Adobe Creative Cloud review

Is getting creative on the cloud a sensible option?

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Our Verdict

Creative Cloud may seem expensive at first glance, but delve into it a little and you’ll realise just how much is on offer here.

For

  • Cheap subscription considering what’s on offer
  • Free trial available
  • Access to all of Adobe’s apps
  • Can offer your assets to Adobe Stock to earn royalties

Against

  • Price for a single app isn’t cost-effective
  • No option to outright buy standalone apps
  • Expensive for non-professionals

Subscriptions mean you don’t own the software you’re spending money on, you have to keep forking out every month, and if you cancel the payments, you no longer have access to those apps. What possible advantages can this scheme of things offer over just buying the programs outright?

If this question is on your mind, you might benefit more from Adobe’s prosumer apps, Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements. They’re self-contained programs with no ongoing charge, which you can use as little or as often as you please for a single affordable outlay.

But subscribing to Adobe’s Creative Cloud may well make a lot of sense as a creative professional, especially if you use these apps day in, day out, and you look forward to the new features offered in their regular major updates. If that’s the case, you could end up making some serious savings through a monthly subscription plan.

Money talks

Let’s take a look at one example: Avid Media Composer, a powerful video editing tool. You can buy it outright for $1,299 (around £960) or, like Adobe, subscribe to the service for between $49.99 (£40) per month or $34.97 (£28), depending on whether you agree to subscribe for one or three years respectively.

If you plan on only subscribing to just a single Adobe app, like Premiere Pro for instance, this will set you back £20.22 ($26) per month, irrespective of how many years you’ll be subscribing for, although you do agree to a minimum of a one-year subscription. If you’re only interested in photography, you can grab Photoshop and Lightroom together for only £10.10 ($13) per month.

This is much cheaper than Avid, but Adobe takes this idea to another level, albeit for more money: its most popular option costs £50.57 ($65) per month. This grants you access to all of Adobe’s professional portfolio, which means you’ll be able to use Photoshop, Lightroom, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, InDesign, Audition, After Effects, Premiere Pro and a host of others for that price.

And since Adobe’s apps are perfectly integrated with one another, enabling you to effortlessly move your work between them, you’ll have a wealth of technology at your disposal to bring out the best in your creative work. With that in mind, Adobe’s pricing is kind of hard to beat. Students have an even better deal, which would be almost criminal not to take advantage of – it’s only £16.44 ($21) per month to get all the apps.

Not only that, but Adobe also gives everyone 20GB of online storage (except for the Photoshop/Lightroom deal). Any asset you upload to Creative Cloud will be accessible from whichever computer, tablet or phone you’re working on. You can have shared libraries which other users can access and contribute to, and the motion graphic templates we explore in our reviews of Adobe Premiere Pro CC and Adobe After Effects CC can be stored there as well.

Business boons

If you’re a business, the deal is even better. Yes, the outlay is more at £59 ($77) per month for all apps, but you also get 100GB of online storage, and you can activate Adobe’s collaborative space, so multiple users can work on the same project at the same time, which could be an immense timesaver.

When participating with a team project, rather than saving it locally, it’s saved online. The media isn’t sent to the cloud necessarily, that’s based on your need and preference, but if you’re working on a video project for example, you can have one person ingesting, another editing captions, and yet another editing sequences. As long as neither work on the same part of the project, everything syncs together seamlessly.

Subscribing to Creative Cloud also means gaining access to Adobe Stock photography, footage, website building templates and other assets. If you’re looking for video, you can hover the cursor over its thumbnail to get a preview of the footage over time, without having to download the clip in the first place. This enables you to get a good idea of what you’ll be using.

If suitable, you can then download it free of charge and use it in your project. It’ll be watermarked and of a lower quality, but once you’re ready to complete your work, if you haven’t shot any other footage that’s better, you can licence and purchase it. The watermarked clip will be automatically replaced with the full resolution version, and any changes or effects you applied to it in the meantime will be fully preserved.

One of the main changes in the latest version of Creative Cloud is the ability to contribute to Adobe Stock. There are obviously legal hoops you have to jump through, such as making sure you have written permission from everyone in the shot you’re submitting, but once your footage has been cleared, you’ll be able to earn royalties when anyone uses your work in their final projects.

Cloud control

Once installed, Creative Cloud resides on your computer in the apps folder. This is where you can control everything to do with the service. You can see which apps have updates, and reassuringly, Adobe doesn’t automatically download them for you, so you can work using your current version, at least until you’ve finished your latest project, and checked out what the new features are all about.

The Assets section is where you can monitor which of your files are stored in Creative Cloud. It’s also the place to go to browse for content that’s part of your subscription, such as fonts, vector images and icons, many of which have been created by the Creative Cloud community.

Stock is Adobe’s entire library of photos and videos. You’re offered 10 freebies to get you started. Hitting the search button launches your web browser where you’re likely to find any image or footage you can possibly imagine. It’s a shame this feature couldn’t be achieved within the Creative Cloud itself rather than launching another app. However, you can also access Stock from within Adobe’s apps themselves, so you can edit a video, for instance, search Stock and add something straight to your project without ever leaving Premiere Pro.

And finally Community grants you access to Adobe’s website building templates, again via your web browser. It’s a great way to advertise your wares if you’re not an HTML aficionado.

Final verdict

You get a lot for your money with Adobe Creative Cloud, from online storage to collaborative features, and of course all the apps you could possibly want in order to generate content. The combined weight of all this, plus the fact Adobe isn’t resting on its laurels and regularly updates all of its apps, means you might see immense value in this subscription option.