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June 22, 2023
June 19, 2024

'Unboxing' Firefly: A Debrief on Adobe's Latest AI Updates

Varun Baliga

'Unboxing' Firefly: A Debrief on Adobe's Latest AI Updates

June 22, 2023
June 19, 2024
Varun Baliga


This has certainly been the year of generative AI so far. From the rise of Google’s Bard and OpenAI’s ChatGPT to the rapid adoption of AI image generation tools like DALL-E 2, Midjourney, Freepik, and Stable Diffusion, the future of creative work has never looked brighter.

The cherry on top comes from none other than the leaders in creative solutions. Adobe’s Firefly and the recent updates to Photoshop and Illustrator have made quite the splash with their user-friendly experience and advanced capabilities for designers. 

Adobe’s generative AI tools give designers greater freedom to design and explore new possibilities. You simply need to think and the AI will generate for you. The tools still need some work but I'm excited to see what we can create with it.

- Pragati Swaraj,

Visual Designer, Artwork Flow

Adobe’s latest updates hold incredible potential for design, but how can brands make the most of them? 

To see what these tools can do for brands, we took them for a spin with the prompts echoing our wildest ideas. From Firefly to Generative Fill, we explored each tool’s capabilities and how they could be used to improve creative operations.

Firefly: Headlining Adobe’s AI revolution

Since the release of its beta version in March, Firefly has quickly gained popularity for its intuitive user interface and ethical use of data. The tool was used to generate over 70 million images in the first month alone, making it one of Adobe’s most successful launches in history. The wave shows no signs of slowing down now as an integration with Google’s Bard ranks high on Firefly’s roadmap for the immediate future.  

What makes Firefly so good?

While other AI Image generation tools have come under the scanner for using creative assets without consent from copyright holders, Adobe is taking a more measured approach to training its models. Firefly was trained purely on licensed material and content that can be found in the public domain. 

The tool also adds metadata generated by the Content Authenticity Initiative to indicate the use of AI to generate the images. This means that once Firefly is out of beta testing, any images you generate with the tool can be safely used for commercial purposes.

With Firefly, Adobe has brought its trademark capabilities to the generative AI playground. While most image generation tools now come with some form of customization once the images are generated, Firefly blows them all out of the water with settings that allow you to make advanced adjustments to any image you create. 

Want to add, remove, or replace any object? 

You’re just a few brush strokes away.  

Want to change the whole theme of an image?

It only takes a single prompt.

Firefly simplified what used to be relatively complex operations and bridged the gap between imagination and reality. And they’ve barely scratched the surface.

Let’s see how each of Firefly’s features performed during our test run.

Features and capabilities

Text to image

It may seem like a basic feature across generative AI tools today, but Adobe still delivers a refined tool capable of creating some incredible images. 

To test it out, we generated a sample product photo for a skincare mist bottle with the prompt “unbranded skincare spray mist bottle on a white table with a white background, product photography style”

The results are not far off at all from any image you might find in a stock gallery, making Adobe’s execution quite impressive when compared to DALL-E 2 or Midjourney. However, images tend to have some of the usual inaccuracies when generating images with humans or animals, or even relatively complex settings. That said, the images are still closer to what you might be looking for than anything you’d generate with the rest of the AI image generation tools available today.

What makes Firefly’s text-to-image tool really stand out is the advanced settings it offers you once you generate your image. With these, you can adjust everything from the aspect ratio to the styles, lighting, and composition of the image. No more refining your prompt over and over to get the right output. All you need to do is pick out any of Adobe’s well-defined presets and your result can be a lot closer to what you’d like to generate without complications.

Generative fill

If there’s one Adobe feature that has everyone gushing today, it’s the new Generative fill tool that does what we could only imagine just a few years ago.

The function is fairly simple: you select an object or area of the image you’d like to replace or enhance, describe what you’d like to add with a prompt, and pick the best option from the generated results. Essentially, it implements a text-to-image operation within your text-to-image results to give you a final image that would require little to no further modification.

To test this out, we let our imagination run wild with “puppies on a lush green planet”. 

Selecting one of the images, we decided the puppies could do with some extraterrestrial company — a flying space-cat perhaps? 

The results threw up some unique options to consider, with the prompt being interpreted differently across each of the options. Wings didn’t seem essential for a flying cat, but you definitely had the option to include them if you felt they were. 

Generative Fill presents an exciting opportunity for designers to experiment a lot more with their designs. However, considering the tool can be refined further, it may be early for brands to use it extensively just yet.

Text effects

For those among us who love their typography, Firefly’s new text effects tool is an absolute game-changer. The tool takes your prompt to convert the text you need from plain text to a breathtaking design in no time.

All you need to do is enter the text you’d like to modify, describe the style you’re looking for with a prompt, and your artwork is ready to go! The tool also offers sample prompts to give users an idea of how they can best use their prompts to generate text effects.

You will be able to adjust how much the effect fits the text, along with the font and background color used in the design. Currently, the tool offers limited fonts, so you might have to wait a while if you’d like to use specific brand fonts here. 

Generative recolor

With generative recolor, Adobe provides a tool for designers to reduce their manual effort. This tool reads your vector artwork and uses the prompt you enter to generate color combinations that can be quickly applied to the design.

You can easily switch from style to style and generate any number of combinations you need. While this might help designers scale design variations faster, it doesn’t yet offer the level of customization you’d find in a creative automation tool — where you can choose the exact color codes and combinations you’d like to include in your designs. This is where brands might want to stick with a creative automation solution for now and generate designs that are closer to their brand language.

What’s next for Firefly?

Adobe has a host of new features in the works that will equip designers with the intelligent tools they need to enhance every creative while reducing manual effort. Soon, you will be able to use prompt-based generative tools including:

  • Text to vector
  • Text to pattern
  • Text to brush
  • Text to template

Firefly will also include other generative AI capabilities that aim to improve the design experience and workflow:

  • Sketch to image: Convert drawings to images rich in color and detail.
  • Extend image: Uses generative fill to ‘extend’ images and designs to fit a different aspect ratio.
  • Personalized results: Train Firefly with your own collection of images.
  • 3D to image: Use 3D elements and designs to generate detailed images.

Beyond generative AI

While Firefly’s imaginative and powerful tools are drawing all the attention — and deservedly so — that’s hardly the extent of Adobe’s efforts to integrate more AI-powered features with their solutions.

On Photoshop, the new Remove Tool is being celebrated for the ease with which objects can now be removed from designs. All you need to do is use a brush to highlight the object you’d like to remove and it’s gone. It sounds a lot more basic now, especially in context of everything you can do with Firefly, but the joy of removing an object without the excruciating effort of outlining it is right up there with using a line of text to generate an image.

Photoshop now also anticipates your next move based on your activity during any design. The tool uses AI to read your activities and offer relevant next steps right away. This is designed to speed up your workflow and further reduce manual effort during the design process.

Smart tools and capabilities are also being added to other Adobe solutions. Illustrator, for example, now allows users to identify the font used in raster images so they can be reused with ease. Users can also identify the art type of any image and apply a tracing preset that corresponds with the particular art type.

Adobe has also introduced some of Firefly’s features like text to image and text effects to Adobe Express — the brand’s answer to Canva. With these, the tool now offers a lot more customization and allows users to explore their creativity without limits.

How brands can use Firefly

Adobe’s new AI-powered features make creative production more seamless than ever. But while creative limits continue to expand, brands will need to ensure their designs stay guideline-compliant with the increased application of AI-generated material. 

Here are a few things brands can do with Firefly, in collaboration with brand compliance software, to improve their creative operations.

Build instant mood boards and prototypes

Gone are the days when you needed to spend hours sketching out ideas or putting together designs that reflect your vision. 

Firefly’s advanced capabilities mean you can eliminate most of the manual effort involved in developing resources that are closer to what you’d like to create for your brand. Your teams can build everything from basic creatives for inspiration to full-blown prototypes that breathe life into your ideas.

Experiment without borders

It’s the power of your imagination, just a prompt away. Create bolder and more unique designs effortlessly without worrying about resources.

With Firefly and Adobe Express, you can rapidly build new designs, explore innovative variations, and see how they connect with your brand. Visualize your ideas better with the efficiency of Adobe’s powerful generative tools and reduce your efforts throughout the design lifecycle.

Run budget-friendly campaigns

With smart, AI-powered solutions finding a role at every stage of the creative lifecycle, your brand’s operations will require fewer resources over time.

Generative AI tools like Firefly and Artwork Flow’s creative automation solution can be combined to develop incredible ready-to-publish creatives faster than ever. Without monotonous, manual effort slowing them down, designers will be able to deliver a higher quantity and quality of creatives in at least half the time.

Create to connect

As brands continue to understand their audience better, their ad creatives will need to reflect this with increasingly personalized and localized designs.

Today, predictive and creative analytics tools like Artwork Flow’s creative intelligence software offer brands a wealth of advanced insights into what their audience wants to see online. A smart tool like Firefly can be used to generate and modify creatives to match interests effectively. Every campaign will be more relatable and more consumers are likely to be drawn to the brand.

Wrapping up

Adobe’s generative AI journey has already impressed the world with its early capabilities and the roadmap it has laid out for the near future. Adobe’s efforts to authenticate AI-generated content and protect creators means brands can safely use Firefly creatives and run more impactful campaigns over time. If you haven’t used Firefly yet, the tool is available via beta access and free for all to explore. 

However, as creative requirements grow, no single solution can address the myriad challenges brands face today. If you’d like to know how you can not only streamline your brand’s creative operations but enhance them with smart, AI-powered tools like creative intelligence and creative automation, book a quick demo with our experts for a personalized walkthrough of Artwork Flow today!

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