icons, Adobe Illustrator CC is the standard used by Banner and its vendors, while Adobe Photoshop CC is used to edit a wide range of images.

Banner_3Products such as LED lights are difficult to photograph accurately, so Banner adds simulated lighting effects in Photoshop CC to give customers a better idea of products. Marketers also use it to composite images to show a product in use or to add effects, such as lighting, to rendered Autodesk 3ds Max files.

Banner relies on Adobe Acrobat XI for its proofing needs. Team members can review, edit, and comment easily within the PDF so all involved can easily track their changes during the proofing process. “We use shared reviews so our engineers and sales people can annotate PDFs consistently with familiar tools. And our marketing team can track progress and consolidate comments,” said Suess.

For a company with a small team, that creates almost all of its marketing and technical literature in-house, productivity is key. “Adobe Creative Cloud for teams gives us the exact tools that we need to get projects done as quickly as possible,” says Suess.

Read the Banner Engineering case study.

10:19 AM Permalink

Brian Yap: From Shape to Illustration

When we saw Brian Yap’s Vector Drawing on The Go post on INSPIRE, about his Adobe Shape CC to Adobe Illustrator CC work process, we had a few questions about how using Shape to capture the flicker of an idea eventually translates into a full-blown illustration or design concept. Since he’s now an associate creative director on Adobe’s Studio Team, we caught up with him about his process, his technique, and how he feels about the tools.

What Brian had to say about mobile apps and productivity, his obsession with layers, and the value of being truly satisfied with each step in the creative process:

A quick loose portrait of Cullen O'Donnel of the Logos began with a photo.

A quick loose portrait of Cullen O’Donnel of the Logos began with a photo.

What’s the value of capturing a vector outline in Shape (as opposed to drawing it yourself)? Shape is perfect for when you want a quick and loose outline of an image, even if you end up heavily drawing over it, it saves tons of time and creates some cool effects (it reminds me what we used to get from double and triple xeroxing images.)

Alternatively, when you do sketch on paper, how nice is it to be able to capture one of your own sketches in Shape without having to trace it in Illustrator CC? As the app gets better and better I fully expect to be able to capture sketches straight to vector that will need very little clean up. I’m excited to see where that workflow leads.

How much refinement do you usually do once you have an image in Shape? Do you prefer to start with as many details as possible? Or just a basic outline? So far, I’ve been pushing the detail all the way up to capture as much as possible, but there’s so much more you can play with by lowering that or reversing the capture.

We know you use Adobe Illustrator Draw for a lot of away-from-your-desk drawing. How much easier is it to transfer your work between the three applications now that there’s Creative Cloud Libraries? I honestly can’t emphasize enough how important it is to me that all the Adobe apps are connected through Creative Cloud Libraries. It makes the pure act of working and creating seamless. Ease of use and accessibility to all of my files is huge to me.

From photo to Adobe Shape capture.

From photo to Adobe Shape capture.

You sound really organized. How do you feel about using CC Libraries to organize your content from the time you capture it until the time you complete it? Without a doubt, CC Libraries has made moving from mobile to desktop incredibly simple. The mobile apps, especially the ones that allow you to capture things out in the world, really need that connection and accessibility to be useful. I don’t ever have to think about where my captures are.

How has your drawing process changed since you started incorporating mobile apps into it? Working digitally, and with drawing apps on a tablet, I’ve become insanely more productive. I used to be scared to “waste time” trying different things; now I don’t ever stop at just the first pass at doing something. I used to draw on sketch pads, and when deadlines were limiting, moved on to the next step as soon as something looked successful, then I’d lament later that it could be better.

I know every artist says that, but there’s value in getting to that point of true satisfaction. What you learn in those last steps ALWAYS comes through in the final piece. Working with mobile apps and ingesting them into my process has opened all those possibilities back up to me. Recently I’ve been experimenting more—letting my drawing style loosen up, starting with photographic reference and captures in Shape, and playing more and more with different tools.

You described your layer management system by saying, “I usually select each color and merge all shapes of each color to keep things tidy.” Does your layers management begin in Draw or do you not worry about it until you get the art into Illustrator CC? Okay, I’m a little bit obsessive, so I start right away getting to know layers in whatever application they’re in. When you think about it, layers are the greatest and purist advantage to working digitally.

I mostly split colors into different layers. As the piece gets more and more complex, this really helps when I want to edit something. Then when I take something into Illustrator CC, the organization transfers over. (I take it one step further and merge all objects of the same color to make it easy to edit color.) And, since my style tends toward flat poster color style work, I often restrict myself to three or four colors, with an eye towards screen printing.

From Adobe Shape capture to finished illustration.

From Adobe Shape capture to finished illustration.

What’s the distinction between how you use Adobe Draw and how you use Illustrator CC to fine-tune your work? I almost always do my loose drawing in Draw. I like the feel of the tablet in my hand (akin to a sketchbook) and being able to do a ton of my drawing on the couch or on my commute. There was always a threshold point though where I would move it into Illustrator CC to finish the job. But, in truth, that point is becoming a grey area. With the Touch Slide tools in Draw, Shape and Color, I can do a lot more just on my iPad. But I’ve even started drawing more in Illustrator CC with the Surface Pro 3, so it’s turning into a decision I make based on the project.

Out of curiosity, how many image traces do you have in your Shape libraries? Ha, you might be scared… I would guess, that in 4 or 5 different libraries, maybe 50–75. I’m working on another experiment and that particular library is getting out of control (and, as the app grows I expect that to get a lot bigger).

If it’s not a secret, what are you working on now/next? I have a few things going right now, one of them purely for fun and experimentation, that I’m really excited about. I captured a ton of Shape graphics on a recent trek to Muir woods and want to develop a portrait of John Muir using those as textures. They’re so complex that just trying to use the photos I took and draw over them would be monumentally time consuming. But I found the place so inspiring that I think having the image be built from those captures will imbue the illustration in a way that simply drawing his portrait could never match.

Brian’s Shape to Draw to Illustrator CC process on INSPIRE.
Adobe Shape CC and Adobe Illustrator Draw in the iTunes App Store.
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