An inside look into the ‘competition’: Testing Adobe Creative Cloud

It’s not Sunday but since no one really cares anymore what day it is lately with this Corona lockdown situation, I wanted to give you a (kind of) lockdown-themed post. Since we all find ourselves with more time on our hands, I decided to get a trial for the Adobe Creative Cloud for a change. These are my experiences and thoughts on whether it’s worth the money for a DH person.

Modalities of the 7-day trial

So overall, the Creative Cloud includes 30 programs but it also is 60€ per month (!) for a regular user. I would still get the student license (20€ a month which would be bearable if used only in the months where you really need it), however, it turns out that this reduced price is only available if you take a yearly subscription of 234€. Which is crazy for a software I don’t even use or need much and if I use it, I don’t use it commercially at all. The trial version is only 7 days, so that wasn’t really enough for me to check out all the features in much detail. And, of course, you need to make sure you get rid of the thing before the 7 days are up because, of course, it will automatically give you the yearly subscription afterwards (for student account, there’s no monthly option, otherwise you’d probably get monthly).

What is Creative Cloud?
Creative Cloud is a collection of 20+ desktop and mobile apps and services for photography, design, video, web, UX and more. Now you can take your ideas to new places with Photoshop on the iPad, draw and paint with Fresco, and design for 3D and AR. Join our global creative community — and make something better together. (Adobe CC Website)

The Adobe website organizes its services into the following categories:

Photography (Lightroom, Photoshop – separate subscription available)

Design & Layout

  1. Photoshop Edit, composite, and create beautiful images, graphics and art on desktop and iPad.
  2. Photoshop Express Edit and share photos on your mobile device.
  3. Illustrator Create beautiful vector art and illustrations.
  4. InDesign Design and publish elegant layouts for print and digital.
  5. Dimension Design in 3D for branding, product shots, packaging design, and creative work.
  6. After Effects Cinematic visual effects and motion graphics.
  7. Acrobat DC The complete PDF solution for a mobile, connected world.
  8. Spark Create graphics, web pages, and video stories in no time.
  9. Capture Turn any image on your phone into a color theme, graphic, brush, pattern, or texture.
  10. InCopy Collaborate with copywriters and editors.
  11. Bridge Centralize your creative assets.

Video & Motion

  1. Premiere Pro Industry-standard pro video and film editing.
  2. Premiere Rush Create and share online videos anywhere.
  3. Photoshop Edit, composite, and create beautiful images, graphics and art on desktop and iPad.
  4. After Effects Cinematic visual effects and motion graphics.
  5. Audition Bring stories to life with audio.
  6. Animate A new age for animation. Any platform, device and style.
  7. Character Animator Animate your 2D characters in real time.
  8. Media Encoder Quickly output video files for virtually any screen.


  1. Adobe Fresco Rediscover the joy of drawing and painting anywhere.
  2. Photoshop Edit, composite, and create beautiful images, graphics and art on desktop and iPad.
  3. Illustrator Create beautiful vector art and illustrations.
  4. Illustrator Draw Create vector art and designs on your mobile device.
  5. Capture Turn any image on your phone into a color theme, graphic, brush, pattern, or texture.


  1. Adobe XD Design, prototype, and share user experiences for web, mobile, voice, and more.
  2. Photoshop Edit, composite, and create beautiful images, graphics and art on desktop and iPad.
  3. Illustrator Create beautiful vector art and illustrations.
  4. Dreamweaver Design and develop modern, responsive web sites.
  5. After Effects Cinematic visual effects and motion graphics.
  6. Animate A new age for animation. Any platform, device and style.

3D & AR

  1. Dimension Design in 3D for branding, product shots, packaging design, and creative work.
  2. Adobe Aero Design and share immersive augmented reality experiences, no coding required.
  3. Substance The industry standard for 3D painting and texturing. (is sold separately)
  4. Mixamo Rapidly create, rig, and animate unique characters for design projects.
  5. Photoshop Edit, composite, and create beautiful images, graphics and art on desktop and iPad.
  6. Adobe Stock Choose from millions of high-quality images, graphics, videos, and more. (pay extra, as far as I know…)

Social Media

  1. Premiere Rush
    Create and share online videos anywhere.
  2. Spark Create graphics, web pages, and video stories in no time.
  3. Photoshop Camera Create and share amazing photos with the camera-effects app powered by AI.

But there is a also a free Lightroom mobile verison which I have. It seems that this isn’t part of the Creative Cloud though.

Already from glancing at these lists, you can see that while many of these apps are industry-standard, you really won’t need most of them for the DH. So unless you have related interests in your hobbies, this subscription probably isn’t for you or at least it will be very pricey without much return.

Why even try it?

You know that I usually prefer the free and open-source resources available (such as LaTeX and GIMP) but I decided to check out the Adobe Creative Cloud, especially for Photoshop and Lightroom (photo editing; for both those, a somewhat cheaper but still expensive monthly subscription option is available) because I had many images to edit and while GIMP is great, it’s just not so comfortable to use. So I decided why not use this opportunity to edit my conference snapshots. And I also wanted to have a look at InDesign which obviously is a common ‘alternative’ to LaTeX for many people, so I at least wanted to gain basic command of the tool. Learn the use the basics, just so I can say that can, really 😉


Is the Adobe Creative Cloud a tool to consider for Digital Humanists? No. Here’s why

I also wanted to use this opportunity to evaluate if I think the Adobe Creative Cloud is a relevant toolkit for a Digital Humanist. Spoiler: I think it’s not, except maybe when you want Lightroom and PhotoShop anyway because you’re a hobby photographer or if you want to do video editing. Especially if you’re a DH person who understands less-comfortable-to-use free alternatives, I don’t see why you should spent this exorbitant amount of your not-so-high earnings on a piece of proprietary software. I also have to say that the Creative Cloud suite has many very comfortable-to-use features. So it’s nice and I would use it on-off like Netflix if that were possible. But since you can’t get a monthly reduced fee option for students, it’s a big no from me. Not recommended. It’s good software but the price is too high for people who don’t use it commercially and who don’t even train to use it commercially in the future (students from related fields will profit from it at some point whereas we just never will so I don’t see why we should finance a big cooperation, rather donate your money to open source projects, I say).


An in-depth look at some of the more relevant tools included in Adobe CC

Judging from Adobe’s own categories, for DH people, the ones most likely relevant are Design&Layout, UI&UX as well as maybe Photography or 3D&AR. I’ll just shortly say something about a few selected tools I found noteworthy. You can use the #StayAtHome #Corona extra time to do a 7-day trial for yourself if you want to learn more.

Ok, so Adobe Acrobat DC is quite nice. You all probably know it anyway. I have used that for work at some point but I also don’t miss not having it anymore. The epigrammetry blog uses Spark for promoting new blogposts (free mobile version).

Dreamweaver is like a web dev IDE. I think I remember Dreamweaver from my early days using computers, funnily enough.  Personally, I felt like I really don’t need it. I currently use my atom editor for everything except XML/XSLT for which we have an Oxygen XML license at work. So I really don’t see the point of paying for this. I think it might be nice if you’re a really fancy web developer but for my own purposes, I really don’t need it. I prefer some simplicity.

For LaTeX, I use either VIM or TeXmaker or Overleaf. GIMP for image manipulation. And some commandline stuff. You, or at least I, really don’t need much more. I did find Adobe XD interesting though. If I needed it more, I’d probably think about maybe getting that one.

Then I checked out PhotoShop, of course, but it’s really just PhotoShop. People already know it anyway. It’s good but personally, unlike Lightroom with its lovely user experience, I think PhotoShop isn’t that much different from GIMP. Ok, maybe a bit easier to use. But not worth all that money. So the only thing I’ll probably miss very much and might get back for a monthly subscription for one month when I need it will be Lightroom. It’s simple, intuitive and the sleek design allows you to really focus on the image you’re trying to edit, no fuzz whatsoever. I loved that.

InDesign and Illustrator were interesting to play around with, so was Premiere – but for now, I really don’t have a use for any of them and it’s not like there were no free alternatives (such as… wait for it… LaTeX 😉 and InkScape, etc.).

The biggest caveat ever: No Linux

Oh and a big caveat: You might be wondering how I was even able to use this product since I use Linux. It happened like this: Shortly before Christmas, I got a new mini Linux machine. But it came with Windows pre-installed like they do. And apparently, in one of my brighter moments, when installing the dedicated ubuntu version for my umpc I was asked whether  I wanted a dual boot and I said yes. Turned out to be quite a practical detail to remember in this corona crisis now… So anyway, another reason why this product is not recommended because they don’t port to Linux and I normally don’t even have a Windows machine except for the one at work (where I’m not allowed in at the moment…).

So what were my results?

I didn’t go into detail or actually produce something in all of those apps. But I wanted to share some results.

I did photo editing in Lightroom on the images from the conference I organized in February. Here’s one example with just a simple black and white effect.

The participants of the international symposium “Alchemical Laboratories”, Vienna, Feb 19-22 2020. Photo taken at Gut Oberstockstall (archaeological site, alchemical lab find).

Also, I think I made a vector graphic logo of a budgie at some point in the last week but  I don’t know where I saved it to, so no budgie vectors for you today. I have learned now that there actually is an easier way to make them than the one I explained in a blog post which used to be my staple. I’ll mabye do a post on that at some point. It can be done in InkScape, is really easy and the results turn out quite beautifully even if you don’t actually have a thing for graphics. I might also go into automating GIMP editing with scripts or mabye GIMP plugins like G’MIC-qt.

Adobe Portfolio really is for portfolios only. For CVs, it doesn’t have too many options. WordPress has more…

I tried Adobe Portfolio for making a portfolio website. It looks really nice because they have some beautiful designs. The few CSS properties you can manipulate through the gallery is just enough for a user without background knowledge to feel really nice and comfortable. However, I actually found that it really doesn’t have many readily available building blocks. While I’m not the biggest fan of WordPress building blocks, I recently made a website with it and found it quite comfortable (just a conference website, nothing fancy but it really did the trick for the intended use). They had many things readily available such as timelines. You can always use the blog functionality for announcements if you want. So in that case, I’d probably rather go for wordpress to be honest. So yeah, I guess Adobe Portfolio really is just for portfolios. But you can do that with other software if you don’t want the lightroom integration and other tools have more features which might be more suitable for creating a professional website (that is if you wanted one). But it was fun to try out. If you’re as uncreative as me when it comes to creating a personal website, a tool like this might actually be for you. I really need someone to hold my hand while attempting that (litterally or metaphorically both works).

However, you have to say that the layout looks kind of cool whereas many standard WordPress ones you get offered for personal websites a) all look the same and b) not as sleek as this.

Oh and by the way, as I was already at it, I created a site for the Ninja using a template. I actually didn’t have to do much but I think it looks cool and might help people navigate the github repo.

The Ninja has a page now. Yay. It’s an auto-generated Jekyll page which will display the repos in a way that it’s easier to get an overview.

Hoping you are having an ok lockdown.


the Ninja

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I like LaTeX, the Humanities and the Digital Humanities. Here I post tutorials and other adventures.

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