You can now get your hands on three major updates to Adobe's creative tools that it announced over the past couple of months. These include a brand-new application called Project Felix, a much-anticipated Windows version of Adobe XD and an update to Photoshop to take advantage of the Touch Bar in the new MacBook Pro.
The first two were announced at last month's Adobe Max conference - which combines product launches with talks from leading creatives like Quentin Tarantino and The Simpsons' David Silverman. This year it was held in San Diego. The new Photoshop was unveiled at the launch of the MacBook Pro 2016. The new apps and updates are available through the Creative Cloud application.
Project Felix is an app for photo illustration and retouch work. It lets you combine 2D elements and layers - including photographs - with 3D models, and render the results realistically using the V-ray rendering engine. Read on to see how it works.
Felix's interface design looks similar to the Adobe XD app and web design software, though its target audience is more like Maxon Cinema 4D's or Photoshop's. You start in the Felix's design mode, where you can bring in and position 2D and 3D elements in 3D space - including photos, graphics and your own 3D models. These can be imported using the standard stock OBJ format, though Adobe says it's "looking at ways to expand it's import and export features", so we expect to see FBX support at some point in the future.
You can apply textures to your models as in 3D modelling tools, and position lights - and an innovative feature lets you can create light maps for your scene from a background image. As with most 3D apps, there's a real-time preview as you work, and many 3D conventions such as a grid-like ground plain - ie the floor - to base your 3D space around. There are also tools to make Felix easier to learn and use if your background's entirely in Photoshop, and you've never touched a 3D app like Cinema 4D - such as automatically creating a horizon and positioning everything in relation to that.
If you want to change the materials within a model that you've brought in, you can select individual elements within the model - assuming the person who created it has labelled them in a way you can understand. If you want to select multiple elements, you can use a Magic Wand-style tool to select part of the screen. Felix then selects what it thinks is the appropriate part of the model.
You can then move to Felix's render mode to adjust the rendering of your scene.
The software ships with a library of free 3D models, textures and lights - and Adobe is going to start selling more through its Adobe Stock site (or you can buy them from long-standing 3D asset stock libraries such as TurboSquid or download free ones from the likes of Google's 3D Warehouse.
A beta of Project Felix for Mac and Windows should be out before the end of 2016.
Adobe has released its first Windows version of Adobe XD, which is still in beta on Mac and Windows.
Adobe XD 2017
The Windows version includes the same features as the Mac beta version, which was recently updated to add layers and symbols and mobile apps to preview your designs and prototypes.
At Adobe Max, The company has also shown off some truly new features due in the first half of 2017. These include the ability for designers to collaborate on designs in real-time - a clear move against the Figma collaborative design tool that was formally released in in September to considerable interest from designers. Adobe says that this could be used not just by designers working on the same project, but with clients and other parts of large organisations - we presume with the ability to let them watch as you move things around rather than letting them design things alongside you *shudder*.
There will also be what Adobe calls 'visual versioning'. This looks similar to what Adobe showed off for Photoshop at Apple's launch last week, where you can see a cascade of thumbnail previews of previous undo states to select between.
Photoshop CC 2017 for Apple's MacBook Pro with Touch Bar
Apple's latest MacBook Pro might not have a touchscreen, but it does have a Touch Bar. Replacing the function keys, this is a small, thin OLED touchscreen that can be customised to what you're working on.
In Photoshop there are a variety of tools could be controlled visually through the Touch Bar - including Select and Mask, a special Touch Bar mode for brushes, blending modes and even a visual version of the History panel. Read our guide to How Photoshop will work with the new MacBook Pro Touch Bar.
Adobe's iPad and Android apps
Three of Adobe's iPad apps are now available on Android: Photoshop Sketch for drawing, Comp for mocking up designs and Photoshop Fix for largely-automated retouching of photos.
New features for Adobe's mobile apps include the ability to use Photoshop Brushes in Sketch, support for blending modes like Multiply and Screen in Sketch and Draw. Comp gains copy-&-paste (including from one document to another) and automated mockup creation.
Alongside 3D models to be used with Project Felix, Adobe is adding more media types to its stock library. There are templates, and there are also fonts.
This is different to TypeKit, Adobe's font rental service for the desktop and the web. Fonts on Adobe Stock are available for outright purchase, and including fonts from the likes of Dalton Maag, Frere-Jones and Darden Studio.
Adobe has also launched a visual search feature that lets you use photos you already have - or ones from the web - to find similar ones in its collection. Shutterstock offers a similar feature, thought we've yet to test Adobe's to see if it's better or worse.
Premiere Pro CC 2017, After Effects CC 2017 and more
For Adobe's video tools - Premiere Pro, After Effects, Character Animator, Prelude and Audition - the new versions launched at IBC in 2016 should be available by the time you read this.
Adobe Max 2017 Sneaks
Tomorrow, Adobe will show off new features that are still in the alpha or beta stage at its Sneaks session - a regular part of Max (and also its marketing-focussed Adobe Summit). We'll update this story when they show us what's in store.
We'll also be updating this story with any other announcements from Adobe Max, as well as interviews with some of its leading speakers.