April 05, 2010

How Adobe Ideas came to be (and where it’s headed)

David Macy, artist & product manager for Adobe Illustrator and the new Adobe Ideas for iPad, shares his thoughts on the goals of the new project. –J.


Its pretty darn hard to beat pencil and paper for jotting visual ideas down quickly. That’s why this great combination travels with many artists everywhere they go.

Adobe has explored, and even prototyped a variety of thoughts related to digital sketching for some time, but we could never believe that they would compete with a pencil and a nice sketchbook. Aside from the precision and tactile feel of a pencil, there was always the problem of needing a computer. Even if we built the most elegant sketching application one could imagine, would our creative customers be convinced to pull out a laptop to sketch on in the park or in a café? OK, sure some would, but I think most would find it just too cumbersome.

And, oh yeah – there’s that issue of using a trackpad or mouse to draw with. I love my Wacom tablet too, but by the time I fish through my bag for the tablet and USB cable and wake my laptop, I could have already done some nice doodling on the nearest napkin.

I love it when technology changes in unexpected ways. When we saw what the latest smart phones could do, and heard the super-un-secret rumors of this year’s crop of tablet devices, we new that something very important had changed. Portable, high resolution, multi-touch devices are destined to be a close companion of many digitally savvy creatives. This simple realization was the birth of Adobe® Ideas.

Simply stated, Adobe Ideas is a digital sketchbook, meant to help you with exploring and realizing your creative ideas.

OK, sounds great, but can it compete with pencil and paper? Nah – at least not for the basics of drawing. A capacitive touch-screen without pressure sensitivity and without a fine-point stylus* isn’t going to win if you just talk about plain and simple drawing.

But if you add a resizable pencil tip, color mixing, transparency, zooming, the ability to drop in photos, automatic color extraction from photos, 50 steps of undo, and a vector file format compatible with Illustrator and Photoshop, then you’re talking about a great start on the concept of a digital sketchbook.

And, yes this is just the start. The small team that’s behind Adobe Ideas is having too much fun now, so we plan on revving the app frequently and adding other functions that relate to creative ideation, probably some of them as “premium” features. What ideas come to your mind?

*Check out the Pogo stylus for one that’ll be better than your fingertip.

Posted by John Nack at 10:18 AM on April 05, 2010
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