New Illustrator.

There’s a new version of Illustrator. New versions of all of Adobe’s stuff but who the hell uses that obscure Photoshop thing? Not me. Pixels are so 1986.

Running down the “What’s New” page on Adobe’s site:

  • Some shit for people who collaborate, I dunno, I work alone.
  • Adobe is trying to own stock photos I guess. Doubt I’ll ever touch that palette. I draw everything from scratch.
  • GPU acceleration. CC2014 had this for some Nvidia cards on Windows; CC2015 expands to some Intel and AMD cards, and to Macs with at least 512M vram and OpenGL4.0. Which includes mine. Well this will be worth dealing with it putting that stupid uneditable “default touch brush” in all my documents.* Though I thought they rewrote it for Apple’s new API Metal according to the WWDC keynote? Maybe that’s going to land in 19.something. (CC2015 = version 19) This is a feature I am excited about.
  • Maximum zoom raised from 6.4k% to 64k%. I will try to avoid ever needing this; I spent a lot of time training myself not to get lost in those kinds of details. It’ll be nice when I need to do something huuuuuge I guess.
  • Also a new weird-ass mode for the zoom tool that I will be turning the fuck right off because I’ve been zooming the way I zoom for about fifteen years now oh god has it really been that long. shakes her cane at you young whippersnappers and your touch-focused UIs
  • “Safe mode” for figuring out why it keeps crashing. sad laughter
  • Some kind of autosave. Which I suspect I will turn off unless it comes with a major speedup in saving files, or if it saves some kind of quick delta that it can merge with the last version on disc when relaunching after a crash, because my files take noticeable amounts of time to save.
  • More integration with mobile apps yippee skippee I will probably never use these because I have a super light computer I can take with me.
  • A few little tweaks including a switch to turn off auto-close in the pencil tool, which makes me happy because it drove me nuts and was one of the reasons I reverted to 18.0.

Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 9.31.50 AM

My god this new splash screen looks fucking creepy. Those lips. Those blank white eyes. The shiny, sweaty flesh. The weird bumps over the far eye. Illustrator 2015, code name “Drownies”.

So. The big new feature for me is GPU acceleration. I am all about fast response from my tools. Let’s do a torture test. Here is a video I recorded in 18.0/CC2014 of me scrolling around that painterly adaptation of ‘Ozymandias’. This is basically the kind of stuff I’ll be doing in Illustrator for the next several years. There are generative bitmap textures, there are paths with three or four transparent gradients stacked up in the Appearance palette, the odd blur, and in general a royal fuckton of stuff going on. About 2200 paths.

Wow, it sure is taking a while to load this test image. Like ‘beachball comes up’ long. I am going to go off to yoga now and then go running. It had better be load— oh it took about 1.5 minutes.

Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 9.59.28 AM

Well so much for that new feature.

Another beachball as I try to change the window size. I suspect I may need a more high-powered GPU here. Took another 1-2 minutes.

yeah um okay the GPU acceleration is running SLOWER by several orders of magnitude. It’s beachballed again as I try to drag my test document. So much for the one bullet point on the back of the box that got me excited.

(It may not help that Time Machine is doing a backup right now.)

Also it added that stupid @#$%^ uneditable “Touch Calligraphic Brush” again. Grrrr. I’m not on a machine with a touch screen why do you do this.

Here’s a video of me loading this file into CC2015, and attempting to scroll around in it. QuickTime’s screen recording did not capture the fact that the cursor was a beachball for most of this video.

When I try scrolling around an image that is not a horrible torture test pushing Illustrator to its limits with fake natural media, the GPU acceleration performs pretty nicely. This is one of the last few pages of Rita, and is entirely solid colors with no transparency. (Well, actually, it has some transparency, but I turned that layer off for this. If I turn that layer back on then guess what? Everything starts chugging again.) There’s about 6.6k paths in it. Comics get complicated sometimes.

My verdict on this new GPU acceleration: It’s really nice if you never use transparency. If you’re like me, and in a place where you use insane amounts of transparent shapes, it’s aggressively unusable. Hopefully future versions of Illustrator will speed this up; it is labeled as “experimental”. It may also perform better on a machine with a better graphics card than the integrated Intel GPU on my 2013 Air; I’ll certainly try it again when I get a new laptop around 2017. But I’m not going to go buy a Mac Pro or something – I love my Air way too much.

(And if anyone from Adobe ends up reading this – contact me, I will gladly provide the source file for my torture test. I’ll be working in this painterly mode for the next few years; anything I can do to help make Illustrator handle it better is a good thing.)

There’s one feature I’d get from the point updates of 18: area type autosizing. Which I could never get to quite work correctly – the toggle widget never appeared on my type boxes, I could only turn it on and off globally in the prefs.

Aand given that the only other thing on the new features list that appeals to me is “a switch to turn off the pencil tool’s auto-closing of paths’, which fixes (IMHO) a misfeature added in 18.1, I think I’ll be staying with 18.0, code name “Rar I’m A Motherfucking Lion”.Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 10.56.34 AM

    • Is it? I was always under the impression that overdraw was what you wanted to try to minimize when doing realtime 3D stuff.

      And I am doing *lots* of transparency here. Lots and lots. Most of the multiple thousand paths in the image have a transparent gradient fill in them, and those paths are automatically duplicated multiple times. All of those paths are also pretty complex, as there’s a ‘roughen’ filter applied to each of them.

      There’s a reason I called the videos “torture test”.

  1. I haven’t upgraded yet – need to install latest version of FontExplorer X Pro first, and check that it’ll support CC2015 – but I’ll definitely give the GPU acceleration a try on my mid-2011 iMac.

    Fun fact – I got to see the about / splash page graphics for last few iterations of Illustrator ahead of time, because I follow those artists on Behance. But yeah, agree with you, that new one will not be staying on-screen long if I can help it – creepy!

    • I have a feeling that even though my 2013 Air has shitty integrated graphics, it may still have more power than a 2011 iMac. I could be wrong.

      And of course if you don’t do tons of crazy effects the GPU acceleration should work just fine.

  2. Pingback: Hello, Illustrator 25. Hello. | Egypt Urnash

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