Candeo Creative : Blog

Photoshop, Illustrator And InDesign: What’s The Difference?


adobe programs

There have been many cases where I find others using these Adobe programs incorrectly. It can be frustrating as a designer to try and explain how these programs cannot be used for everything under the sun. These programs all have wonderful capabilities and can seem like you only need one because you can do it all in that one program, but this is where you are wrong. The programs Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign are created for distinct purposes. They all go hand-in-hand, but have their own specialties. I found an amazing article written and published by Chris Takakura that helps explain how each program can be used for maximum results. Continue reading my blog post for a quick summary.

photoshopAdobe Photoshop

Photoshop, one of the most popular software programs to date that people use. There are many tutorials on this program online. One problem with Photoshop is once learned, many people become too comfortable with it and begin to try and do everything in it.

So what is Photoshop? According to Takakura, Photoshop is a pixel based program used to edit photos, create web banners or other web imagery, text effects, UI designs and special effects. The problem is users don’t understand there are times where Photoshop is not needed to create certain projects.

Photoshop is used for:

–       Photo enhancement/Photo color correction

–       Software/Web/Mobile UI design

–       Web graphics

–       Motion graphics

–       Special effects

Photoshop is not to be used for logo work (logos are vector base), print layout work such as business cards, letterheads, etc. Photoshop is not set up as a program to be best suited for print output. As Takakura puts it: “…it is a bad practice to get into.” So let’s clarify this a little more. Do not use Photoshop to set type into print projects. This does not mean you can never use the type tool in Photoshop, just not for print.

So what do we use for creating vectors or type setting for print campaigns? Insert cheesy Superman entry jingle here….

illustratorAdobe Illustrator

Illustrator is a vector based drawing program. Mainly used for creating vector graphics that need to be scalable for print pieces or future purposes. Very similar to the program Corel Draw, it is the best program to create logos and logotype with an amazing typesetting system within the program. Takakura states: “Adobe Illustrator does one thing Photoshop can never meet up to its standard, and that is vector output. Whatever you create in Illustrator is scalable to the infinite power.”

Illustrator is used for:

–       Logo/Logotype/Monogram/Insignia design

–       Type setting for stationary systems/print campaigns

–       Web graphics

–       Motion graphics

–       Vector paintings/illustrations

Although it is stated that Illustrator can handle web graphics, it is still recommended that Photoshop be used for this area. With motion graphics, Illustrator cannot do animation. You simply have to create the graphics within Illustrator and then outsource them to Flash for animation. Although Illustrator has capabilities for multiple page documents, it is best to only use this for short page brochures or documents.

So what do we use for multiple pages or large documents?

indesignAdobe InDesign

So if Photoshop does photos and web graphics and Illustrator does logo work, vector graphics and small print projects, what the hell does InDesign do?! InDesign is the perfect tool for multi-page documents.

Think of it as Microsoft Word on steroids, Used to basically put the final product together from a print standpoint.

InDesign is used for:

–       Editorial design

–       Book design

–       Multiple page brochures or menus

–       Annual reports

–       Interactive PDF documents

Although it is possible to draw things in InDesign, it does not have the same capabilities as Illustrator. Using Illustrator and Photoshop to take care of graphic elements will make working with InDesign simple and the most effective. InDesign offers tools that the other two don’t have, like text wrap tools, a master page, define page numbers and many more layout options. InDesign also has superior printing output options, such as color separation, bleeds and crop marks. This is the best tool for print projects.

To wrap it up, Photoshop is to be used for pixel based items such as photos, web graphics or text effects. Illustrator is to be used for drawing digital graphics, small print projects or logo work. And InDesign is to be used as a layout tool for putting it all together for large print projects. Still not sure if you are using the right program for the right project? Visit the full Chris Takaura article to go a little more in-depth, or feel free to contact us and allow us to do the work for you!

2 thoughts on “Photoshop, Illustrator And InDesign: What’s The Difference?

  1. I’m glad you found this post helpful! Thank you for the wonderful feedback, we will definitely put it to good use! 🙂

  2. It’s really a nice and helpful piece of information. I’m glad that you shared this helpful info with us. Please keep us informed like this. I want to say it would supply up to !

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