Using the Adobe Spark Apps

Geeking out with photos in Adobe Spark apps

I have in the past taken a bit of a dislike to Adobe and its products due to the price of them. Back in the day when I was using a PC I used to prefer using CorelDraw rather than using Adobe Photo Shop. In fairness, CorelDraw was and probably still is a very good application for vector artwork and also for bitmap artwork. Ever since changing over to the Mac I had been wishing for a version that would work on OS X. After a number of years I found good applications at a reasonable price allowing me to work with my photos and to create vector style drawings too. It’s got to the stage now where I have a choice of a number of really good applications both on the Mac and also on iOS to do things I need to do. Affinity Photo and Affinity Design are a fantastic pair of applications and a real, solid competitor to anything that Adobe can produce. The best part about it is that you don’t have to payout monthly to get really good tools for the digital artist. There is also Pixelmator for iPad as well as Procreate, which in conjunction with the iPad and the Apple pencil allow you to be creative on the iPad. Enter Adobe Spark Apps to work with photos in iOS and in the web service.

But now I have found Adobe Spark for making web graphics, web pages and video/slide shows. The results from these Adobe Spark Apps/web services are fantastic and I enjoy using them.

Presenting photos online

I love the effects you can get using Adobe Spark products for creating images with text, dynamic webpages for photos and videos. The three sections within the application are called Spark Post, Spark Page and Spark Video. You can work with these within a web page on your Mac or you can use the iOS applications on your iPad or iPhone.

Using Adobe Spark Post

Adobe Spark AppsThis application in the set of Adobe Spark Apps for creating web graphics where you combine images and text. Start by choosing the size of the image you want to work with. There are the shapes and sizes best used for whichever social network. Square for Instagram, different landscape shapes for Facebook and Twitter, Portrait for Pinterest. There are also specific sizes for things like Etsy Cover or YouTube Thumbnail. It’s really easy to create web memes and you have a plenty of choices for photos and text. Lots of different fonts to use and it’s easy to change them. They have something called Magic Text which is a resize tool to fit your text within the shapes available within the application. I like to use my own photos but you can take the photos available and do a remix to make it your own. The themes change the arrangement of the text and also some apply filters to the photo in the background. There is a palette button giving you another quick way to change the look of your photo story. Not only that, you can also make it more dynamic by adding an animation. You may fade the text in or have it slide in from the side. Or you can have the text grow to appear on the screen. Some of the animations, such as the zoom, pan, grey, blur, colour and fill work on the background rather than on the text. It would be nice if it would be possible to choose two animations to work on one image. This way you could have something happening in the background with the photo you’ve chosen and something else going on with the text. When you finish making all your changes you can then save the post as either a video, Live Photo or as a simple image. Whichever one of these you choose depends upon where you plan on using whatever you have created.

Using Adobe Spark Page

Adobe Spark AppsIt should be possible to create webpages in whatever software you use for that purpose, similar to the pages you get from Spark Page. I could do it in the app Hype on my Mac, but this way is much easier. I like the way Page works with putting images filling the screen. Or you can set it to go to the screen width which is slightly different from filling the page. You don’t get much choice in terms of the font, fact you don’t get any choice at all. It doesn’t make much difference to me as I quite like the pages as created by either this web application or by the iOS application. When you scroll down through the live page you get a nice parallax type effect with the images moving at a different speed than the text does. There are also zooms in and out which makes the page look more dynamic as you are scrolling through. Here is the Spark Page I made today with my photos. St. Feliu Harbour Boats

Creating the Web page in Spark Page

So you click on the button to add things and that can be photos, text, links, video, photo grid and a glideshow. Glideshow pictures are in a stack and you add text to sit on top as they appear on screen as a sort of fancy slideshow. The photo grid is okay but you don’t get many controls for the arrangement of the images in the grid. If you need to be specific on how the photos are organised and you need a particular look it might be better to use a different application first of all. Get the photo grid looking as you want it in terms of the colours of the background, the width of the spacing between the photos and the sizes within the grid beforehand. Work it all out in the other app and then add as a single photo. When you add a link in Spark Page it appears as a button and is minimalistic in design. No problem as this fits in with the rest of the luck of the page.

For the headers of the text you get a choice of header one or header two and that’s okay, it’s enough. You can do the basics with the text and use bold and italics. You have lists, quotes and the alignment of the text to play with. The areas where you put the text are on the first part of the webpage with the headline and subhead over the top of the first photo, in between photos and with captions.

Using Spark Video

Adobe Spark VideoThis application used to be called Adobe Voice and basically it’s a slideshow with a voice-over. Now in the Adobe Spark Apps it is Spark Video.  When you start using the application on your iPad the first page invites you to add a title. The next page allows you to choose a structure although you can make up your own if you wish. The structures are setup for example as ‘Promote an Idea’, Show and Tell, Teach a Lesson and so on. The app will ask you to confirm it can use your microphone and then you move on to making your story. When you first use the application there is a tutorial even though it is already quite simple to use.

There are just three steps:

  • Record a line of your story
  • Pick an icon or photo
  • Add pages to tell more

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To get started you press and hold on the microphone button in the application to record the first line of your story. You then get to choose whether you want to add an icon, a photo or text. If you want to, add whatever the slide is going to show before you add the voice-over. When you create the voice-over you will also get some background music added underneath your voice. In the iOS application you can choose from a number of different musical sounds provided or you can use something of your own on your device. There are also a number of themes you can choose from. Everything is kept incredibly simple so if you have just One Thing on the slide you’ll get that and you’ll see some of the background. It works the same when you’re using the option of Two Things. Sometimes what you want though is to have the whole of the slide taken up with a single photo and that is possible too. You may also combine a full photo with a thing on top. That thing on top could be an icon, another photo or some text. If you need the text to be in a specific place on top of the photo then you have to do that another application first. Within Spark Video the text goes dead centre.

Spark Video

It’s easy to add new slides and at the bottom of the screen you’ll see all the slides in your slideshow. Click on the play button to the left hand side if you want to play what you have done so far. Tap and hold if you want to move one of the slides in the order. Sometimes when you’re making one of these Spark Videos you’ll do all of your audio first and then add the pictures to go with it. Other times you can do it at the other way around, whichever works the best for you.

music in Spark Video

All in all it’s a useful application for making a slideshow. Quick and easy to use with a way to quickly change the whole look by using themes. These themes can also be manipulated – Tap on the button for a customised theme and make whatever changes you need to. Change the colour for the background, icon, main text and the secondary text. You only get 12 fonts to choose from, but the ones you have in the app are okay and will suit the purpose.

themes in Spark Video

When you’ve finished, share your video/slideshow. Choose the category, edit the credits and the author info. Choose whether the video is going to be public or private and then share. The final result can be shared to Facebook, Twitter, email, messages or to your photo roll.

Recommendations for using Adobe Spark Apps

I recommend using a decent microphone external to your device to get the best audio for your Spark Video – slideshow. This is important so that you have the best quality in the overall finished product.

The Adobe Spark Apps are free and what you do on your iPad or iPhone are available for you to work on and finish off on the web page also. Have a look at what other people have already done with the Spark apps and with Spark Post you are invited to do a remix. Nice to get some inspiration if you need it in Adobe Spark Apps.

The only thing I might have against Adobe Spark Apps is with the web pages you create are hosted on Adobe Spark web site. You don’t get to have a back up of them and what happens if Adobe decide they are not going to do the service any more. Or if they change so you have to pay to use it. Despite this I still recommend Adobe Spark apps for what it offers us creative types.