If you use Adobe products, you've got a big decision to make. The Creative Suite is no more, and the latest versions of Adobe's leading design software packages such as Photoshop, Illustrator and Dreamweaver will instead be released exclusively through its subscription service. Which means these titles will be called not, as we'd expected, Photoshop CS7 or Illustrator CS7 etc but Photoshop CC, Illustrator CC and so on.
In other words you won't be able to buy the new titles in the shops, or even download them for a one-off fee.
Creative Suite no more
Yes, you'll still be able to buy the CS6 version, and Adobe will continue to provide bug-fixes and the like. But other than that, it's goodbye to boxed products and hello to monthly subscriptions: $19.99/£17.58 for individual titles or $50/£46.88 for the whole suite of tools.
So is worth joining the subscription service? We won't go into the rights and wrongs of Adobe's business model here - we're simply going to give you the lowdown on the standout new features in each of the main software titles. Will they be enough to tempt you to pay for the Creative Cloud? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
01. Photoshop CC
Photoshop is at the core of Adobe's offering, and is the centrepiece of its CC update. There's a ton of new features, with the headline news being that the 3D features and high-end image analysis tools of Photoshop Extended - an existing, pricier version of Photoshop CS6 - will be included in Photoshop CC.
Here are the other big feature updates Adobe hopes will persuade you to upgrade from Photoshop CS6 to Photoshop CC:
- Camera shake reduction - a feature which, as we revealed last month, helps to reduce motion blur in your photos.
- Smart Sharpen - a feature that analyses images to produce the best possible sharpening, while minimising halos and noises. With 'intelligent upsampling', Adobe says users will be able to increase the size of an image, large enough for a billboard, without pixelation.
- Adobe Camera Raw 8 support means edits can be applied as a filter to any layer or file.
- An Advanced Healing brush enables you to 'heal' or 'patch' images with a brush stroke instead of a circular area.
- Radial Gradient lets you draw attention to the focus of an image without applying a standard vignette.
- A new Upright tool, which automatically straightens horizons and applies perspective corrections without distorting the image.
- The ability to edit rounded rectangles, including the ability to adjust corner radii at any time.
- The ability to select multiple paths, shapes and vectors at once.
- The Behance creative pro social network, as we revealed in March, will be built into all the major CC applications, enabling you to post your projects instantly to Behance for feedback from colleagues and clients.
- A new workflow from Photoshop CC to Edge Reflow CC enables you to build web designs in Photoshop that can easily be turned into responsive websites.
- Generate CSS code for specific design elements to copy and paste into your web editor.
- The Conditional Actions feature means you can put routine processing jobs on autopilot. These commands use if/then statements to automatically choose between different actions based on rules that you define.
- Workflow time-savers: Drag a layer to a tabbed document, create paths more easily with new modifier keys, move a path with the spacebar and include ICC profiles.
- You can now import colour swatches directly from HTML, CSS, or SVG files.
- A realistic preview of how your type will look on the web with an option that closely matches the anti-aliasing of your desktop operating system.
02. Illustrator CC
The main addition to Adobe's illustration software is a new 'Touch Type' tool. Typographical characters can now be manipulated like individual objects, so you can move, scale and rotate them, while retaining the ability to change the font or edit the type. And that's not all...
- Art, Pattern, and Scatter brushes can now contain raster images, so you can paint with a brush made from a photo.
- In the Character panel, you can search for a style such as 'bold' or 'italic', a font family, or any other part of a font name.
- A new Sync Fonts tool helps you quickly find the best font for your project from Typekit and sync it to your system - see here for more details.
- Import multiple files into your Illustrator layout at the same time. Define the location and scale of images, graphics and text; use the new thumbnail view to see where each file will go and how big it will be.
- Illustrator CC can generate CSS code for you, ready to copy and paste into your web editor.
- Instantly switch between area type and point type.
- Create pattern with auto-generated corners.
- Move, scale, and rotate objects directly using a touchscreen device.
- Automatically gather and save the necessary fonts, linked graphics, and a package report into a single folder.
- Easily unembed images that have been placed and embedded in an Illustrator file, making them available for editing, or extract files embedded in artwork you received from someone else. Links to the image files are created automatically.
- All of your placed elements - images, graphics, and text - will now appear in the Links panel.
03. InDesign CC
We reported last month that Adobe's market-leading layout tool would be getting a new 'QR Code Creator' feature. Creative Bloq readers were on the whole underwhelmed by the news - so it's good to hear that there are plenty of more exciting features in InDesign CC. Here are some of the best:
- Faster performance. Adobe says the greatest speed boosts will occur when printing and when exporting PDF and INX files.
- A new interface. The updated UI has been designed to be more consistent with other Adobe tools, to make it easier to work across them.
- HiDPI and Retina display support.
- Instant font preview. Use the arrow keys to browse through fonts and see each one applied to your selected text.
- Font favourites. Mark your favourite fonts, and then decide whether to display only those or the full set.
- Save to Cloud command. This enables to make your files, including layers, accessible on any device. Changes are tracked, so you can access previous versions.
- EPUB enhancements. Adobe promises it will be easier to produce high-quality EPUB files from InDesign. You'll have greater control over the table of contents and CSS export, and CSS editing is simpler. You can also map object styles to tags so they export appropriately.
- Adobe Exchange panel. A source for extensions, plug-ins, templates, and more. Some resources are free; others are available to buy.
04. After Effects CC
After Effects CC is perhaps the best illustration of how Adobe's Creative Cloud offers exciting new possibilities for cross-pollination of apps.
The new 'Live 3D Pipeline', as we reported last month, means you'll be able to use objects and scenes from Cinema 4D directly as footage inside After Effects without rendering them first. (Yes, even though Cinema 4D is not an Adobe product. If you don't own Cinema 4D already, you'll get a free 'Lite' version as part of the Creative Cloud).
Other new features include...
- A new 'Refine Edge' tool, which enables you to keep the details when separating complicated foreground elements like frizzy hair or motion-blurred edges from complex backgrounds.
- A major upgrade to Warp Stabilizer adds the ability to: choose which objects within a scene get stabilized; reverse a stabilization; and preserve a scene’s original scale to fix tricky shots such as aerial fly-throughs.
- A new 3D Camera Tracker makes it possible to reproduce the original camera movement in a scene so you can add new layers - including video and text layers.
- A new Pixel Motion Blur feature enables you to add or enhance motion blur for moving objects in live footage and rendered scenes.
05. Dreamweaver CC
Dreamweaver is a dirty word for many web designers these days, but the WYSIWYG tool still has a strong following. And the new Dreamweaver CC interface, says Adobe, offers smoother workflows and contextual menus that let you apply settings more intuitively. Other features include the following...
- New, intuitive visual editing tools that let you generate code and see the effect in your design immediately - no switching back and forth.
- New 'Enhanced Fluid Grid Layout' interface to help design projects that display on different screen sizes and devices.
- A new 'Source Code Pro' font for Code View, which Adobe says will make differentiating between similarly structured characters, such as 1 and l or 0 and O, easier.
- The ability to add web fonts from within Dreamweaver and Edge tools.
- Improved code hinting and syntax colouring.
- Drag and drop jQuery UI widgets, enabling you to add accordions to display collapsible content panels, and update all the button states to customize your mobile apps and interfaces.
06. Flash Professional CC
Not to be confused with the Flash Player, Flash Pro is popular animation and multimedia software for publishing as SWF or HTML5 across desktops, smartphones, tablets, and TVs. The tool has been rebuilt using 64-bit architecture, which means it's more modular and therefore faster and more stable. Other new features include:
- You can now export your content in full high-definition video and audio.
- The updated Toolkit for CreateJS includes new functionality for buttons, hit areas, and motion curves.
- A simplified user interface with more intuitive dialog boxes and panels and the choice between a light or dark user interface.
- Real-time mobile testing connecting multiple iOS and Android devices directly to your computer via USB.
- A more powerful code editor built with the open source Scintilla library and featuring a new Find and Replace panel.
- Real-time drawing means you can see full previews, with fill and stroke colour, as you draw.
- Timeline time-savers make it easier to swap symbols or bitmap images on the stage. You can now select multiple objects on a layer and distribute them to key frames in one click.
- Unlimited pasteboard size.
- Integration with Adobe Scout, a tool that offers advanced profiling and analysis of items such as CPU, GPU, memory use, and performance.
07. Muse CC
In some ways a successor to Dreamweaver, web design tool Muse has been building a steady following since its launch just over a year ago. The new version has a couple of small but standout updates:
- A new parallax scrolling feature that enables you to create parallax scrolling effects in "just a few mouse clicks". Simply set the speed and direction at which individual objects move during scrolling - without needing to write any code. See the new feature in action in this video.
- You can now enable your clients to make changes to the content of their live websites through a browser - without affecting their layout or structure. You can then choose whether to merge changes with the original Muse files.
08. Premiere Pro CC
Adobe's core video editing and video production application has benefitted from a number of intriguing new improvements, some under the hood, and some ready to use from the front end. Here are the 10 standout updates we're most excited about...
- Brand-new capabilities for importing and manipulating closed captions. You can export media with closed captions, either embedded or as separate files.
- A new Mercury Playback Engine means editors get real-time performance when working on complex sequences, thanks to support for a wider range of GPUs.
- Enhanced, cross-platform support for OpenCL and CUDA promises to helo you render less often and work faster with third-party effects.
- Sync your settings with Creative Cloud, and all your customized settings, including workspaces and keyboard shortcuts, will be accessibe from any internet-connected computer.
- Improved multicam editing means you can set up multicam edits faster with a streamlined workflow. Sync single shots or entire bins of footage all at once using audio waveforms; mix frame rates and codecs in the same sequence.
- A new scriptwriting tool means you can import scripts and the associated metadata with the new Story panel in Adobe Premiere Pro. This means you can quickly navigate to specific scenes, locations, dialogue, and characters as you edit.
- Adobe Premiere Pro can now take full advantage of computers with multiple GPU cards for accelerated rendering, compression and export times.
- The new Adobe Exchange panel offers, Adobe says, a convenient way to browse, install, and find support for free and paid add-ons.
- True native support for a wide range of source formats with no need for transcoding or rewrapping. For tape-based workflows, the new Edit-to-Tape panel allows for easier layback (third-party hardware required).
- You can now see the details you need right in the Source and Program Monitor panels; switch between video and audio waveforms with one click. There's also HiDPI support for enhanced viewing on the newest Mac OS monitors.
09. Other Adobe design tools
- Colour tool Kuler can now be accessed from both desktop and tablet. New colour presets make it easy to create colour themes, and with a Creative Cloud subscription, you can now save Kuler themes so they're immediately available in Illustrator.
- Motion and animation tool Edge Animate CC has been boosted with new features including motion paths and custom templates
- Edge Reflow Preview 3, a web design tool that can help you create responsive layouts using standards based CSS, has been integrated with Typekit.
10. Other film-making tools
- Professional writing and editing software InCopy CC has been given a brand new interface. New features include HiDPI and Retina display support and improved search to help you find fonts faster.
- Recording software Audition CC includes a new Sound Remover, a new Preview Editor, enhanced Multitrack Editing, an Enhanced Spectral Display, and a new ITU loudness metering feature.
- Video production tool Prelude CC now has thumbnail hover-scrubbing, a new rough cut export feature and file renaming on ingest. Also, working with scripts created in Adobe Story Plus (see below), you can drag and drop scenes to link them with footage as searchable metadata.
- Another video production tool, SpeedGrade CC has had a redesigned user interface. Also, a new Shot Matcher feature lets you work faster by automatically correcting for subtle differences in footage to achieve a consistent feel between shots.
- Adobe Story Plus, which includes screenwriting, reporting, and scheduling tools to help film-makers stay on time and budget, has also been updated.
And that's it - for now! We'll keep updating this post, so let us know if there are any other Adobe tools or feature updates you feel we should add to the list...
Like this? Read these!
- 40 Adobe resources for designers
- Review: Photoshop CS6
- Review: Dreamweaver CS6
- Review: Illustrator CS6
- Review: After Effects CS6
- Review: InDesign CS6
- Review: Flash Pro CS6
- Review: Premiere Pro CS6
- 5 alternatives to Photoshop
- 5 alternatives to Illustrator
What do you think of the Creative Cloud? Are you willing to pay a subscription for Adobe tools? Share your views in the comments below!