Our designers test drive Photoshop CC’s Touch Bar integration

Our designers test drive Photoshop CC’s Touch Bar integration

When Apple launched the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and Touch ID, Adobe were one of the first software vendors to announce support for the new Touch Bar technology, demoing Photoshop integration live onstage at the launch event

Now that we have both the 13″ and 15″ models in stock, and Adobe have released a list of all the shortcuts that will be available on Touch Bar, we thought we’d set our designers loose on a Touch Bar MacBook Pro and see how they found using the new shortcuts.

Buy now

Liana, Graphic Designer and hand model

To begin with it does feel a bit strange forcing yourself to use the Touch Bar rather than keyboard shortcuts, but I imagine it’s like when you first start using a Wacom Cintiq – once you get used to using it, it’s really useful.

The shortcuts I used most were definitely the ones to change layer properties. The brush options are a lot more intuitive on Touch Bar, as they increase and decrease in much smaller increments than they do when you use the keyboard shortcuts, so there’s a nice gradual slide that allows you to get exactly the size you want. The bar is very good at sliding, generally; each slider expands when you click on it, so if you’re changing colour options you have a nice wide range to get the exact hue and brightness you need, and you have a lot more room to edit the opacity options than you do when you edit them directly on your Wacom.

touch_bar_photoshop_brush_size

The favourites bar has a nice range of common shortcuts that you can add to your Touch Bar. Having full screen mode just a tap away is useful if your art director is hovering over you and wants a clean preview of your work. From a non-design point of view, I really liked having tiny previews of all my open tabs in Safari, which made searching for images far easier.

touch_bar_internet_buttons

Jamie, Web Designer

I hadn’t used one of the new generation of keyboards before and the lack of key travel feels weird at first, but the larger key area certainly makes the keyboard easier to type on. The one complaint that I would have is that the keys are perhaps a bit too noisy for the amount of travel they have.  The light touch makes me a feel like a hacker, the loud noise makes it sound like I’m mashing buttons on Street Fighter.

Touch Bar looks nice; it’s vibrant and sharp, and the matte finish allows fingers to just slide over the surface, which is nice when there are a few apps that have tabs or slides that require you to interface this way.

In Photoshop, Touch Bar initially feels a little redundant, as keyboard shortcuts can be used for a lot of the same tasks, and don’t require me to move my hands from the keyboard or move my eyes away from the screen. As time goes on though, it does have its advantages. For example, controls for brush size and opacity are easily within reach. I could imagine using a Wacom with my hand hovering over the Touch Bar, drawing with my right hand and dynamically updating the size, flow etc along the way.

touch_bar_photoshop_menu

There are some features that are nice with Touch Bar too. In Photoshop again, having the blending modes and layer transparency readily available is nice. I haven’t learned the keyboard shortcuts for blending modes yet, so this feels pleasant. It’s easy to see that Touch Bar would be a hit with those who aren’t privy to the dark magic of keyboard shortcuts and those used to touch screens as a primary interface.

One nice touch I did like was dialogue boxes, and that their options are readily available on the touch bar. I don’t have to move my mouse to get to the buttons to quickly dismiss pop-ups.

Thierry, Graphic Designer

I can see Touch Bar being really useful for designers who don’t use a pen tablet as part of their normal workflow. The quick button options mean the left hand can be used to adjust Touch Bar controls while you use the touchpad with your right (or vice versa for lefties).

touch_bar_photoshop_colour_slider

The options that are usually stuck in Menu Options are the most useful to me. Having options like horizontal/vertical flip and new layer on the bar is a huge time saver as they’re now in easy reach and don’t require me to temporarily break my train of thought to navigate menu options. Hopefully as time goes on, the customisable options available on the bar will expand, and then it’ll be a great tool for tweaking your workspace to suit your preferences.

Buy now from Jigsaw24

Tried the new Touch Bar? Let us know what you think in the comments. You can browse the new MacBook Pro range here, or get in touch with our Adobe team to update your Creative Cloud subscription on 03332 409 251. For all the latest news and reviews, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook

Five things you didn’t know about Creative Cloud for teams

Five things you didn’t know about Creative Cloud for teams

With all the updates they release, it can be difficult to keep track of the features that Adobe keep adding to Creative Cloud for teams. In case you’re not quite up to speed, here are five of our favourite lesser known features in the current version of Creative Cloud…

1. Libraries

“Libraries are probably one of the things we actually use most as a team.” says our graphic designer, Liana. “As well as having our own libraries, the group library lets everyone in the team share graphics, pictures and colours, so we can make sure we all stay on brand. The other week our photographer Simon was on a photoshoot and he was sending example compositions, which we could immediately see in an InDesign document/webpage mockup and feed back with other options, so it’s great for making sure we capture the right sort of content.”

As well as accessing locally stored assets, you can use the library pane to search Adobe Stock for imagery, so there’s no time consuming back and forth between your stock site and your creative app, and you can preview quickly, easily and without having to fork over any (extra) cash.

2. Creative Sync

Creative Sync joined Creative Cloud in 2015, and allows you to start your creative work on any device and then pick it up on another. You don’t even have to have the entire original file on your device.  You can also capture a shape as a vector graphic on your phone and edit it on your desktop, or make a change to a logo used in your project, and have everyone on your team instantly get the new version, and all the documents where it’s used, updated.

If you want to know more about the science behind this, and how you go from having an unwieldy file to having a asset that can be edited non-destructively, shared easily and updated across the board, take a look at this Adobe blog.

3. Creative Cloud Mobile App

As well as the Creative Cloud app itself, there are also a range of Adobe mobile applications that will sync with Creative Cloud and speed up your day to day workflow, as ably demonstrated by Simon in the video below:

These apps are free, and allow you to extend your workflow in really helpful ways – for example, Capture lets you, well, capture an image of a particularly inspiring object or pattern, and then turn it into an asset such as a shape, brush or colour theme, while Comp transforms natural drawing gestures into crisp, layout-ready graphics for faster mockup creation. You can then use Creative Sync to connect files on your desktop and mobile devices, so work you do on the go is accessible in-office.

4. Creative Cloud Market

If you ever need high quality illustrations, vectors and images, try Creative Cloud Market. It’s a collection of assets curated by Adobe users in the creative industries and made available to all paid Creative Cloud users (except those of you who are on the photography plan, sorry). You can access the Market from the Creative Cloud app on your desktop or mobile, click on Assets and then click on Market, and you’re in.

Your Market asset limit is 500 downloads per month, although once an asset is downloaded you can use it in any number of web and and graphic design projects. Find out more about Creative Cloud Market here.

5. Typekit

Typekit is a subscription service for fonts which you can sync to your computer or use on a website. “Typekit is extremely useful when you’re working with unknown fonts,” Liana wants you to know. “If someone’s used an extra font on a project, finding it in Typekit saves so much time compared to Googling it and downloading it.” Fonts in Typekit are synced across all your Adobe applications, so if you’ve used a font in one, it’s available to you in others.

A Creative Cloud subscription gives you access to the swanky Typekit Portfolio package as standard, which includes over 2000 fonts that you can sync to your computer and over 5600 you can use on the web. This package sets non-Creative Cloud users back a tidy sum, but those of you with CCft licences, however, get access to it free of charge. Find out how to link your Typekit and Creative Cloud accounts here.

To find out more about Adobe Creative Cloud for teams, get in touch with our team on 03332 409 251 or email Adobe@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or like us on Facebook

What’s new in QuarkXPress 10?

What’s new in QuarkXPress 10?

Quark have just shipped the latest version of their flagship design package, QuarkXPress 10. According to Quark, it’s been “redesigned from the inside out”, giving you access to a new Xenon graphics engine, HiDPI support and a far slicker workflow. Here’s what you need to know about the key features (and the new upgrade plan).

QuarkXPress 10

QuarkXPress 10

The new features

Xenon graphics engine – The new Xenon graphics engine is intended to let you make the most of your computer’s processing power to give seamless graphics performance – think of it as their version of Adobe’s Mercury engine. The improvements you should notice include faster rendering of rich PDFs, Photoshop files and TIFF images, even if they’re not at their lowest resolution, so you can work far faster.

HiDPI and Retina display support – With Apple rolling out Retina displays left, right and centre and ultra-hi-res images becoming common across the creative industries, Quark have done us all a favour and added support for these super-smooth images in QuarkXPress 10, whether you’re working on those screens or just creating work for them.

A brand new GUI – Cleaner, clearer and with a full screen view that lets you hide even dockable palettes, QuarkXPress 10 has been designed to ensure nothing gets between you and your image.

PDF pass-through transparency – This update is designed to help you create flatter, more device-independent PDFs, so work can be shared, edited and approved by colleagues and clients on the go. Any QuarkXPress objects you add can now interact with placed PDFs, which Quark hope will help you maintain a more transparent workflow.

QR code creator – If you need to get people from a print element of your campaign to the web quickly, this is for you. QuarkXPress 10’s QR code creator lets you generate vector QR codes directly in the program, then style and colour them however you want. vCards, URLs and SMS are all supported.

Layer Enhancements – As layers are now supported in master pages, it’s far easier to make them an integral part of your design. Paste in QuarkXPress 10 also has the ability to remember layers, and automatically create new layers in your target layers if what’s there doesn’t match its memory.

Highlight missing fonts – Worried some of your text uses a missing font? QuarkXPress 10 will helpfully highlight any text that’s lost its font for you – you can even choose your own highlighting colour. Lovely.

Improved support for Japanese, Chinese, Simplified Chinese and Korean typography, including IMEs – Unlikely to be relevant to anyone reading this blog, but we approve of the effort. Our Thai typography could still use some work, though…

A warning to QuarkXPress 8 users: you only have until December 31st to upgrade!

After this release, Quark are amending their upgrade policy so that you can only get discounted upgrades from one version back. Anyone using QuarkXPress 8 can upgrade to 10 at the lower price until December 31st 2013, but after that you’ll have to fork out for a new full licence. This also means that you’ll only be able to upgrade to the inevitable v11 from v10, v12 from v11 and so on, so in the long term you’ll save more if you get (and stay) up to date.

QuarkXPress 10 on Jigsaw24

Want to know more about QuarkXPress 10? Get in touch on 03332 409 306 or at sales@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news and tips, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook