Cloud Control

It was time to upgrade my version of Photoshop last week, and as many a visual artist can tell you, Adobe is steering its users into the “Creative Cloud.” This is a monthly subscription service, wherein the same programs that cost several hundred dollars in 2006 now cost… well, there’s no telling really, since you keep paying into infinity. Apparently paying for software you can install on your computer and use as long as you like is passé. Not long after I purchased an old-fashioned non-cloud program, the Adobe server crashed, preventing people everywhere from signing into the cloud for a day or so. You could almost hear the screams of designers around the world.

If you’re a cartoonist who doesn’t need all the latest advanced photography features, I recommend buying one of the vanishing copies of Photoshop CS6 and sitting on it.


  • 127wexfordroad

    All it’s doing is enforcing what adobe and all the other companies have been saying all along: you have to pay to play. sorry to disappoint all the people who are eternally “borrowing” theur software, but it’s not free.

    • Susan Montgomery

      Exactly. I think they got tired of selling one copy that got torrented to infinity.

      • Jen Sorensen

        Torrenting is certainly a problem. My understanding was that it became a lot harder to steal Photoshop once they limited the number of machines onto which it could be installed, as was the case with CS2, the last version I purchased. I also just purchased CS6 for $699. It would be nice if they could continue to offer a choice for us legal users.

        There was probably a hack for the usage limitations of the earlier versions, but I’ve heard that the cloud has been hacked too.

        • Susan Montgomery

          Everything gets hacked. Rule of the Internet. Intrusive DRM schemes are either futile or actively damaging to the people who try them (see Simcity and Spore for two examples)

          As for choice, I can see a rationale of a system (besides creative moneyspinning) which allows users to use only the little bits of programs that they need. Although I can see why, as you’re someone who deals in copyrighted works, you’d want to keep it off a cloud.

  • Jeffrey Tranberry

    Hi Jen,

    Cool cartoons. Dig your work.

    Customers are welcome to purchase Photoshop CS6 using the old pricing model at $699/$999 Extended.

    But consider this: at that price a customer can have the Photoshop Photography Program @ $9.99/mo for close to 6/8.5 years:

    The Photoshop Photography Program includes Photoshop CC, Lightroom, Lightroom mobile, Behance Prosite. Plus you get all the product updates/upgrades (e.g. Photoshop 15, PS16, PS17, PS18, PS19, etc. & Lightroom 6, LR7, LR8, LR9, LR10, etc) for OS compatibility and support during that time. With the old model, you’d have to pay extra for upgrades in that same time period.

    One of the reasons for moving to this model is to make sure customers can keep with a fast changing technology landscape where Apple and Microsoft are updating OSes every 12 months and introducing new hardware and devices at a faster and faster rate.

    Hope that helps. Feel free to ping me at jtranber at adobe dot com with any Qs.

    • Jen Sorensen

      Hi Jeffrey,

      Thanks for the compliment on my work and for engaging me on the cartoon. I did wind up purchasing Photoshop CS6 for $699. However, it seems to me that even this option is being phased out. My understanding is that fewer and fewer stores offer the box version on their shelves, and the only upgrade option is the Creative Cloud (i.e., people with Photoshop 5.5 were prohibited from purchasing an upgrade to CS6).

      I realize that for some people or organizations, it may be more cost-effective to subscribe to the cloud. But many self-employed artists like myself aren’t photographers in need of advanced features or constant updates. Say I use CS6 for six years. If I rent it, I’m paying $20/month or $240/year. In less than three years, I’ve exceeded my $699 investment. In six years, I’ve paid $1,440. If I keep it for eight years, that’s $1,920 — assuming rates don’t go up. For many working artists, that’s a significant amount of money.

      Customers like me who hang on to Photoshop for many years are surely less profitable than a big design firm needing all the latest effects. But it would be nice if Adobe continued to offer one-time purchases to those of us for whom the Cloud model is not cost-effective.

      • Jeffrey Tranberry

        Hi Jen,

        Why would you pay $20 a month when you can get it for $9.99/mo?:

        If you use Photoshop CC for the next 6 years at that price, it would be the same price as what you paid for CS6, plus you’d be under support and receive all the updates and upgrades in the 6 year period. In addition, you’d have access to Lightroom, Lightroom Mobile, Behance Prosite, 20GB of backup/sync/sharing storage.

        Let’s say Apple or Microsoft comes out with a new OS, or your current hardware breaks, and new computers have new processors that breaks compatibility with CS6. With CC, you’d have access to the latest version with the latest OS/hardware compatibility.

        Customers who own CS5 or later can upgrade to CS6. Anyone, even brand new customers, qualify for the $9.99/mo offer for the Photoshop Photography Program. Photoshop 5.5, which was released in February 1999, has long been outside the upgrade window.

        That is correct that CS6 is being phased out of 3rd party retail, but remains available from at the link I supplied in my earlier reply.

        • Jen Sorensen

          Hi Jeffrey,

          I meant to say CS5, not 5.5 — my mistake. I had heard that people with earlier versions could no longer upgrade to CS6; I guess they had CS4 or earlier. (I was running CS2, which met my fairly simple needs but was no longer compatible with my OS.)

          When I spoke to a customer service representative at Adobe, she mentioned the $9.99/mo offer, but was only able to guarantee that price for a year. It sounded like a special introductory offer that would most likely expire after the year was up, and revert to the advertised price of $20/mo. Are you suggesting that that is a permanent rate that will definitely last years into the future?

          • Jeffrey Tranberry

            Correct. $9.99 is *the* (ongoing) price, not a first year promo. There are currently no plans to increase the price. We can’t, however, say the price won’t ever need to go up to account for inflation.

          • Jen Sorensen

            $9.99/mo is certainly a more reasonable rate. When I was shopping on the Adobe website a couple weeks ago, I got the distinct impression that it was $19.99/mo — and even now, it’s not entirely clear that $9.99 is an ongoing rate. Adobe needs to make that a bit more obvious. Just FYI, here’s a transcript of my chat with the customer service rep:

            Alice: We do have special offer running presently.

            Alice: You can purchase Photoshop
            Photography Program includes Photoshop CC for editing images, Lightroom 5
            for organizing images, along with Lightroom mobile, Bridge.

            Alice: Usually Photoshop CC will cost you $
            19.99/ month. Since we are running an offer today, you can purchase
            Photoshop offer for a terrific price of just $9.99/ month.

            Alice: Isn’t a great deal !

            Visitor: Also, how long does the $9.99/mo price last?

            Alice: It is good for one year.

            While I can see how this arrangement might be preferable for some people, I still have reservations about the principle of renting software. This model requires that users surrender a certain amount of control, putting ourselves at the mercy of software companies, some of which are less than scrupulous. If this becomes the industry norm, it seems fraught with risk. It seems likely that ever more money will be transferred from artists, writers, and small businesspeople to the tech industry, which is already doing quite well. There’s also the matter of dependency — servers crash (as they did the day I ordered CS6), and users are unable to open their PSD files once their subscription ends. I realize that other software is available that will open PSD files, but that shouldn’t be necessary.

            Thanks for listening to my concerns.

          • Jeffrey Tranberry

            Thanks. The changes wrt the $9.99 price are direct result of feedback, so it’s helpful to hear concerns. The industry is changing and adapting (not just software, but music/entertainment as well).

          • Jen Sorensen

            Just want to let you know that I’m getting served Google Ads on this website offering Adobe Photoshop CC and Lightroom for $9.99 with the words “Limited-time offer.”

          • Faye Kane, homeless brain

            Jen, they will double it in a year, once you’re locked in. People weren’t buying it for $20 because it’s outrageous and not worth it. So instead of lowering the price, they let you get used to a fake lower price so you won’t switch to Paintshop Pro, a Photoshop clone. Then a year later, when they have your visa card on file and you’ve forgotten all about it, they start charging you the price you specifically aren’t willing to pay (double) and you never even notice it.

            How obvious does it have to be? Why are you giving them the benefit of the doubt? They’re not being nice and giving people a break; they’re being disingenuous, cynical, and greedy.

            Why are we Liberals so gullible? After all the sh it sandwiches the repiglican businessmen feed us, we still eat them.

            The stuff you do could easily be done in PSP, which is dirt cheap and you own it. Switch products, then tell why on your blog.

            -faye kane

          • inorganicmolecule

            The problem with the Creative Cloud model is that it isn’t being offered as an option. It is mandatory. No one will ever be able to actually own anything ever again if you succeed in this, as Jen’s cartoon so presciently predicts. I don’t care how cheap it is, I will never give Adobe another penny for a product that goes away if I stop paying for it.

          • Faye Kane, homeless brain

            You work for Adobe. Perhaps you can explain why you blame microsoft for tiny, unreadable fonts and icons on 3000 pixel-wide displays.

            I just bought PS6 and I can’t use it unless I lower my screen rez to 1024. Lots and lots of people are complaining, but you just stonewall us.

            Amazingly, your cloud product figured out how to scale UI fonts.

            Crapitalism is as unusable as a standalone copy of PS6.

          • inorganicmolecule

            If you don’t know how to operate your computer, that is not Adobe’s problem.

  • Jape

    The incessant drumbeat of “upgrade!” has always been maddening.

    Yes, there are times when a new version solves an old problem, or adds a welcome element, but more likely than not (I’m looking at YOU Illustrator), developers do away with useful tools, effective layouts and efficient workflow. And right about the time you finally learn your way around a new program another upgrade comes along!

    Some of us have fought the planned obsolescence of computers every step of the way. Clay Bennett won the Pulitzer and did years of astounding work using nothing but Photoshop 3. Not CS3, Photoshop 3.0. I’ve gotten at least 8 years of use out of every Mac I ever had, and decades of projects using only a couple versions of Photoshop, and I plan on using InDesign 4 until all my Macs that run it die.

    All we want is software that gets out of the way of creating. If you
    find a version that WORKS, you shouldn’t have to worry about it changing
    every few months, or — thanks Cloud! — is suddenly unavailable on

  • Faye Kane, homeless brain

    I bought PS6 last month, then discovered it is unreadable on hi-rez displays because they refuse to make the fonts and icons scale with screen DPI. LOTS of designers are pissed about it and some have returned computers with PS6 preinstalled. They’re doing it to force everyone to their overpriced cloud product. See their support forum.

    faye kane ♀ girl brain
    sexiest astrophysicist you’ll ever see naked

    • inorganicmolecule

      That doesn’t make any sense. What do you mean by “hi-res” display? Photoshop’s icons have never been scalable. They are what they are and always have been. It sounds like you’re attempting to use the software on a non-standard platform. Shouldn’t you be blaming the platform, and not the software? Not sure what you mean by “lots of designers”, but I work professionally in motion picture production, and there have been no complaints about CS6 at the studios about screen resolution.

  • Nigel Maher

    It’s well and truly worth checking out Krita ( if
    you’re after something free and powerful that’s well suited to creating
    digital painting/comics.

    It’s open source, developing rapidly and is
    currently available for Windows & Linux, with the chance of a Mac
    version in the near future. In fact, you can help that happen on
    Kickstarter right now

    Can’t recommend it enough, just keeps on getting better!

Jen Sorensen is a nationally-published political cartoonist. She is a 2017 Pulitzer Finalist and recipient of the 2014 Herblock Prize and a 2013 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award.