To Get Great Marketing Results, You Need Great Design

Creative Cloud

Great design is a foundational building block of successful business strategy. It communicates your brand, boosts visibility, drives engagement, and inspires conversion. The visual and creative content your organization pushes out into the world is, simply, a reflection of who you are, what you stand for, and why consumers should choose you.

But despite the lofty goals anchored to design, many professionals aren’t entirely sure what marketing materials and designs are effective, what tools to use, and how they should prioritize their time to maximize results.

The solution? Whether you are just starting to build your brand or refreshing your marketing strategy, you’ll benefit from understanding the fundamentals of compelling creative content and what’s needed to best engage customers through design and visual cues. Consider how you approach the design and creation of these essential marketing materials:

#1. Build a brand identity.
Building a brand identity will anchor your business and its marketing materials, communications, and overall presence. Brand identity is the look, feel, and sound of your brand. As you develop or refresh your organization’s presence, focus on elements like font choice, your tagline, and your vision statement. If you’re looking for a place to start, begin with the visual identity of your brand — that means working with color.

A successful brand color palette is harmonious and flexible enough to provide plenty of opportunities for future creative work. By selecting base colors and, from there, applying the color rules, you’ll develop a solid visual theme that speaks to your brand and the overarching brand experience you’re striving to deliver.

Take these color selections and use them to build the core elements of brand identity — think logo design, basic signage, and the beginnings of a visual framework that will carry through all creative content going forward.

Brand identity encompasses the look, feel, and sound of your brand. Establishing a firm brand identity sets you on the right course to create successful marketing materials. By RAMOTION.

#2. Establish an online presence.
With a color palette and brand identity foundation, businesses are ready to establish an online presence — a website, social media platforms, blogs, and other digital touchpoints. People are visual by nature, and interesting images and relevant creative content can provide clear messaging that will greatly improve your readership and help engage your audience.

It can sound like a tall order, especially if you’re building from the ground up. The simplest approach? Evaluate needs versus wants — what the organization’s website, social page, or blog actually requires to engage and convert customers, versus what’s just nice to have.

For example, ask yourself what information customers absolutely need to purchase your product. They’ll need to know what the product is, why the product is going to benefit their life, and the ability to either purchase the product or contact your company for more information. Focus on creating a compelling design that clearly communicates these essential details.

For effective website design, take a needs first approach. What do your customers need to be able to navigate your site and purchase your product? By VIKTOR KOVAC.

By taking a needs-first approach, what these key elements are in your particular business strategy will come to your attention — the crucial pages that need to be created and the specific objectives of key audiences. Start there.

As your digital presence grows and evolves, there will be ample time for wants, like interactive elements, new design trends, more images and video, etc. As you add and enhance your digital pages with more information and design elements, be constantly evaluating what draws your attention. If a new element pulls focus away from the needs you established, it isn’t helping your customers.

#3. Engage customers with relevant email.
Great email design is an important piece of the creative puzzle. With consumers receiving more emails than ever before, it’s crucial that you not only consistently deliver valuable information to their inboxes, but also design emails so that customers can quickly understand what in that message is going to benefit them.

How do you know what’s valuable? Focus on customer analytics surrounding your campaigns. Data can show you exactly what your customers are interested in, allowing you to create relevant materials. Also, look for opportunities where your designs and messaging can offer a little levity — something fun, something entertaining, and something that compels readers to click-through instead of clicking “mark as spam.”

Email design paired with relevant content encourages users to click through links instead of clicking “mark as spam.” By TARAH S.

While there are a lot of moving parts in solid email design, it all starts with making the process of signing up and managing frequency as simple as possible. From there, be mobile-first. Know that a good chunk of your audience will be accessing your emails via smartphone. With a consumer-conscientious strategy, you’ll be in a better position to deliver epic emails — emails that engage, emails that are cohesive and consistent with the brand, and emails that build your business.

#4. Develop online advertising that leads to conversions.
Now that your business is on the web, the next step is creating online advertising that will appear on websites, blogs, and social media. Online ads should connect the dots between target customers, marketing objectives, and the brand experience as a whole.

It’s important to remember that online ads aren’t just about creating eye-catching designs that get customers to click, though this is very important. They also have to manage customer expectations and create a consistent, cohesive journey from promotion to website to conversion.

When consumers click on an ad, its visual cues give them a sense of what’s coming next. The key is to create a consistent and logical path that takes them from the online promotion to a website or social page to your product to purchase. This seamless flow creates a high value, highly relevant customer experience.

Creatively designed online ads catch attention and lead consumers on a journey that leads to purchase. By ZEUS Z.

#5. Deliver engaging reports and presentations.
Today’s consumers are natural skeptics who deal with information overload every day. They’ve heard it all, seen it all, and experienced it all. So, why should they do business with your brand?

Reports like case studies, infographics, and brand presentations provide the critical social proof consumers need to engage with your brand. It’s all about creating content that is equal parts visually-engaging and data-driven. That’s powerful, and that drives engagement.

But it doesn’t stop there. With the virality of today’s digital landscape, focus on creating reports, papers, charts, and graphs that can be shared and socialized. This leverages the power of word-of-mouth to share your brand message.

Content that is visually captivating and data-driven transforms standard reports into tools for driving audience engagement. By CHRISB MARQUEZ.

#6. Marketing before, during, and after events.
Throwing an event usually means designing new materials that involve every stage of the event process — creative content delivered before the event as well as during and, even, after. There are many approaches to marketing for an event, but no matter the deliverable, be sure your content is consistent with your brand identity.

When working with posters and flyers, make sure viewers can quickly grasp the most important information. Develop brochures that have purpose and strategy. If the brochure is valuable to an attendee’s event experience, they will be more likely to hang onto it instead of throwing it out. Thank you emails or mailing materials sent after the event keep enthusiasm high and preserve the customer’s connection to your brand. Social media posts on Twitter and Facebook are also great tools to connect with event goers once the event is over.

Marketing materials can be used before, during, and after an event to advertise and capitalize on consumer buzz. By MURMURE.

Make all of it happen with Adobe Creative Cloud.
Adobe Creative Cloud offers the tools needed to create professional, eye-catching marketing materials. Not sure where to begin? Access how-to resources and tutorials to get started.

Baby Boomers and Design: How to Turn the 55+ Audience Into Loyal Fans

Creative Cloud

The stork started delivering Baby Boomers just after the end of World War II. “Sixty Is the New Forty!” is the Boomers’ battle cry. They’re hooked into 2017 technology but still love Sixties rock. Many are multi-screeners who watch TV while scrolling through social media.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the 50+ population spends $3.2 trillion annually, 50 percent of consumer expenditures. Yet a mere 10% of marketing dollars are targeted to them, providing a huge opportunity for designers and businesses to impact purchasing decisions.

How do you and your clients market to Boomers? What’s the ideal way to depict them in digital and print media? How do you design websites and apps they will return to again and again? What features and benefits will transform them into repeat customers?

Adobe has assembled a virtual panel of experts, most Baby Boomers themselves, to share their insights.

Accessible design is simply good design.

David Berman, 63, Accessibility and Inclusivity Consultant

“The world is being redesigned so that it’s easier to get older. Many innovations have come about from designing for extreme challenges. When you design for disability, the results benefit everybody. The rolling suitcase was designed for people with limited mobility. Now who doesn’t have a rolling suitcase? Siri was invented for people who need to use voice commands. It was a life-changer for some and now is a convenience for many.

That kind of design thinking results in excellence for all of us.

Featuring images of healthy, active older people enjoying products is not pandering, but be sure to show them in an environment like a house with few steps, wide doorways, and no scatter rugs that could cause them to slip and fall. Those images reinforce the idea that your life is far from over. We’re just going to make it easier, safer, and better.”

Bigger type is appreciated, but so is style.

David Grossman, 67, President of ico-D, the International Council of Design

“I tell my students what they cannot comprehend: On your fiftieth birthday you wake up and become aware of a conspiracy that has caused all type to become so small it’s unreadable.

Nevertheless, I feel like we Boomers are the last generation that’s not cynical and still has hopes for a better world. I’m loyal to products that serve me with efficiency — larger type included — and style.”

Combine timeless design with ease of use.

Christopher Scardino, 34, IT Consultant

“My Boomer clients’ favorite brands seem to speak to the glory days of their ‘Woodstock-Summer of Love’ youth, but don’t remind them of how long ago that was. Like Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream, which has a fun Sixties vibe but appeals to all ages. And OXO Good Grips kitchen tools, which were invented to help the owner’s wife cope with arthritis, but are marketed to everyone.

Concentrate on timeless design and ease of use and your product or campaign has a better chance of success. No more thick manuals or going through elaborate installations with CDs and serial numbers. With one click, off you go.”

Don’t shy away from diversity in imagery.

Roslyn Mickelson, Ph.D., 70, Professor of Sociology and Public Policy

“Be aware of diversity in race, class, and geography. Don’t just show white guys playing the guitar and riding motorcycles. Don’t only show gray-blonde women making pottery and gardening. Instead of a couple moving to a gated community, show racially diverse people in nontraditional relationships moving in with their children and grandchildren. And remember that many 55- to 72-year-old citizens were immigrants or children of immigrants. Show multigenerational, multicultural families eating or watching sports together on TV. Show grandmas taking care of grandchildren. How about a whole bunch of grandmas watching little kids in the park?

Picturing people of all ages accurately without condescending will give your work authenticity that will resonate.”

Messaging matters. Make the fine print the big print.

Michael Shamosh, 68, Investment Manager

“In today’s business world, there’s a lot of fine print that’s difficult to read and understand. I’d advise advertisers and designers to provide enough information to help everyone make an informed decision. I would change the general directive to ‘make the type bigger’ to ‘make the fine print the big print.’ If you give detailed information in clear, non-legal language, accompanied by eye-catching design, your product and service will earn more trust and give you an advantage.”

One thing that shines through our experts’ advice: Designers must create messages and visuals — whether on the web, in print, or on TV — that resonate as authentic and truthful. Crafting those projects takes focus and collaboration. And, especially for those multi-screening consumers — who also read newspapers and magazines and get direct mail — it takes consistency across media and platforms. Adobe Creative Cloud for teams helps you ensure that your designs are on-brand, fresh, and relevant to the audience.

Seventy-six million strong, comprising 25% of the population, and living longer than ever before, Americans 55+ are a key market segment. Designing for them and turning them into loyal fans of your brand is an exciting challenge.

UX in a Hybrid World – From Dinosaurs to Diagnostics

Creative Cloud

We look at how mixed reality (MR) is shaping a hybrid world where reality and digital reality coexist, and what this means for UX designers.

It starts like this. You step into the time machine and strap yourself in to one of the many pods before you. The pods start to rattle and shake, flashes of light and loud noises create a sense of chaos around you, and your journey back in time begins. Before you know it the doors open and you have arrived 67 million years into the past and right into the time of the dinosaurs.

No, this isn’t Jurassic Park, but it’s the closest thing you’ll likely find to it.

Welcome to Dinosaurs in the Wild. In this immersive experience, the audience (the users) is guided on a safari surrounded by living dinosaurs. Of course these dinosaurs aren’t actually living. The experience is a combination of theatre, theme parks and technology that comes to life through high resolution screens, virtual reality, 3D technology, CG animals and holograms, animatronic dinosaurs, lighting, sound, and a team of actors playing the roles of guides, scientists, laboratory workers and more.

But for 70 minutes, the audience suspends disbelief. They become lost in the experience. They are able to escape reality in favor of a mixed reality.

It is an exaggerated example of what is becoming an increasingly hybrid world—one where the lines between reality and virtual reality begin to blur, coming together to create new environments and experiences. It’s a conglomeration of augmented reality, virtual reality and, well, actual reality.

MR, the T-Rex of AR and VR

Known as “mixed reality,” or MR, this hybrid technology is often positioned as the next big thing. However, the key to making these experiences successful and believable exists in a tradition as old as time: storytelling.

“I think one of the most powerful tools in your kit bag is story,” said Tim Haines, creative director of Dinosaurs in the Wild.

Haines knows. The idea for Dinosaurs in the Wild first came to him more than 15 years ago. A science journalist by trade, Haines is best known for his BBC documentary-style television series Walking With Dinosaurs, which also lead to the production of other programs including Walking With Beasts and Walking With Monsters. He has made a career out of telling stories about dinosaurs.

Much of the team that helped bring this vision to life, including producers Jill Bryant and Bob Deere, come from a journalistic background, having worked with Haines at BBC on Walking With Dinosaurs. Story is intrinsic to their approach, but sharing this story with a diverse user-base presented a design challenge that involved some creative thinking.

Though he may have taken slight offense when I likened him to Jurassic Park’s John Hammond, prompting him to say that he’s “not nearly as old and famous…or dangerous,” he did admit that creating complex experiences like this is a difficult line to tread.

“You want to capture a large group. Adults will say, ‘couldn’t we have more gore, couldn’t we have louder sounds,’ then when you see a little one crying you think of dear, I don’t like that,” he said. “I think we’ve got the combination right. The little ones are excited and the adults appreciate that it is made with care and detail, and the story is complete.”

It wasn’t until four years ago that Haines’ dream began to come into fruition. To create an experience of this magnitude, he needed the support of investors. What better way to win them over than by bringing a mini version of the experience to the pitch with them?

“We presented to possible investors by sitting in a room and changing one of the windows to a screen and they didn’t notice,” Haines said. “We pulled up the blind and the T-Rex came down the street outside and said, ‘hello.’”

Hybrid Entertainment

Though Dinosaurs in the Wild is a UK production, there are examples of this type of experience sprouting up in America. Sea World recently unleashed a ‘Kraken’ VR Roller Coaster, and improved 3D and holographic technology has made its way on to the big screen, such as in the sci-fi film starring Scarlett Johansson, Ghost in the Shell.

These experiences tend to exist in the sphere of entertainment, but their place extends far beyond it and the potential for this type of hybrid experience is presently unmapped, only now its possibilities are beginning to be explored. These entertainment examples, however, can be used as case studies for what makes a good user experience in hybrid technology. How can the technologies be used effectively and what can we learn from them in these instances?

“I think this combination of information and entertainment, which is often given horrible names like infotainment, is actually a very potent area to get it right,” Haines said.

In an article that appeared in Creative Review, writer Mark Sinclair spoke with studio Territory about the production of Ghost in the Shell.

In the piece, the studio’s director David Sheldon-Hicks says, “Futuristic tech design really has to be developed as though it is to be used in the real world, and requires UI/UX experience, a strong aesthetic understanding and a passion for storytelling to get it right.”

Part of the approach to Dinosaurs in the Wild and Ghost in the Shell was an exploration into the concept of the screen and how screens—or lack there of—shape our experiences, and the role they play in advancing a story.

In DITW, Haines’ team used the latest screen technology in a way that made the screens look like windows into another dimension, whereas in Ghost in the Shell, Sinclair writes that the team looked at, “how people are likely to engage with tech in a world where screens of any form are obsolete. Instead, interactions based on gestures, voice and thought replace traditional screen-based interfaces.”

In both cases, screens were approached in unconventional ways even though the screens themselves are a crucial component of delivering both experiences. Each gives designers much to consider.

Hybrid UX in Healthcare

The technology involved in these experiences is the same technology that is being used to advance other industries such as the medical field.

In an interview with Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry Online, Brandon Bogdalek, a healthcare design consultant at Worrell, talked about how mixed media combines virtual and augmented reality with the introduction of the technology’s ability to detect space.

“The mixed reality technology that we use here at Worrell is the Microsoft HoloLens. It actually has the capability to track the room that you’re in and will place holograms relative to what’s tracking,” he said in the interview.

“The use case for a surgical setting, for example, would be a mixed reality approach, where I’m using a head-mounted display—let’s use the Microsoft HoloLens for example here. So, let’s say a patient has a tumor that’s located in the liver and I input that CT or MRI data into the HoloLens. It should be able to pretty accurately detect where that tumor is in approximation to the body and overlay that information.”

As the way we experience and interact with technology evolves and changes, becoming interlaid over our material existence, designers face a whole new world of design challenges and opportunities that shape shift across various industries.

Back to Reality

When it comes to entertainment, however, Haines said experiences like Dinosaurs in the Wild mark the beginning of a new era. Never before have so many technologies come together to tell such compelling stories in real time.

“I think the idea of using more and more mixed technologies to entertain people is something that is going to get more common, and you’ll see a lot of different forms of entertainment moving together,” Haines said. “There are lots of possibilities for new storytelling, one of which has to do with things like VR, very good graphics, and of course MR and MA, which will come along and I think be even more useful than VR for shared experiences.”

Designers, don’t listen to what Michael Crichton wrote in Jurassic Park the novel when he said, “Entertainment has nothing to do with reality. Entertainment is antithetical to reality.”

The line between entertainment and reality has never been more blurred.

Artist Spotlight: Mirae Kim

Creative Cloud

“There’s no deeper meaning to my work”: Mirae Kim’s refreshingly open claim demonstrates her easy-going and fresh attitude to art. Her sole creative purpose is to enable people to enjoy her art, as well as becoming the artist known for using the color pink the most; two goals that we think she’s well on the way to achieving. As our featured artist for July, we spoke to her to find out more:

ADOBE STOCK: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your creative background?

Hello. I am a Korean graphic designer, Mirae Kim.

I am always a happy person and think positively and I think my personality is expressed in the design. Also, the most important goal of my graphic design is to make people happy.

It is a designer who pursues ‘fun’ that can be felt instantly rather than having a profound meaning.

There’s no deeper meaning to my work. Just enjoy and have fun! Thank you.

AS: How would you describe your style?

MK: Two elements of ‘fun’ and ‘happiness’ are enough.

AS: Where do you find your inspiration? 

MK: I’m mostly inspired by interesting situations, conversations with friends, and creative films.

AS: What’s been your biggest challenge to overcome in the design industry?

MK: It is ‘creativity’.

Because trends change rapidly, finding newness is very important.

It is also important to have a design that makes the viewers remarkable.

AS: What are your perceptions of stock images, and do you think the perception is changing?

MK: It is a very interesting service that can directly sell our works.

Also, there are more interesting works than before.

I think Adobe Stock is the best among stock companies and most active.

AS: What did you like the most about using Adobe Stock?

MK: It’s a trendy ‘Templates’ section.

Template download using Adobe program is the best.

It is stylish and offers a mock-up file, which is really effective for designers.

AS: What’s been your favorite project to work on to date?

MK: My project is ‘line tennis’.

It is my favorite project to blend beautiful colors.

AS: What are you excited to work on in 2017? 

MK: I was very happy to be selected by 20 remarkable artists in 2017 who were selected by Adobe, and it seems like I have developed myself through working with Adobe Stock.

Above: Mirae’s exclusive piece of artwork created using just Adobe Stock assets

AS: What music do you currently listen to whilst working (if any!)?

MK: Listening to the Jackson 5,’ ‘I want you back’.

The moment I hear the song, I feel better.

Michael Jackson is a great artist since he was a child.

A few months ago, I was addicted to the “Guardians of Galaxy” soundtrack and replayed.

AS: What design trends should we be looking out for this year?

MK: Now ‘simplicity’ is not fun.

I think that the era of design to subtract something seems to be over. Therefore, it is trend to express fun and sophisticated feeling with rich color.

You can see more of Mirae’s work on her Behance portfolio and her website.

How NOT to be a Creative Dictator

Creative Cloud

5 Tips for Empowering Your Team through Collaboration, Innovation & Flexibility

Authored by David Lesue, Creative Director, Workfront. Workfront is a 2017 MAX partner. We’d like to thank all our 2017 MAX partners who help make the conference possible.

Attaining the position of creative director is a significant career milestone. The opportunity to take the lead on brand management, oversee the creative work, and build a rock star team is not only a testament to your creative prowess, but also a vote of confidence in your leadership.

But, there are some individuals for whom the power and responsibility go to their heads, turning an otherwise kind and supportive human being into a micro-managing, over-bearing ogre. Certainly not every creative dictator has bad intentions—while some may seize the opportunity to push their own ideas and agenda, many simply feel overwhelmed with the responsibility and react by ruling with an iron fist in an effort to meet organizational expectations and keep projects moving forward.

However, it doesn’t have to be that way. You can take charge and command respect, while still leading with a supportive approach within a team-oriented environment. Here are 5 tips to help you avoid becoming THAT creative director—the one everyone grumbles about when you leave the room.

  1. Collaborate, don’t command. Divide your time between leading and doing, and don’t be afraid to get in the trenches with your team. Resist the urge to force your opinion or solution to the top of the pile, and encourage your team to offer suggestions, constructive feedback, and input to one another—and to you. Approach your role as one of a facilitator, empowering your team to do what they do best.
  2. Influence, don’t instruct. Your job is to create an environment in which your team feels that they have the tools and flexibility in which to do their best work. Rather than directing each individual’s decisions and output, instead focus on building and maintaining a framework that guides everyone in a positive direction. The role of a successful creative director is much like that of a gardener: it requires cultivating a rich culture, applying creative “fertilizer,” weeding out distractions, and giving seedlings of talent the room they need to grow.
  3. Embrace flexibility, not rigidity. As much as many creatives might say they despise it, process is a necessity. In fact, when done right, process actually fosters creativity by eliminating organizational chaos that creates roadblocks and confusion. But, enforcing process at the expense of creativity can kill innovation—boundaries, guidelines, and structure can’t be the top priority. Use technology to strike a perfect balance. Establish strong brand touchstones, like a brand guide, asset templates, and example pieces that represent the desired standard, and make these available on a shared repository that the entire team can access. From here, they can draw on those touchstones to push new projects in new directions, while still adhering to the brand standards set forth.
  4. Gain visibility, not control. When the fear of missing deadlines rears its head, some creative directors default to staring over team members’ shoulders to ensure their work is completed on time. They might noodle their way into the details of each project, to make sure everything runs smoothly. But, in reality, this meddling causes even further delays. Instead, use workflow management tools that provide real-time visibility into the status of projects, as well as any obstacles. With visibility into where everything stands, creative directors can step back, take a deep breath, and ask how they can help, rather than breathing down everyone’s neck.
  5. Defend, don’t demand. When powerful stakeholders come at you with new work requests, it can be tempting to accept everything and demand your team do whatever it takes to make it happen. But, instead of making your team look great, taking on too much work makes everyone feel overwhelmed, burned out, stressed, and angry—none of which drive top performance. Instead, with work visibility in check, defend your team against aggressive stakeholders by showing them exactly what’s already in the queue and what would have to take a backseat in order to accommodate new “urgent” requests. By saying, “no”—or at least, “not right now”—with defensible evidence, you can earn the respect of your team and the admiration of stakeholders for having such clear visibility into your team’s workload.


Director or dictator—the choice is yours

Developing and maintaining a collaborative environment in which you serve as a facilitator, rather than a dictator, can allow your entire team to thrive. By enabling each team member to do their best work through efficient work management, task visibility, and nurturing a culture of flexibility, you avoid being perceived as a dictator, but rather as a valued member of the team. With the right technology in place, like Workfront, you can focus on enablement and empowerment, instead of command and control, and your team may surprise you with unprecedented creativity, innovation, and results that surpass your expectations.

Glimpsing Ourselves in Deconstructed Portraits

Creative Cloud

A good portrait raises a lot of questions: What can we know about a person from a moment? What stories do a look or a gesture or a setting tell? But when artists add a twist, toying with balance, perspective, and digital manipulations, the questions get even more urgent, and the feeling can be unsettling. Rule-breaking portraits ask us to think through stubborn stereotypes, and even reconsider the nature of truth itself.


When a self-portrait is everything but the self.

Cindy Sherman is the master of the deceptive, rule-breaking portrait. She first hit the art scene in the 1980s with her self-portraits and since then, the more we’ve seen of her, the less we know about who she is. And that’s really the point—Sherman uses wigs, makeup, costumes, prosthetics, and even digital manipulation to create a chameleon-self who asks more questions than she answers. According to The Guardian, “She’s a Hitchcock heroine, a busty Monroe, an abuse victim, a terrified centerfold, a corpse, a Caravaggio, a Botticelli, a mutilated hermaphrodite sex doll, a man in a balaclava, a surgically enhanced Hamptons type, a cowgirl, a desperate clown, and we’ve barely started.”

But these multiple Shermans don’t deceive us—we always know that the images are constructed. The New York Times explains, “Her photos are inevitably skewed so that their seams show and their fictive, constructed nature is apparent; we are always in on the trick, alerted to their real-feigned nature… She is also a consummate manipulator of space, scale, color and pattern textiles.”

By manipulating her images right before our eyes, Sherman prods us to question the stereotypes we might otherwise fall back on unconsciously to understand a portrait—stereotypes about women, class, sexuality, and more. She even asks us to question core assumptions about the relationship between photographs and truth. The Guardian explains her impact, “She took photos of herself that were anything but self-portraits; photos that stuck two fingers at the then received wisdom that the camera never lies—her camera always lied.”

If the camera lies, where does that leave us, the viewers? Are our images of ourselves and others always only constructed? Sherman demands that we live with this ambiguity.

Deconstructing the stock portrait.

When it comes to stock portrait collections, it can be easy to find images that depend on the kinds of stereotypes and assumptions Sherman obliterates. But we talked to Jared Drace, head of production services for Hex, to find out how his team built a collection of stock portraits that defy conventional composition in order to unmake stereotypes.


“We encourage our photographers to deconstruct the images. We look for unusual angles and different perspectives, not just in terms of the actual compositions, but in the stories we’re telling as well,” explains Jared. “We love images that grab the attention of the viewer. Little changes, like taking the object off center, tilting the camera, or a slight offset in framing can have a great effect and garner more attention to the image.”


According to Jared, lighting is another big factor in creating unique images that grab attention: “One of the advantages of digital photography is that you don’t need that much light to take a great picture. You can illuminate a face with a smartphone screen or shoot in a dimly lit bar without compromising the mood with extra lighting or a flash.”

And creating stereotype-defying stock portraits isn’t just about the subjects. The photographer’s experiences leave their imprint on an image, too. “HEX has deep roots in music photography and youth culture, which has helped our photographers to become a visual voice of the under-represented,” says Jared.


Finding ourselves in stock.

Portraits are part of how we understand (and question) ourselves in an image-saturated culture, so it’s no surprise that they’re a huge category in stock collections, too. Just this May, we saw 10,000 searches for portraits in Adobe Stock—the most popular categories were portraits of women, followed by families and men. Even dogs and doctors made the list. No doubt, some searchers are looking for balanced, traditional images, but we think others will discover a little imbalance. Maybe just enough to capture attention and get people thinking.


Read more about how artists break the rules of balance, angles, and perspective to create a mood, raise questions, and even unsettle us, and check out this month’s curated gallery of unbalanced compositions in Adobe Stock.

UXperts Weigh In: Designs We Love, July Edition

Creative Cloud

July is a great month for taking photos. It’s also a great month to learn a new skill, do some good, and/or tweet about all of the above. No matter what you’re up to, our UXperts have some great suggestions for you. Here are the websites and apps they’re loving right now, and their thoughts on why they make excellent examples of UX design.

Paul Elsberg, Creative Developer at Alt Ethos

Pick: The Bézier Game

In an ecosystem of online tutorials littered with lengthy explanations and follow the leader videos, artful instructional design is a breath of fresh air. Playing The Bézier Game is a valuable lesson in crafting hands-on learning experiences that use game play as a teaching mechanism. The core mechanics challenge budding designers to quickly acclimate themselves to the basics of the pen tool by using a limited amount of nodes to outline a variety of shapes.

This approach to teaching digital tools is valuable because it engages users in structured play that is acutely aware of the nuances of the subject matter. By setting a maximum amount of nodes at the beginning of each level and unveiling the all-time minimum amount of nodes after completion, Marc MacKay emphasizes that an active learning experience for beginners can also challenge the experienced professional.

It’s easy to love simple software like The Bézier Game that invites you to learn through playful design because it draws the fine line between tutorial and gameplay gracefully.

Micah Bennett, UX Designer at DesignMap

Pick: SOMA

SOMA is my favorite example of service design that nails the end-to-end user experience. The product and packaging are beautifully designed and paired with a crisp website that clearly communicates its core value propositions. The team’s no-frills approach is a perfect example of a task-focused e-commerce experience that guides you directly to a swift checkout flow.

In an already saturated market, SOMA has differentiated itself in three ways:

  1. Social good is synonymous with their brand as every purchase benefits Charity Water.
  2. Filters are eco-friendly and made from renewable resources.
  3. They eliminate a key user pain point through an automated service. By seamlessly delivering filters to your door, SOMA removes the need to track filter changes on a calendar, tacky fridge magnet, or digital clock. Removing one simple chore in a sea of to-do lists converts customers to loyal evangelists.

Consumers have grown to expect high quality and trustworthiness from brands. The standards and quality of everything SOMA designs – analog, digital and experiential – means I’ll never be cancelling my subscription.

Bradley Ziffer, Senior UI/UX Designer at Hotleads

Pick: Twitter’s Redesign

While Twitter’s branding has always been ‘friendly,’ as any social platform should be, this new update is extraordinarily refreshing. Something that is almost impossible to test is a design that invokes positivity. This new design, complete with rounded corners, seamless animations, and a completely updated library of icons does just that.

Another subtle aspect in this new update is the real-time engagement. It is now visual and consistently updated when another user or mass of users interact (retweet, etc.) with a tweet. While small, this is a monumental change, connecting all users in a way that it has not been seen before. This small feature helps the individual feel a closer social interaction.

Alongside these phenomenal changes, a new sidebar has been introduced on mobile. This change gives the user access to their own profile without leaving the feed or explore tab. While this feature, and the removal of the profile tab, will come with criticism I believe that it nudges the user into what is going on, while also offering their profile in a simple swipe.


Matt Aune, Experience Design Manager at Adobe Marketing Cloud

Pick: Google Photos

One of my favorite UX systems is Google Photos. The experience and capabilities are simply amazing.

I’ve been taking photos since I was yearbook editor in high school so I’ve got a vast library of digital and print photograms, and I uploaded gigs and gigs of unorganized digital photos from my past. The photo scan app lets me easily digitize my old print images. Additionally, the assistant feature has learned my organization scheme and is starting to suggest smart albums. Even moving to a phone, the user experience is consistent and seamless.

Now when I want to find images of my niece Abagail, for instance I just have to search her name. Via facial recognition, I get a list of results with every photo she’s in and it’s awesome.

What websites or apps are you loving right now? Let us know in the comments!

Project Felix 0.3: 3-D Compositing Made Even Easier

Creative Cloud

Project Felix 0.3 is here.

Project Felix is a new Adobe application that makes it easy to composite 3-D objects with 2-D images. Our goal is to open up the world of 3-D design to individuals without previous 3-D design experience.  

Our latest update — Project Felix 0.3 — is all about efficiency and workflow improvements. Over the last 6 months, we’ve been gathering user feedback. We’ve used your comments and suggestions to add the features that you’ve requested in each update of the application.

We’ve improved lighting, added a bookmarks feature, engineered a more intuitive user interface that aligns with the Adobe applications you use everyday, and cut down on the time it takes to render a project.

Major advances in outdoor lighting.
Light is a central element of rendering 3-D objects. In a previous post, we discussed how light is used in Project Felix. In this release, we’re working with light in new ways.

“Historically, the lighting tool in Project Felix has been mostly an image-based technique to relay the light from an image,” J. Eisenmann, our computer scientist on indoor/outdoor lighting says. “In this update we’re looking at the image, and we’ve trained some convolutional neural networks to actually reproduce physical lighting for a scene.”

A fully digital scene of a room and furniture is lit by a photographic background image and the automatic light matching in Project Felix. By Vladimir Petkovic.

Most of us aren’t experts in convolutional neural networks — or even know exactly what that means — but anyone can see the benefits that come from this technology. Now, the lighting tools in Project Felix can better replicate all of the ways light interacts with objects in the scene, creating a more realistic image overall. Justin Patton, our art director for Project Felix, sees this feature being useful in a variety of different ways.

“This technology can actually find the sun direction, even if the sun isn’t in the image, and create direct sunlight, which gives you direct control over the intensity of the sun,” he says. “Ultimately, it allows you to composite a 3-D object with your 2-D image in a way that looks even more realistic than before.”

Save your position in 3-D space with bookmarks.
The bookmark feature was developed from detailed user feedback. You asked for it, and we delivered.

Felix’s Senior Experience Designer Tyler Lafreniere anticipated the need for a bookmark-like tool in our early planning stages. With user feedback, he was able to help incorporate the tool into this version of Project Felix.

“We’d heard a lot from users on the need for a bookmarking tool,” Tyler says. “They really needed a way to get back to a view they really like, and to do so efficiently. We hope this technology is going to massively improve the user experience. That’s what it’s all about.”

Bookmarked camera views are used to save multiple shots of the same scene so the designer can return to the shot, update the image, and render with ease. By Justin Patton.

With bookmarks, you have the ability to save and return to any kind of stored view. Even for a seasoned 3-D user, it can take time to get that perfect shot. Unlike 2-D, you need to keep moving and rotating around the object to understand the space. This means selecting different cameras and moving the view around to see the object from different angles — a seemingly infinite number of combinations, each resulting in a unique view of the object.

In 3-D, the changes you make affect the way your project looks in each of these various shots. For example, you may make a change in view combination 37 and want to see how that affects view combination 124. Without bookmarks, you would have to do your best to recreate that exact combination from memory.

The bookmarks tool lets you save specific views and go back to them with the click of a button. This allows you to quickly work between multiple angles without reinventing each shot. The ability to create bookmarks gives users the chance to work much faster and improve their workflow.

Create new art with Project Felix.
For those of you returning to Project Felix, we’re excited to share this update with you. Thank you to all of our users who have participated in discussions and interviews. Your feedback truly fuels our design. If you’re new to Project Felix, we welcome your creativity and new voices in our user forums.

As a front-end engineer, Alex Fischer bridges the gap between design and programming and is deeply involved in crafting the user experience. “We look at the forums. We concentrate on what users are saying, and we form our product based off what people say they want,” he says. “It really is a collaborative effort between our team and our users.”

An abstract city of bottles experiments with vibrant colors and shows how lighting can be playful as well as realistic. By Vladimir Petkovic.

We’ve already seen users produce amazing designs in Project Felix, and can’t wait to see what you create with our latest update. Here’s a final thought from Justin:

“3-D is like a playground. You have this world of objects and materials that all interact together. You constantly come across new and interesting things that you didn’t even set out to create initially. With Project Felix 0.3, there are so many opportunities for experimentation and discovery. I think we’ll start to see new types of art being created, and that’s the reason we do what we do.”

Make It Impactful: Project Felix

Creative Cloud

Here’s how to enter this Make It Impactful contest, which lets you try out Project Felix, Adobe’s new tool for compositing 3D and 2D assets into photorealistic images:

  1. You’ll need Project Felix—which comes as part of an Adobe Creative Cloud membership.
  2. Choose a photograph that you’d like to place your 3D object or objects into. For this contest, please use only photographs that you have taken yourself and that you have the right to use. Please do not use photographs of people unless you have their permission. Recognizable photographs of famous people or public figures will not be eligible.
  3. Using Project Felix, create your composite image.
  4. Share the image on Twitter or Instagram with the the hashtags #makeitimpactful and #contest.
  5. The deadline for submissions is August 4, 2017, at 11:59 p.m. PDT. A winner will be chosen and announced by August 28, 2017.
  6. Please enter only once—multiple entries and duplicate entries will be disqualified. Eligibility for prizes is limited; for the complete contest rules (in English, French, and German), click here.

From these submissions, Choice, Liaw, and Maller will be selecting one contest entrant to win a one-year Adobe Creative Cloud subscription, a $1,000 Visa gift card, and a one-hour mentoring session. (This is the second of four Make It Impactful contests we’re running in the summer and fall of 2017. One of the four winners will be randomly selected to win our grand prize: a trip to Adobe MAX in Las Vegas!)

(Learn more about this contest and get inspired—read “Make It Impactful: Project Felix for 3D.”)


Creating the Voice of Youth Media

Creative Cloud

In the early ‘90s, there was only one publication that would cover the spirit of the younger generation through sex, drugs, and rock & roll: VICE. Today, VICE Media is the #1 youth media company worldwide, reaching audiences in more than 40 countries. Its media reach has expanded from print publications into broadcast television, digital imprints, and a record label. While VICE Media still covers typical topics that most interest youths, including music and entertainment, it also attracts young audiences that are increasingly interested in more diverse content, such as environmental issues and politics.

Not only is the VICE Media generation interested in a wide range of topics, they are also consuming content in a wide variety of ways. They’re reading in-depth articles on and watching video clips through social media apps on their phones. VICE Media GmbH, the German arm of VICE Media, works with journalists and freelancers around the world to find fascinating and compelling stories, and publishes them across multiple platforms as quickly as possible.

Using Adobe Creative Cloud for enterprise, VICE Media GmbH is improving production speeds and collaboration to reach wider audiences. With Adobe Creative Cloud Libraries, VICE Media GmbH organizes video clips, logos, lower thirds, and other assets into libraries that can be shared with everyone working on a project, even freelancers. Creative Cloud Libraries are automatically synced so that people working on a project know that they’re working with the latest versions of assets for productions.

Working with Adobe Team Projects in Adobe Premiere Pro CC boosts collaboration and production efficiency. A field journalist covering a demonstration or other remote event can concentrate on shooting footage and gathering interviews, while an editor in the office collects and publishes the footage using Premiere Pro. Team Projects reduces production time and allows VICE Media GmbH to publish stories even faster.

“Every tool we invest in has to have a certain value for our business,” says Andreas Schneider, Head of Post Production at VICE Media GmbH. “Adobe has helped us to deliver fast and efficient productions.”

For designers, Adobe Stock is a game-changer. They can search the Adobe Stock archives for just the right image or video directly from within an Adobe Creative Cloud app. Once the project is edited and approved, the designer can replace the placeholder asset with the licensed version in just one click. All edits are preserved, eliminating the need for retouches. Designers only need to purchase approved stock assets, freeing time for more creativity and allowing VICE Media GmbH to improve production efficiency while reducing costs.

“With the time I save I can focus on creative thinking and concepting, such as creating a fantastic logo, instead of executing all the time,” Johann Steer, Designer at VICE Media GmbH.