Adobe released its Touch Apps late last year on Android devices and soon thereafter on the Apple iPad. Since then, I have tested and explored them, and I have found myself using them more in my daily workflow than I would have expected upon first look.
While I do use some apps more often than others, each one has found a place in my busy schedule of traveling, designing, meeting with clients, and taking my work to the next level.
The speed and mobility of designing a visual piece on a tablet enables me to work anywhere without spending hours in my office chained to my computer. My productivity has increased because even at 30,000 feet I can be creative and work where I find inspiration.
In this article, I explore Touch Apps and show you how I use them in my everyday work.
My favorite Touch App by far is Adobe Photoshop Touch. I use it to sketch ideas, manipulate photos, and show mock-ups of Photoshop projects to clients. I love its ease of use and familiar tools. With the newest iPad update, my maximum image size has increased to 2048 × 2048, and I can export artwork to the camera roll and e-mail directly from my iPad. Clients can make comments during meetings, and I can make changes on the fly using my tablet. Once approved, I easily transfer the Photoshop Touch file via Adobe Creative Cloud to my computer and create the finished work in Adobe Photoshop software.
Recently, I took two separate shots on location. Using Photoshop Touch on my iPad, I was able to quickly blend both images and create a comp before I even left the shoot (see Figure 1). Then I uploaded the comp to Creative Cloud and finished the final piece in Photoshop CS6 when I got back to the office.
I have landed several jobs by using my tablet to show clients visually what we are discussing while we are meeting, which is a huge advantage over a traditional sketchpad and pencils. Being able to use cutting-edge technology makes a great professional impression on potential clients. As a bonus, I can create art in front of them so they can see my technique and skill instead of going back to the office and then producing my work. Clients like to be wowed, and Photoshop Touch helps me wow them.
Adobe Ideas is another great way to show clients a visual idea. With Adobe Ideas, I create artwork live on location and then use Creative Cloud to refine it in Adobe Illustrator once I'm back at the office. The transition is seamless with the Creative Cloud plug-in for Illustrator. I start my design in Adobe Ideas, save the file on my tablet, and use Creative Cloud to instantly sync it with my laptop to use in Illustrator later.
Unlike Photoshop Touch, which is limited by resolution, Adobe Ideas is vector, so I can create final art on my tablet for printing. Again, showing clients my process in person makes a bigger impact than showing samples of my work. The best part about Adobe Ideas is you do not have to use a Creative Suite app if you don't want to. You can design and create printable vector art right inside Adobe Ideas and send it to the client without ever having to go to a desktop app (see Figure 2).
Adobe Ideas is a great way to create a vector design on your tablet. You can then take it via Creative Cloud to Adobe Illustrator. The best part is, you can create final artwork directly on your tablet.
I also find that I am using Adobe Debut more these days. I use it to show Adobe Creative Suite files to clients on a tablet instead of directing them to a website or lugging my laptop around. I can show my native InDesign, Photoshop, or Illustrator documents and use the layers feature to create my own layer comps or versions for the client right on the spot. I also love sharing files with clients who have Adobe Debut because they can make comments or mark changes on the document without ever downloading the original files. The collaboration is very fluid and natural. It's much easier to have clients mark their edits directly on the artwork instead of summarizing their comments in an e-mail (see Figure 3). I just have to sync my native files to Creative Cloud on my computer, and I am ready to go.
I have also found that the commenting features in Adobe Debut work well for me when I receive files from clients or other designers that I am collaborating with. I don't have to run to my computer to download the attachment from an e-mail. I can just view the comments in Adobe Debut, make changes using the Pen tool, and send it right back, all from my tablet.
I am not a web developer, and code makes my head hurt, so I leave it to the experts. However, I have found a great use for Adobe Proto. I design websites using Adobe Fireworks and Photoshop. I design the interface and then pass that comp to a web developer to implement the idea. In the past, I used my knowledge of web standards and the client’s environment to draft a primitive sketch with incoherent notes. With Adobe Proto, I can mock up a wireframe while I am talking with my clients live or over the phone. The simple gestures (along with handy tips) enable me to create a wireframe that I can download from Creative Cloud and send along with the designs (see Figure 4). The wireframe is much more accurate than my sketches. I can show scale, size, and relationships between site pages. So far, the developers that I have worked with have liked the simple wireframe code, which is a great starting point for developing a new site in Adobe Dreamweaver (and much better than my hand-drawn sketches).
Creative Cloud as a whole really makes sense to me as a freelance designer. I don't have to pay up front for a perpetual (boxed) product. Instead, I can subscribe annually or even monthly to complete my projects, and based on my billing, I include the monthly subscription rate in my fee. I love the freedom to download only what I need. One project may require me to use Fireworks while another requires Photoshop. With Creative Cloud, I can instantly download the application I need or even use Adobe Creative Suite Master Collection as needed (see Figure 5). I don’t need to keep track of serial numbers or search for installation DVDs. Everything I need is waiting in the cloud for me.
Overall, the portability of using these apps along with Creative Cloud has freed me to design from anywhere. Carrying a tablet is much easier than carrying my laptop (see Figure 6), and the instant access to my creative apps enables me to capture my ideas faster than ever before. Last year, I used my tablet and Adobe Touch Apps to capture and manipulate my images while I attended the Photoshop World Conference. Being able to leave my laptop at home really saved me time — and back strain.
Kevin Stohlmeyer is an Adobe Certified Instructor, user group manager, and Adobe Community Professional based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He has been teaching Adobe products since 2000, both in higher education and at C2 Graphics Productivity Solutions. He has been featured in Photoshop User Magazine and is a NAPP member. You can find Kevin on Twitter @kstohl or on Facebook at facebook.com/kevin-stohlmeyer.