Software Review

Adobe Creative Cloud 2021 Review

Adobe’s Creative Cloud is a collection of 20+ desktop and mobile apps and services for photography, design, video, web, UX and more. Explore your creativity with software like Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator. Voted #1 in graphic design software.


  • Industry-standard and highly recommended by creative experts.
  • Complete package with more than 20+ creative apps.
  • Free trial available. No credit card needed.


  • Only available for a monthly or annual subscription.
  • Less suitable for beginner or amateur use due to the relatively high cost.

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More About Adobe Creative Cloud

Adobe Creative Cloud Reviews

Find out what each expert had to say about Adobe Creative Cloud.

Ryszard (Rick) Gold

Owner/Lead Designer - The Stem Creative

The software tools I use in my graphic design business are Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator.

✓ Adobe Photoshop
I use the Adobe software mostly because of the sheer amount of experience I have with the software. You comfort level and familiarity with software really helps. Adobe has been producing graphics software for decades and has become the de facto standard for most graphic designers like myself. They continuously leverage new levels of power offered by modern computers and advances in computer engineering, such as AI, to improve the tools at our disposal. For example, the relatively new “Content Aware Fill” tool in Photoshop intelligently gathers image information around a selected area and fills in a void. This would allow you to completely remove a subject from a photo, then fills in what the background behind it should be.

✓ Adobe Illustrator
Illustrator allows me to create vector based graphics, that is, graphics that can be scaled to any size required without image degradation. Using tools that allow you to create shapes and lines, fills and textures, i use it to create marketing items such as logos, business cards, icons and even full brochures. Again, with Adobes long history, it’s the program I choose to use because of it’s industry standard status. One of the interesting advancements in recent years is an intelligent tracing command. You can take a pixel based image and Illustrator will find contours and generate vector line art based on the image. This can be an incredibly useful way to start a project that otherwise may have taken hours of manual tracing to achieve.

The fact Adobe software is industry standard means excellent compatibility. When I’m talking with printing shops, the vast majority of them support and even require the file in Adobe formats. Feature sets aside, compatibility is the key if you are a graphic design business. If you can’t give print ready files to a printing company in prepared formats, you can’t properly print your clients project.

One note of dissent though, Adobes implementation of Photoshop on iPad is an absolute embarrassment. When it was announced, Graphic Designer everywhere rejoiced, but we were all incredibly disappointed when it was finally delivered. We understood that the interface would have to change because of it’s move to a touch input, but there was practically zero common elements. There was no way of easily translating usage from desktop to iPad. I personally spent a few hours trying before deleting the app, the absolute lack of features, the unnecessary different usage made it incredibly frustrating.

Johnathon Lovett

Creative Lead - Reicura

✓ Adobe Creative Cloud
The most essential tools for the vast majority of my design work are Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. These two applications, much like the rest of the Adobe suite, arm me with the expansive tools necessary to complete a wide variety of projects. They are both applications that continue to enrich the learning of the user. Every time I approach a new project, I can practice a new route to accomplishing my goal. This creates a deeper and richer understanding of the suite and using it effectively, both within the specific application and beyond.

Aside from these desktop applications, using my iPad Pro as a drawing tablet has opened the scope of possibility for implementing my physical artistic skill in more of my design work.

Ray Allen

Assistant Manager of Motion Graphics - Shop LC

✓ Adobe Photoshop
After over 10 years of personal and professional use, Adobe Photoshop continues to be my preferred photo editing and graphics software. I’ve used Photoshop for traditional photographic touch ups and editing as well as for more graphic and editorial projects. The tools and features continue to evolve with more specific nuanced editing options becoming available every year. It’s amazing to see how much the digital creative industry has evolved in the 21st century, and Photoshop continues to be the standard bearer.

Nate Heim

Senior Art Director - Company Man Studios

✓ Adobe Creative Cloud
As a graphic designer who splits time between the digital and print industries, the “must-know” programs are Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign.

– Photoshop is great for manipulating photos, compositing photos or sometimes building an image from scratch.
– Illustrator is a must for logo design and illustrations. Since it’s vector-based, files can be enlarged to any size and keep their clarity. Chances are that any logo you see, they were designed in Illustrator
– And if doing a print piece, like a multi page document such as a brochure or tri-fold, folder, etc… InDesign will make your life easier. InDesign is also usually the most preferred file type for printing companies and presses.

Michelle Kraft

Graphic and Web Designer - Michelle Kraft Design + Dev

✓ Adobe Creative Suite
If you want software that is going to get the job done right, you need to go with the non-surprising industry standard—Adobe Suite. For the last 15 years, I’ve consistently used Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign to create everything I need for both online and print. Recently, Adobe has come out with templates, presets, and tutorials to compete with Canva and allow a user to dive in and get started right away. You can create your own brushes, patterns, and effects to make sure your designs stay unique to you and your brand. There are zero limitations with what you can create in your Adobe designs. I’ve arm-wrestled with trying to create a simple drop shadow in Canva, and I always go back to Adobe software to create what I need to import into Canva.

Monica Lent

Editor - Fun With Fuji

✓ Adobe Lightroom
Adobe Lightroom Classic is still the best photo editing software for the majority of photographers.

It supports a wide variety of camera makes and models, is easy for beginners to learn through free content online, and allows you plenty of flexibility and performance as a professional as well.

The downside of Adobe Lightroom is that the latest version is only available on a subscription model. While it’s good because Adobe regularly releases new features and performance improvements, the cost is higher in the long run for most users.

But if you like getting new features and improvements on a regular basis, the $20/mo photography package from Adobe is a great option and includes Photoshop as well.

Capture One Pro is an excellent photography processing tool, especially if you’re shooting with a system that isn’t well supported by Lightroom.

For example, Fujifilm RAW photos often lose detail as a result of the way Lightroom decodes the files captured by an X Trans sensor. Instead of adding a pre-processing step to your workflow with an additional tool like Irident X Transformer, it might be more efficient to work entirely in Capture One.

Apart from processing certain types of files, the distinction between Lightroom Classic and Capture One Pro is mostly up to personal preference. The former is simply more popular and has more learning material online than the latter.

If you want to own the software outright instead of paying a monthly subscription, Capture One Pro offers both a lifetime license and a subscription option. I’d recommend any user start with a monthly subscription to get a feel for the tool and see how it suits their workflow.

Louis Porter

Graphic Designer - CoinCorner

In the graphics design team at CoinCorner, we use a number of Adobe’s design software to create everything from marketing materials to Bitcoin sock designs.

✓ Adobe Creative Cloud
Illustrator is my top recommendation as it doesn’t limit the types of designs you can produce.. I use it daily to create the likes of web and mobile landing pages, industry-standard vector graphics, infographics and web banners, and more. It has very useful features such as being able to blend typography and graphics together, and adding multiple artboards to one document so that all work can be kept together.

Secondly, I’d recommend Photoshop as the best software for editing, manipulating and transforming images. It makes the entire process of image editing very easy, allowing users to combine photos and graphics to create new pieces of artwork, as well as make GIFs for use on social media and marketing emails.

Finally, as a graphics designer rather than coder, I liaise closely with our in-house tech team to optimise designs for our web and mobile platforms. To make this process easier, I use the XD software to produce functioning mock ups without the need for any coding. Designs made in XD can be shared with others across the business, giving them the chance to play around with the web or app design elements before it’s coded into our applications too.

Holly Mullinax

Art Director - The Symphony Agency

✓ Adobe Creative Cloud
Adobe Creative Cloud or Creative Suite is the industry standard for design software and has been for the past 20+ years. Most professional design jobs will require you to work with this suite of tools, so it’s important to learn them regardless of the other options that are available. Photoshop is often the first program designers learn to use and is probably the most versatile tool in the Creative Suite tool chest. However, Photoshop is a pixel-based, or raster program and therefore not ideal for professional vector graphics (logos and illustrations), text, or multi-page print layouts. For these projects, using Photoshop in tandem with a vector software like Illustrator, or a desktop or web publishing software like Indesign or XD will create the best final output.

The main programs I use for print and digital design are Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, XD, and (in some cases) Bridge and Lightroom for batch photo editing and file organization.

Photoshop is a pixel-based software used for image creation and manipulation. It utilizes a layered editing system and allows editing/compositing through the use of masks, blends modes, filters, and transparencies. Photoshop is the go-to software for artists, designers, and photographers because of its versatility.

Illustrator is a vector-based software for creating resolution-independent illustrations and graphics. Illustrator is often used as companion software to Photoshop to handle the vector graphics within a Photoshop file. It’s also used as a stand-alone program for creating vector graphics (e.g. logos) and illustrations. The benefit to graphics created in illustrator is that they are scalable without losing resolution. This means they can be resized larger or smaller and not lose visual quality or become “pixelated” or blurry.

InDesign is a desktop publishing software and is best suited for typesetting and creating multi-page layouts or layouts with text, photos, and vector graphics. It can be used to create flyers, brochures, magazines, business cards, postcards, menus, etc. Newer versions of InDesign allow for digital publishing or web/application layouts. InDesign can be difficult for a beginner and is often best learned after developing a strong understanding of basic design principles, Photoshop, and Illustrator.

XD is a prototyping tool used by web designers, UI designers, and UX designers to design apps and websites. XD adopts both the functionalities of other design software while adhering to, and focusing on, web-based design principles.

Lisa Schroeder

Creative Supervisor - The S3 Agency

✓ Adobe Creative Cloud
As a designer and production specialist, I recommend Adobe Creative Cloud for layout and production tasks, specifically Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop. It’s an essential product for collaborating within the design industry, whether you’re sharing files with internal team members, clients, creative partners or suppliers. The desktop programs are robust and powerful, the apps allow access on other devices, and then there’s Adobe Fonts. Most designers I know will agree, a well-designed typeface is the icing on the cake.

Syed Usman Hashmi

Digital Marketing Strategist - PureVPN

✓ Adobe Illustrator
Illustrator is best for the detailed crafting of creatives for your landing pages with a variety of tools with vector-based designing however it needs much more expertise than other tools e.g. photoshop or canvas.
The helpful user interface, it’s in-pane editing, no resolution issues and minimum utilization of resources makes this software unique and much preferred than other tools.

Adobe Creative Cloud FAQ

What is Adobe Creative Cloud?

Adobe’s Creative Cloud is a collection of 20+ desktop and mobile apps and services for photography, design, video, web, UX and more.

Is Adobe Creative Cloud any good?

We asked 53 creative experts on most have recommended to use Adobe Creative Cloud. It’s by far the most popular solution for graphic designers.

Is Creative Cloud free to use?

Adobe Creative Cloud doesn’t have a free plan. You can either sign up for a monthly or an annual plan.

What’s included in Creative Cloud?

Adobe Creative Cloud includes 20+ apps like Photoshop, InDesign and Premiere Rush. You only get access to Adobe Fonts, Adobe Portfolio, Creative Cloud Libraries and cloud storage space.