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February 2018 Tech Reviews


February 2018 Tech Reviews

Adobe Lightroom CC

Adobe XD Creative Cloud

[XD CC, Character Animator CC, Lightroom CC]

A few months ago, Adobe introduced a number of updates to its powerful tools in the Creative Cloud including updates for Photoshop, After Effects and Premiere. But, the company also released some brand new applications, or at the very least, new spins on applications.

Adobe XD CC is a tool for prototyping UX/UI design for different devices, providing a framework to prototype, design and share your designs not only with the stakeholders in your product, but also within the artists on the design team. Templates, styles and assets can be shared with the artist to maintain a consistent look and feel. Once a design is out, you can get immediate feedback from users so that the next iteration hones in on the specific needs of your user base.

This round is 1.0 of XD CC, and is the design foundation of the tool. Moving forward, Adobe wants to make XD CC the place you go to for all your UX/UI design needs. The next app on the roster extends Photoshop and Illustrator into 3D. Dimension CC (tested under the name Project Felix) is geared toward the designer and artists out there. This is aimed at those who are interested in bringing 3D into the wheelhouse, but may not need or want the overhead and devotion to learn a full-functional 3D software like Cinema 4D, Maya, or 3ds Max.

You can choose to import 3D models you’ve made or from the Adobe Stock store, along with materials and textures, which can be applied by familiar drag ’n’ drop methods.  Lighting can use panoramic HDRs or source lights, and the results look pretty impressive.  Moreover, these renders can go right into Photoshop as a PSD with appropriate control mattes and passes for further refinement or integration into your artwork.

This is amazing for brand specialists who need to envision there designs on tons of products — cups, handbags, napkins, pens. Now the artists can place their designs onto actual 3D representations of objects and envision what they will look like.


New in the latest Character Animator CC, is a way to trigger animation manually through a set of customizable key assignment. Tie a key to a position or animation — like eyebrows up — and you can drive the animation in real time with your keyboard or even a midi controller. The triggers are recorded and represented in the timeline for further adjustments and refinements. There is also a control panel with buttons resembling OSX widgets that can be used to layout a controller system for your character.

A few advances are implemented in conjunction with the webcam tracker that has been in CA CC for a while. A pose-to-pose function enables a more snappy animation.  Instead of tracking your every move, a delay happens that will see your movement, and then snap the character to the new pose. Eyebrow and eye tracking have become more sophisticated too, also with animation snapping for the eye direction, and the ability to read and apply eyebrow movement with slants to accentuate angry or surprised looks.

All of this is delivered with the intent of making animation fast to do, but also robust enough that  once has the control to create sophisticated animation.

I should also mention that the classic Lightroom CC is probably known by almost all photographers out there. The new CC version essentially pushes your photos out into a Cloud-based ecosystem rather than the tried and true file/folder system. The idea is to be able to access your photos from anywhere and across multiple devices. The interface is designed to be congruent across the devices so you don’t have to learning new tools for each one of them. An additional benefit of being on the Cloud is that Adobe Sensei (the deep-learning system) can go through your photos and auto-tag them for the content.

Adobe MAX announced a wide array of new bells and whistles, and you should really go visit the site to learn about all the additions. The company is definitely providing value to its user base, with every new application it injects into the Creative Suite ecosystem.

Annual plans include the entire collection of 20+ creative desktop and mobile apps including Photoshop CC, Illustrator CC and Adobe XD CC and includes 100GB of cloud storage, your own portfolio website, premium fonts and social media tools.

This review was conducted running Creative Suite on an HP ZBook 15 G3 Mobile Workstation running Windows 7.



Price: $49.99 per month; annual plan (all apps); $79.98 per month; annual plan (all apps + 10 free Adobe stock images)

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