What is Creative Cloud
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Adobe Creative Cloud, sometimes called Adobe CC, is a set of software application for Mac OS and Windows computers which are used by creative, design, and marketing professionals to create content for print, video, and online distribution. A small number of Creative Cloud applications are also available on iOS and Android devices. The programs included in Creative Cloud can be used in a wide array of graphic and design applications, from creating flyers to brochures to full motion videos, websites, presentations, photography retouching and more. Many Creative Cloud applications are available individually, or as part of a comprehensive suite.
What Creative Cloud is Used For
Creative Cloud can be used for nearly any task in the areas of graphic design, video editing, web development or photography. Adobe Creative Cloud applications are widely used by professionals in their field. Adobe Premiere Pro, for example, is a non-linear video editing tool that has been used to edit a wide range of different features films and television shows in a professional capacity since it originally debuted in 2003. James Cameron's film "Avatar," the highest grossing movie of all time, performed daily and basic edits with Premiere Pro. Other films like "Deadpool" and David Fincher's "Gone Girl" also used the software for this purpose. The Creative Cloud also includes applications for print design, and newspapers such as the New York Times use InDesign from the Creative Cloud for this purpose, while virtually every major magazine publisher and new website uses Photoshop.
What Creative Cloud Does
Adobe Creative Cloud is a tool for enabling both creativity and collaboration. In terms of web development, for example, Creative Cloud includes nearly anything that someone would need to build fully functional websites from the ground up, regardless of whether they had the ability to code. The Creative Cloud provides applications to work on projects including video editing, mobile design and even desktop publishing. Creative Cloud documents and projects can also be saved in the cloud, those files are not only available on any device that a user may have that has an active Internet connection but can also be shared with others.
How Much Does Creative Cloud Cost
The cost of Creative Cloud varies from $10 to $50 per month, depending upon the subscription selected. The different Creative Cloud subscription options include:
Photography. This plan is specifically designed with Photographers in mind, giving users access to Lightroom CC, Photoshop CC and 1 TB or 20 GB of cloud storage for approximately $10 per month. Like all other Creative Cloud options, this is a subscription fee that is paid monthly For the same price, users can choose to download just Lightroom CC with 1 TB of cloud storage.
Single App. Users get access to one Creative Cloud desktop app (like Photoshop CC, Illustrator CC or Adobe XD CC) and 100 GB of cloud storage for approximately $20 per month.
All Apps. This plan gives users access to the entire collection of more than 20 Creative Cloud desktop and mobile apps and 100 GB of cloud storage for approximately $50 per month.
There are also special pricing plans available for businesses, schools, students, and teachers.
How to Download Adobe Creative Cloud
Once a user has selected and paid for their ideal subscription plan, they are given the ability to download the Adobe Creative Cloud apps that are included in that package from the dashboard on their account. If a user pays for the Photography plan, for example, options would be available on Adobe.com (after signing in) to download both Lightroom CC and Photoshop CC.
Additional features like fonts from Adobe Typekit or royalty-free images can be accessed directly from within the app. Note that mobile versions of Creative Cloud apps also exist and are available to be downloaded in the respective app stores on mobile devices. If a user wanted to download the mobile version of Photoshop, for example, they would download the app from the iTunes App Store and log into their Creative Cloud account.
How Many Computers Can Creative Cloud Be Installed On
Creative Cloud apps can be downloaded and activated on up to two different computers per license. Note that pricing is typically handled on a per-license basis, meaning that if two users working for the same business wanted to use an application like Photoshop they would need to purchase two separate licenses as per the Adobe terms of service. However, both of those users could each install Photoshop on two separate machines.
If an attempt is made to install any Creative Cloud app on a third computer, the other two will be de-activated. At that point, the user can reactivate their license on one of the previous two computers.
What Apps are Included in the Creative Cloud?
There are more than 20 different applications included as part of the Creative Cloud suite that can be purchased either individually or as a complete package. They are:
Acrobat: enables users to create, view and edit documents in the PDF format. Acrobat itself breaks down into two main components - Acrobat Professional or Professional Extended (both of which allow users to create PDF files) and Reader (which allows users to read PDF files).
After Effects: is a digital motion graphics and compositing suite.
Animate: allows users to design interactive animations by way of vector animation techniques. The types of animations created using Animate can be published to platforms like Adobe Flash and Adobe AIR, as well as in the HTML5 and WebGL formats.
Flash Builder: an integrated development environment used for developing rich Internet applications, along with cross-platform desktop applications, that run on the Adobe Flash platform.
Scout: a tool used to profile Flash-based SWF files.
Audition: is Adobe's digital audio editor. Note that many of the capabilities of a previous Adobe solution, Soundbooth, have been rolled into the Creative Cloud via Adobe Audition.
Bridge: an organizational program that links the various parts of Creative Cloud together.
Dreamweaver: a code/GUI web development application.
Illustrator: a vector graphics editor and illustration application. Illustrator is seen as a companion product to Adobe Photoshop. Illustrator can be used for tasks like typesetting, the creation of logos and similar fields wthin the larger area of graphic design.
InCopy: A word processor used for writing stories and articles which will eventually be inported into a page layout, created using InDesign
InDesign: a desktop publishing tool. It is used to create different types of materials like brochures, flyers, posters, presentations, books (both print and eBooks), magazines and even newspapers. it can also be used to publish content designed for tablet devices with the help of Adobe Digital Publishing Suite.
Media Encoder: a tool to help output video files into a desired format.
Prelude: a tool for importing and logging tape-less media.
SpeedGrade: a tool for performing color correction on projects started in Premiere.
Dimension: a way for users to create and render 3D images.
Muse: enables designers to build websites without the need to write complicated code.
Photoshop: a powerful image and raster-graphics editor. Photoshop includes many different tools that can be used to manipulate any aspect of a digital photo like painting, drawing, measuring and navigation, selection, typing and retouching. Photoshop also allows for advanced color grading and adustments, cropping and more.
Photoshop Lightroom: a photo processor and image organization tool.
Premiere Pro: a real-time non-linear video editing solution.
Behance: an online, social media-based service designed for creative professionals to help them build project portfolios.
Story Plus: a screenwriting and pre-production Internet-based application designed for those in the film and television industries. Story Plus integrates into the other included Premiere Pro applications.
Spark: a series of visual storytelling tools that include Spark Video, Spark Page and Spark Post.
Note that two applications - Adobe Encore (designed for video disc authoring) and Adobe Fireworks (a web-based image editor) have both been discontinued by Adobe, but are still available as downloads to Creative Cloud users.
Creative Cloud also offers mobile apps that are compatible with both the iOS and Android platforms. These include but are not limited to ones like:
Adobe Capture CC: this can be used to turn an image into a color theme, pattern or unique brush. Capture breaks down into a series of smaller applications including Color CC, Shape CC, Hue CC and Brush CC.
Adobe Comp CC: a tool used for software layout and design creation. Note that Adobe Comp CC is only available to devices using the iOS operating system, including both the Apple iPhone and the iPad and iPad Pro.
Illustrator Draw: a vector drawing application.
Photoshop Sketch: an application used for expressive drawing.
Adobe Preview CC: an app designed for previewing mobile designed.
Adobe Premiere Clip: a mobile version of Adobe Premiere designed for smaller, clip-based projects.
Adobe Photoshop Mix: a solution that brings layer-based image editing to mobile devices.
Adobe Photoshop Fix: a tool for image restoration, retouching and color correction.
Lightroom Mobile: a mobile version of the desktop-based Photoshop Lightroom image editor.
The History of Creative Cloud
Adobe's Creative Cloud is the successor to Adobe Creative Suite. The last released version of Creative Suite, commonly referred to as CS6, debuted on May 7, 2012. It shipped with a wide range of different tools intended to help with graphics design, video editing and web development like Photoshop, Acrobat, Premiere Pro and others.
The first version of what is now known as Adobe Creative Cloud was released in October of 2011 and brought together various apps used for graphic design, video editing, web development and photography.
The licensing for Creative Cloud was the biggest difference with its predecessor, the Creative Suite. Both Creative Suite and eLearning Suite were available with a perpetual software license, whereas Creative Cloud was available as a subscription-based model.
Rather than giving users the option to purchase one license for Photoshop that they would have the ability to access and use forever, users of the Creative Cloud versions of the apps are required to pay for it monthly as part of the Creative Cloud subscription of their choosing. This was initially met with a certain amount of controversy, though as the industry itself has largely switched to subscription-based service models across the board over the last few years that criticism has largely disappeared.
Adobe's argument in favor of the subscription model had to do with how it enabled more frequent major feature updates to all included products, essentially eliminating the normal release cycle. This change also enabled Adobe's cloud-based model, something that has also become ubiquitous over the last few years.
Creative Cloud Versions
The Creative Cloud versions of the applications are appended with the name CC, along with the year of the most recent release. For example, Photoshop is labeled as Photoshop CC followed by the year of the release, as such the 2020 Creative Cloud version is labeled in full as Photoshop CC 2020.
The versions often are incremented with nominal updates, thus the differences between Creative Cloud (CC) 2019 and Creative Cloud (CC) 2020 versions of many applications are often insignificant, and can be as minimal as updating the background color from light grey to dark grey, or making icons appear more modern.
How to Learn Creative Cloud
Those looking for opportunities to better learn Creative Cloud apps have a wide range of different options available to them depending on their needs. Classroom training options exist, for example, that offer a small, personal learning experience in a rigidly structured environment. Not only would these Creative Cloud training classes give students access to an instructor in the room at all times, but it would also be an opportunity ask specific questions to an expert and is the perfect option for people who need individual attention.
Individual class options also exist that vary from broad sessions about the entire Creative Cloud suite to focused lessons that deal with particular apps. The American Graphics Institute is just one example of an organization that regularly holds these classes in major cities like Boston, New York and Philadelphia. These classes can be attended both in person, or via live online training depending on the needs of students.
Private training sessions for Adobe Creative Cloud are also available, in both single lesson and larger program varieties. These types of classes usually take place either on-site at a specific location (for business users), in a specialized training center or even remotely over the Internet. These classes can often take the form of custom courses, workshops or even seminars. Custom courses can be a great way to not only learn more about a specific Creative Cloud app, but to do so within the context of the particular task or job that a student is currently focused on.
Finally, learning Creative Cloud individually is also an ideal option for people who learn better through action than through a traditional classroom environment. Many first party books are available directly from Adobe that allow students to learn at their own pace. Other providers like the American Graphics Institute have similar materials that can allow students to build their own custom approach to how they choose to advance their content creation, video editing, photography and print-based skills.
Many students also choose to combine Creative Cloud classes, starting their journey in a more traditional classroom-based environment and continuing their education with private sessions as their goals (or even their careers) continue to change and evolve in the future.
Creative Cloud Mac vs. Windows Differences
There are only minor differences between Mac OS and Windows versions of Creative Cloud. The tools, the menus, the panels and even the various options provided are all located in the same place on each version - meaning that someone is not giving up anything if they choose to use Creative Cloud on a Mac versus a PC, or vice versa.
Adobe provides access to both versions of each program as part of the standard licensing agreement. One computer can be running the Windows operating system while another can be a MacOS machine. The same is true across all Creative Cloud packages and pricing tiers.
If Creative Cloud is being used as part of a corporate computer environment and the company's IT department only supports the Windows operating system, users would be better suited downloading the Windows versions of each program.
So long as the computer or device being used using has a fast processor, an adequate amount of RAM and an acceptable video processor, users will be able to perform all of the photo editing, video editing or animation tasks that they need, regardless of whether the computer being used has the Windows or MacOS operating system installed on it.
All current Creative Cloud applications have a minimum operating system requirement of MacOS version 10.11 (for Apple computers) and Windows 7 (for PCs). If a user's local operating system does not meet these requirements, the option may be available to download an earlier version of a Creative Cloud app.
All MacOS users running Creative Cloud will need to use Safari version 7 or newer as a Web browser, Firefox 4 or later, or any version of Google Chrome. Microsoft Windows users must have at least Internet Explorer version 11 or later, Firefox 4 or later or any version of Google Chrome.
About the author
Christopher Smith is president of American Graphics Institute. He is the co-author of Adobe Creative Cloud for Dummies and more than 10 other books on design and digital publishing. He served as publisher and editor of the Digital Classroom book series, which has sold more than one million books on topics relating to InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, Premiere Pro and other Creative Cloud apps. At American Graphics Institute, he provides strategic technology consulting to marketing professionals, publishers designers, and large technology companies including Google, Apple, Microsoft, and HP. An expert on web analytics and digital marketing, he also delivers Google Analytics classes along with workshops on digital marketing topics. Christopher did his undergraduate studies the at the University of Minnesota, and then worked for Quark, Inc. prior to joining American Graphics Institute where he has worked for more than 20 years.