Sep
17
2010

The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

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Our recent article covering the new features of Adobe Fireworks CS5 provoked a very interesting and intense debate. But because comments ranged from “Fireworks is the best tool for screen design!” to “What exactly is Fireworks?”, we thought that another article on this topic might be very useful to Smashing Magazine readers.

However, this time the article will not focus so much on the tool itself, but rather on what can be achieved with it, and more specifically — what can be achieved with its visual/graphic design capabilities. We also hope that the following showcase of inspiring illustrations, created entirely in Fireworks, will not only be interesting to our readers, but will also help put an end to the common misconception that Fireworks is mostly a prototyping tool – and – that for “serious” design you must switch to other tools, namely Photoshop or Illustrator.

[Offtopic: by the way, did you know that we are publishing a Smashing eBook Series? The brand new eBook #3 is Mastering Photoshop For Web Design, written by our Photoshop-expert Thomas Giannattasio.]

…What Exactly Is Fireworks?

Finding the answer to this question is not so easy. Is it a prototyping or wireframing tool? Or is it a powerful graphics editor? Is it a Photoshop competitor, but for Web design only? Is it none of these, or all of the above?

Fireworks-cs5-splash-screen Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

Perhaps presenting you with a quick overview of some of the key features of Fireworks will help you decide the answer to that question yourself.

What is it?

Fireworks is a bitmap and vector graphics editor formerly developed by Macromedia and since 2006 developed by Adobe. The main purpose of Adobe Fireworks is for creating expressive, highly optimized graphics for Web, screen and various devices (it should be noted that because of its main purpose, Fireworks has certain limitations: it supports only RGB/RGBa colors and the maximum canvas size of its files is approximately 10,000×10,000 pixels).

What is it good for?

With Fireworks you can make websites, user interfaces and rich Internet application (RIA) interfaces which are editable in both vector and bitmap modes. Fireworks has Pages/Master Pages, Layers, States and Symbols – all features that considerably speed up development of Web designs. You can also use it to create wireframes and interactive prototypes — you can apply behaviors to objects to simulate interactivity; you can add text, symbols, images and also import Illustrator and Photoshop assets; and once ready with the design you can export the files as clickable PDF mock-ups for approval.

Fireworks can turn a graphic design project instantly into an interactive Web prototype — simply export a Fireworks single-page or multi-page PNG file as HTML, CSS and images. You can then send such an interactive prototype to a client for approval; or you can further edit the exported code (which is almost standards compliant and uses an external style sheet) in Dreamweaver, Coda or any other code editor of your choice.

Export features

Fireworks can export to JPG, GIF/GIF-animated, PNG8/24/32, TIFF and a variety of other graphic formats. The Fireworks compression algorithms are on par with, or even better than, Photoshop’s. Not only this but Fireworks can also export graphics directly to PNG8 alpha+index transparency format with true cross-browser compatibility (this means the exported PNG files will display correctly even in Internet Explorer 6 and 7). This is one of the areas where Fireworks excels and Photoshop still lags behind. Fireworks also shows excellent compression options for the iPad and iPhone PNG formats.

You can also export Fireworks PNG files as Adobe AIR application prototypes or FXG 2.0 files for development in Flash Catalyst and Flash Builder (FXG 2.0 also allows a much better integration with Illustrator and Photoshop). You can create skin components such as buttons, menu types and form elements for use in Flash Builder (previously known as Adobe Flex Builder).

Formats support

Because the native file format of Fireworks is editable PNG (it simply stores additional metadata for layers, animation, vector data, text, effects) and Fireworks is primarily a vector application, development for the iPhone is easy and effective in Fireworks. There exist a variety of toolkits and rich symbol libraries for Fireworks iPhone development and they can speed up your work measurably.

Fireworks can open/import native Photoshop (.psd) and Illustrator (.ai) files with high fidelity of layers, effects and blend modes; you can also import native Adobe Flash vector objects (you may first need to convert them to .ai, though). And from Fireworks you can readily transfer graphic assets back to Illustrator and Photoshop. You can also take your design into Adobe Flash Professional and preserve layer states and symbols for animation interactivity development.

Highly extensible

Fireworks is also highly extensible — this makes possible the developing of amazing extensions (such as TweetFire, which lets you instantly tweet the image/design you’re currently working on without leaving Fireworks), complex panels, commands and auto shapes.

The Showcase Of Fireworks Illustrations

So now that we know what Fireworks is capable of, let’s see what designers across the globe are actually doing with it!

The following selection of vector illustrations, logo and icon designs – created in Fireworks – is limited to 19 designers. To make the most of this article, we have made available some Fireworks editable PNG files (.fw.png) which you are welcome to download and deconstruct.

1. David Hogue

Dave Hogue is the Director of Information Design & Usability at Fluid, a design and development agency located in San Francisco. His areas of interest include user experience design, usability, interaction design and information design. Dave speaks regularly at the Web Experience Forum and Adobe MAX. He is very active in the Adobe Fireworks community and he regularly posts useful Fireworks tips and tricks on his Twitter account.

{01} Golden Compass illustration

Compass Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

Created in Fireworks CS4, all vectors, and inspired by this tutorial made for Adobe Illustrator (download editable PNG).

{02} Quartz Watches illustration

Quartz-watches Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

Created in Fireworks CS5, all vectors, and inspired by a photo of a real quartz watch (download editable PNG).

2. Matthew Inman

Matthew is a designer and illustrator who runs the highly successful comics, The Oatmeal. He lives in Seattle, Washington, and uses Adobe Fireworks to draw all the comic strips.

Fireworks is intended for web design, but it’s also a very capable vector editing tool and it works beautifully if your work is going to end up on a website. …I don’t use Photoshop and I’m actually pretty terrible with it. I also have Illustrator and I was using it for a few months, but I ended up going back to Fireworks simply because I’m more comfortable with it and it’s better for creating web content.

Following here is a very short selection of only 5 comic strips — all made with Fireworks (but of course you’re welcome to explore the full Oatmeal collection):

{03} 15 Things Worth Knowing About Coffee

Theoatmeal-1 Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

{04} 20 Things Worth Knowing About Beer

Theoatmeal-2 Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

{05} How a Web Design Goes Straight to Hell

Theoatmeal-3 Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

{06} Why working at home is both awesome and horrible

Theoatmeal-4 Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

{07} Duck in Coffee illustration

Coffee-duck Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

Matthew does not use Fireworks only for drawing his comic strips — for example, see this beautiful “There’s a duck in my coffee” vector illustration, created entirely in Fireworks (see screenshot from the process). Check Matthew’s portfolio if you’d like to see more of his works.

3. Ryan Hicks

Did you ever wonder what happens behind the closed doors of Adobe? How their design teams are working? What applications are creating the icons and splash screens of the various Adobe apps? Ryan could tell us a lot about this subject, since he’s currently working at Adobe as Design Manager, and prior to that he was Senior Experience Designer at Adobe and Experience Designer at Macromedia. His list of clients also include Polygram Music, Wired Magazine and many others (see Ryan’s portfolio).

Let’s take a look at some of his design and illustration work.

{08} XD Brownbag Poster series

Xd-fwcs3-poster Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

After posting it to the Adobe Developer Connection | Fireworks website, Ryan shared the following about this illustration:

This illustration is just one example of a series from the XD Brownbag seminars at Adobe (XD is the Experience Design team at Adobe). The poster art is drawn up at screen resolution and later scaled, because this enables me to build up the shapes more quickly and get into the “drawing light,” which is where the real magic of Fireworks comes in. Its incredibly intuitive gradient opacity controls and the Ellipse gradient’s multi-handle directional controls allow a drawing approach that mimics the real behavior of light. Solid objects have a primary base color and separate slices of cast light, bright highlights, and shadows to build up volume and surface.

After the illustration is completed, it is scaled up to print resolution in Fireworks (eat a snack during this process, as big resolutions is one thing Fireworks isn’t entirely happy with). This large Fireworks PNG illustration is then taken through Adobe Photoshop to output a transparent PSD, and finally into Adobe Illustrator for layout, typography, and output for the final, print-resolution 24″ x 36″ poster.

Download the Fireworks PNG file.

{09} XD Lunchbox poster

Xd-lunchbox Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

{10} XD Beet poster

Xd-beet Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

{11} XD Mackerel poster

Xd-mackerel-poster Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

{12} XD Salad poster

Xd-salad-poster Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

{13} XD Brownbag poster

Xd-brownbag-poster Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

4. Rogie King

Rogie King is the guy behind Komodo Media. He is a web designer, illustrator and blogger. Lately Rogie started a series of tutorials on Fireworks that are becoming more and more popular every day.

{14} rogieking.com personal site illustrations

Rogie-king-redesign Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

Composed entirely of vector artwork in Fireworks, this is a piece of art for the new and upcoming tumblog for rogieking.com.

{15} Logo for rainboxx.de

Rainboxx-logo-1 Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

Rainboxx-logo-2 Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

Rainboxx-logo-3 Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

Created for Matthias Dietrich for his PHP development shop, Rainboxx, this logo was created entirely in Fireworks as vectors. Matthias wanted an evolution to his brand and a professional 3D icon evolution of his current Rainboxx identity. You can view more info about the process, the related dribbble shot, and you can learn more about the particularly interesting brushed metal effect in this video tutorial.

{16} Mad Mimi Illustrations

Mad-mimi-1 Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

Mad-mimi-2 Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

Mad-mimi-3 Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

These are just a couple of illustrations from a series created for the redesign of Mad Mimi. The illustrations are composed entirely of vectors with the additional use of Fireworks symbols for repeating shapes (such as the boxes).

{17} Adaptive UI icons

Adeptiv-ui-icons Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

A custom icon set designed entirely in Fireworks for andCulture who wanted an icon set that was smooth, silky and that fit in with the aesthetic of their Flex web application (see a screenshot from the work in progress).

5. Xiao Cai

Xiao currently lives and works in Melbourne, Australia. He’s currently building his portfolio and preparing for the RMIT University. He does not have a personal website but you can check his profile in deviantart where he posts some of his works.

Xiao shared with me a bit more details concerning his very interesting technique, which he uses in Adobe Fireworks:

During my free time, I looked through a lot of online tutorials on the use of software like Fireworks, Photoshop and 3DS Max. It is quite amazing that you can learn pretty much anything yourself as long as you put theory and practice together. At the beginning, I created a few simple wallpapers using Fireworks, to get familiar with its tools and options. Then I read an article about creating Chinese painting-like pictures in Adobe Fireworks. I tried a few times and then came up with a style of my own, something like Digital Chinese Painting, and was quite happy with the results. Since then I went deeper and deeper with Gongbi (a meticulously detailed painting style) and Shuimo (a water color style) paintings and re-created them with Fireworks. I was trying different tools and effects to get the right one, then compared these pictures with real Chinese painting reference photos and modified them, until I was satisfied with the end result.

Sometimes, I am also using Fireworks to create icons and other design elements.

Next, you’ll see four of Xiao’s digital drwaings, each one has a short description added by the author.

{18} DCP2 Fireworks illustration

Dcp2-novelekehe Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

“My first complete painting by using Fireworks. I did everything piece by piece, from background to stamen, with the pen tool, then adjusted the colors and effects. Not really a technical one, but did take me a lot of time. This painting is also featured in “2 Faces Apart”, Vol.1, published by King Ink (ISBN: 978-91-85807-05-5).”

{19} DCP3 Fireworks illustration

Dcp3-novelekehe Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

“Created in Fireworks, in a bit different style. And with the experience from the previous one, it was finished easily.”

{20} DCP4 Fireworks illustration

Dcp4-novelekehe Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

Dcp4-novelekehe-element1 Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

Dcp4-novelekehe-element2 Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

“Here I tried to focus on the flower, and at the same time combine two different styles together (Gongbi and Shuimo). However, I think I still need to work on the composition.”

{21} DCP8 Fireworks illustration

Dcp8-novelekehe Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

“One more illustration in the same style; it also has a night version.”

6. Jon Hicks

Jon Hicks (hicksdesign.co.uk, @hicksdesign) is a designer we need not introduce. Among other things, he is the maker of the Firefox, Thunderbird & Mailchimp logos and lately he was Senior Designer at Opera Software, before returning to freelance work this year.

{22} Mozilla Firefox logo

Firefox-logo-in-fireworks Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

Firefox-logo-screens Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

The logo of Mozilla Firefox, one of the leading modern Web browsers, was originally created in Macromedia Fireworks in 2004. (Note: Later Jon Hicks re-created the logo also in Adobe Illustrator, so that it could be transferred to print more easily).

Currently, Jon Hicks admits that he both loves and hates Fireworks, one of the reasons for which was apparently Fireworks version CS4, which initially proved to be very unstable on MacOS X and Adobe were quite slow to release two stability patches for it.

When I e-mailed Jon a couple of days ago, he was kind enough to share the following with me:

Apart from the first version of the Mozilla Firefox logo, I do all my illustrations in Adobe Illustrator, rather than Adobe Fireworks. I would often use Fireworks for small icons and mocking up site designs, but anything larger and more complicated would be done in Illustrator. The next higher res [resolution] version of the Firefox logo was created in Illustrator — that’s not to say it’s impossible in Fireworks, but I find Illustrator easier for that kind of thing, and it’s then simple to create high res CMYK versions for print, as well as screen.

7. Fabio Sasso

Fabio is a graphic and web designer from Porto Alegre, Brazil. He’s the founder of Abduzeedo, a blog about design, and he and other designers have published there many tutorials on Fireworks. Fabio acknowledges that Fireworks is his favorite and most versatile tool for Web design with its amazing vector capabilities and good bitmap editing options as well.

{23} Apple Air banner

Apple-air Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

Done entirely in vectors; there’s also a related tutorial as to how it’s done in Fireworks.

{24} Light Effects illustration

Abduzeedo-lights Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

Done entirely in vectors; there’s also a related tutorial as to how it’s done in Fireworks.

{25} The Abduzeetles Rockband website design

The-abduzeetles Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

Hilarious — this tutorial will teach you how to create a colorful and funny website design for the Abduzeetles Rockband — all with the power of Fireworks vectors! ;)

8. Lucian Dragomir

Lucian Dragomir from 2313 Studio is a 20-year-old freelance branding and web designer who is currently studying art and visual technology in Virginia. Graphic design is his passion and Fireworks is what feeds his hunger for design. He likes Fireworks for its user-friendly interface and advanced vector engine which, combined, create good results for fast prototyping, Web design and occasionally even print.

Lucian also loves to share his work at deviantart.

{26} Vectorizer illustration

Vectorizer-color-powered Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

This is an illustration that won first prize at the 2009 Fireworks Wallpaper Contest, organized by Adobe and FwZone. It was created in Fireworks CS4 and is 100% vector work. To see the full complexity of this illustration, you can download the Fireworks PNG file.

{27} Anger Management illustration

Anger-management-1 Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

Experimental 3D render of a fire extinguisher and a lighter using only vectors (Fireworks 8).

{28} iCry illustration

Icry Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

Experimental characters and lighting/shadow/reflection simulation, 100% vector work in Adobe Fireworks.

{29} TakeOFF illustration

Takeoff Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

Created in Fireworks 8 with the help of the Alien Skin Splat plugin.

9. Fred Michel

Fred Michel is 30 years old and a freelance graphic and web designer, currently living in Montréal, Canada. He first made his way into the graphic design world through being inspired by Fireworks. An interesting fact is that he is color blind. So how does he manage to put the colors together? He says that this is a secret!

{30} Porsche Carrera illustration

Porsche-carrera Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

Originally created in Fireworks in 2004 and is all vector work (download Fireworks PNG).

{31} Cadillac illustration

Cadillac Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

Created in Fireworks, all vector work (download Fireworks PNG).

{32} Mercedes SLA concept car illustration

Mercedes-sla Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

Mercedes SLA concept car — originally created in 2005 in Fireworks, all vector work (editable PNG is available for download). A curious fact is that the concept of the Mercedes SLA car is as old as the year 2000, however, Mercedes did not yet create such a car — it only remains a concept till now.

{33} VW Tiguan illustration

Vw-tiguan Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

Created in Fireworks CS3, in 2010, and is all vector work (you may download the editable PNG). One of Fred’s most complex vector illustrations made in Fireworks.

10. Mikko Vartio

Mikko Vartio is a visual web designer from Helsinki, Finland. He uses Adobe Fireworks as a primary tool for creating websites, illustrations, for UI Design and wireframing. When he’s not working with Fireworks he’s reading old sci-fi books and cruising the streets with a longboard.

For Mikko, Fireworks is the perfect tool for delivering ideas destined for screen because of its extensibility, native .ai/.psd support and pixel-perfect accuracy. Mikko can be found on Twitter and Flickr (where he often posts Fireworks illustrations).

{34} Bears illustration

Bears Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

{35} Sealife illustration

Sealife Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

{36} Longboard illustration

Longboard Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

{37} Surprise illustration

Surprise Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

{38} Darth Android illustration

Darth-android Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

Made in Fireworks CS5 in less than an hour, this funny Darth Vader + Google Android mashup can be also seen as a live design session recorded at 5x speed. Worth watching!

{39} Magic Mushroom illustration

Magic-mushroom Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

All 100% Fireworks vector work — the original Fireworks PNG file will be available for download as a freebie later at Mikko’s personal blog.

11. Angelo Sabal

Angelo Sabal works and lives in the Philippines. He’s been an avid freelance graphic designer since 2002, specializing in logos, layouts, digital art and multimedia presentations. Fireworks is his design tool of choice.

{40} Colt gun illustration

Colt-gun Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

Created in Fireworks CS4, all vectors (download editable PNG).

{41} Candle illustration

Nice-candle Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

Created in Fireworks CS3, all vectors (download editable PNG).

{42} Dragon shield illustration

Dragonshield Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

Created in Fireworks CS4, all vectors (download editable PNG)

{43} Iron Man 2 helmet illustration

Ironman2-helmet Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

Created in Fireworks CS5, all vectors (download editable PNG).

12. Craig Erskine

Craig Erskine was born, and is still working, in Green Bay, Wisconsin. He has a passion for designing and building standards compliant, stylish and accessible websites.

Craig is using Fireworks on a daily basis and has also published quite a lot of Fireworks tutorials. You may find him on dribbbble and Twitter.

{44} Mac Mini illustration

Mac-mini Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

Created in Fireworks CS4, all vectors (download editable PNG).

{45} Apple remotes illustration

Apple-remotes Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

Created in Fireworks CS4, all vectors (download editable PNG).

13. Pete Lacey

Pete Lacey is an English graphic designer and artist based in Copenhagen, Denmark. He’s working in the field of graphic design, illustration, photography, video editing, motion-graphics, web development, art direction and even audio recording. When it comes to Web design, Fireworks is one of his programs of choice.

When not working with a computer, Pete can often be found behind a drum kit or a guitar instead. And on Twitter, too.

{46} Fireworks icons

Chopeh-fireworks-icons Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

Created in Fireworks for a client, 100% vector work.

14. David Brooks

David is a UX designer at Fellowship Technologies and also a photographer. He currently lives and works in Dallas, Texas (USA). You can find him on dribbble and Twitter.

One of his tools of choice is Fireworks.

{47} Camera-Phone illustration

Camera-phone-a Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

Created in Fireworks for pure fun; all vectors.

{48} Northward Compass website illustration

Northward-compass-site Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

Everything (except the map, which is an imported bitmap), is done as vectors in Fireworks.

15. Tomas Gajar

Tomas Gajar is a senior user interface designer. He has been using Fireworks in his daily work for about 7+ years. All designs that you’ll see in his DigitalLabs Portfolio has been made in Fireworks. You can also find Tomas on Twitter and SofaSurfer.

{49} DigitalLabs website design

Digital-labs Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

{50} Beck’s design concept

Digital-labs-becks Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

{51} SofaSurfer website design

Digital-labs-sofasurfer Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

16. Vincent Tremblay

Vincent Tremblay is currently studying computer programming at Bois-de-Boulogne College in Montreal, Canada. He spends most of his free time coding desktop applications, but he also loves working with his favorite web design software, Adobe Fireworks. Vincent can also be found at deviantart.

{52} Neos Carbon 2 logo prototype (neOS Sapphire logo)

Neos-carbon2 Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

Created in Fireworks CS5, all vectors.

{53} iCompanion logo prototype (iTunes Companion logo)

Icompanion Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

Created in Fireworks CS5, all vectors.

17. José Rivera

José is a very active member of the FireworksGuru forum and he also runs a personal blog dedicated to Fireworks. You can also check his deviantart profile.

{54} Twitter icons

Twitter1a Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

Twitter2a Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

Twitter icons, all re-created in Fireworks vectors.

{55} The iPhone, in Fireworks PNG (.fw.png) format

Iphone-in-vectors Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

The idea to fully vectorize the iPhone is not new — for example, you may check this excellent tutorial on how to create the iPhone frame in Adobe Fireworks.

However, José Rivera went one step further and offered the iPhone in Fireworks full vector format for free download (download iPhone in editable PNG format). It should be fully compatible with Fireworks versions CS4/CS5 (and even lower).

18. Nick Isenberg

Nick is a Web and graphic designer who lives and works in Boise, Idaho (USA). You may check his portfolio and deviantart profile, where he publishes some of his illustrations made with Fireworks.

{56} Spiral Notebooks illustration

Spiral-notebooks Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

Created in Fireworks CS3, all vector work (download the Fireworks PNG).

{57} Le Petit Porcelet illustration

Lepetitporc Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

Created in Fireworks CS3, all vector work (download the Fireworks PNG).

{58} Safari Dock icon

Safari-dockicon Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

Created in Fireworks CS3, almost 100% vector work (download the Fireworks PNG).

19. Adobe CS5 Branding

Next you’ll see more details about the whole Adobe CS5 branding, which — it shouldn’t be actually a surprise — was not made in Photoshop, but mainly in Fireworks.

{59} The Adobe CS5 branding

Adobe-cs5-branding Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

{60} The Adobe CS5 branding — the icons

Adobe-cs5-branding-icons Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

{61} The Adobe CS5 branding — the splash screens

Adobe-cs5-splash-screens Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

The Adobe CS5 Branding work was conceived and executed by Ryan Hicks (lead), Shawn Cheris and Dave Nelson. There’s a very interesting article at Veerle Pieters’s blog dedicated to the “making of”. I highly recommend reading this as well as Ryan’s thoughts on the matter too:

Producing assets for nearly a hundred separate software products takes enormous discipline. Discipline in what a few people can commit to executing in terms of fancy design, and discipline in coordinating and scheduling a hundred separate engineering development cycles and their deadlines. And to keep things interesting, Dave bails just before our production schedule was set to kick off. Shawn and I are now an army of two.

Our survival was dependent on the carefully-hewn master files we created for all the hand-built primary assets such as app icons and splash screens. The files leveraged clever layer structures and the attributes management Adobe Fireworks does best.

We have become, in so many words, an outrageously efficient icon factory, pumped up on caffeine, razor sharp pixels, and a couple AIR apps.

CS5 is my third iteration of Adobe’s product identity system. The project was one of the most enjoyable and satisfying I’ve had in my nearly seven years of working at Macromedia/Adobe.

All splash screens and many of the icons of the CS5 apps were made in Fireworks — and most of them exist in various formats including .fw.png and .ai.

So, how good is Fireworks for Web design?

Fireworks is a solid application for creating Web graphics and as John Nack from Adobe Photoshop team says: “Photoshop’s vector shapes & layer effects (strokes, gradients, etc.) are mainstays of Web & mobile design work, but they haven’t gotten updated in a while. If the Photoshop team were to improve this area of the app, what improvements would you find the most important?”

John then lists all features that could probably be added to the next version of Photoshop (CS6?). Let’s take a look at his list — I have marked the features that are proposed to be included in the next version of Photoshop but already exist in Adobe Fireworks (version CS5 or even lower) in italics.

  1. Enable “real” vector shapes (stroke & fill directly editable, without reliance on layer effects or a dialog box).
  2. Support dashed— and dotted—line strokes.
  3. Enable smart shapes — preserve corner roundness when scaling rounded rectangles; support other parameterized shapes (e.g. stars with an adjustable number of points; lines with arrowheads).
  4. Make various layer effects enhancements — apply effects at the layer group level?; re-order effects; duplicate effects (e.g. apply multiple strokes per layer); enable panel-based editing of effects (instead of relying on a dialog box); add/edit effects on multiple selected layers at once; make graphical styles “live” (i.e. if edit the style definition, all styled objects update).
  5. Enable layer search (i.e. type to filter by layer name or attributes).
  6. Improve snap-to-pixel behavior.
  7. Improve text rendering (this is possible in Fireworks with the ClearType Styles extension).
  8. Export text & graphical styles as CSS* (this is already partially possible in Fireworks – it can export a Web graphic design as HTML/CSS code and also can quickly “translate” some objects’ properties into CSS via extensions such as “Copy CSS Dimensions to Clipboard”).
  9. Support guide sets (e.g. for grid layouts).
  10. Support linked files (i.e. edit one file to update buttons, icons, etc. across multiple PSDs).

As can be seen, almost all future features for Photoshop proposed by John Nack are actually existing features in Fireworks and are used by many designers today. It’ll be certainly interesting to keep tabs on how Adobe develops both Photoshop and Fireworks in the future – and what designers will then achieve.

Conclusion

Adobe Fireworks is a powerful graphic design application that is used by many professional Web and graphic designers, UX designers, illustrators and visual artists. In the right hands, it can produce beautiful results with remarkable speed. You have seen some complex vector designs, various drawing techniques, logos and icons and simply cool illustrations.

Perhaps what is the nicest thing about Fireworks is that if you plan to create artwork in Fireworks, your project development is not limited to Fireworks only. You can easily import multi-layered .psd files, .ai files with multiple artboards and even visual assets from Flash. And then in the other direction, from Fireworks, you can transfer graphic assets to Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash Professional and Flash Catalyst. You can combine the Fireworks speed, vector power, Pages/Master Pages, Symbols and ease-of-use together with the options of both Photoshop and Illustrator and achieve all-round results, faster and with great flexibility.

In my personal opinion, there exists much more than 7 reasons to prefer Fireworks to Photoshop. While Fireworks may be not better than Photoshop, when it comes to designing for the Web and screen, it is faster, easier and can produce results as good as those that can be achieved in Photoshop, Illustrator, and other modern graphic design programs. Fireworks is very close to the real Web design application that Jason Santa Maria was discussing not long ago (although for this to happen, Fireworks would need much more intensive development from the part of Adobe).

{62} Adobe Photoshop CS5 splash screen

Photoshop-cs5-splash-screen Th in The Power of Adobe Fireworks: What Can You Achieve With It?

And there you have our final illustration. Next time you start Photoshop CS5, you may ponder that the “blue fish” splash screen you see was actually created in Fireworks — the lightweight, versatile design application that is responsible for most of the artwork across the Adobe CS5 suite.

If you think that I may have missed someone’s truly great (Fireworks) work, please let us know in the comments, thanks!

(afb)


© Michel Bozgounov for Smashing Magazine, 2010. | Permalink | Post a comment | Add to del.icio.us | Digg this | Stumble on StumbleUpon! | Tweet it! | Submit to Reddit | Forum Smashing Magazine
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