What We Learned At The 2021 Adobe Max Digital Event

Posted inDesign News

There are few brands that practice and preach creativity as passionately as Adobe. The software company has been around since the early 80s and has evolved with the demand of the times in ways other companies can only dream of. The thing is, when you’re as self-aware as Adobe, you understand that updates, new technologies, and fresh innovations are necessary to keep every type of user both inspired and satisfied with your brand and products.

Adobe has exemplified this over and over again, and while the brand usually hosts its annual Max Conference in person, the past two years have been a little different because of, well, you know, COVID. Instead of letting these trying times get in the way of creativity, Adobe created a free-to-access digital event. And, because the brand is known for its innovativeness, just because the event didn’t happen in person doesn’t mean that these two events were of any less quality. 

As with the typical in-person Max conference this year, the brand showcased significant updates to the Creative Cloud applications, new 3D and immersive abilities, and new collaboration capabilities, along with other fascinating projects and updates.  

Read on to see the most exciting things we learned from this year’s digital conference: 

Hover Auto-masking Object Selection Tool (Photoshop)

If you’ve ever used Photoshop, you’ve probably had the task of cutting out an object within a bigger picture. Sometimes, when something is exceptionally detailed, think frizzy hair; for example, the process of cutting out the image could make you literally want to rip your own hair out. Because Adobe is incredibly attentive to what designers need, they’ve upgraded the object selection tool.

No longer do object selections have to be stressful or time consuming; the new tool is trained by Adobe’s artificial intelligence (AI) machine, Sensei, to understand more classifications of objects as time goes on. This learning mechanism makes its Object Selection Tool more precise than ever before. 

Essentially, all you have to do to select an object is to scroll over it, and Photoshop will highlight your selected object. It’s truly as simple as that. And, if for some reason the object isn’t thoroughly picked up, all you have to do is draw a marquee over the wanted section to include it too. 

Color Transfer (Beta) (Photoshop)

Adobe announced a few new updates to its Neural Filters in Photoshop that elevate the photo editing process. And while all the latest updates are quite impressive, one that made our jaws drop the most was the new Color Transfer tool.

This new tool is helpful if you’ve ever seen an image and fallen in love with the effects, color ranges, or undertones. Now, instead of playing around with sliders tirelessly trying to match the effects, you can simply transfer your ideal color palette to your chosen image. 

Not only is this perfect for creating new moods within specific images, but it helps you step outside of your typical design comfort bubble and explore new tones and feelings. Additionally, this tool will help determine the perfect starting point to help you figure out the ideal look and feel of what you’re after in your editing process. 

New Collaboration Features (Illustrator)

COVID indeed brought a lot of negatives in the world, but it also sped up many ideas that were bound to happen. One of these creative innovations is the new Collaboration Feature in the desktop and iPad versions of Illustrator. 

No longer are the days of sending screenshots, waiting for massive email files to load, or inconvenient FaceTimes regarding design questions or comments. Instead, this new feature lets you send an email with a web-generated link to provide feedback, even if the link receiver doesn’t have Illustrator. 

Furthermore, at this year’s Max, Adobe announced the beta version of Creative Cloud Spaces. This new tool gives teams a place to host their creative work and resources to maximize organization and collaboration, all in real-time. This feature acts as an almost Google Drive version of the Adobe apps, which all designers used to dream of. 

This is huge. 

Improved 3D effects (Illustrator)

While designing in 3D isn’t new, it’s something that still feels wildly futuristic. The new 3D effects in Illustrator take any confusion or difficulty out of creating with a different perspective. Additionally, the new 3D panel allows designers to add depth to their work through a solid geometry processing engine that presents feedback in real-time. This feedback even incorporates automatic shadows which help to add a realistic element to designs, flawlessly.

Moreover, the 3D team at Adobe figured out how to speed up Ray-tracing, a realistic way of distributing light and shadows in a design, so that creators can continue to create at their dream pace. So not only will your designs look more realistic, the time it takes to do so is dramatically reduced. 

Adobe MAX 2021 Sneaks: A peek into what’s next

One of the most special and, truthfully, fun parts of the conference is the MAX Sneaks session. This year, the session was moderated by Kenan Thompson from Saturday Night Live, and while he’s no designer, his humor was appreciated throughout the announcements from Adobe engineers. 

If you’re unfamiliar, MAX Sneaks is the session where technology in its earliest stages is previewed. This year, there were nine tools presented, and each one further pushed us into the future of design. 

While each Sneak was exceptionally groundbreaking, the one that stood out the most was Project Artful Frames. This tool could literally change the way animators create and start their designs. Essentially, the tool combines the designer’s choice of style of artwork (think Picasso or Rembrandt) and the video of the designer’s choice. Once two pieces have been picked, the AI algorithm uses the artwork as a reference, emulates the style, and applies it to the video. It’s honestly so simple even non-animators and non-designers can easily create dream worthy animations.

The presentation for this tool made it clear that AI isn’t replacing artists; in fact, the AI tool needs artists to complete the final product because it’s simply pulling data from their original design. 

So while we do miss the buzz of the in-person event, it has been exceptionally cozy following from the comfort of our couch. Plus, when a brand is as innovative as Adobe, the seamlessness of the digital event makes it seem like this is precisely how it’s supposed to be. 

Oh, and did we mention that Young Thug, the rapper, fashion designer, and the soon-to-be actor, made an appearance? The brand showcased its belief that creativity belongs to everyone in a beautiful excess—props to Adobe for keeping it fresh. 

We can’t wait to see what’s in store for next year, but in the meantime we’ll be trying out all of these amazing new tools.