Adobe Creative Cloud review

2 Jul 2013

Some welcome improvements, but we're far from convinced by Adobe's subscription model

Price when reviewed 
20
5

Adobe launched Creative Cloud in April 2012, allowing customers to lease applications on a monthly or annual basis, as well as providing various cloud services. So far, however, the applications on offer have been the same ones found in the regular Creative Suite 6.

Now Adobe has rolled out new "CC" releases of Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Dreamweaver, Premiere Pro and After Effects, exclusively to Creative Cloud customers – and has said that these and future updates will never be offered as standalone installations. Will these new releases tempt designers and creatives to switch to the subscription model?

Photoshop CC

Adobe Photoshop CC - Smart Sharpen filter

The headline update in Photoshop is an improved Smart Sharpen filter. That may sound mundane, but the new noise-reduction slider makes it a breeze to apply sharpening only where it's wanted, allowing you to give images extra crispness without succumbing to the dreaded speckles.
The software also tackles the age-old problem of blowing up small images.

A new enlargement algorithm turns jagged pixels into clean lines with impressive intelligence, and again offers a noise-reduction slider for cleaning up artefacts. It won't turn a thumbnail into a billboard, but if a high-quality image isn't available, it can smooth things over.

Other updates have more niche appeal. If you work with shapes or masks, you'll appreciate Live Shapes: this lets you draw rectangles, ellipses and so on in an Illustrator-type way, with options to adjust fills and strokes. Conditional Actions can trigger only under certain circumstances, making it easier to set up flexible batch jobs without using Scripts. For those who work with raw photographs, Camera Raw 8 gains the new perspective and healing tools recently unveiled in Lightroom 5 (web ID: 382342).

Not everything is a hit. The new Shake Reduction tool failed to salvage our shaky images – the results just looked as if they had been heavily sharpened and fed through a noise-reduction filter.

Illustrator CC

Adobe Illustrator CC - CSS panel

Two of the big new features in Illustrator CC focus on type: there's a search dialog that lets you filter fonts by name, and a tool called Touch Type, which allows you to selectively deform individual letters in a text object. It isn't quite as versatile as Create Outlines – you can stretch, rotate and recolour letters, but you don't have direct access to their handles. The advantage is that the text can still be edited, making it possible to come up with a general design, then try it out in different fonts.

For those designing for the web, Illustrator CC also offers a CSS Properties panel, which shows a CSS description of the selected object, including colours, strokes, gradients, typefaces and more, for easy pasting into a website editor. The Export CSS function will export both code and PNG copies of your objects that can be easily dropped onto an HTML page.

Elsewhere, you'll also find updated packaging and multiple-file placing abilities – useful if your designs use a lot of external bitmaps or fonts.

Details

Price ex VAT Full suite, £47/mth; single application, £18/mth. Upgrades: £18/mth for one year (CS6 users); £27/mth for one year (CS3/CS4/CS5 users)
Price inc VAT all prices
Overall rating 5
Ease of Use rating 6
Features & Design 6
Value for Money 4
Software subcategory Graphics/design software

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported? no
Operating system Windows XP supported? no
Other operating system support Windows 8