The 9.7-inch iPad Pro and iOS 9.3 demonstrate that Apple is gradually implementing color management in iOS, and has made it available to developers. While the presence of color management isn’t obvious on the surface, Apple has added multiple new features that would typically depend on color management.
Walk into a graphic design or photography studio and you’ll probably see a graphics tablet on the desk. With an app called Astropad you can use an iPad or iPhone as a graphics tablet for a Mac, painting and drawing with your finger or stylus. Astropad even supports pressure sensitivity with a compatible stylus or with 3D Touch on the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. But how close does it get to using a Wacom graphics tablet?
To see what I think, read Review: Astropad, published on CreativePro.com.
It’s a time-honored tradition to sketch a design idea on the nearest piece of paper, such as the back of an envelope or a cocktail napkin. You then have to take that paper over to your computer and manually translate the sketch into a document you can take through production to final output. Today, with Adobe Comp CC on the Apple iPad, you can design layouts by sketching gestures with nothing more than your fingers. You can then send that design directly to Adobe InDesign CC, Adobe Photoshop CC, or Adobe Illustrator CC as a fully editable layout, ready for immediate refinement and production.
I take a step-by-step look at this mobile and fully digital idea-to-production workflow in Issue 77 of InDesign Magazine. If you just want to read the article, Adobe has made it available as a free PDF at this link:
InStep: Adobe Comp CC
Here’s the whole issue (paid):
InDesign Magazine, Issue 77: Fresh Tips
The issue’s called Fresh Tips because it features a long list of genuinely useful InDesign productivity tips…I’m learning from them myself! In addition to my article on Adobe Comp CC, the issue also introduces the new Publish Online feature in InDesign.
The article is part of an issue of InDesign Magazine that you can buy as a single issue or as part of a subscription. You can download a free trial issue, and you can save $10 when you sign up for a 1-year membership by using this coupon code: friend.
InDesign Magazine is a bimonthly PDF periodical devoted entirely to Adobe InDesign and to the thriving community of InDesign professionals. With editorial direction by page-layout guru and author David Blatner and CreativePro.com editor in chief Mike Rankin, InDesign Magazine brings you the in-depth features, reviews, and tutorials you need to master Adobe InDesign.
Adobe recently released a Lightroom companion app for iPad called Lightroom Mobile, along with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5.4 and Adobe Camera Raw 8.4 (now 8.4.1) and a corresponding DNG Converter 8.4 update. All are free updates for current licenses of the software; update links are at the end of this article. The updates also include the usual bug fixes and add support for new cameras including the Fujifilm X-T1, Nikon D4S, and the DJI Phantom for you quadcopter jockeys. As usual, the updates also add more Camera Matching color profiles and Lens Profiles, and fix a number of bugs. For more details, go to:
- Lightroom 5.4 post at the official Lightroom Journal
- Adobe Camera Raw 8.4/DNG Converter 8.4 post at Lightroom Journal
- Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5.4 ReadMe file
I talk about the new features in Camera Raw 8.4 below. The only new feature in Lightroom 5.4 is support for syncing with Lightroom Mobile.
Lightroom Mobile for iPad
Stealing the show from the Lightroom 5.4 and Camera Raw 8.4 updates is the introduction of Lightroom Mobile. The feature list has been publicized widely, but digging a little deeper reveals certain benefits and limitations of the real world Lightroom Mobile workflow. I’m writing an article about those, but until that gets done here’s a brief overview.
The initial release of Lightroom Mobile works best as a way to let you use an iPad to apply Pick/Reject flags and make basic edits to images synced over the Internet from a collection in Lightroom 5.4 or later on your computer. The ability to edit at the raw stage sets Lightroom Mobile apart from most iPad image editors. Lightroom Mobile doesn’t sync raw files to your iPad; it syncs Smart Previews which is a very good thing because Smart Previews use less storage space on your iPad and take less time to sync images over the Internet while still enabling raw edits.
At this time, Lightroom Mobile is not set up to import raw images directly from a camera to an iPad, even though that’s what many would expect. Also, you can’t currently use star ratings or apply keywords or other metadata. Tom Hogarty of Adobe explains the app’s initial feature set in the Lightroom Journal blog post The Field Triage Opportunity for Lightroom Mobile. It’s clear that we are to think of Lightroom Mobile as version 1.0, and to expect more in the future. If you account for that, what Lightroom Mobile does do right now is a good start.
As an introduction, I like Richard Curtis’s Lightroom Mobile Deep Dive. This is the article where I learned that when you sync through Lightroom Mobile, you can view and present all of those images in your web browser by signing into Creative Cloud at lightroom.adobe.com. Having all synced images viewable over the Web has workflow advantages and security implications that are worth reflecting on.
Lightroom Mobile is free to download and install, but to sync with Lightroom on the desktop you need a Creative Cloud subscription and an Internet connection (you can’t sync locally). Also, for now it’s available only for iPad on iOS 7 (iPhone is next). These requirements have disappointed some users. Personally, I’m relieved that Lightroom Mobile runs great on my old iPad 2.
Update: You can now read my review of Lightroom Mobile on CreativePro.com.
New features in Camera Raw 8.4
The Adobe Camera Raw 8.4 blog post I linked above describes new features for Camera Raw including:
- Before/After preview feature. This replaces the Preview checkbox, and works sort of like the Before/After feature in Lightroom. If you’re used to pressing the P key to toggle the old Preview checkbox, pressing P now swaps the Before and After views.
- Pet-Eye Correction. No joke…when the eyes of dogs, cats, and other animals are blown out in flash photos, they require different correction than red-eye in humans. This new feature lets you quickly simulate dark animal eyes, and includes an option for creating movable catchlights in the eyes.
- Shortcuts for resetting Develop sliders. And new options for selecting all or no checkboxes when synchronizing settings.
- Fill Image option for the Radial Filter. This makes the Radial Filter area cover the entire image area, which is useful if you prefer to create image vignettes with the Radial Filter instead of using Post Crop Vignetting.
- Shortcut for aspect ratio toggle between horizontal and vertical for the Crop Tool or Straighten tool. Simply press the X key, as in Lightroom.
- Built-in lens profile indicator. If Camera Raw automatically applies a built-in lens profile (also called “metadata-based” by Adobe) to the image, the Profile panel now indicates this.
A metadata-based or built-in lens profile is not the same as the lens profiles you can choose in Camera Raw and Lightroom. It’s applied automatically when necessary, with no user controls. You may see the built-in lens profile indicator appear for raw files from some compact cameras, because it is so difficult to built a compact lens that is fast, sharp, and undistorted while remaining affordable. Some camera makers have realized that if they allow for more lens distortion and chromatic aberration, they can push harder toward the other lens design goals while reducing size and cost. You don’t normally see the extreme distortion because the camera automatically compensates internally when you shoot JPEG, and if the camera comes with raw conversion software its software applies the correction too. But this means a truly raw image from such a lens would look severely distorted compared to a JPEG from the camera. For this reason, when Camera Raw detects one of those lenses in the image metadata, a built-in profile is always applied. If you then apply a lens profile in the Lens Correction tab, that is a different lens profile and an additional stage of lens correction.
Camera Raw vs. Lightroom feature parity
Should Lightroom users be concerned that Lightroom 5.4 doesn’t also have new features other than sync to LIghtroom Mobile? No, because some of the new features in Camera Raw 8.4 appeared in Lightroom first, such as the Before/After view and pressing the X key to swap the crop aspect ratio. Adobe continues to add features to Camera Raw to bring it closer to Lightroom, as I wrote about in my article Camera Raw 8.2 vs Lightroom 5.2: Latest Releases Shift the Balance.
But Camera Raw 8.4 adds a few features Lightroom doesn’t have yet, such as the metadata-based lens profile indicator, the Fill Image option for the Radial Fill filter, and pet-eye correction.
These differences aren’t just academic. Many people ask whether they should build their workflow around Lightroom or Camera Raw, and knowing the differences helps clarify the decision.
Important: At the time this article was published there was a problem with Camera Raw 8.4 and Bridge CS6. If you run into this, manually install the build of Camera Raw 8.4 provided by the link in the Adobe tech note Camera Raw 8.4: no metadata or Camera Raw edit in Bridge CS6.
Camera Raw 8.4 is available for both Photoshop CC and Photoshop CS6 (as well as Adobe Bridge CS6 and CC). Consistent with current Adobe policy, Photoshop and Bridge CS6 get Camera Raw 8.4 bug fixes and support for new cameras, but not the new features.
As announced earlier, Camera Raw and DNG Converter now require OS X 10.7 or Windows 7. If you have an earlier operating system you can go only as high as Camera Raw 8.3.
If you’ve been using the Release Candidate (RC) versions of Camera Raw that were released by Adobe Labs earlier for public testing, you should install these final versions because there have been some changes from the RC versions.
How to get the updates
To update Camera Raw from Photoshop, start Photoshop and choose Help > Updates.
To update Lightroom, start Lightroom, choose Help > Updates, download the installer, and run the installer.
To update both Camera Raw and Lightroom through Adobe Creative Cloud: Start Adobe Creative Cloud if it isn’t running, and it should indicate that an update is available for Adobe Photoshop CC and Lightroom.
You can also download standalone installers for Lightroom 5.4 and DNG Converter 7.4 from the Adobe Product Updates page.
Have you ever had trouble reading a PDF file on an iOS device such as an iPad? A PDF file that was emailed to me wouldn’t open on iPhone or iPad, and not even the file name showed up correctly. The file opened normally on my computer, so I knew the PDF file wasn’t completely corrupted. While it’s still a mystery why the PDF file didn’t work on iOS, in the end I did fix the problem. Here’s how.
I didn’t have access to the original document, so I couldn’t export the PDF file again from the source. I had to try and fix it on my side. I started by opening it in Adobe Acrobat X Pro, where I tried choosing File > Save As > PDF to write out a new copy of the file. After that didn’t work, I tried Reduced Size PDF on the same submenu. That didn’t work either. It didn’t help to open the PDF file in Apple Preview and choose File > Save As.
At this point I was stumped. Knowing that the file worked fine on a computer, I was still convinced that there had to be a way to fix it.
I next used Acrobat Pro X to save it to PDF-X/1A, a standard for high-end prepress. This time it failed even to convert, which turned out to be a good thing because the failure showed me an error message. The message suggested that I run the PDF through the Preflight feature using the Convert to sRGB preflight profile. That was a great idea; I should have thought of using Preflight sooner since the purpose of a preflight feature is to catch file problems before they cost time and money later down the line.
In Acrobat X Pro, Preflight is buried in the Print Production panel in the Tools pane on the right side of the Acrobat workspace. I selected Convert to sRGB, and then clicked the Analyze and Fix button.
That worked! The next time I transferred the PDF file to iPad, it was perfectly readable.
In the end, my troubleshooting guess was correct: Find something that can rewrite the PDF file radically enough to change whatever was causing the error, even without knowing the exact problem.
Of course, not everyone has Acrobat Pro and it is not cheap, but if you have access to some versions of Adobe Creative Suite, Acrobat Pro is included and so you have it. Keep Acrobat Pro in mind if you run into problems like this one. [Edit: As of 2013 Adobe Creative Suite is now Adobe Creative Cloud.]
While Apple Preview on a Mac doesn’t have the variety of production tools available in Acrobat Pro, there is another way to do something similar: Open ColorSync Utility, choose File > Open and open the PDF file, and then choose Create Generic PDFX-3 from the Filter pop-up menu at the bottom of the document window. I did not try that in my case, though, since I had already fixed mine.
What might have caused the problem? I may never know for sure, but based on what fixed it, I’d guess that there was a problem with at least one of the color images in the PDF file. It looked like it had been created in Word with maps pasted from Windows screen shots. Maybe there were indexed-color BMP or GIF images in it. While that should not have been a problem, what we do know is that the Convert to sRGB preflight profile did fix the problem.
While this solution solved my problem, it may not fix every problem with reading PDF files on iOS devices. If it doesn’t solve your issue, I hope that describing a successful troubleshooting process helps point you in the right direction. Good luck!