Okay, there has been many questions launched our way via email and in person concerning graphic design and more importantly Photoshop vs Illustrator vs InDesign. We are going to quickly sort this out.
Honestly, I love photoshop…and have been using it for years and although it is definitely a powerful program, it still has its limitations.
First and foremost, Photoshop is a pixel or raster based program. This means that your photo is comprised of thousands (if not) millions of tiny colored squares that make up the image. For photos, web designs, etc, this is not a problem (most of the time). The problem with a raster based image is if you attempt to upscale a smaller (or lower quality) image, it will pixelate and you will lose quality. We’ve all seen it when zooming into a picture. A rule of thumb for photoshop is to keep it in the realm that it is typically designed for.
This means using photoshop for:
1. Photo editing and/or restoration
2. Website graphics design (content creation.
3. Digital “painting”
4. UI > User Interfaces
5. Website Advertisements
6. Motion graphics
7. Special effects/filters
There is a common misconception that you should use photoshop for stuff like business card design or catalog layouts…DON’T. I’ll explain shortly.
Illustrator on the other hand is math or “Vector” based. This means that no matter how small or large you decide to scale the image or artwork, it will retain its quality and not pixelate. A lot of people do not take this into consideration when designing things.
You should be using Illustrator for some of the following:
1. Logo creation
2. Business Card design
3. Scalable designs for banners and posters (I.e. designs for large format printing).
4. Apparel design
5. Motion graphics
6. Vector painting and illustration
Although I’m sure that you can use InDesign for more than I’m going to mention here; we typically associate InDesign with literature and graphic/text based design work.
Examples for these types of work include:
1. Letterhead design
2. Pamphlet design
3. Catalog design
5. Multiple page brochures
7. Interactive PDF documents
Now, I’m not saying that you are only allowed to perform the fore mentioned tasks with those programs, I am just saying that you should take into consideration of what you plan on doing with your design work and what the limitations of the programs are. I can design an entire website inside illustrator (and many people have), but I personally do not feel the need to have superior quality (or larger file sizes for that matter) for base website creation. Just like I can create letterhead designs inside illustrator, but why not use a program designed to do that?
I also say this based on the fact that we are running Adobe’s Master Collection and I do understand that there are people out there that only have legitimate access to one or the other, but just keep some of this information in mind. Also, by all means, we are not proclaiming to be SMEs or subject matter experts…we’re just trying to shed some light on this topic.
The “vs” breakdown follow below:
Illustrator vs. Indesign
1. Illustrator does not have master pages.
2. Illustrator cannot define page numbers.
3. Indesign cannot draw objects as well as Illustrator.
4. Indesign does not have filters, as Illustrator does.
5. Indesign has superior type wrapping tools, while it maybe a bit confusing with Illustrator.
Illustrator vs. Photoshop
1. Illustrator has superior vector support, while Photoshop has limited.
Illustrator does better page layout than Photoshop.
2. Illustrator does not handle pixel art the same way as Photoshop does in terms of effects.
3. Photoshop is superior for photo enhancing.
4. Photoshop creates precise pixel based UI designs compared to Illustrator.
5. Illustrator supports multiple page output for PDF while Photoshop does not.
6. Photoshop layers is much straight forward than Illustrator. Organizing elements is much easier in Photoshop because of this.
7. Illustrator supports the “Place” (Importing graphics) command through dynamic file linking. Photoshop’s “Place” command is strictly embedded into the .PSD file and is not linked. This means that you can make changes to a certain file outside of Illustrator and you can reflect the changes in Illustrator using the Links panel. In Photoshop, whatever you place is permanent.
8. Illustrator exports .EPS file formats better than Photoshop.
Indesign vs. Photoshop
1. Indesign creates page layouts while Photoshop does not.
2. Indesign links elements or design objects from various locations in your hard drive. Photoshop does not. It is all placed in the document.
3. Indesign supports multiple pages for PDF and print. Photoshop is all one document.
4. Photoshop has filter effects while Indesign is limited.
5. Indesign supports XML, Photoshop does not.
6. Indesign supports vectors, imports .AI and .EPS with vector data encoded. In Photoshop this gets converted to paths or pseudo vector. The final output is still pixel based.