Adobe shows off new AI-powered tools & features at Sneaks event

Adobe shows off some prototype projects

Every year at Adobe’s annual conference, Adobe MAX, the creative software company shows off new technology and apps that it’s working on.

Adobe makes it clear that these are purely prototypes in development, which may or may not become real features in apps such as Photoshop and XD – or brand new tools. But over the last few years about 50 percent of the technology shown at Sneaks are in apps you can download from Creative Cloud, have become brand new apps. Check out what Adobe announced at last year’s Sneaks event.

This year a significant amount of developments have been powered by Adobe’s AI and machine learning technology, Adobe Sensei. Adobe describes the technology as a way to enhance and speed up your creative process – by removing the mundane tasks – rather than posing a threat to the artistic craft, or replacing an artist’s job.

We begin by delving a little more in depth into four new prototypes – data visual making Lincoln, colour portrait creating Scribbler, object removing Cloak and colour palette creating Project Playful Palette.

At this year’s Adobe Max in Las Vegas, Adobe Sneaks have been presented by the company’s Paul Trani and comedian Kumail Nanjiani, who plays Dinesh on HBO’s series Silicon Valley.


Adobe says one the areas it doesn’t have good tools is in the realm of data visualisation. This is where Lincoln comes in. You can design professional graphs within minutes, democratising the role of a data journalist and graphic designers.

The prototype aims to make it easier for designers to create data visualisations, graphs and infographics in a world where it is becoming a more valued skilled – just take a look at the infographics in The New York Times or The Guardian. Currently creating graphs is a strange choice of either using Excel, sketching your own (which is time consuming and can cause inaccuracies) or learning how to code. Lincoln wants graphic designers to create charts without having to be coders, so it’s working on this data explanatory tool. Instead of working with data first and then creating the visual, Adobe says this tool lets you start with any kind of visual, and then input the data to create the graph, so “a nugget of information can be illustrated clearly.”

With Lincoln you can start with a sketch and then combine it with data from a spreadsheet using a data variable palette, adjusting properties such as scale, colour and text. Lincoln should work alongside other Adobe sketching tools. You can create more than one graph using the repeat grid tool from Adobe XD also. You can add text, add images from the CC libraries, have control over the axis, and even switch out the data but the graphics you’ve created will respond with the new data you input. See the difference between these two graphs, for an example.

The graphs can be as simple or complex as you want, and Adobe says “there’s no reason why we can’t go interactive and animate as well.”


Using Adobe AI technology Sensei, you can immediately colour black and white portrait photos and sketches with this Scribbler tool. Technology based on thousands of images allows the AI technology to recognise facial features and composite colours onto them. At this stage it just works with portraits and no other body features. To use Scribbler seemed fairly effortless in the demo. Simply upload an image or sketch one directly into the designated box and Sensei will quickly add colour to it in a separate box, as seen in the image above. This could be a helpful tool for character designers and artists. Adobe says it works across all skin tones, although the only examples demoed were people with white skin. You will also be able to add texture and materials to objects, as seen here.

First you need to upload an image of the texture you want.

Then you can crop the texture and drop it into the area of the image you want it to cover. You may need to put a few swatches to give the network an idea of what you want.

Then watch the texture wrap itself around your sketch.

Users will have the ability to tweak the colour of more trivial features like the eyes and lips as well. The style is meant to emulate reality, so at this stage there aren’t other painterly styles.

The technology is based on a paper that was published in July this year with Berkley, but the project started a year ago. Although there are other apps already that offer a similar service, Adobe says their work in concurrent to these.

When asked if tools like Scribbler, with the power of AI, are threatening creatives who master fields like painting, Adobe says it believes the tools won’t replace artists, but the tool is to enhance the artist and make the creative process easier.

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