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[Ai] Asset guidelines

Asset guide


triangular flag Important

  • SCALE: For Section assets, scale is extremely important to keep in mind. Some lines, the curser icon, etc. can appear extremely small or nonexistent because of the small scale of the Section asset. 

1. Overview


  • Tutorial assets appear in the app workspace for use in hands-on instructional walkthroughs. They demonstrate the how, why, and when to use app tools and workflows. 
  • Through guided exploration, users take a “starter” asset through a series of simple updates. The end-state needs to be clearly different from the start and provide a sense of payoff. 
  • Our goals with tutorial assets are twofold: they first need to support instructional intent and clarify how to use the app, and secondly, they should help users feel successful and inspired to apply what they’ve learned.  
  • Consider your tutorial an opportunity to help people expand on their domain knowledge. Adhere to, and teach, best practices (e.g. setting up a web file in RGB versus CMYK) and demonstrate the use of design principles


  • New Ai end users unless specified otherwise
  • Our tutorials need to appeal to a broad set of end-users. The full collection of tutorials should demonstrate a wide range of style and subject matter coverage

Asset Tracker

  • This is a running collection of workspace assets and Adobe Stock used in Ai tutorials. Check the User Guide for existing tutorial-style coverage and identify opportunities to expand it; make sure the Stock you’re interested in using has not been used previously in a recognizable way.
  • +Ai tutorial builder asset tracker

2. Stock imagery and templates 

You must use assets you created, or have rights to use the image(s) in your starter file. All assets with recognizable people must be model released.  

  • If you are not using your own assets, use free or “standard” tier Adobe Stock imagery. 
  • There are two different Adobe Stock licensing processes for Community Authors and Adobe Authors.
  • Don’t use any other stock services. End users will have access to use, edit and download the image via the starter file, and this use case may not be covered by other stock services’ terms of use. 

Free Adobe Stock imagery and templates

If you plan to use stock imagery or templates, please prioritize free assets on Adobe Stock. Using free stock allows us to avoid having to contact the stock team to double check in-app usage permissions and evaluate relationships with contributors. Assets, especially templates, can be used as a starting place and customized, endlessly.

  •  Search for Free assets directly on the Stock site:
  • You can search for something specific or just hit enter into the search bar to bring up all free asset results. From there you can use the left filter bar to select:
    • Asset Type: Images > Subcategory: Vectors
    • Asset Type: Images > Subcategory: Illustrations (note these are .jpgs, not .eps): 
    • Asset Type: Templates > App: Illustrator

Licensing Stock imagery 

  • Community Authors: Licensing Adobe Stock
    • Only use Standard Adobe Stock images (not Premium). 
    • You are responsible for purchasing licenses. Choose the extended/enhanced license type. 
    • In the ”Image Credits” field of the Tutorial Builder, list the stock contributors as follows: “Adobe Stock: contributor 1, contributor 2, contributor 3”
    • Please submit any stock images you purchase to this Dropbox folder so we have them on hand in case future edits are needed. 
    • Add your name to the filename and put it at the top level.
  • Adobe Authors: Licensing Adobe Stock
    • Only use Standard Adobe Stock images (not Premium).
    • List the Stock images to license in the Author Paper doc
    • Tag the Designer assigned to your tutorial & the Design Program Manager in a comment
    • We will purchase an extended license on your behalf and track the asset.
    • Note: If you do not have an Author Brief, please email the Designer assigned to you & your Design Program Manager to request the licensed image.

Crediting Stock contributors 

  • In the Image Credits field of the Tutorial Builder, authors are automatically listed. 
  • To list the stock contributors, unclick the box, and add them as follows: “Adobe Stock: contributor 1, contributor 2, contributor 3.”

3. Localization

Neither workspace assets nor section imagery will be localized into other languages, therefore it’s necessary to use neutral words and phrases in workspace assets, and to omit or abstract UI text in section imagery. 

  • Do not include any text in the motion section imagery. This means UI panels cannot be part of screen captures for motion, just the actions within the artboard.
  • If your static imagery shows UI panels, the text must be abstracted with gray bars, or mock text, in place of real text. This is done in Photoshop, as vector layers over the UI screenshot.


+ Example PSD for lifting styles

4. Workspace assets

  • Assets should be dynamic and visually interesting, yet approachable
  • They should look current, relatable, relevant and fresh; not too niche in subject matter or aesthetic approach
  • Check out our Illustrator Product Expression Guide for style, project and color inspiration. Please note, this is just a jumping-off point:  + Ai Product Expression Guide (April 2021)
  • It is helpful to anchor the visuals into the context of a relatable project application 
    • Logos, icons, brand graphics, brand collateral 
    • Email graphics, banner ads, social media ads
    • Social posts
    • Flyers, business cards, brochures, posters
    • Signage
  • Looser, art-based, or Illustration-based tutorials, are also fine as long as the instructional value of the asset comes through clearly


  • Depending on your tutorial workflow, it can be helpful to provide an additional artboard for working—or a play-space—alongside the context where the user applies their end result. Limit the number of artboards in your file to 2.

Using layers

  • Users should only need to interact with two layers maximum
  • Given the need for showing workable elements within the context of project output, make sure there is enough space in layouts for the user to select and work with the elements they’re instructed to. Strategically lock background layers and extra elements, as needed.
  • Layers should be one of the following default colors: Light Blue, Red, Green
  • Use Light Blue for your main artwork layer wherever possible. If you need a second layer, use Red.


  • Lock or Outline text in workspace assets unless the tutorial is about working with type
  • Only use Adobe Fonts
  • Plan for users to choose their own fonts and style them however they please. If it truly matters to the end result of a layout, give loose, flexible guidance. The type of fonts to try, and general descriptions like “bold”, make it easy to understand without previous domain knowledge

Linked files

  • To keep the file within the max file size limit, you may need to rasterize textures and drop rasterized files into AI.
  • Any linked files should be embedded within the file before the final file is saved as AIT.

5. Section imagery overview

The section image is a static or motion depiction of key actions in a tutorial section. 

For each section, you can choose between static images and motion (Mp4):

  • Static images (JPGs) are created by combining and editing screenshots within Photoshop. 
  • Use static imagery for depicting UI panels, since the text can be abstracted in Photoshop. Or when a static image is sufficient in illustrating the task or workflow. 
  • Motion depictions (Mp4s) are created by recording screen captures. This is done using software like Screenflow (macOS) or Camtasia. 
    • Use motion only if it’s essential to show movement. 
    • Given the limitation of omitting all UI text, motion screen captures are limited to actions within the artboard.

Capturing and using UI panel screenshots

  • For Section assets, scale is extremely important to keep in mind. Lines, cursors, icons, etc., can appear extremely small or drop out entirely, due to the size they are displayed in-app
  • NOTE: Make sure you capture using the default Brightness setting of “darker.” See the following “Tips for improving scale” section.

Tips for improving scale 

In order to get the best clarity in your screenshots, set the following:

  • Match the macOS settings below in System Preferences > Displays:
  • Match the User Interface settings below in Illustrator > Preferences:

Icons and cursors

CC Library

This shared CC Library contains color swatches, cursors, and tool icons. Access it through the Libraries panel in Illustrator, in Photoshop, or CC Desktop. 

+ Ai-Desktop-Assets_TutorialBuilder 

  • You can search through the tooltips with the tool name to find your tooltip more quickly.

XD collection

  • We also have tool icons and cursors collected into a single XD doc. Export SVGs from it, or copy/paste into Ai, and then copy/paste into Ps as a smart object

Colors for PSD (static) and motion (video or AE) section images



Gold (F7B74C)

UI highlights and UI “sparks”/click indicators

Magenta (FF2FFF)

To make AI Smart Guide in PS

Red (FF0000)

Bounding boxes, selection outlines, etc. that pertain to artwork on red layers

Blue (4F80FF)

Bounding boxes, selection outlines, etc. that pertain to artwork on blue layers

White (FFFFFF)

Artboard backgrounds

Black (000000)

Border around artboards

6. Static section imagery (JPGs)

+ Example static section imagery

Recreate the scene in Photoshop

Creating and working with screenshots of UI

You can use the following template to build your own static section images from:

+ Static section image template (PSD)

Check out how imagery is built in this layered example PSD

+ Static section image layered example (PSD)

  • Take individual screenshots for each UI element/panel used in your illustration. This allows for maximum flexibility when composing your image, and lets you scale and crop an element without affecting the others.
    • Before taking screenshots of a panel, pull the panel fully out of the application frame/application window. 
    • To take a screenshot, use the keyboard command Cmd + Shift + 4, then press the Space Bar once. This allows you to capture an entire panel. You can also press the Option key while taking the screenshot to remove the drop shadow.
  • If your panel screenshots have drop shadows, create vector masks around the panels to remove the drop shadow.
  • Place panels in PS as smart objects for the highest resolution.
  • Specs:
    • Scale in Photoshop: 70%
    • Drop shadow: Multiply, #000000, 25%, 90°, distance 3px, spread 11%, size 9px

Adding workspace assets from Illustrator

  • Use vector assets wherever possible. 
  • Artwork can be copy/pasted directly from Illustrator into Photoshop as Vector Smart Objects.
  • It’s easiest to recreate selection UI, bounding boxes, etc. in AI, then copy/paste the final artwork into PS.
  • If you’re importing an entire artboard asset and any edge of the artboard is visible in your canvas, add a 1px black stroke around it to create the look of an artboard.

Creating Selection UI and Bounding Boxes

Given the scale of lines in screen captures, selection UI and bounding boxes often need to be rebuilt as vectors in Photoshop. 

  • Use red (FF0000) for bounding boxes, selection outlines, etc. that pertain to artwork on red layers 
  • Use blue (4F80FF) colors in the CC Library, depending on the color of your layer in AI.
  • Start with the following specs, then scale everything proportionately as needed to match your artwork scale:
    • Selection outline: 1pt stroke
    • Bounding box: 1pt stroke
    • Corner handles: 3px square

Creating UI Highlights

  • Build UI highlights as vectors in Photoshop
  • Can be a circle, square, or rectangle. If you highlight multiple elements of UI, define a hierarchy for the shapes: the rectangle is primary, the circle is secondary, etc
  • Specs 
    • Use Gold F7B74C
    • Fill: none
    • Stroke: 3px
    • Drop shadow: Multiply, #000000, 25%, 90°, distance 3px, spread 11%, size 9px

Adding Cursors

  • Use the cursors in the CC Library or the XD collection
  • Scale: generally, 200% 

Exporting from Photoshop

  • PS: Use File > Export > Export As…, then match the settings below.

7. Motion section imagery (MP4s)

+ Example motion section imagery

Template for Screenflow with the correct scaling (this is a zip file you need to unzip)

Template for a click animation for Screenflow. You can open this Screenflow project file, copy the animation, and paste it into your Screenflow timeline.

Example animation

Overall guidelines for recording:

  • See the section “Tips for improving scale” above for setting the proper screen resolution.
  • Do not include any text in recordings. This means UI panels cannot be part of screen captures for motion, only action within the Document window.
  • Turn off Smart Guides (Window > Smart Guides) BEFORE recording. We don’t want distractions in the vids
  • Follow the Tips for improving scale section above for cursor sizes in Ai—we want them a bit larger to make it easier to follow them
  • For highlights - follow the "Creating UI Highlights” section above
  • Remove any audio tracks you record! These videos DO NOT have voiceover
  • Try to make your cursor movement smooth
  • When selecting a tool, you may need to cover the text with a box in your editing software if the tooltip appears. Sometimes having the tooltip show is unavoidable without moving the cursor too quickly
  • Avoid recording menus and panels

Editing your screencapture

  • The capture can be edited in the app you use to capture— Screenflow or Camtasia are 2 common examples
  • NO fades in the beginning and end of the video
  • Show clicks in the video using this animation:
  • Screenflow doc (copy and paste into Screenflow)
  • Camtasia doc (copy and paste into Camtasia )

Specs for motion screen recordings  

  • MP4 format
  • 560x280 - size limit for EACH MP4: 4MB
  • Length for these videos should be anywhere from 5 seconds to 10+ seconds or so. We do not want overly long videos since they loop in the panel. For questions about this—ask your curator for guidance

8. Hero and thumbnail images 

  • The hero image is a static image that serves as a preview of the tutorial within Illustrator. Hero images are the “after” image — the end state of the tutorial.

+ Template hero PSD

  • The thumbnail image is a static image and tutorial preview in the Search Panel. Thumbnail images are the “after” image — the end state of the tutorial.

+ Template thumbnail PSD

Hero and thumbnail images for tutorial series

If you’re designing a series of tutorials that leverage the same artwork, the series heroes and thumbnails for each step should be variations on the same art. That way they hang together as a set but are still recognizable on their own as individual tutorials. Each hero and thumbnail combination should preview (however abstractly) the topic for an individual tutorial within the set.

Ideas for ways to do this:

  • Use different elements, crops, or focal points of the same art
  • Use slightly different color themes


9. Asset specs

Head to Image specs for information on creating assets for TB-Ai. 

ALTERNATIVE: motion imagery using After Effects

NOTE: This section is for those authors who are efficient in After Effects and want to create their own section motion graphics as opposed to screen capture or static section imagery.

+ Examples of motion section imagery created with AE

Dropping in cursors from CC Library: 

Scale for Ae: 140%

Adding Artwork Assets from Illustrator

  • Use vector assets wherever possible.
  • AE: Create a new AI file that has each animation asset saved on its own layer. You can then export the layers you need into AE. 
    • If you’re importing an entire artboard asset and any edge of the artboard is visible in your canvas, add a 1px black stroke around the artboard.
    • Ensure that the Continuously Rasterize column is selected for any AI content imported into AE. This makes the vector content appear crisp in final MP4s. (If you don’t see this setting, click the “Toggle Switches / Modes” button at the very bottom of the window.)

Working with screenshots in Ae

  • Place panels as linked files in AE, for the highest resolution.
  • Specs: 
    • Scale: 35%
    • Drop shadow: Multiply, #000000, 25%, 90°, distance 3px, spread 11%, size 9px

Creating selection UI, bounding boxes and highlights 

Build selection UI and bounding boxes as vectors directly in Ae (especially if you’re showing how an object scales.)

  • For highlights, use the gold color from the CC Library, F7B74C
    • Fill: none
    • Stroke: 3px
    • Drop shadow: Multiply, 000000, 25%, 90°, distance 3px, spread 11%, size 9px]


Add easing between motion keyframes to give more natural motion.

  • Apply Easy Ease to individual keyframes where necessary


  • Use File > Export > Add to Adobe Media Encoder Queue… , then use the preset “Adobe Learn: In-App Tutorial Assets”.


Can be downloaded from CDA’s Dropbox

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