Adobe Max has just wrapped up for 2021, and while I am still in the process of going through my list of session videos, I feel I have enough of an impression to convey some thoughts. This years Max Conference follows last years lead with a virtual video cast (no in person gatherings). The overall vibe of the presentation felt less sensitive towards all the emotional challenges from 2020 but still emphasized the importance of expressing creativity in today’s world. The focus from the keynote was on Adobe’s new features for their products and the message felt very straight to point, which I welcomed. I did feel there was less spotlight on individual designers (from all levels of design) compared to last year, and less showcasing of their approach to design. This was something I thoroughly enjoyed from last years Max and will never get enough of. Having snapshots of other designers with a brief philosophy to their methodology is inspirational bliss. Maybe there will be more in my unviewed video list.

The biggest takeaway from this years Max was the push for more online collaboration and Adobe’s approach to delivering the necessary tools to make this happen. Adobe is pushing this initiative by introducing Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator as web-based programs. These two programs can now be accessed through a web browser and no longer need to be downloaded for a user to start working with their respective interfaces. This concept is not new as many tech leaders from 10 years ago had envisioned all programs be hosted on the web as opposed to being downloaded to your computer. There are many pros and cons to this, and I may touch on that later. For now, the move by Adobe seems interesting. You may be thinking, big deal what is the difference if I use the program on the web vs my desktop? Well, accessibility vs hardware is one thing, but Adobe is using this concept to bridge communication between designer and client, as well as designer and designer.

Both Photoshop and Illustrator now have a “Share Document” button on the upper left side of the app panel. This will save whatever you are working on to the cloud. The saved document will then be emailed to the recipient of your choice where they will be able to access the document over a web browser. Through the browser, the recipient can circle areas of interest, make comments, or even make edits. I have yet had time to test this feature, but it sounds like it could be very useful, especially if a designer is collaborating with other designers. The only concern for me is if a designer is working with a client who is not very technically savvy. This process will almost guarantee a need for a helping hand through the process from the designer.

Creative Cloud Canvas (beta) is another new tool that will take the online collaboration effort in a more efficient direction. Canvas will allow multiple team members to display and communicate in real-time over a web browser. Photoshop and Illustrator can be linked to the space and will be updated in real-time as the documents change. The newly mined space will also feature text and video communication between participants.

Other new features worth noting are the new Photoshop Object Selection Tool, Photoshop Neural Filters, and Paste Layers/Vectors into Photoshop from Illustrator. As I mentioned in my previous blog post, using a drawing tablet for Photoshop grunt work like creating layer masks is exceptionally better than using a mouse. However, with the Object Selection Tool Adobe has taken yet another step towards eliminating the need for tablets all together. The tool is very intuitive for selecting objects that are not defined by just contrast alone (like the magic wand tool). My quick tests have shown that it is a powerful feature. The Neural Filters are intriguing with the ability to change backgrounds, facial expressions, and color compositions, but they are not quite where they will be in the future. Finally, the ability to paste Vector Graphics from Illustrator into Photoshop while being able to edit and obtain their layers seems very convenient.

I am really excited about where the Adobe family of design tools are heading. For now, I will be trying to dive into the rest of my slotted video sessions with a focus on video. While I feel I am still lagging with my initial desire to introduce more video focused work, I am still trying to develop a strategy for my video/motion design approach and how it will relate to my current philosophies that I developed with Photoshop and Illustrator. Here is hoping for the best while exploring a new media. As always, if you are reading. I hope all is well in your corner of the world.


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