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Thoughts

Illustrator vs InDesign vs Photoshop

One of the biggest questions that I get asked by people unfamiliar with Adobe Creative Cloud is "what program do you design in?" The short answer is, it depends on what I'm designing.

Illustrator and InDesign are pretty similar in terms of what they are capable of. You can do logo design in InDesign and you can do a multi-page layout in Illustrator. It might be a little more cumbersome to complete those two tasks in those programs, but it can be done.

What I Use Illustrator For
This was the first program that I started designing in (thank goodness for friends with bootleg copies). This is the program that I have the most level of comfort with, so it's a program that I use about 80% of the time. I use Illustrator for:
- logo designs
- flyers
- large format layouts (like window decals, posters, etc)
- brochures
- vector files (see my blog post on what vector means)

It's a pretty nifty program and it's set up to make design pretty easy in terms of the tools that the program has. Honestly, I probably use a fraction of what the program is capable of doing. 

What I Use InDesign For
Like I said in the first paragraph, you can interchange Illustrator and InDesign pretty easily. The big difference are the keyboard commands and how you go about resizing pictures, etc. InDesign is a great program if you are creating a multi-page layout like a proposal, magazine or booklet. It has great functionality built in to do that. Think of it as Microsoft Word on steroids. Lots and lots of steroids. 

With InDesign, you can set a master layout for each page, set up automatic page numbering, continue text throughout multiple pages, have different page layouts in one document, link PDFs, the list goes on and on. Plus, you've got the functionality of Illustrator in there too.

Here's another cool feature of InDesign: packaging files. Illustrator recently started offering this functionality too, which is great. Packaging will take all of your links, fonts and the InDesign file and package it up nice and neat into a zip file that you can share with someone. So when they open up the InDesign file, they can relink the images and download the fonts that you used so everything is "matchy-matchy". And you don't get a call saying that the font you've used isn't on their computer.

What I Use Photoshop For
Photos, duh! While Photoshop can be used primarily for photo editing, I'll use it if I'm building an animation in After Effects of Premiere Pro. The reason is that you can import a Photoshop document with layers into After Effects or Premiere Pro and both of those programs will recognize the layers that you've built. It's pretty handy.

While you can design things in Photoshop, I don't recommend it (I don't). Use Illustrator or InDesign; they are built more for design. And vice versa. You can do some photo editing in Illustrator, but I would use Photoshop because you have more functionality with that program. 

Sidenote: my old boss was so good at Photoshop, she took a guy's beard off in a photo. His wife had never actually seen him without a beard and was shocked when she happened to see the photo. #truth

So there you have it. Some tidbits of knowledge on those design programs and what I use them for. 

Illustrator! This was a large format window decal I was working on, so I worked in Illustrator to create it.

Illustrator! This was a large format window decal I was working on, so I worked in Illustrator to create it.

InDesign! This is a 20 page magazine that I'm working on, the perfect project to use InDesign.

InDesign! This is a 20 page magazine that I'm working on, the perfect project to use InDesign.

Photoshop! I wanted to be all fancy and make this photo black and white AND color. Photoshop, you're up!

Photoshop! I wanted to be all fancy and make this photo black and white AND color. Photoshop, you're up!