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Creative Spotlight: Q&A with Animator Lee Daniels

You may have stumbled across Lee Daniels’ work on our Adobe Stories site or our Adobe Facebook Page, but we recently caught up with him to really find out the depths and origins of his creativity when it comes to animation and cartooning.

Adobe: What’s your story? How did you get to where you are today?

Lee Daniels: After experiencing a lack of support for cartooning in grammar school, I decided to get a job in graphic design rather than University education. I got to learn all the Adobe software by trial and error in a real world environment on company hardware, which was always better than what I could afford at the time. I then became a digital retouch artist and graphic designer for a magazine publishing firm for 13 years after leaving school. Since then, I’ve been working as a freelance illustrator in London for almost 4 years (8 including the crossover with my last design job).

leedanielsart-300x212What was it about animation that got your attention? 

Cartoons like Wile E. Coyote and Tom and Jerry. I always saw the levels of creativity, invention and escapism in cartoons as light-years ahead of the live action drip-feed in to our living room for the other 95% of viewing time.

Cartoons have always been generally viewed as childish because of the history in kids TV, which is why I like to use the medium to create work that is not necessarily childish – without taking it too far of course, that’s the job of South Park.

Inspiration: Is it easy to come by for you or is it a rare pearl? How do you find it?

My previous videos include everything from the misfortune of frogs, though triumphant hamsters, to incompetent Secret Service agents and intelligence tests for a reluctant chimp. Although there is no overriding theme to all, I would have to highlight the common thread as the success of seemingly inferior beings over their seemingly superior tormentors. So inspiration for this can be found pretty much anywhere and tends to come fairly easily. I’ve usually got about 2-3 ideas for future shorts in mind while working on any one project.


lee-daniels-art-212x300Do you believe in creative blocks?  How do you push through them?

Yes, absolutely. Although this is almost impossible to do, I find the best way to get through a potential day-spoiler is to just drop everything, stop working and go for a run. Admittedly this is much easier to do now that I’m working for myself – leaving an employment situation in this fashion would be frowned-upon at best! The only real escape to freedom during a creative block in my old job was a trip to the coffee machine the long way round, which was not very inspiring.

What’s your go-to product within the Adobe Creative Suite? Why?

This may sound like a cop-out answer but my go to product is the Creative Suite. I like to view it as one playground. More specifically, if I’m static illustrating or cartooning, it would be a mixture of Illustrator and Photoshop. If I’m animating it would be the previous two plus After Effects, Premiere Pro and Soundbooth. If I’m doing a graphic design job it would be Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. But generally, whatever project I’m working on, I can guarantee to be pressing Apple + Tab multiple times throughout. I’ve downloaded free trials of a lot of different software over the years, but nothing comes close to Adobe in my opinion. I treated myself to the Master Collection after leaving my job to go freelance, and I wouldn’t change it for anything else.

What was your favorite project you worked on while using Adobe Creative Suite?

My most recent work ‘Jungle Brawl‘ is definitely my proudest achievement so far. I made a decision early on not to cut any corners when creating the background artwork and even playing the music myself on guitar as opposed to ‘loops’ (apart from the drum loops, which I don’t play). Previously, I’ve concentrated my efforts mainly on the characters, but I spent a lot of sleepless nights storyboarding, painting the rainforest environment and thinking of new ways to shoot the scenes in an attempt to keep up the filmic quality.

I utilized all the major Creative Suite applications during production – as you’ll see from the credits – and After Effects is definitely the star of the show, although heavily backed-up by Photoshop and Illustrator. After Effects is an incredibly powerful cartoon animating tool and I’m pleased to be championing its use for this medium.

Who are your creative role models?

Stylistically, I take inspiration from hundreds of undiscovered creatives in my online networks. Inspiration from more publicly known artists and companies would be some of the more obvious: Frank Miller, Jamie Hewlett, Patrick Brown, Dave Gibbons, Pixar, Warner Brothers.

If you could give one piece of advice to a new animator/artist starting out, what would it be?

Learn the software and practice, practice, practice. Every piece of software I’ve used has been predominantly learned by trial and error. I find that pure experimentation throws up unexpected problems and only deepens your knowledge in the long run by forcing you to learn what NOT to do.

To find out more about Lee’s upcoming work, you can follow him on Twitter @LeeDanielsART.

6:00 AM Permalink

Creative Spotlight: Kevin Spear on Adobe Touch Apps and Creative Cloud

Summer is the perfect time to untether yourself from the wired-world and create outside with Adobe Touch Apps, and no one knows this better than digital artist, Kevin Spear (@speartoons). After stumbling on his summer creations, we reached out to see how he utilized the creative combination of Touch Apps, Creative Suite 6 and Creative Cloud to come up with some “fun in the sun” art work.k.spear_

Find out where Kevin’s summertime spot to create with Touch Apps is (hint – it’s not indoors), why the grouping of Adobe Ideas and Illustrator is a match made in heaven for him, plus much more in the full Q&A below. Also, don’t forget to see his summer-themed art on display on our new Twitter background.

Are you ready to be our next featured artist? Send your Adobe Touch creations our way via Twitter, Facebook, or simply link us in the comments below. 

Adobe: When were you first introduced to Adobe Touch Apps?

Kevin Spear: I got an iPad in the winter of 2011. I was looking for a good drawing program when I came across Adobe Ideas. I was very excited when I discovered it was a vector-based app. I also loved how it allowed me to draw naturally in a way I hadn’t done in Adobe Illustrator.

What was the very first creation you made with Touch Apps?

I drew a profile of my wife. I was excited that I could finally draw a quick sketch with my finger on the iPad, take it into Adobe Illustrator and keep the vectors.

How has the integration from Touch Apps through to the Creative Cloud features changed your creative workflow?

It has made drawing digitally while mobile easy. Before, I’d test things out on the sketchbook, and then hope I could keep the same spontaneity when I made it back to the desktop. Now, I can draw it digitally from the very beginning.

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Creative Spotlight: Michael Startzman on Adobe Touch Apps and Creative Cloud

Words can’t describe how excited we were after Michael Startzman (@startzman) announced that he was going to create an eBook for Adobe Touch Apps users, highlighting techniques and tips for creating in Adobe Ideas. For the past few months we’ve been in contact with Michael, checking in on the process and teasing his work to our Facebook Fans and Twitter Followers. We’re so very pleased to announce that Michael’s “How to Use Adobe Ideas” eBook is complete, and believe us when we say it’s a must have for any Adobe Touch user.

With all of the hard work behind him, we sat down with Michael to learn how his love for the Adobe Touch Apps began and how the combination of Creative Cloud, Creative Suite 6 and Touch Apps have changed the way he creates. Check out the full Q&A below and be sure to visit our Twitter channel to see his work displayed on our background.

Whether you’re working on an Adobe Touch Apps project or simply just capturing ideas as they hit you, we want to see and hear about it! Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter  or even in the comments below.

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Adobe: When were you first introduced to Adobe Touch Apps?

Michael Startzman: When a friend of mine bought an iPad and showed me Adobe Ideas…I was hooked. Two weeks after its initial release, I bought an iPad and the first app I downloaded was Ideas. I’ve been drawing with it ever since.

What was the very first creation you made with Touch Apps?

I first started using Adobe Ideas for brainstorming and plotting story concepts by thumbnailing pages, sketching character designs, and making notes. I think one of the first illustrations I did was of a snail descending a wall. Today, I can create nearly every step of an illustration directly on my iPad using Ideas.

How has the integration from Touch Apps through to the Creative Cloud features changed your creative workflow?

Using the Creative Cloud to sync between devices allows for freedom of creativity where ever I happen to be. If I only have my iPod available, I can create illustrations, make notes on websites and take photos, which not only sync to my iPad, but are also available when using Illustrator or Photoshop on my desktop computer.

Which pairing of the Touch Apps and the applications within Creative Cloud are most instrumental to your creative process and why?

Adobe Ideas has been a boon to my creativity and productivity. In the past, I would draw nearly all of my illustrations digitally with a combination of Illustrator and Photoshop. This, however, meant I was tied to a computer to produce any finished artwork. Now with Adobe Ideas, I’m free to create – whether on vacation, at the office, or sitting on the porch enjoying the morning breeze.

Adobe Ideas, coupled with the Creative Cloud, allows for further development and tweaking of the creations made on my iPod. I can open Ideas’ vector files and fine-tune them in Illustrator. I can also share files with colleagues and know my work is safely backed up online.

How much of a difference has direct touch input made to your creations?

I learned to draw digitally using a mouse and then graduated to a pen tablet, which made a world of difference. Now I draw using my finger! The direct touch really increases productivity because I can see what I’m affecting and where I’m going with the lines, which in turn, provides me more control over the kinds of lines I create. Plus, I’m never without a drawing implement.

If you had the opportunity to travel to anywhere in the world with your Touch Apps, where would it be and why?

There are some pretty spectacular places out there and each new environment invites its own inspiration, that’s the beauty of having a portable studio. I think I’d like to visit Italy. The atmosphere created by the architecture, landscape and rich art history must be breathtaking.

 What compelled you to create the “How to Use Adobe Ideas” eBook?

adobe-ideas-300x215I created an eBook called “How to Use Adobe Ideas” because people were often surprised to learn my art was created on iPad. The eBook details my techniques for creating in Ideas and provides information and tips on the various settings and tools found on the application.

2:32 PM Permalink

Lightroom 4 now available on the Creative Cloud

Lr4_totem_5in_300ppi-300x300We know a lot of you have been waiting for this news, so we’ll get right to it: Lightroom 4 is available right now as part of your Creative Cloud membership. You can download and install it from the Apps & Services page.

The new features in Lightroom are simply fantastic. The team has really found the right balance between powerful controls and an intuitive user experience. Image importing, management, and processing is better than it ever has been. The new video, geolocation, and book publishing tools all point to how quickly Lightroom is responding to the world’s changing technology.

For more information, please visit our Creative Cloud Team Blog.

9:10 PM Permalink

“30 Days of Giveaways” Winners Announced!

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We’ve recently concluded our Creative Cloud Facebook sweepstakes – 30 Days of Giveaways – where we celebrated a lucky winner a day, who got his/her hands a free 3-month Creative Cloud membership! We were excited to see the immense amount of involvement from our Fans. Here’s a list of the 30 winners – congratulations! (more…)

12:00 PM Permalink

Getting Started with Creative Cloud

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By now, you know about the key offerings within Creative Cloud – all of Creative Suite 6 Master Collection, Business Catalyst sites, TypeKit, and more. The next thing we wanted to do is share more about the ins and outs of Creative Cloud, including how everything works together to create the seamless creative experience you need and want.

So, we’ve broken down the basics of getting started with Creative Cloud from installing desktop applications to file management…and well, pretty much everything in between.  (more…)

12:30 PM Permalink

Creative Cloud and CS6 Ask a Pro Launch Week Recap

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We had great Ask a Pro sessions with our Evangelists last week. Each day we learned more about the Creative Cloud and Creative Suite 6 offerings for the design, web, photo and video communities.

If you happened to miss any of the sessions, not to worry! Below are recordings of each for your viewing pleasure! Once you’ve had a chance to check out the sessions, be sure to let us know what CS6 and/or Creative Cloud features you’re most looking forward to working with below in the comments, or on Facebook and Twitter(more…)

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Creative Suite Artist Profile Videos

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We never cease to be amazed by the stunning work created by artists around the world, using Adobe products to help make their art a reality. For our new Creative Suite 6 imagery, we searched across the globe for artists who value creativity above all else, and tapped into their skills and vision to create a humanized interpretation for each of our products. To give back to these artists who devote themselves to their craft, we captured their stories in our Creative Suite Artist Spotlight video series.

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12:00 PM Permalink

Creative Cloud and CS6 Ask a Pro Sessions

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With the arrival of Creative Cloud and CS6 just around the corner, we wanted to give our Fans and Followers a first-hand look at some of the new features they can expect! We’ve put together a schedule of 10 Ask a Pro sessions with details below.

Whether you’re into graphic design, web design and development, video production and/or photography, there’s a little something for everyone! Just remember to register for the sessions of interest. (more…)

9:08 AM Permalink

CS6 Production Premium Reveal

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Our team is at NAB 2012 this week, where they’re revealing Creative Suite 6 Production Premium –which will be included in the Adobe Creative Cloud membership. There will be first looks and hands-on demos of the suite taking place at the show.

For those of you not therecheck out the reveal and get a look at new features on our CS6 Production Premium Revealed page, and read below for a look at the highlights and more. (more…)

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