Adobe is attempting to significantly simplify the lives of designers with substantial upgrades to its Photoshop, Creative Cloud and Muse offerings. In an online event called “Create Now Live,” Adobe VP of Products Jeffrey Veen and guests detailed some of the specific new features that are now available to Adobe users.

Photoshop CS6 Provides Clarity

adobe-drop.JPG Adobe’s news revolved around today’s official release of Photoshop CS6 Extended. Adobe Evangelist Rufus Deuchler stressed the importance of users now being able to copy CSS content directly from Photoshop into other Web design tools.

 “It’s a Web designer’s dream to take stuff from Photoshop and put it into any application,” said Deuchler.

In addition, Deuchler said Photoshop CS6 supports high-DPI retina displays that virtually eliminate pixilation of images. “In addition to sharp, crisp icons in the application, you get more of an image to work with,” he stated.adobe-retina.png

Scott Kelby, CEO of Kelby Media Group and president of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals, said high-DPI retina displays present a “new way of working.” Kelby also praised Adobe for deciding to release new Photoshop features every few months when they are available, rather than collecting a large group of features and releasing them all at once every year or two.

Other new features available to all Photoshop users include a new Mercury Graphics Engine that uses a computer’s GPU to speed up performance and aid navigation, as well as a “blur gallery” interface that instantly creates photographic blur effects and “content-aware” moving that recomposes objects when they are moved to better fit their background.

Creativity in the Cloud

However, the most interesting aspect of Adobe’s Photoshop retooling is the many new features Photoshop users can now have access to via the Creative Cloud suite. Released in April 2012, Creative Cloud brings the company's expansive and expensive range of legendary publishing and art applications, Flash development software and other tools to all via an affordable Software as a Service (SaaS) solution.

Kelby said photographers such as himself can obtain particularly large benefit from using new Photoshop CS6 features available exclusively to Creative Cloud users. “It opens the door to creativity we had never had before,” he said. “I can do things myself -- like design my website, brochures and business cards -- that I used to have to hire someone else to do for me. I can take images and use the DPS to create an interactive portfolio for the iPad.”

And with the Adobe Muse tool, a desktop app that comes with Creative Cloud, Kelby said designers can create websites by dragging and dropping images and using interactive widgets, and then preview, publish and manage the sites within Muse. “You never have to look at code,” he said. In addition, designers can alter a desktop web design to tablet or smartphone format at the push of a button, and also design in tablet or smartphone first and then alter to desktop format.

A number of new Photoshop CS6 Extended features are only available to Creative Cloud users. These include SmartObject support for Photoshop blur and liquefy tools, direct import of color swatches from external web files and 3-D image enhancements. However, the most significant new feature of Creative Cloud is a collaborative feature called Creative Cloud for Teams

Creative Cloud for Teams

According to Veen, each individual user of the Creative Cloud for Teams virtual workgroup offering receives 100GB of storage, compared to 20GB of storage for an individual Creative Cloud user. A single dashboard lets managers control licensing, user permissions and other group activities. A desktop/laptop tool called Adobe Creative Cloud Connection ensures that all files used by a workgroup are synced, so that if one user makes and saves changes all other users will automatically see them.

Other Creative Cloud for Teams features include an upcoming ability to share folders full of files with other team members and the ability to make workgroup files public so that even non-users can view them without having an account or logging in. Users also have the option of allowing public file viewers to post comments and download the source file. “It’s really convenient for sending a file for review to a client,” said Veen.

Creative Cloud users also now have access to a training site with instructional videos from both Adobe and third-party partners. When used through Creative Cloud, Photoshop is downloaded from a browser but does not run in the browser.

Adobe Creative Cloud membership for individuals is US$ 49.99 per month based on annual membership and Creative Cloud for teams is priced at US$ 69.99 per month per seat with an annual contract required.