Adobe Creative Cloud

Category Photo Editing
Reviewed by Maria
Updated Mar 31st, ’22

Tekpon Score

9.4

Users Score

7.5

Adobe Creative Cloud Review

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Creative professionals don’t rely on any single tool. Instead, they build a custom toolbox that gives them flexibility and reliability. This takes a lot of trial and error. Adobe realized there’s a need to streamline this process and created — Adobe Creative Cloud. The Adobe apps stock is best known for allowing users to edit images and videos. There is even the option to subscribe to Adobe Stock photos. Here’s my Adobe Creative Cloud review, so let’s pull back the curtain and see how well it works.

 

UI/UX

9.8

Ease of use

8.8

Value for Money

9.5

Features

9.7

Customer Support

9.0
Pricing Details

Starting from: $9.99/month

Pricing Model: Per app

Yes, has free trial

No free version

PROs
  • Quick 4-question quiz
  • Myriad apps
  • De facto image-editing standard
CONs
  • Adobe can act as a bully
  • Processing multiple files is a pain
  • Usability issues on iPads
Best for
  • Personal
  • Family
  • Freelancers
  • Small business
  • Medium business
  • Large enterprises
  • Non-profit Organization
  • StartUps
Deployment
  • Desktop - Windows
  • Desktop - Mac
  • Mobile - Android
  • Mobile - iPhone
  • Mobile - iPad
  • Cloud, SaaS, Web-Based

Adobe Creative Cloud Subscription

Adobe Cloud apps are purchasable as “à la carte” subscription-based services. The exception is Adobe Stock, the digital asset repository, which has a subscription and requires that you pay per each asset you want to use. It can be added to any other app as a 30-day free trial, providing ten free assets a month. Once a user of Adobe Creative Cloud, you can upgrade each app with storage, plugins, and assets. You are nudged and nagged to do so until you comply.

What is Adobe Creative Cloud?

Adobe Creative Cloud combines 20+ Adobe apps in one subscription, available for individuals and teams. All plans include access to:

  • Behance — a community of professionals where you can showcase your work
  • Adobe Creative Community — learning resources and tutorials
  • Adobe Fonts — innate font library, boasting thousands of fonts
  • Creative Cloud Libraries — asset library accessible to all your CC apps
  • Creative Cloud Market — design assets market, again with an “à la carte” model

No Adobe Creative Cloud review is ever comprehensive due to the sheer size of Adobe Creative Cloud and the mutability of its components. However, the Adobe creative suite feels like a living, breathing world where one could spend a lifetime exploring it, making awesome content along the way.

What can users do with this toolbox?

 Creative Cloud users can produce creative content of any kind and in any Adobe file format. They can then export it globally, and rest assured it will perform as expected across all Adobe Creative Cloud instances. The first step is making the Adobe Creative Cloud account. After downloading the toolbox, go through the Creative Cloud login process and start downloading their apps.

Adobe Creative Cloud Features

Now, let’s discover some of the features and benefits this toolbox can provide for its users.

  • Quick 4-question quiz

Adobe offers a quick quiz that helps visitors discover which app is the most appropriate. Visit Adobe home page, click “Creativity & Design,” click “What is Creative Cloud?”, scroll down to “Get an app recommendation in about 60 seconds,” and click the blue “Start now” button.

The first question is which of the five areas you’re most interested in:
  • photos
  • videos
  • design
  • illustration
  • PDF

The second question narrows down what kind of work you need to do in that area. The third asks how you like to learn, and the fourth if you’re an individual or a student/teacher. I clicked through the quizzes several times and discovered the two latter questions don’t matter — the recommendation is always based on the first two.

  • Photos – the quiz will recommend Photoshop or Lightroom.
  • Videos –  it’s Premiere Pro, Animate, Audition, or After Effects.
  • Design – it’s InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, or Adobe XD.
  • Illustration – it’s Photoshop or Illustrator.
  • For PDF, it’s always Acrobat Pro.

You can already spot a power imbalance with Adobe products — Photoshop is recommended in 3 categories.

  • Myriad apps

There is something that you can’t say about Adobe, and that’s the fact that they’re poor in apps. Because they are not. They offer a lot of apps that, in time, have become a statement in different operating areas.

  • Photos

Let’s see what apps you can have with this Creative Cloud for your photos.

  • Photoshop

Adobe flagship, and it shows. There is a cornucopia of effects that can turn any image into any other image; the only limit is how much time you spend polishing the chisel marks. In addition, you can apply some effects automatically, though they will probably look gnarly under scrutiny.

Photoshop is a raster image editor at its core, meaning it works best on photographs and pixel-based graphics. In it, you can create and edit images, photos, and graphics on desktop and iPad. In addition, there are free and paid Photoshop plugins that expand its capabilities, such as by giving it a limited video-editing power.

Any image opened in Photoshop can be sliced into layers, with each layer independently edited. It’s a truly remarkable tool, though it can become a resource hog. Using it on a desktop machine with at least 16 GB RAM and an i7 processor is all but mandatory. The beefier your machine, the smoother the work.

  • Photoshop Lightroom

This one is an image tagging and processing program. You can edit batches of images by applying filters that correct colors and white balance, remove the red-eye effect, and so on. In addition, there is version control, saving the original image alongside the edited one in case the changes backfire. There are three versions of Lightroom: Lightroom Classic CC, Lightroom Mobile, and Lightroom CC. The difference is which devices you’re using — Classic CC is for desktop devices, Mobile for portable devices, and CC for a balanced feature mix on both.

  • Photoshop Elements 2022

A standalone desktop app optimized for foolproof social media photo editing and sharing. Comes with 60 Guided Edits, a feature that streamlines making images that look professional. Boasts Adobe Sensei AI, a machine-learning assistant that can assess images and automatically fix them, such as by tilting eyes to look in the camera or by smoothing out pimply faces.

This could be the best option for meme-makers and marketers. Available in a bundle with Premiere Elements 2022 as well. The bonus feature is sending prints and gifts right out of the app in the US.

  • Photoshop Express

A freemium mobile app with paid features touted as “photo magic at your fingertips.” Unfortunately, features have more to do with speed and accessibility than complexity. I tested the Android version on Samsung A51 and used low-quality JPGs. The effects are simple and may make the image look worse. In addition, the presentation is lackluster and makes the app seem cobbled together in an afternoon. The redeeming feature is Aspect Ratio — there are 30 presets, including a YouTube thumbnail, a Facebook ad, and an Instagram post.

  • Photoshop Camera

Another freemium mobile app designed for capturing and sharing photos. It has two gimmicks. The first is a collection of real-time photo camera lenses and filters. The second is that an AI recommends them. The A51, released in December 2019, is not compatible with the app, but inferior phones, such as S9, S9+, and Note9, released in 2018, are. There is no obvious pattern as to which phones are supported and why.

  • Videos

Even you’re videos are covered with Adobe.

  • Premiere Pro

This is the Photoshop of video and film editing. You can pull a staggering array of fonts, effects, audio files, and other assets in any format from any place, including the Adobe libraries, and insert them into the video. It supports up to 8K resolution, but performance during editing largely depends on the hardware.

I’m not saying you should get one of Linus Tech Tips’ goofy builds with two terabytes of RAM, but a substantially strong configuration is in order.

  • Premiere Elements 2022

A video equivalent of Photoshop Elements 2022. The method is a bit different, but the goal is to polish mediocre content into one that looks professional. Ready-made transitions, animations, and effects cover up the imperfections, stitching together video tidbits into a compelling visual story. Like Photoshop Elements 2022, this app is designed to ease complete amateurs into editing rather than provide total editing control.

  • After Effects

An app for motion graphics and visual effects. The primary function is masking janky parts of the footage. The more time you sink into After Effects, the smoother the look of your work, provided you can handle the UI. As with all video editing software, it’s resource-hungry and may crash on slower machines.

  • Premiere Rush

A tool for creating and sharing online videos on desktop and mobile devices. Presets are the key here, as the features are trimmed down not to overwhelm the user. The target audience for this tool is YouTube editors who work with minimal resources and skills.

  • Design

Illustration? or Maybe some graphic design for your jobs?

  • illustrator

A vector-based illustrations and designs app. Photoshop is for editing photos; Illustrator is for editing art. Vector-based images are easily resized without creating jagged edges or losing details. There is a 7-day free trial for Illustrator. 

  • InDesign

A page layout designer for print and digital media. It creates e-books, videos, slideshows, animations, and other eye-catchy content. Analytics are built into the tool to show you how well your content is performing.

  • InCopy

A middle-ground tool for copywriters and designers. The feature set focuses on meshing text with graphics because copywriters use one set of tools and the designers.

  • Animate

A 2D animation editor, best used for giving life and depth to an otherwise flat artistic presentation. It’s decent for making video games and cartoon environments, with the option to create interactive works, such as responsive web banners.

Substance 3D Collection is a set of tools for creating and rendering 3D scenes, and Substance 3D Texturing is a set of tools for creating and painting 3D materials.

  • Acrobat Pro DC

A professional PDF editor. “DC” stands for “document cloud” to let users know it uses online storage and a SaaS payment model. A light version called “Standard DC” doesn’t have access to advanced features, such as document comparison and one-click document creation.

The full feature list sounds fantastical and makes me think a marketing intern at Adobe got hold of the keyboard one day and went wild. One claimed feature is turning scanned documents into searchable and editable texts with fonts matching the original font (!). OCR can turn scanned documents into text files, but so far, I haven’t been able to find a service that identifies fonts from images, and I don’t think Acrobat Pro DC can do it either.

I think the program has a dozen or so generic replacement fonts, using the closest match to the font you uploaded. Since the feature is barely used, nobody challenges it; even if they did, Adobe politely asks them to stop talking about it.

  • Adobe Stock

An asset library where you pay to subscribe and then for each separate asset, such as image, video, illustration, or audio. Each month, your account is entitled to some free assets, which roll over as you renew your subscription up to a certain limit that depends on the plan purchased. That’s the simple part, but now it gets byzantine. People can purchase each asset for its dollar price, but some require credits, bought through and used only on Adobe Stock.

There are also two types of licenses for assets: standard and extended. The former cannot be used commercially on physical items, but the latter can. In some contexts, the Adobe Stock web page uses the words “enhanced license,” which I am presuming refers to the extended one. If not, there are three or even more license types.

  • Other

  • Adobe Experience Manager is a tool for managers to handle customized content. A DAM (digital asset management) system and a CMS (content management system) rolled into one. In short,  managers who don’t understand art can ensure it always ends up in the right hands. Documents can be shuttled through this tool, with e-signatures integrated from start to finish. In addition, automation and smart tools cut down on repetitive tasks, lowering the chance of mistakes or burnout.
  • Adobe XD is a design UX tool for creating your interfaces and graphical frameworks. People can design web graphics, mobile application interfaces, branding materials, and video games.
  • Dreamweaver is a website development tool with on-the-fly coding. Optimized for quick rather than intricate website development with customizable templates and an asset funnel from Adobe Stock.
  • Audition is for audio recording, mixing, and restoration, known as “non-destructive editing.” However, Audition is not for composing new sounds or music. Best used with a video editing suite.

  • De facto image-editing standard

Adobe Creative Cloud has become a part of social consciousness to the point one of its apps is synonymous with editing images. Pointing out that an edited image is as easy as saying it was “photoshopped.” By the way, Adobe does not appreciate this usage of the Photoshop name, but what can the company do — politely ask you to stop?

  • Adobe can act like a bully

Adobe’s business plan is to attract people to a walled garden using freebies and then bully them for more money through various schemes. While inside, the visitor is subject to a plethora of Adobe’s micromanaging rules.

Section 5.2 of Adobe’s General Terms of Use states that inactive user accounts may be closed at Adobe’s sole discretion. However, this “does not apply to paid accounts in good standing.” Unfortunately, there is no definition of what inactivity or good standing means, giving Adobe unlimited power to do whatever it pleases to any of its users or their accounts.

The real gem is in section 11.2 (D), where Adobe reserves the right to ban users who have “repeatedly made complaints in bad faith” and keep doing so after Adobe politely asks them to stop. This clause appears designed to squelch people sharing bad experiences with Adobe over social media.

It’s not an empty threat because trying to leave Adobe’s walled garden can be a problem — anecdotal reports mention that files/projects can be a hassle to export en masse. Skimming the pricing plans, I also noticed paying a fee to cancel your subscription. In any case, there are 21 additional Terms of Use, each related to a facet of Adobe’s business.

  • Processing multiple files is a pain

 App Store reviews are a haven from the 11.2 (D) clause. In the Apple App Store, user NavWombat left a Creative Cloud review in 2020, complaining about not doing actions on multiple files on an iPad, adding that this has been a consistent issue with Creative Cloud. For example, deleting or duplicating multiple files generates an error in trying to access their options. In addition, files added to the Creative Cloud would not sync unless the window was forced to refresh. In short, “a lot of confusion and redundancy.”

Adobe Creative Cloud Pricing

There are four Adobe Creative Cloud pricing categories:

  • individual
  • business
  • student & teacher
  • school & university

For an individual, each app costs $9.99–49.99 a month. In addition, there is the Creative Cloud All Apps, a special offer that contains 20+ apps for $39.99, which is 25% off the regular price. The discount applies to the first year of subscription only. A business would pay $39.99 a month for one app license. The Creative Cloud All Apps is now $79.99 a month per license.

Students discounts

For a student or teacher, there is only the Creative Cloud All Apps offer, with the discount going up to 60% for the first year and up to 25% every year after. Of course, they offer packages for a school or university. A single app for one user is $14.99 a month. Creative Cloud All Apps is $34.99 for one user. Shared device plans and student packs cost $142–330 a year. Institution-wide access to Adobe Creative Cloud requires a phone call to discuss the terms.

The Adobe Creative Cloud subscription pricing is straightforward, though upgrades can be confusing. Sometimes it’s hard to tell what upgrade you’re getting for your money.

Photoshop Elements 2022 and Premiere Elements 2022 have this problem. Either is a one-time purchase for $99.99; bundled, they cost $149.99 for individuals or $79.99 for students/teachers. The upgrade scheme is not so clear. It appears those who already own one can get the other for $79.99.

They provide a free 30-day trial for each app in the Adobe Creative Cloud. Then, wait for Black Friday (late November) to get a honeymoon deal, which gives up to 40% off.

Adobe Stock Pricing

Adobe Stock has a complex pricing scheme, with three annual subscription tiers:

  • “10”, costing $29.99 a month
  • “40”, costing $79.99 a month
  • “750”, costing $199.99 a month

Seriously, Adobe couldn’t even be bothered to give those plans names. Those numbers indicate how many free standard assets the plan gets each month. The pricier the plan, the lower the price of a standard asset purchased under it.

To buy Premium assets, such as HD images, you need credits, which cost $8–10 each. Credits are bought in packs and expire one year after purchase. The most expensive package is $1,200 and provides 150 credits.

Each asset category has a different credit price. Some examples listed on the Adobe Stock web page are:

  • 1 credit for an image on a standard license
  • Eight credits for an HD video on an enhanced license
  • 20 credits for a 4K video on an enhanced license

An enhanced license costs more than the standard one. For example, a 3000 by 2000 JPEG photo of two meerkats by Cloudtail has a free standard license under the trial period, but the extended license costs $79.99. That would translate to 8–10 credits.

Team subscriptions for Adobe Stock charge the same subscription prices, except the largest credit pack now costs 500 credits for $3,999. In addition, there is an enterprise tier, though pricing information is available only after a call.

Adobe Creative Cloud Alternatives

If you want to create your toolbox, I have a few recommendations. First, test everything until you find the most compatible combination. You can find a replacement for every advanced feature present in Adobe products.

What can you use for design?

Use Krita, a free, open-source raster graphics editor, to replace Photoshop. It features brushes, drawing assistants, animation tools, and exporting to mainstream video formats. In addition, Krita can save files as .PSD, which is Photoshop’s native format.

Instead of Illustrator, check out Affinity Designer, a vector graphics editor that can handle raster details in images. It has a silky smooth performance and a deep zoom, allowing you to make microscopic changes on an intricate design tapestry.

To replace InDesign, try out VivaDesigner, a design program for professionals. It features automated designs, which take a template and fill it out with spreadsheet data. It has a completely free version and a paid one for $89–399, depending on which purpose you’re buying it.

If you want to find an alternative to InCopy, use any cloud-based file-sharing system, such as Dropbox or Google Docs.

To replace Substance 3D Collection and Substance 3D Texturing, try Armor Paint. Performance relies heavily on your graphics card. And instead of Adobe XD, get UXPin. Works on Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. There is a free trial and several pricing tiers, with the most basic one not including some advanced features.

What can you use for photos?

Instead of  Lightroom, use IrfanView, a free image organizer and batch editor. It is lightweight and optimized for speed, which means it can quickly process hundreds of images. There are plugins to expand the program’s functionality, though the UI feels like it hasn’t been updated in a decade. For Windows only.

What can you use for videos?

If you want something else instead of Premiere Pro, try Magix Vegas Movie Studio, a paid program. However, it can be fiddly and refuse to cooperate with media formats other programs consider the best. In addition, recording in OBS by default produces .MKV files, which this tool won’t acknowledge, forcing you to convert them.

Even though After Effects is popular among professionals, you can try out Blender, a free, open-source program used in making models, a video renders, animations, and more. Professionals already brag about using Blender to create CGI and concept art for shows and movies, such as season 8 of The Walking Dead, Jurassic Park: the Fallen Kingdom, and Hardcore Henry.

To replace Audition, get Audacity, another freebie program. It doesn’t come with training wheels but can do everything a fully-fledged audio processing program can. It’s quite popular, so you will find tutorials for all its functions, such as optimizing an audio recording to best fit a YouTube video. Like Audition, it’s meant for audio editing.

Use FilmoraGo, a free mobile app for quick video editing work to replace Premiere Rush. Add text overlays and music, trim the video, and export it to social media. The feature set is basic, but the interface is intuitive.

Instead of Animate, try Toon Boom. It’s quite a bit pricier but has a formidable feature set, including training programs and advisors for businesses and art studios.

Other alternatives for Adobe apps

If you’re wondering if there is something better than Dreamweaver, you can use any online webpage editor, such as WordPress. Websites are a bunch of HTML tags around snippets of content, so you can, in theory, make a website in Notepad or any other text processor.

To replace Adobe Stock, use the free alternatives, such as Pixabay and Unsplash, featuring copyright-free, HD photos that people can use for commercial purposes. They are not that many, but they do beat the hassle of buying Adobe Stock credit packs. Attribution is not required but is appreciated.

Two major restrictions are that you can’t sell/claim the photos like yours and that you can’t compile them into a competitor service. For 3D assets, you may have to trawl obscure places, such as the Unity Asset Store.

Adobe Creative Cloud Integrations

If the Creative Cloud feature set isn’t enough, you can bring in outside apps. There is an Adobe API and even a development toolkit so that you can make your plugin or integration. For those who lack patience, Adobe offers a marketplace with paid plugins.

Adobe Creative Cloud Review Conclusions

 It’s hard to resist the pull of Adobe Creative Cloud, mainly because of Photoshop and Premiere Pro. The two have a superb level of polish, providing an unparalleled amount of control over the photo and video materials. However, what makes me hesitant to recommend outright Adobe Creative Cloud is that Adobe seems to want the same amount of control over its users.

Photoshop and Premiere Pro are tightly integrated with Adobe Creative Cloud; once you’re in it, there’s no getting out. You’re getting into a lopsided relationship, so you might find yourself trapped if you don’t have an exit plan from the start. Investing oneself professionally into Photoshop or Premiere Pro only to have it all taken away because of a bug, glitchy update, or subscription renewal is a sheer tragedy.

Adobe Stock is another example of how poorly Adobe treats its users. Of course, content creators have the absolute freedom to demand any price and set any restrictions on their content. Adobe had to develop a scheme that would entice creators to join the platform and stay on it. Still, Adobe considered its interests and those of content creators; users are in a distant third place. If you have the willpower to abandon your year-long work and investment at a moment’s notice, do try out Adobe Creative Cloud. For everyone else, I’d rather recommend they keep trying out tools to create a custom toolbox where they’ll be in control.