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The Power of the Creative Cloud and Illustrator CC (2015)

With the power of Adobe Illustrator the Adobe Creative Cloud, Libraries, and mobile apps, Adobe has created a seamless creative workflow where you can access your content anywhere. Brian Wood, web developer and author of Adobe Illustrator CC 2014 Classroom in a Book, will show you how to take advantage of the Creative Cloud capabilities with Adobe Illustrator.

Brian Wood's Adobe Illustrator CC Classroom in a Book (2015 release), will be available in December.

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With the June 2015 release, Adobe Illustrator is more connected than ever before to other Adobe apps using Libraries and the Creative Cloud. The recently introduced new features along with existing Creative Cloud features mean workflow enhancements for us all, as you’ll soon see.

In this article, you’ll take a look at all of cross-sharing capabilities that the Creative Cloud affords us when working with Illustrator.

Sharing Is Easy with Libraries

As a Creative Cloud subscriber, you’re given a certain amount of “cloud” storage for your content that can be accessed from within the Adobe applications, mobile apps, and more—basically anywhere. Saving content into your Creative Cloud folder syncs that content with the Creative Cloud and allow you to access it from anywhere.

While that is still the case, in late 2014, Libraries were introduced as a powerful way to create, categorize, share, and store your favorite colors, brushes, text styles, graphics, and vector images in one easily accessible place—the Libraries panel. Once again, your Creative Cloud storage lets you access your content from anywhere. The key feature of the Libraries panel is the ability to store not only artwork (files like an .ai file), but also colors, styling, and more in an easily accessible place called a Library (see Figure 1).

Figure 1 Libraries

That Library content can be accessed on any machine or mobile app that supports Libraries, as long as you log in with the same Adobe ID. In addition to Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign, Libraries can also be accessed online in your Creative Cloud account, through the Creative Cloud Market, and several of the Adobe mobile apps like Adobe Shape, Adobe Sketch, Adobe Brush, and Adobe Color (see Figure 2).

Figure 2 Adobe mobile apps

New in the June 2015 release of Adobe Illustrator, most graphic assets dragged from the Libraries panel into an Illustrator document are linked by default. There are a few asset types that are not linked, like content from Adobe Shape or certain content from the Creative Cloud Market.

Imagine this. You create a logo in Illustrator or even Photoshop that you want to appear multiple times in the same Illustrator document or even across documents. You can add the logo artwork to a library of your choosing in the Libraries panel, and then drag it out into your document(s) (see Figure 3).

Figure 3 Drag artwork from the Libraries panel

The artwork will be linked to the original library item. You can then edit the original library artwork by double-clicking the item in the Libraries panel or other methods (like the Links panel). Everywhere that logo appears is then updated.

Since it’s treated as linked content, you can find the link information in the Links panel and Control panel when the artwork is selected in the document (see Figure 4). I’ve heard some people compare this new functionality to symbols in Illustrator. To me linked Library content can be more universal since the graphic assets in a Library are stored in the Creative Cloud (rather than the document) and can be accessed from anywhere and even shared with others.

Figure 4 The library asset link information

If you have a library asset that you don’t want to be linked to the Library you dragged it from, you can easily unlink it. With the library content selected, click the Embed button in the Control panel or use the Embed option in the Links panel (see Figure 5). That way the asset won’t update if you update the asset in the Libraries panel. You can also now edit the artwork directly in the document, since it’s embedded.

Figure 5 Embed the library asset

If you are working with others, you can also share individual assets, colors, and styling or even a whole Library with them. So you could come up an awesome library full of user interface elements for web design, for example, then share it with the whole team.

From the Libraries panel, simply right-click on an individual asset and choose Share Link to share that asset. You can also choose a library from the list of libraries and then choose either Share Link or Collaborate from the Libraries panel menu (see Figure 6). Collaborators can view, edit, rename, move, or delete the contents of this library. Sharing a link to a library gives the user a copy of the library that they can add to their own list of libraries and access anywhere.

Figure 6 Share library assets or the entire library

From Mobile to Desktop

Libraries give us sharing flexibility within Illustrator as well as between Illustrator, InDesign, and Photoshop. But Adobe also came out with a slew of new apps for iOS in late 2014 (a few of them are on their way to Android as I speak), including Adobe Shape, Adobe Brush, Adobe Comp, Adobe Draw, and the list goes on. Each of these apps connects with and shares the content from your Libraries (as long as you login to the app with the same Adobe ID). This means that when inspiration strikes, you can use your supported mobile device along with one or more of these apps and instantly share artwork you create with Illustrator (and InDesign and Photoshop).

Adobe Shape is app that is used purely for tracing images you take with the device camera, images already in the device library, or images in your Creative Cloud account (see Figure 7). It’s pretty easy to use and simple to boot. The idea (to me) is that you can turn imagery into vector artwork that can then be brought into Illustrator to edit further.

Figure 7 Adobe Shape on the iPad

Adobe Comp is pretty much what it sounds like—an app for comping designs. You can create layouts using your finger that can be as fleshed out as you need (see Figure 8).

Figure 8 The Adobe Comp interface

Adobe Comp integrates drawing gestures, Typekit fonts, and more. One of the reasons why I love Comp is because you can sketch out a rough design and then send it directly to Illustrator, InDesign, or Photoshop to finish on your desktop. All of the vector and text are still as is, and editable in Illustrator (see Figure 9) if you choose to send it there.

Figure 9 The Adobe Comp artwork sent to Illustrator

Adding assets and artwork you create with these apps to a library of your choosing makes it easy to then utilize that creative content in Illustrator, or wherever it’s needed.

Typekit and the Creative Cloud Market

There are other useful Creative Cloud features that Illustrator has been able to take advantage of before this new release, and I really just wanted to bring them up again since we’re already here. They are Typekit fonts and the Creative Cloud Market.

A Creative Cloud subscription comes with access to the Typekit library of fonts. I love this feature not only because it gives access to hundreds of fonts you can use in Illustrator (and any other application for that matter) (see Figure 10), but also because as someone who creates websites, I use Typekit on my sites as well. In Illustrator I can simply choose a font from the Typekit library and use it directly in my designs. Then I can make my code magic happen and use the same font on my site.

Figure 10 Choosing Typekit fonts in Illustrator

The Creative Cloud Market is relatively new and a great addition to the Creative Cloud in my opinion. The Market is a collection of high-quality, curated assets that are free to every paid Creative Cloud member. In the Market, there are thousands of design elements like wireframes, charts, vector shapes, patterns, backgrounds, entire layered PSD files, and brushes.

To get to the Market, you need to open the Creative Cloud desktop application. Once open, you can go to Assets > Market and start exploring. I love that while perusing the content in the Market, you can choose a category like “Vectors” to download SVG (vector) content that is completely editable in Illustrator. In order to save any of the Market assets for use in a program like Illustrator, you choose one of your libraries first, and then click to download the asset to your hard drive (see Figure 11).

Figure 11 Downloading a Market asset

The asset, after syncing with your machine, shows in the Libraries panel in Illustrator (see Figure 12). Awesome.

Figure 12 The Market asset in the Libraries panel in Illustrator

Final Thoughts

More than ever before, Adobe Illustrator is connected to other Adobe applications like Photoshop and InDesign or mobile apps like Adobe Comp and Adobe Shape. Libraries and the Creative Cloud will make your workflows smarter and afford you different ways to approach your design work.

To learn more about how the Creative Cloud and Illustrator work together, check out these resources:

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