The Generative Fill tool in Adobe Creative Cloud is possibly one of its most impressive additions in years if not ever, and it’s going to soon also feature a new price.
The AI-powered Generative Fill tool in Photoshop is a part of Adobe’s wider suite of AI creation tools, together called Adobe Firefly.
This particular feature has been especially popular among creatives because it lets users give their photos wholly AI-rendered visual elements that don’t really exist but look completely photo-realistic.
More importantly, these elements can almost perfectly blend into the rest of the real image around them.
This AI tech obviously does also have its limits (at least for now).
While it works incredibly well at adding generic objects or backgrounds with close to visually perfect realism, it can break down when asked to render invented complex structures like buildings that don’t exist in real life.
Despite this, the technology is truly impressive in many contexts and has become wildly popular among Adobe users.
Naturally enough, while photography purists might reject something that so blatantly distorts the original reality of a photo, many creators absolutely love Generative Fill.
Up to now, the feature has been entirely free to use as part of a Beta version of Photoshop that was released a few months ago. It’s also still available as part of the standalone Adobe Firefly web application.
Later (as of September) it became part of Photoshop’s standard desktop edition while remaining free as long as you already had an up-to-date Photoshop license.
Soon, however, as of November 1st to be exact, Generative Fill will require you to buy “generative credits” to use its abilities for your photos. This will apply even if you’re already paying your Photoshop or other Adobe subscription/license fees.
Oh, the corporate humanity!
Adobe itself explains a bit confusingly on its website what this means: “Generative Fill, Generative Expand, Text to Image, and Generative Recolor will each cost one credit.
The company also adds in its explanation on credits that “Usage rates may vary.” and that “Plans are subject to change”. Neither of those statements might exactly be clear or comforting to major users of Generative Fill.
On the other hand, Adobe also explains that users who have a Creative Cloud license for all of the platform’s apps get 1000 free credits per month. Users who only pay for a single CC app will get only 500 credits monthly and free-tier users get 25 credits per month.
Another neat sales trick by the company is that it doesn’t let unused monthly credits roll over into the next month.
For more credits beyond your monthly subscription-based quota, you’ll have to pay $4.99 per 100 of them (bearing in mind of course that “Usage rates may vary.” and “Plans are subject to change”)
Curiously, Adobe also explains that the tool won’t stop working if you run out of credits, but that it will start to run more slowly, though they don’t say by how much.
All of the above might not be such a big deal to casual users of Generative Fill. After all, 1000 or even 500 credits is probably more than enough for an occasional bit of AI-powered photo trickery.
However, for commercial users who’ve become used to repeatedly editing and tweaking reams of photos with this genuinely useful new technology, credit-buying costs could add up.
The thing that might especially anger some subscribers is having already gotten used to something that was free to use without limits for weeks, and which probably costs Adobe next to nothing extra to provide.
At the same time, the already very profitable company is still charging you your regular software subscription fees. In other words, the credit scheme for Generative Fill smells a bit like artificially imposed scarcity and cost.
Also worth noting is that Adobe has never before billed for any of its software’s image editing options on a per-image basis, no matter how complex they could be.
It’s hard to believe that the other often very complex things Photoshop does require less processing power while the Generative Fill tool just has to come at a credit-based cost.
Like I said above, they seem to be inventing artificial costs, for the sake of extracting new money from users who got too used to a good free thing.
Nonetheless, we’ll see if Adobe possibly backtracks on what it’s soon imposing. The world of AI rendering technology has become famously adaptive with new features from different services emerging constantly.
It’s not hard to imagine a combination of user backlash and cheaper alternative options that make Adobe remove or reduce credit-based pricing.
If you want to read the full details of how Adobe will apply its new pricing and fee scheme to Generative Fill, you can find them here on their website.
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