Adobe has kicked off 2014 with a major update to its subscription-only Creative Cloud service. The headline new features are in the flagship Photoshop CC image-editing application, but there are also significant enhancements to Illustrator CC (vector drawing), InDesign CC (desktop publishing) and Muse (web design).
Although designers can create 3D models from scratch in Photoshop, the new functionality is primarily aimed at refining and beautifying existing models — which can be imported in a variety of industry-standard formats — and preparing them for printing. Profiles for popular desktop 3D printers from vendors including MakerBot and 3D Systems will be provided, along with support for the Shapeways 3D printing service. Photoshop will now allow you to define materials and textures, preview the print-ready model, and then automatically repair meshes and create the required support structures to prevent your model from collapsing while printing. In addition, you'll be able to upload your models to the Sketchfab 3D publishing service directly from Photoshop, and embed them in Adobe's Behance graphic design showcase service using Sketchfab's 3D viewer.
The difficult task of fixing perspective distortion in images will be made easier by Photoshop's new Perspective Warp feature. This allows you to manipulate the corners of a mesh overlay to, for example, make it appear as though a photograph was taken from a different position, or to insert an image from another photo.
Photoshop's new Linked Smart Objects feature may not seem as sexy as 3D printing or perspective manipulation, but it will probably have greater impact on designers' day-to-day lives. If you use the same object in multiple documents, a change to the source file will now automatically flow through all open documents, or appear as a flag the next time you open a document containing the altered object. This functionality is already available in Illustrator and InDesign, and will be equally welcome to Photoshop users.
New features in Illustrator CC include Live Corners, which allow you to manipulate the corners of drawn objects to adjust the degree and type of rounding (a dialogue box is also available for entering precise values). The pencil tool has been revamped to make it easier to draw smooth curves and straight lines, and it's also now easier to edit existing paths — on both conventional desktop systems and touch-enabled platforms.
InDesign CC gets better hyperlink management tools, allowing you to, for example, automatically create a character-styled hyperlink with a right-click. Integration with Adobe's Typekit font service is also improved, automatically finding and syncing any missing fonts when you open a document. You can also now access Typekit fonts directly from within InDesign CC, rather than having to go via the Creative Cloud desktop.
To encourage creative types to subscribe to Creative Cloud, Adobe has reset the 30-day trial periods for Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Muse. If you've tried any of these apps in the last 18 months, you can have another go, and sample the recent improvements that Adobe has made.