Introduced in October 2014, Adobe Shape CC is a mobile app for iOS—and soon on Android—that makes it possible to create vectors from the device camera or images. If you see a shape that you’d like to use in your artwork or design then you can capture it, refine it and use it or share it in minutes.
While this app is really intuitive, in this post we’ll detail the steps to capture and create a shape, that will include a thing or two that sometimes get overlooked.
Get the App
Shape CC is available on the iTunes App Store (I’ll add a link here when it’s available on Android) and like all of Adobe’s mobile apps, it’s free. Once you have the app installed, launch it and sign in with your Adobe ID; every shape you make will be synched with your Creative Cloud account.
Use the App
Once the app is ready to go, the first thing you’re likely to want to do is choose a destination library for your new shape. Libraries in CC are not only a great organisational tool—unless you really like one huge library with everything in it—but are also excellent for collaborating with others. As the first view you’ll be presented with is the camera—ready for action—you’ll need to cancel the operation by tapping the small X at the bottom-left of the screen (circled in 1, in the image above).
Choose a Library
At the top of the screen, you’ll see the current library—the default is My Library—and it’s a good idea to create libraries for specific things/jobs/tasks, etc. Tap on the library selector (circled in 2, above) and choose the library you want, or create a new one. In this view (3) you can see any libraries that are shared as they have a small green “family” icon at the right-hand-side. You can perhaps see here how powerful this workflow is—you can capture the shape and it’s available for anyone collaborating with you—via the shared library—instantly.
Capture and Refine Your Shape
Tap the plus (+) sign at the bottom of the screen (4) and choose how you want to capture a shape (5). In the example above (6) I’m using the camera. High-contrast elements work best, like the doodle I’m using here and as a tip, if it’s something that doesn’t have enough contrast, you could capture it and develop it in Photoshop Touch, then save it back to the camera roll and rework in Shape, perhaps.
The slider beneath the image area (7) changes the threshold for what will be captured. If your subject is light on a dark background then tap the small icon in the bottom-right corner that switches between dark/light backgrounds. You can also try using this on photographic subjects—it creates some interesting results. If you’d like to see a preview of the resulting shape, simply tap the viewing area (8)—doing this toggles between live/shape views.
Once you’re happy, tap the big green dot and you’ll be taken to the refinement screen (9) where you can brush with your finger to remove unwanted elements. If you make a mistake, there’s an add/subtract toggle switch at the bottom-right that allows you to paint shapes back in. Sometimes, you’ll want to recapture the image again and start over—the small chevron at the bottom-left takes you back to the source. You can engage and disengage the camera flash as a light source while in capture mode which may help you get better contrast (on matt subjects, anyway).
Once you’re done with refinement, tap the check-in-a-circle (10) and Shape will start the trace operation (11). Depending on the complexity of the shape this may take a moment or two. All you need to do then is tap Save, give the shape a meaningful name (12) and then your shape will be available in that library (13) and synched with Creative Cloud.
Managing Your Shapes
You may want to rename or delete your shape, which can be done by tapping on the shape in the library view; you’ll be taken to a screen (14) where you can tap:
- the icon on the left to rename your shape
- the icon in the centre to share your shape on social media or by email, etc.
- the icon on the right to delete the shape from the library
Shape CC and Other Apps
Shapes that you make using the app are available in several places:
- As stamps in Adobe Illustrator Draw and Adobe Illustrator Line (with Slide or Touch-Slide)
- As background images in Adobe Photoshop Sketch
- As vector shapes in Adobe Comp CC
- As completely editable vector shapes in Illustrator
- As PDF (vector) assets in InDesign and Photoshop
Collaborating with others
In the library screen, you’ll see a small dotted (ellipsis) icon at the top right from where you can rename the library, delete the library (that’s the library and all the shapes in it) or collaborate with others, making the shapes available for them:
- Tap “Collaborate”
- Enter the email address of someone you’d like to share the assets with
- Add a custom message if desired
- Tap “Invite”
- Rinse-and-repeat (steps 2-4) for additional collaborators
- Tap close at the top left of the screen when done
You can manage collaborators at any time by revisiting the “Collaborate” link in the library and all of these operations can also be performed via your CC account on adobe.com—by choosing the Libraries link from your home screen, or in the sidebar of the files view—or in the Creative Cloud mobile app.
You can check out this workflow demo that starts in Shape CC on my new YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/z_NF2ifoPZA