Adobe Systems Incorporated

Making a Splash with Adobe Creative Cloud 2014

As users update their Adobe Creative Cloud apps with the 2014 release they’ll be greeted with more than just new features… the splash screens for their favorite apps are also new and feature inspiring artwork from some talented designers. For anyone who hasn’t updated yet (or even for those who have) here’s a preview of a few of the new screens, along with the the inside scoop from the artists who created them:

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Kylli Sparre—Adobe Photoshop CC
A self-taught designer, Kylli Sparre was attracted to Adobe Photoshop because of the endless options it gave her. According to Sparre, who describes her style as dreamlike, symbolic, and sometimes surreal, the limitlessness of image-making helped to open up her creativity. The image featured on the Adobe Photoshop CC splash screen is one of Sparre’s personal projects. She knew she wanted to combine the photo of the woman with the location shot, but none of the things she tried worked until she noticed an interesting connection between the two images. After adjusting the angle she was able to emphasize the connection with extraordinary results.

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Geso/Pablo IAAdobe After Effects CC
With a style that straddles art and design, Pablo Iglesias enjoys exploring all kinds of visual disciplines, most recently focusing on more live and video art that combines a range of creative disciplines. For the Adobe After Effects CC  splash screen, he first created some graphic elements in Photoshopa kind of digital illustration recreating a transparent prism with iridescent colors. Next, he generated some video loops with the image in Adobe Premiere Pro CC, using different movements and mirror effects. He then played the loops in a program he uses for live video performance, applied effects such as zoom, RGB delays, and 3D deformations, and captured it all with Syphon. The last step was to make the final edit and composition in Adobe Premiere Pro. The After Effects CC splash screen is one of the frames he captured from the final video.

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Črtomir JustAdobe Muse CC
The design for the Adobe Muse CC splash screen was the result of an experiment. Artist Črtomir Just typically begins all projects by sketching, but moves quickly into the digital realm, working with Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign CC. For this project, he was trying out some new things on his own time, working with abstract 3D shapes that started to remind him of real-world animals. He developed the idea into a series of abstract yet realistic forms.

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Nick TaylorAdobe Flash Professional CC
Nick Taylor’s generative projects tend to follow a similar pattern. He starts by creating several short snippets of code, and when the code produces an output he likes, he’ll flesh it out into a larger program. He often imports vectors from Illustrator or raster images from Photoshop and manipulates them with code. He’ll tweak parameters to adjust color, scale, and composition, save unique PDF files, and take those he likes back into Illustrator or Photoshop for additional adjustments.

The Adobe Flash Professional CC splash screen is one of a number of images spawned from a single program. The program began as a very basic experiment involving a pair of individually-rotating vectors, with the second vector attached to the end of the first. It was inspired by the motion of a double pendulum. Taylor connected a number of these vector-pairs and introduced mouse tracking, allowing him to “draw” unique compositions onto the canvas. He finished the piece in Photoshop with texture overlays and color correction.

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Holger LippmanAdobe Premiere Pro CC and Adobe Audition CC
German artist Holger Lippman’s likes to incorporate rhythm, repetition, and iteration into his projects and says that his artwork is heavily influenced by electronic music. His work process starts with simple code that grows over weeks, and months, even years. The piece of art that appears on the Adobe Audition CC splash screen was based on the simple Peter De Jong map equations: x’ = sin(a * y) – cos(b * x) and y’ = sin(c * x) – cos(d * y)

The artwork chosen for the Adobe Premiere Pro CC splash screen was created using Adobe Flash Professional and programming. Lippman used an iteration algorithm consisting of a three-sided pseudo cube within an X Y matrix. The algorithm is divided down by two on six to eight layers, with randomness in number, size, color, and on/off state. Each repetition of the process results in one iteration, which is used as the starting point for the next iteration. He also coded a slight force to cluster the cubes to create little cloud gatherings.

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Patrick SeymourAdobe Illustrator CC
When Patrick Seymour was four-years-old, his mother predicted that he would be an illustrator. Today, with a degree in graphic design, he primarily works on personal projects and likes drawing the same thing many times using different styles. He typically begins with a picture or hand drawing and traces his lines over it. The illustration selected for the Adobe Illustrator CC splash screen was created using this line style. Seymour drew five or six gorillas and three or four lions. The illustration Adobe selected came from experimenting with different colors rather than using his typical black and white style.

The Creative Cloud Splash Screen collection on Behance.


1:03 PM Comments (3) Permalink

Animagraffs: Education Animated by Jacob O’Neal

Animagraff Part tutorial. Part infographic. And part animated GIF.  Animagraffs. It’s the name Jacob O’Neal assigned to the animated infographics he began working on in 2012. When he told us that he used Creative Cloud, we wanted to know more so we caught up with him to ask about his concept, his tools, and his process.

Jacob talked to us about his toughest critics, making (some) decisions based on art rather than function, how creativity is fueled by excitement and wonder, and, of course, the beauty of Creative Cloud.

You’re a designer, so designing information probably comes naturally to you, but where did this idea originate? Was it an offshoot of another project? I’ve always been fascinated by animation. I used to draw entire flip-book scenes in the margins of old paperbacks or on sticky note pads. I’ve also always loved optical illusions and visual tricks that appear simple yet manage to boggle the mind.

A couple of years ago I began to see entire movie clips, in animated GIF format, being shared all over the web. While I had seen very simple usage of animated infographics in the wild, I hadn’t seen anything on the scale of Animagraffs.

It seemed like a fitting challenge: Could I make a meaningful infographic within a limited image format as the endlessly looping animated GIF? I had a lull in projects for month or so when I decided to make the first Animagraff. As a freelancer I try to keep a nice savings cushion since things can fluctuate, but even so, when there’s a lull I get antsy. There was a strong temptation to seek out the same old easily-procured but passionless work that “pays the bills.” But creativity is fueled by excitement and wonder and mechanically “paying the bills” is neither of those. I remember distinctly the moment I chose to act based on courage and create a passion project, not knowing what the result would be, or if I’d ever see money from it.

Quite frankly, I have no idea why I was an “early adopter” of the animated GIF infographic; the technology’s been there all along, and there are many, many brilliant designers out there who could pull it off. Stroke of good luck maybe?

What was your first topic? How has your process evolved since that first piece? The first animated graphic I did was Cheetah: Nature’s Speed Machine I just wanted to test out the limits of what could be done, and I was still a little intimidated by learning 3D software, so I made a flat graphic (non 3D). I sketched the main cheetah illustration in Illustrator and the animated graphs and lines in Flash. My process is still very similar, but now I have a better idea of what kind of illustrations fit the GIF format best. Some things just look gimmicky in an endlessly looping image and other elements really shine.
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Who was your first Animagraff client? The first glimmer of a “result” I saw was an offer to work on a Super Bowl commercial project for Skechers. Their agency saw my Cheetah graphic and called me directly, offering a tidy sum to work on a project I would never have dreamed about before. Getting the motivation to make Animagraffs became a lot easier after that!

GIFs are for fun. Infographics are (mostly) for dispelling information. Beyond being cool viewing, Animagraffs have to strike that fine balance between entertainment and information. How much time do you spend getting that balance right? With my Animagraffs, the education IS the entertainment. That’s the whole point. I “came up” in the marketing world where the cart is perpetually before the horse—where everyone fearfully worries about “the results” and focuses all energy on hype instead of caring for the heart and soul of the project itself (hypnotizing entertainment without substance).

I decided to do everything the opposite of what I experienced working for marketing agencies. The product should “sell” itself through its quality. All I have to do is focus inward, and the outward results follow. Not the other way around. Animagraffs entertain to the exact degree of sincerity, hard work, and the quality of research I put into them. There’s no room for any kind of trickery, hype or fine print.

Infographics are compressed information distilled into easy-to-read bits. How many “pages” of content does each Animagraff contain? I go until the subject has been covered. I try to avoid disputable elements that might be distracting while still going deep enough to educate. The time involved varies but in general Animagraffs take anywhere from 20- to 80-hours of solid research, writing and design.

At what point do design decisions (type, color, layout) factor in? Animagraffs, especially my 3D projects, have a propensity to be manual-like. It’s actually difficult at times to make things original and fresh while maintaining a comfortably readable graphic. I’m an artist at heart, not an engineer, so I try to stay abreast of current design trends, and I make some decisions based more on art than function (though that line is hair thin). Decisions support the subject matter as far as possible. For the How A Car Engine Works graphic, for example, I used a typeface for the main titles that has strong automotive ties.
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With animated infographics, you’re basically designing in layers. How does that make you job easier or harder? One-second decisions at the beginning of a project become two-day fixes at the end. The more intricate the assembly, the more critical it is to get things as right as possible from the start. By the time an Animagraff is compressed into its final GIF form, it’s traveled through two or three different software applications. At that point, fixing a misplaced apostrophe could take ten minutes as opposed to a mere keystroke while the script was in a text editor. I suppose it makes the job harder to have to design things in layers, but then, the difficulty of producing Animgraffs means I’ll have a little less competition in the field—I can’t complain about that.

Do you have a “test audience”? A person or people who try to learn something from your content? I’m passionate about my interests and hobbies and I assume others are as well. It’s unfortunate when an entity misrepresents something you know and care about. Since the public at large is unaware of inaccuracies on most subjects, it’s tempting to disregard small groups of highly devoted fans. But there’s incredible power in gaining the loyalty of those who won’t be fooled, who don’t click on every trifling bit of online clickbait, who seek out the highest quality information. When they share your work it’s often to their esteemed colleagues, and then you find yourself getting the kind of front-row attention money can’t buy. My Car Engine graphic was featured as a blog post on the New York Times Autoblog and Jalopnik.

So, my test audience is the toughest of critics—when researching a graphic I tend to post it to forums or other specific places where the most educated disciples of any given subject are prone to congregate.

How a Handgun Works: 1911 .45 is a good example: I’ve been continually flattered by the many messages of thanks from gun enthusiasts, law enforcement personnel, gun instructors, and other professionals. These people are far more conversant with guns than I, and they’re actually using this graphic as an educational asset. However, I’ve also received harsh feedback about its inaccuracies. I have to take it all in stride because, even though I consider it my duty to try, there would be no end in attempting to satisfy the core disciples.
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You mentioned that you use Creative Cloud apps almost start to finish. Briefly walk us through your process. I begin in a simple text editor, pasting research from all over the Internet with links to sources. With that file open, I create a new document by its side to write the script. The script condenses all the fragmented information into a compelling story in which every sentence is as efficient as possible with no wasted words.

If the project uses a 3D model, I begin modeling at this point, with research imagery and text all prepared. I use Blender 3D (which I’ve really enjoyed learning) to craft my own models; I’ve been temped at times to download ready-made assets, but that would hobble progress the day I want to do a subject for which I can’t find suitable models. Also, for education it’s best to have simple models without all the indents, holes and pipes, of actual mechanical objects. So I craft everything from scratch myself.

With the script written and 3D model created (if needed), I begin laying out blocks of text in Illustrator CC. This is generally when I start to see what visuals I need and what will fit where. It’s a giant puzzle board. You might think I start with grandiose sketches of intricate objects but it’s really with blocks of content scattered around the page that I start to see where the big visuals will go.

I use Flash (since that’s the animation timeline software I know best) to assemble the animated assets over the top of the Illustrator CC-made layout (After Effects CC and Photoshop CC both have timeline elements that I imagine could be used for this, but I haven’t experimented with either). If it’s vector illustration I might draw the frames directly in Flash Professional CC (the Cheetah frames were drawn in Illustrator CC since there are better brush and line quality options).

I export the finished project from Flash CC into Photoshop CC (which has the best compression ability when it comes to the animated GIF format). In Photoshop CC I try to get the file as small as possible, often limiting colors to do so. The cheetah graphic has dimensions of 1400 x 1890 with 18 total frames and rings in at a nimble 500KB. That’s much smaller than many static graphics of the same pixel dimensions; I purposely kept the project to a two-color scheme; as I progress with these projects, I’m getting more adventurous with more colors and weightier file sizes.

You mentioned After Effects. Do you see yourself trying it out down the road? I haven’t actually tried After Effects with these animated infographics so I have no idea what to expect. Also, it looks like Flash is starting to incorporate some HTML5 stuff so I’ll probably stay in Flash since it’s more web-centric and that’s my playing field.

Since you use a range of CC products to make Animagraffs, we have to ask, how are you liking Creative Cloud? I’m loving it—synced settings, seamless upgrades—it’s the kind of functionality I’ve always wanted!

What’s your next topic? I JUST finished Inside a Jet Engine. I hope it’s as well-received as my other projects have been.
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11:48 AM Permalink

All New Creative Cloud for 2014 is Here

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We’ve been hard at work the last two years to address four key areas of the Creative Cloud you told us to focus on: performance boosts, workflow efficiencies, support for new hardware and standards, and of course innovative features, which we call the Adobe “magic.” If you’ve been hanging on to your old CS disks, waiting for the right time to join the Creative Cloud community, that moment is here. The latest version—available today—is packed with new, truly inventive features that will make it easier to do your work from anywhere, help you do it faster, and let you bring all of those great creative ideas in your imagination, to life.

Read on for the highlights list of what’s new in Creative Cloud, and click through to the product blogs and videos to get a deep dive directly from the teams.

Major updates across our desktop apps

  • Photoshop CC now has Blur Gallery motion effects for creating a sense of motion, and the recently introduced Perspective Warp for fluidly adjusting the perspective of a specific part of an image without affecting the surrounding area. Focus Mask (did you see the sneak?) makes portrait shots with shallow depth of field stand out, and new Content-Aware capabilities make one of the most popular features even better. We’ve also added more camera support to Lightroom (version 5.5) as well as a new Lightroom mobile app for iPhone. The Photoshop and Lightroom blogs have the full scoop.
  • The Adobe Illustrator blog has the rundown on what’s new in Illustrator CC, such as Live Shapes to quickly and non-destructively transform rectangles into complex forms and then return to the original rectangle with just a few clicks.
  • With InDesign CC layout artists can now move rows and columns around in tables by simply selecting, dragging and dropping, which will be a big time saver. The new EPUB Fixed Layout means you can create digital books effortlessly.
  • The team is rebuilding Adobe Muse CC as a native 64-bit application and it now includes HiDPI display support for sharper-looking images, objects, and text.
  • Originally previewed at the NAB show in April, new features in our video apps include Live Text Templates, Masking and Tracking plus new integrations that leverage the power of Adobe After Effects CC inside Adobe Premiere Pro CC. It’s better, faster, stronger. Read more on our Pro Video blog.
  • Dreamweaver CC lets you see your work come to life. You can now view your markup in an interactive tree using the new Element Quick View, to quickly navigate, and modify the HTML structure of pages. The Dreamweaver CC blog has all the details.

And there’s so much more so check out all of the new features over on Adobe.com.

Creative Cloud connected mobile apps and new hardware—because our world is mobile.

An entirely new family of connected mobile apps and the hardware (yes, Adobe is releasing hardware) could be the things we all look back on in two years and say, “OK that really changed how I do my work.” These are incredibly powerful apps that start to bring the functionality you get from desktop apps, to mobile. Pros will want to use them, but they’re easy enough that anyone can use them. Get these apps now—they are all free:

  • Adobe Sketch, a social sketching iPad app for free-form drawing.
  • Adobe Line, the world’s first iPad app for precision drawing and drafting.
  • Adobe Photoshop Mix brings the powerful creative imaging tools only found in Photoshop right to the iPad, for the first time. The focus of this release is to be task oriented, so we started with the two most-used features: precise compositing and masking. PS Mix also includes Upright, Content Aware Fill and Camera Shake Reduction—and integrates back to Photoshop CC on the desktop.
  • Adobe Lightroom mobile for iPhone, extending Lightroom right to your iPhone.

The Creative Cloud connected mobile apps complement and enhance the new creative hardware that’s also available now. Adobe Ink (formerly Project Mighty) is a new digital pen that connects to the Creative Cloud, giving users access to their creative assets—drawings, photos, colors and more—all at the tip of the pen. And Adobe Slide (formerly Project Napoleon) is a new digital ruler to create precise sketches and lines. As we talked about previously, these new pieces of hardware “make digital creativity both more accessible and more natural by combining the accuracy, expressiveness and immediacy of pen and paper with all the advantages of our digital products and the Creative Cloud.” Adobe Ink and Slide demonstrate how mobile is now a true partner in the creative workflow.

Creative Cloud services tie it all together so you can work wherever you are.

We all work on multiple devices. We move between desktop or laptop to phone and tablet. Now Creative Cloud is connected to iOS devices, so you can take it wherever you go; your creative identity isn’t just tied to your desk. All of the latest desktop apps, mobile apps and creative hardware are tightly integrated through Creative Cloud services. Simply put, you can now access and manage everything that makes up your creative profile—files, photos, colors, community and so much more—from wherever you are. Get the new Creative Cloud app for iPhone and iPad for full access on your mobile devices.

New offers for photographers, enterprises and education

  • For all photographers—hobbyist, prosumer and professional—we’re introducing a new Creative Cloud Photography plan at just $9.99 per month.
  • For our Education customers, we now have a device-based licensing plan for classrooms and labs so more than one person can access Creative Cloud on a single machine. The special student/teacher edition pricing also got a little sweeter, as the full Creative Cloud is now available to them at just $19.99/month for the first year.
  • For our Enterprise customers, we’ve added file storage and collaboration to Creative Cloud, along with expanded options for deployment (named user vs. anonymous) and a new dashboard for managing users and entitlements.

There is so much that’s new in the 2014 release of Creative Cloud that you have to take a few minutes to click around, read about the new apps, and watch videos of the new features. Are you a paid member? All of it is available now for you. Have you been considering the move to Creative Cloud? The new versions of the desktop apps you use most have added hundreds of new features since CS6. There really is no better time to join the community.

8:32 AM Permalink

Working hard in corporate video—and loving it

Leah Earle and Phanta Media deliver brilliant work with Adobe Creative Cloud and Adobe Premiere Pro CC.

Leah Earle loves her job. As a video editor for Phanta Media in Toronto, she looks forward to going to work. Founded by Mark Drager in 2006, Phanta Media is a rising star in the corporate video universe, known for delivering great work on real-world timelines. Earle describes the ten-person company as cozy but rapidly growing, with a staff comprising business development representatives, producers, motion graphics, and video editors. Earle often works late and sometimes on weekends—and can’t get enough of it.

Most of the Phanta Media team: Mark Drager on the left, Leah Earle front center.

Most of the Phanta Media team: Mark Drager on the left, Leah Earle front center.

Adobe: What makes Phanta Media unique compared to other corporate video production companies?
Earle: We’re extremely passionate, even if we’re working on what some might consider a mundane corporate training video. We work hard and collaborate as a team. No one here is interested in being second best. This can lead to frustration, because I may get criticism from eight other people on my one great idea for an edit. But in the end it gives the client the best possible product. We’re a small company, and every client has a personal and highly creative experience with us. We “bring it,” every time to create beautiful projects on tight deadlines.

Adobe: What’s it like working with Mark Drager?
Earle: Mark is the reason I took this job and also the reason I’m still here. He’s 31-years-old and started this company when he was only 23. He had the confidence to know that he could make better videos than the next guy, and his enthusiasm is infectious; it motivates us to push ourselves. He promises clients that we will blow them away with our skills—and we always do.

Adobe: How did you get into this line of work?
Earle: I always wanted to do something technical, but I went to school for English literature because I was uncertain about what path to take. A few people guided me toward journalism. That led me to a video journalism postgraduate program at Conestoga College. I really liked shooting, and I didn’t mind being on camera or reading a teleprompter, but what I loved right away was editing.

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Adobe: When did you start using Adobe Premiere Pro CC?
Earle: I had never used Premiere Pro before I came to Phanta Media. Previously, Phanta Media was a Final Cut Pro shop, but like many in the industry, the company started looking for other options as soon as Final Cut Pro X came out. Premiere Pro is very “editor-friendly,” and that’s been a huge plus in growing my career.

Adobe: How would you compare Premiere Pro CC to other editing software?
Earle: For starters, you don’t have to log and capture footage. The scrubbing and playback in Premiere Pro is much faster than Final Cut, and not having to render something just to to watch it is a dream. I find the program makes it really easy to adjust my shortcuts and organize my workspace and projects. I like being able to save things such as title templates to use throughout projects, because I do a lot of subtitle work. Even the addition of the tiny window at the top left where you can preview your clip when you click once is helpful. I need to sort through mountains of footage fast. I like being able to export using Media Encoder CC as I work, because no one wants to have to stop and wait to export.

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Adobe: What else do you use in your pipeline?
Earle: I use Photoshop CC and After Effects CC for most graphics. I can bring graphics files straight into the Premiere Pro CC timeline, without having to export them every time I change the file, which is so great. I can click on something and edit it on the spot, rather than having to look for the file and open it in another program. This saves so much time on projects, especially those with hundreds of After Effects files that you’d normally have to re-time.

I sometimes edit in Adobe Audition CC when I am facing a complex audio problem or when I’m tasked with voiceovers. When I first started I was in charge of setting up new DVD templates and Adobe Encore was so easy to learn and use to burn DVDs. Now, I use Adobe Media Encoder a lot to create files for various media: the Internet, PCs, or DVDs—whatever clients want.

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Adobe: What was your experience  moving to Adobe Creative Cloud?
Earle: My favorite thing about the switch to Adobe Creative Cloud, was the new finding and re-linking function in Premiere Pro. It’s crucial, because a few of us may be working on the same project and files often reside in different places and get moved around a lot.

All in all, the interfaces, shortcuts, and other commands among Adobe’s creative software apps are so uniform that I grow more familiar with the tools and the workflows every day. This makes me increasingly more efficient and gets rid of that frustrating gap between what the technology can do and what you think it should be able to do. With Creative Cloud, I can take greater advantage of each program’s full potential to realize any creative ideas we dream up.

Mark Drager and Kyle Wilson of Phanta Media recently presented the Ask a Video Pro session How to Build a Successful Corporate Video Business.

Learn more about the Pro Video Tools in Adobe Creative Cloud
Download a free trial of Adobe Creative Cloud

10:35 AM Permalink

Singularity: The Evolution of Humanness

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Lucas Doerre, a 20-year-old designer from Hamburg, Germany was recently chosen to take part in Shutterstock’s Designer Passport tutorial series, to unveil the process behind his recent project—Singularity.

Lucas’s broadly-scoped representation of what it means to be human was created in Adobe Photoshop CC, with images from Shutterstock’s library. It defines the evolution of the human spirit, its transformation, evolution and growth. It’s a multi-tiered look at the process of growing into society while also maintaining singleness and individuality.

We asked Lucas to join us at HOW Design Live. He’ll be deconstructing Singularity in the Adobe booth on Wednesday May 14 at 12:30pm. We caught up with him a few days ago to get advance insight into what he’ll be talking about at HOW; read what he has to say about Photoshop CC’s Perspective Warp feature, Shutterstock’s “Find Similar Images” function, and the difficulty of visually defining human adaptability.


How were you selected to be a part of Designer Passport? Philippe Intraligi, design director at Shutterstock, was looking for a German designer for the Passport series. He found me through the Behance network, emailed me, and we chatted on Skype.

Have you ever thought of your digital project Singularity as an installation? Of actually building it? I was thinking of 3D printing it but there were some color issues—and unfortunately I don’t have access to a 3D printer. But it’s given me some ideas for future 3D printing projects that I definitely want to try, especially since Photoshop CC has 3D printing capability now.

Lucas_2Why or how did you choose the materials that the figure is passing through–the wood, the fire, the water? What do they symbolize? What do they mean to you? I chose them randomly, but they are intended to express the different phases and possibilities in a person’s lifetime.

Shutterstock has a huge (35 million+) image library, how did you choose the images in Singularity? I started with keywords that described the visual or the mood I was looking for and made good use of the “Find Similar Images” function.

Was this your first time using Photoshop CC’s Perspective Warp feature? Do you forsee using it in future projects? I had actually been experimenting with it prior to this project. It offers such a range of possibility; there’s so much that can be created with it.

What was the most difficult part of creating this project? The most difficult part was the beginning, I had an extremely detailed idea and was trying to realize it in so many ways but unfortunately no way seemed the “right” way. After some tries I got this idea to divide the whole image into sections. It became the foundation for the final artwork.

Lucas_3When you began documenting your process for Shutterstock did you see things in Singularity that you wish you’d done differently? Actually no. After so many attempts at starting this project I finally had a composition and a look that I really liked.

Have you experimented with other apps in Creative Cloud? Has having access to a variety of apps in Creative Cloud allowed you to experiment more? I’m loving the Typekit integration; it allows me to search new fonts in a extremely convenient way. And the ability to sync all my work to Behance and to have access to all my files in Creative Cloud are also very helpful.  I’ve also started using Adobe Illustrator CC; the features enable the creation of really interesting stuff.

We know project was created with Photoshop CC, but if you could use just one Creative Cloud application, which would it be? Why? It would be Photoshop CC. I love it. Some of my first works were created with Photoshop. It allows me to recreate and modify my images, type, whatever. And that’s what I’m doing… creating and modifying my ideas and visions. On a computer.

Follow us during HOW Design Live on Twitter and Facebook

9:46 AM Permalink

Five days of design. One extraordinary experience.

In one week, HOW Design Live—the largest annual gathering of creative professionals anywhere—kicks off. And again, Adobe’s part of it.

The five-day conference provides us a great opportunity to connect with the designers who include our products in their professional toolsets. And this year, now that Creative Cloud has been available for two years, we want to hear what’s working for everyone and what we need to do to exceed everyone’s expectations.

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Hang out at our booth

Not only will we give you a T-shirt that professes your profound love of design (opening night Tuesday May 13 8:00pm – 10:00pm) but just for visiting, and letting us scan your badge, you’ll be entered to win a one-year Creative Cloud membership.

There will also be some hands-on fun with the latest in digital drawing technology: Learn how our mobile tools make it easier to incorporate sketching as part of the concept process, enable the capture of ideas and inspiration whenever and wherever they strike, and then make it easy to bring them into your designs.

Want a deeper understanding of the features that have been released to Creative Cloud applications in the past year? We’ll have in-booth theater demos that focus on the new features in Adobe Photoshop CC, Illustrator CC, InDesign CC and Muse CC. And since we also want to hear what you have to say, and to answer all your questions, there will be Ask an Expert stations for print and digital publishing, and web design, along with dedicated stations for learning what’s new in the world of print and web fonts, available from Typekit, and designing for 3D printing with Photoshop CC. And, for fun… Every Creative Cloud question you ask enters you in a drawing (two each day) for a three-month Creative Cloud membership.

Finally, Lucas Doerre, an emerging designer from Germany, will deconstruct Singularity his 3D illustration for the Shutterstock’s Designer Passport series. Hear about his inspiration, Photoshop CC techniques, and get a signed poster of his unique project.

Attend some sessions

We’ve asked Terry White and Brian Wood to come along to teach people about Creative Cloud, how to create websites without writing code, and how to turn Photoshop CC mockups into responsive web design. Get re-inspired, and pick up some new ideas:

Tuesday 12:45–1:45pm Create cutting-edge web sites. No Code. No Kidding. With Terry White. Say goodbye to learning HTML, CSS, and Javascript. Learn how to create beautiful, original web designs (with social media links, blogs, scroll effects, unique mobile layouts, optimized for search engines) without writing a single line of code.

Wednesday 7:30–8:30am Responsive website design made easy. With Brian Wood. Improve communication with your developer and take advantage of the latest web trends. Learn how to turn Photoshop mockups into responsive layouts using simple tips and techniques for Adobe Photoshop CC and Adobe Edge CC Tools and Services.

Wednesday 12:45–1:45pm Adobe Creative Cloud Time-saving Tips. With Terry White. Save hours of design time with tips for Adobe Photoshop CC, Illustrator CC, and InDesign CC.

Two more things…

Future Media Concepts (FMC) will be leading Adobe HOW2 Trainings throughout HOW Design Live. Check the schedule.

Pixels of Fury. It wouldn’t be a design conference without Shutterstock’s real-time on-the-fly design showdown (with Creative Cloud applications). Be there on Wednesday after sessions end.


We’ve got a lot going on. So register. Come be a part of the conference for creative professionals: Five days of design; one extraordinary experience. #AdobeHOW

Don’t forget to follow along on Twitter and Facebook

9:15 AM Permalink

3D Printing: A Beginner’s Guide for Creatives

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I’m always looking for new ways to exploit my creativity through technology—video, interactive, and mobile—but 3D printing is on an entirely new level. The fact that I can now do it in Adobe Photoshop CC is a huge bonus (watch this video to learn how). We’re able to create physical objects that never existed before; we’re inventors, a sculptors, and artists. It’s enough to give someone a god complex. If you’re anything like me, the ideas have already started flooding in; before you jump in let’s take a step back and get a general understanding of how it all works.

Additive Manufacturing

3D printing is considered additive manufacturing. It’s an amazingly simple process that consists of layers of material (plastic, wood, metal, sand, sugar, or even chocolate) being laid down in a pattern, one layer at a time, until the 3D object is created. There are three major types of 3D printing: Fused Deposition Modeling,  Stereolithography, and Laser Sintering. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages.


Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)

The most common type of additive manufacturing, FDM is easy, affordable, and can be used with many different materials. The process involves feeding a spool of filament into an extruder where it’s melted down (like a hot glue gun) and “drawn,” one layer at a time, to create a 3D shape.

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FDM Printer
$1,000 – $5,000

Pros
Low cost with affordable filament
Large variety of materials
Fairly easy to maintain and replace parts
Fast

Cons
Nozzle clogging is common
Supports can be tough to clean
Layers can be visible (striping)

Materials
PLA plastic (starch based, 100% biodegradable)
ABS plastic (petroleum based, not safe for cookware)
Wood filament


Stereolithography (SLA)

Stereolithography is a fascinating process in which a beam of UV light draws a pattern over a photosensitive pool of liquid resin. When the light hits the liquid it hardens. Once that layer is complete the base then moves to make room for the next layer, until the 3D object is made. SLA can be really good for designers looking for extra detail, with the potential for mass production, or for anyone who wants to cast their art in bronze or some other metal.

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SLA Printer
$3,000 – $7,000

Pros
Detail down to 25 microns (thinner than a sheet of paper)
Smooth surface details
Great for casting/molding and models

Cons
Nozzle clogging is common
Resin can be messy
Materials are limited and more brittle
3D printers are more expensive

Material
Liquid resins


 

Laser Sintering (SLS)

SLS works much like Stereolithography, but with a powder instead of a liquid. When the laser hits the powder, it hardens; the powder surrounding the object being printed acts as a support so there are no additional supports or scaffolding to break off as with the other processes. The powder is then removed leaving just the solid object, which can be plastic, metal, ceramic, or even full-color sandstone (the metal and full-color sandstone options are particularly exciting). Although there’s not a consumer printer option available, objects can be sent to Shapeways.com for printing.

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SLS Printer
$50,000+ (although prices could drop)

Pros
Detail down to 16 microns
No support structures
Higher model flexibility since parts can be completely suspended
Working mechanical parts can be printed with no assembly required

Cons
Powder requires some work to remove
No desktop printer options

Materials
Nylon plastic
Aluminum / Steel
Silver
Full-color sandstone


 

Which is best?

SLS is the best option—despite the $50K cost of a printer—because from within Photoshop CC you can send your models directly to Shapeways.com who will print them and send them to your house. Curious about cost? A fancy iPhone case like this one cost me about $25.

Interested in buying your own? Well right now the FDM printers are the most widely available and their quality is getting really good. I personally like the Makerbot Replicator, 5th generation. Makerbot was one of the first companies to make 3D printers commercially and they are arguably the industry standard, with profiles built into Photoshop CC. I also like the Ultimaker 2 because it just feels more designer/Mac friendly and it’s open source. But what I REALLY want is the Formlabs Form 1 Stereolithography printer. It provides lots of detail, and you don’t see any of the layering lines. Plus the objects just look cool coming out of the liquid resin

9:33 AM Permalink

Recreating Reality with Visual Effects

Seamless visual effects for The Wolf of Wall Street created with help from Adobe After Effects CC and Adobe Photoshop CC.

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Paul and Christina Graff of Crazy Horse Effects (CHE) are visual effects aficionados, with projects to their credit such as There Will Be Blood and Life of Pi. They also work with some of the best matte painters and designers in the visual effects industry, and are recognized for their award-winning compositing. Most recently they created the seamless visual effects for The Wolf of Wall Street, directed by Martin Scorsese, with Oscar-winning VFX supervisor Rob Legato overseeing the shots.

Adobe: How did you become involved with The Wolf of Wall Street?
Paul: I actually met Rob at a panel presenting outstanding work in VFX done in After Effects. We went to have a drink afterwards and he asked me about our new office in New York. We had worked on The Aviator and Shutter Island with him and he thought we could help with some of the shots in The Wolf of Wall Street. We were stoked to reunite with Rob, and excited to work on the project—although we joined the team late in the game when most of the effects were already well underway.

Adobe: What type of work did he send your way?
Christina: We didn’t do any of the normal set extension work we usually do. Instead, we focused on a lot of last minute fixes and designed several sequences. We worked on a lot of quirky shots! We contributed to several corporate identity “videos,” a few driving scenes, and a longer sequence with the real Jordan Belford at the end of the movie. Our work is really scattered throughout the movie.

Adobe: What sequences stand out ?
Christina: We had a great scene to work on where Leonardo DiCaprio’s character is dizzy on Quaaludes and stumbles down a staircase at his country club. The actual set had only four steps, but from Leonardo’s Quaalude-induced point of view the staircase appeared much longer. Rob had a version of the same staircase built that was much longer surrounded by green screens. This set was a bit bouncy and needed attention. Our job was to connect the extension stairs with the original set environment and make the staircase appear sturdier by rebuilding them digitally and blending everything together. We rebuilt the scene using a 2.5D set up in After Effects CC. We also extended the country club in the establishing shot that looks up to the top of the stairs. In the end, it looked believable, as if it really happened. On other projects, we’re also using a lot of the 3D capabilities of CINEMA 4D—its integration with After Effects CC is allowing us to do 3D work with much greater speed and ease.

Adobe: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced?
Paul: There is a corporate identity video playing at the beginning of the film and we had to recreate all of the stock exchange footage in that scene from scratch. We had some NTSC material that was very low quality and we basically needed to recreate the shots avoiding any copyright issues. Rob shot extras on green screen and we did our own mini VFX shoot in our New York office and used Adobe Photoshop CC to create matte paintings for the background. We only had about two days to do it and it was very challenging… but creating environments is one of our strengths.

Adobe: Were any particular features of After Effects CC helpful?
Paul: For one shot on a yacht, we had to recreate the floor and the reflections on the floor, including replacing a diamond-shaped logo. The shots we had to work with were created using a Steadicam stabilizer, but they weren’t quite steady enough. Based on Rob’s suggestion, we used the Warp Stabilizer in After Effects CC, and were impressed with the results. We’ve since started using Warp Stabilizer on more shots.

Also, the dwarf toss scene was shot spherical on Alexa, so we had to match it to the rest of the sequence that was shot on film with anamorphic lenses. It was quite tricky to get the texture of the files to look close to identical; we didn’t use plugins, we just relied on curves, blurs, and displacement maps in After Effects CC to achieve the desired look.

Adobe: What was it like coming in so late on a project? How did you succeed?
Paul: We came in late, but all of our work was high quality with a fast turnaround so Rob kept giving us bigger and bigger pieces of the pie. The Wolf of Wall Street included some content that was considered inappropriate by the Motion Picture Association of America. In the last phase of post production, Rob asked us to go on site at Deluxe Labs in New York, where the final DI color corrections were being done, to help them with some fixes to make the film more commercially appropriate. I went to Rob’s office at Deluxe and set up an iMac with After Effects on it and started working. In one day we did sixteen retiming shots and one scene where we placed a chair in a scene to block some of the content. For me, it’s all about the finishing. You really show your colors at the end of a movie, and anything that came up last minute we knocked out.

Adobe: What was the benefit of working with Creative Cloud?
Christina: Creative Cloud lets us be super mobile. We can do what we do from anywhere—in the field, on site, or in the office.

Adobe: What was it like working with Rob Legato again?
Christina: He’s a genius, one of those people who has creative vision but also knows technology. He has fantastic concepts and vivid mental images, but also gives his VFX artists the freedom to devise their own ways of doing things.

See the best of Crazy Horse Effects
Learn more about the video apps and services in Adobe Creative Cloud
Download a free trial of Adobe Creative Cloud

10:23 AM Permalink

Beyond Technique or Medium

When Pawel Nolbert started sketching and drawing as a schoolboy in Wieruszow, Poland, his parents encouraged his creative passion by buying him a computer. Although he admits using it for video games at first, a friend soon introduced him to Adobe Photoshop. That was the spark that launched Nolbert toward becoming an internationally recognized designer and art director whose marquee clients include Nike, Sony, and Mercedes-Benz. Recently featured as one of Adobe’s New Creatives, we took the time to learn a bit more about his background and approach to design.

Adobe: What was your introduction to graphic design?
Nolbert: In the beginning, I was really interested in customizing operating systems, creating wallpapers, “skins,” and different looks—like the ways you can customize desktops in Windows. Then, around 2001, a friend showed me Photoshop; I didn’t really know it existed before then. I was playing with other software at the time, but when I saw the possibilities of Photoshop, I quickly forgot about the other software.

I mostly worked on personal, non-commercial projects and artwork. Clients started to approach me after I started publishing my work online on deviantART in 2002. My old artwork is still there, but I publish my new projects on Behance and my own website, Nolbert.com.

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Adobe: How did your career evolve from that point?
Nolbert: When I started publishing online, I got small assignments to create stickers, flyers, and so on. It quickly started growing into something bigger. I even began getting offers from agencies, but preferred to stay as a freelancer.

My style has evolved quite significantly, from an illustrative style to a mixed media style. I didn’t want to be limited by doing one strict style or type of work, or confining myself to any technique or medium. I wanted to be quite universal in that regard. So, I quickly expanded from classic illustration to incorporate more digital elements, very often including 3D graphics.

Adobe Photoshop CC is still the main tool I use every day to create. After that, I use Adobe Illustrator CC for simple vector graphics. When I was working on a lot of websites—from about 2005 to 2010—I also used Adobe Flash Professional for animation and even did some of coding, but I’m not doing as much of that anymore.

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Adobe: What types of commercial projects are you doing?
Nolbert: From the beginning, most of my work has been with advertising clients, mainly print and outdoor campaigns. Secondarily, I work on online projects. A lot of the campaigns extend to different media, so I have to blend different styles: I may paint some assets by hand and convert them to digital; or I may create 3D graphics or use scans or assets from different media to create the effects I want to achieve. Mostly, the end output comes from Photoshop.

Adobe: How exactly do you use Photoshop CC?
Nolbert: A good example is my self-portrait for Adobe’s I Am the New Creative site. It’s a mixture of photography and digital illustration. I used a photographic portrait and manipulated it to get the right proportions of head and face. Then I photographed my hands. Those were the base assets. From that point, I started to use Photoshop vector tools. I use them to maintain scalability and keep everything in control in terms of distortion.

For some reason, I prefer the simplified vectors in Photoshop to those in Illustrator. It doesn’t matter if I work on a web project or a print illustration; I often use vector tools to create different objects in my artwork. When I draw those vector compositions, I use all the textures to apply to vector elements. Then I add shading and different adjustment layers on top of that to create striking colors and compositions. That’s basically the process that I am using to create all my artwork.

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Adobe: Are you using any of the latest features in Photoshop CC?
Nolbert: I purchased Photoshop CC a few months back and one of new features that I really like is the Camera Raw filter that’s built into it. It was actually the feature that convinced me to switch from Adobe Creative Suite 6 to Creative Cloud, besides the cloud, of course, which is very convenient. What I love about Camera Raw is being able to master colors or do a basic retouch on photographs nondestructively.

Photoshop CC has a lot of features, small and big, that are really helpful. For example, the Crop tool now has a check button that lets you delete or keep the crop pixels. It’s important to have a good crop tool that lets you control your composition in simple photography and complex illustrations, and this one is much more convenient than in previous releases.

I love the new brushes; I use brushes a lot to achieve the right shading and the right finish for my compositions. The selection of brushes has been expanded in Photoshop CC and they have some new settings that let you control more of the brush parameters, which is especially versatile when using a graphics tablet.

I’m also really impressed with the optimization of the Liquify filter in Photoshop CC, too. It’s much faster and better. I use it a lot to apply distortions to photography or bitmap illustrations. When I work in a very high resolution, I like to use a huge brush size for the Liquify tool, but in CS5 and CS6 the brush size was limited. In Photoshop CC, the brush size has been increased greatly, and that is better for me when working with high-resolution imagery.

Sometimes I combine the Liquify and Warp tools. I use the Warp tool to do simple distortions, and in Photoshop CC it’s been improved in several ways. It produces smoother results than previous releases and you can now set interpolation algorithms like bicubic or bilinear for the Warp or Transform tools. That’s a really great feature—to control the output of tools in a more efficient way, especially for pixel-perfectionists.

Adobe: How else are you using, or would you like to use, Creative Cloud?
Nolbert: I really like that you can export settings with Creative Cloud applications, especially when you work across different computers. For example, I have a favorite set of brushes in Photoshop and it’s really helpful to be able to export those in a convenient way and use them on another computer.

I would also like to use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom to do more personal photography, like when I travel. I really got into photography through Instagram, mostly as a hobby. I think Lightroom can help me improve my photography by letting me manage and edit photos in the same interface. And I like the nondestructive editing capabilities.

I’ve also always wanted to use Adobe InDesign CC to work more on printed output media. I tried it a few years ago and liked it and now that it’s available in Creative Cloud I want to explore it more. I’m also excited about doing more with Adobe After Effects CC; I worked in After Effects on small projects years ago and I miss using it. Sometimes clients want to create animations, so I would love to explore applying After Effects to my projects on a bigger scale.

9:55 AM Permalink

Contemplating The Universe… in A Browser

Pictures in books, planetarium models, even telescopes are pretty misleading when it comes to judging just how big the universe is. Are we doing ourselves a disservice by ignoring all the emptiness? I thought I would see if a computer screen could help make a map of a solar system that’s a bit more accurate.” —Josh Worth

Last week, we stumbled across “If the Moon Were Only 1 Pixel: A tediously accurate scale model of the Solar System.” Also known as Josh Worth’s explanation of the universe, it was a project inspired by his five-year-old daughter. When he mentioned that he’d used Creative Cloud to design and build it, we jumped at the chance to hear more:

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So, Josh, it’s the Solar System… How did you decide where to start? The sun, of course! Even though the moon was the main point of reference for the scale, the big bright thing in the middle seemed to be the best place to start. Solar system maps often seem to show the Sun at the left so I wanted to build off a conceptual model that most people are familiar with.

And, when you were designing it, did you imagine an audience, in addition to your daughter? My daughter actually turned out to be more the inspiration, rather than the intended audience. I wanted it to be for curious people in general—more casual and approachable than something you might encounter at a science center.

Which Creative Cloud apps did you use? And which features proved most useful? I used Dreamweaver and Illustrator and a little bit of Photoshop.

I based the initial calculation of the size of the map on a moon diameter of 1 pixel, which came out to a width of about 1.7 million pixels. I wasn’t even sure a browser could handle content that wide so I started by defining a single div using Dreamweaver and it seemed to work. I also tried it as a single .gif in Photoshop—which would have technically worked, since the black space compresses down to a relatively small file size—but that would’ve made it a little more difficult to make quick edits to the text. And it seemed like cheating.

I used Illustrator CC for the typography that appears at the beginning. I wanted it to scale, and look crisp in the browser so I exported it as a .svg. I had to experiment with various settings in the SVG dialog and try it in various browsers before I eventually settled on a purely outlined version with no embedded fonts, since variations in font rendering kept messing with my character alignments. I doubt anyone would’ve noticed, but I’m careful about such things (and a bit fearful that typophiles will laugh at me).

Once the vector graphics were created, the rest of the work was done in Dreamweaver CC. The CSS Designer tool came in very handy when I couldn’t remember how to define a particular attribute. Code-hinting and instant syntax checking were also invaluable for someone like me who often puts brackets and semicolons in the wrong places. What really surprised me was that I could compose the copy right in Dreamweaver. Usually I need some kind of stripped-down text editor for writing, but toggling between code view and live view allowed me to see the sentences floating on a single line out there in space. It allowed me to get into a nice zone where I could contemplate the subject matter.

Tell us about some of your design decisions: We like that you chose a less, well, “scholarly” approach for your copy; why did you choose that style? For starters, I’m in no way an expert on astronomy, so I wanted to avoid any pretext of authority. Scientists are in the business of standardization and objectivity, which is great when you’re communicating straight data but I was more concerned with the emotional impact of all the emptiness in space, which seemed to call for a more personal interpretation of the data. I thought people might better relate if the information was coming from just another puny human contemplating his place in the universe.  Plus, the copy is more or less my usual writing style; I enjoy making light of heavy ideas and finding hidden depth in frivolous subjects.

How did you decide where to put the comments? The positive and negative space of the Solar System has an inherent emotional quality that I thought would be fun to try and match:  I started off  light where the territory is more familiar then used the bigger expanses of space for more expansive ideas; the thoughts got deeper as the distance became greater.

How did you decide on the color of space and the planets? I just went with the most obvious color associations, or at least the color that I felt was most indicative of each planet—Mars is red-orange, Neptune is blue-green and, of course, space is #000000.

Tell us about the design of the planet icons. I figured there needed to be some kind of shortcut in case the scrolling became unbearable. The astrological symbols seemed like a subtle way to incorporate that, since text links would have been too inviting. I found examples, through Wikipedia and a Google image search, to use as reference, then re-drew them in Illustrator to give them a uniform stroke width. I’m happy that the functionality is also decorative.

Why the distance counter? With just ruler ticks, movement (through space) wasn’t obvious enough and it got boring. I added the distance counter to help convey a sense of progress and motion; to make it work, I got some help from Kyle Murray (Krilnon), a member of the scripting forum on Kirupa.com. I eventually hope to make a mechanism that enables people to switch between different units of measurement

You said you learned a bit about Javascript, SVGs and viewports along the way? Anything else? I got a better sense of how the DOM (Document Object Model) works and gained a deep respect for front-end developers who have to deal with device and browser incompatibilities on a daily basis. (By any chance is Adobe working on a universal browser emulator that lets you preview your work in every possible browser on every platform without having to switch to a virtual machine? The world would be forever in your debt.)

What’s been the response? Are people finding it useful? Will there be a v2.0? And, most importantly, how did your daughter respond to it? I just think the coolest thing about being alive today is that so many people are in the business of designing and sharing mind-blowing ideas and work. I was just happy I could find a way to be a part of that. According to Google Analytics, I’ve had over one million visits since Colin Devroe of Spacebits.co first posted a link on Hacker News on March 4.

I’ve gotten tons of thoughtful feedback from Twitter users and website visitors. Astronomers, physicists, UX developers, and general users have chimed in with some great suggestions. A number of science teachers showed it to their students, a lot of parents said they liked sharing it with their kids, and a museum in the Netherlands has asked to use it in an exhibit (a number of lovely people have volunteered to translate the text). Multi-language support will be the main feature of the next version, along with a few other ideas that people suggested.

As for my daughter… She seemed to get it, though she got pretty antsy between Jupiter and Saturn. I think kids are actually better than adults at handling big ideas. For them, it’s all imagination anyway, and their brains are still elastic, so it’s fun to see just how far they can stretch them.

What’s your favorite bit of it? Prior to building the site I hadn’t spent much time thinking about the emptiness inside of atoms in the midst of the Solar System.

And, because we always want to know… How do you like working in Creative Cloud? I love Creative Cloud! I move between a Mac Pro desktop system and a MacBook Pro laptop at least once a day, so it’s great to know I have access to the latest versions of so many great apps wherever I go. The paradigm shift from individually licensed applications to a single, cloud-based, all-access account completely renovated the way I think about my workflow. Web designers can no longer get away with just doing static mockups in Photoshop and handing them off to coders, so I really like how Adobe keeps creating tools to help designers bridge that knowledge gap.

 

7:14 AM Permalink