Students on How BU’s Free Adobe Creative Cloud Access Helped Them Dazzle

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Dropcap What platform allows you to prepare anything from a routine class writing assignment to a recruiter-riveting résumé to an interactive, visually arresting presentation, all while saving hundreds of dollars? This is no magic unicorn. It’s a free license from BU for Adobe Creative Cloud (ACC), and if you’re not taking full advantage of it, you’re missing out.

Undergraduates and graduate students can apply here for a University-sponsored license to use ACC’s suite of 22 apps that process digital images, edit video and audio, and design page layouts and infographics.

Almost 7,800 students have gotten a license that normally would run $240 with a student discount, says Roland Jaeckel, director of educational technology at BU Digital Learning & Innovation (DL&I). Because of the program, Adobe has recognized BU as the first “Creative Campus Program” in New England, he says.

The University sponsors the licenses because the BU Hub, the University-wide general education curriculum that began with the fall 2018 semester, includes a required unit in “digital/multimedia expression.”

“We had to answer the question, how will our students do that? What kinds of tools should they have?” says Jaeckel. “Adobe, being the premier, or industry standard, for those tools, was an easy choice.”

How easy? Four students share what they built with ACC:

sketch self portrait of Lindsay Kerr

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Senior Lindsay Kerr (COM)

What she did: Created a 21st-century résumé that includes a charcoal self-portrait and a mint-green contact-info-and-skills box.

Apps used: InDesign, Photoshop

How it’s done: Kerr drew a self-portrait on paper with charcoal, then photographed it and put the picture in Photoshop. The app allowed her to edit the contrast of the photo, darkening some features (she “wasn’t able to achieve that with just charcoal”) and lightening others. She exported that image to InDesign, a page layout app with grids resembling either ruled notebook paper or graph paper. She set the grid lines, and the app “lines up your copy on the document so that everything’s aligned,” she says. She chose the green color for her box.

ACC’s advantages: “I would hand my résumé to the people” at last spring’s campus career fair, Kerr says. “They were always pleasantly surprised to see my résumé because it looked so different from everyone else’s.” The résumé helped snare a designer’s internship at Scratch, a Cambridge marketing and PR agency. She also uses InDesign in her internship to lay out ebooks, white papers, and other projects.

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Sophomore Angela Dong (CFA)

What she did: Created a book of two dozen illustrations for her graphic design class, based on six concepts: weight, space, shape, direction, texture, and contrast of form. Half of the illustrations had to be type-only, the other half comprising shapes only.

Apps used: Illustrator, InDesign

How it’s done: For the shapes pieces, Dong used Illustrator, which creates vector illustrations and graphics. She created a base shape using the app’s shaper and rectangle tools, then added textures or changed the heaviness of the lines with Illustrator’s paintbrush tool.

For the other illustrations, she used InDesign’s type tool, then adjusted them, she says, by “using the box that surrounded the type to either curve the letters/words or flip them.”

ACC’s advantages: With its array of apps, ACC is “the most useful platform I have used,” Dong says, for projects like this—and for other needs, such as job hunting.

Darya Headshot

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Senior Darya Lugina (CAS, CFA)

What she did: Working for BU’s Center for the Humanities, Lugina designed a poster seeking applicants for the center’s undergraduate internships at Oxford University Press in New York City.

App used: Photoshop, Adobe Fonts

How it’s done: She took a photo of the text on an Oxford University Press book, then used Adobe Capture to identify the font style that Oxford’s press uses in its book covers. She imported that font to Photoshop from Adobe Fonts, which allowed her to type the poster’s words like an Oxford cover and to create her own background image for the flyer: a composite of the New York skyline in silhouette and a painting by the late abstract expressionist Mark Rothko. She saved the poster as a JPEG image in Photoshop for printing.

ACC’s advantages: The original skyline silhouette had a white background; Lugina wanted a crimson background, and Photoshop let her do that with a simple setting change, rather than having to cut the original background. “I know it looks really simple, but that’s a huge thing.…In terms of speed and efficiency and being in control of your own work,” she says, “this is the app that makes sense.”

Sally Gao Headshot

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Senior Sally Gao (CGS, COM)

What she did: Gao is president of the BU AdClub. Last spring she oversaw production of a recruiting poster for Residence Life seeking RAs. The poster pictured a series of human footprints followed by Terrier paw prints, and was captioned, “Be the leader you would follow.”

Apps used: Photoshop

How it’s done: AdClub senior Kylie Medlin (COM) first sketched out the poster on paper, then, with that version at her elbow, redrew it on screen with Photoshop’s pen and shape tools. This approach made the poster’s white background sharper than putting a photo of it in the app. The trails of both human and dog prints on the poster start out in a brighter red hue and darken as they get farther back. The artist varied the hue using Photoshop’s gradient tool, which gradually blends multiple colors.

To avoid a “bleed”—parts of the poster being cropped out when it was printed from Photoshop—the artist clicked the app’s Image button, then Canvas Size, which enabled her to increase the size to avoid a bleed. AdClub then exported the Photoshop design as a JPEG for Residence Life’s printer.

ACC’s advantages: Speed and convenience. Before BU issued students free licenses, those who couldn’t afford them either relied on less versatile free apps or the College of Communication lab computers that had ACC—but the lab closes at 10 pm, crimping the time to work on projects, Gao says.

Licenses also are available to faculty who teach the students. DL&I has asked some faculty to be multimedia ambassadors, advising faculty on ACC and other digital tools. One of the ambassadors, Joyce Walsh (CFA’96), a COM associate professor of the practice, digital design, suggests professors start small with ACC and other tools. “Faculty don’t need to transform an entire course at once,” Walsh says. “They can add multimedia to one project or topic—for example, ask students to create an ‘Explain’ video for a math theory. Students can use Adobe Premier Rush for easy-to-use video editing.”

Adobe offers online tutorials for its apps. Additionally, DL&I created a Digital Multimedia Common that features how-to posts.