An Emerging Digital Workflow

Start with an idea on your iPad and bring the comp to life in Photoshop.

In an earlier “How To” I explained how to use Adobe Comp CC to create a wireframe and populate it with content. There is a lot more to just using this app to create comps or to develop and iterate design ideas. The whole point of Adobe’s Creative Cloud is to give you the opportunity to be creative “wherever and whenever”. Which brings me to the subject of this series.

If you have a Creative Cloud account, your creative workflow could undergo a profound change … for the better.

Using Creative Cloud libraries, Photoshop, Lightroom, Illustrator, Muse, Dreamweaver and the various Touch apps for iOS, Android and your desktop PC you actually a have mobile and desktop integrated workflow that works seamlessly. 

The interesting aspect of what I call an “emerging workflow” is that not a lot of creative pros have caught onto it. This is most likely due to people, and some respects Adobe, regarding all of the apps, products and tools bundled into the Creative Cloud as stand-alone products.

In this “How To” series I intend to explore this emerging workflow by showing how a number of the Creative Cloud tools and services integrate with each other by following the creation of a mobile app interface from wireframe to a prototype viewed on a device.

What got me thinking about this series was the June 15, 2015 Creative Cloud update. The feature that didn’t get a lot “buzz” was that assets in a Creative Cloud library are now actually linked assets.

Linked assets are a huge plus for graphics pros. To understand how important, let’s assume you have created a logo in Adobe Illustrator CC 2015. The client has approved it and you have added it to a Creative Cloud library because it will be used in Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign which all have the ability to use an asset added to your Creative Cloud library.

It also might be used in a motion graphic created in After Effects or in a video created in Premiere which also were given the ability to use Creative Cloud libraries. 

Then the unthinkable happens … the client calls, says they are rebranding and the rebranding process involves a color and font change for the logo. Prior to this release, this “news” meant every file using that logo had to be opened and the change made manually in every document that uses that logo. With a linked asset in the Creative Cloud library all you have to do is to open the logo found in the Creative Cloud library, make the change in Illustrator, save it back to the Creative Cloud library and that change instantly ripples through all of the documents using that asset.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is this emerging workflow is rather exciting but you need to understand the word “emerging” is there for a reason. Though we live in a connected world where smartphones, tablets and desktops are becoming creative tools, there is a major hurdle that needs to be addressed: Operating System.

At the moment there are four major systems: Apple, iOS, Android and Windows. The crazy thing is the app developers and software vendors have still not become what I call, “Platform Agnostic”.

For example, though Adobe has clearly stated its intention offer Android versions of  its Creative Cloud apps, the current “holes” in that statement are Adobe Comp CC and Adobe Preview.

Adobe Comp CC was released on March 30, 2015 which was a couple of weeks prior to the Android announcement. Adobe Preview was released in mid-June 2015 which was a couple of months after the Android announcement. Both are iOS-only apps released at roughly the same time that Adobe started to find some “Android Love”. Though I understand the intricacies involved in creating simultaneous iOS and Android versions of both, a simultaneous release would have sent a strong reinforcement message regarding Adobe’s intentions around the Android platform.

On the desktop side of the fence the graphics community is about to see a number of apps hit the market.

For example, Affinity Photo from Serif has moved from beta to product. Though I covered some of its nifty features and where it might fit into your workflow, Serif is pretty clear the application is Macintosh-only. This reduces their potential market to Mac users and completely cuts out PC users. They seem to be overlooking the simple fact that, to many graphics pros, graphics software applications are nothing more than tools and, if Affinity Photo has a feature that is more efficient than Photoshop, then it just might be the right tool for the job at hand … only if you are using Mac.

I am sure all of this will get sorted out over the next couple of years and, again, we can look to Adobe as quietly leading the industry. In October, 2014, Adobe and Microsoft jointly announced that Photoshop CC and Illustrator CC are available on the Microsoft Surface device. These are the full apps and use either touch or a pen to create graphics artwork … whenever and wherever the creative muse strikes you.

So what does this emerging workflow look like? In this series we are going to explore the process of creating a mobile app interface from concept to comprehensive design and moving between an iPad to Desktop and back to iPad as the design comes to life. I will be using the following applications throughout the process:

On the iPad:

  • Adobe Comp CC
  • Adobe Color CC
  • Adobe Shape CC

On the desktop

  • Adobe Preview
  • Photoshop
  • Illustrator
  • Typekit

This should be fun. We’ll start the process by creating the LoFi wireframe. Let’s get started.

The Emerging Workflow Series: