The Adobe Creative Suite is an amazing (albeit expensive) tool. In reality though, it is comprised of over a dozen different pieces of software that all have unique functionality, purposes, strengths, and even faults. For my web and graphic design needs, I think that three specific pieces of software are particularly relevant. I use Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign on a daily basis, but for different reasons. Need to know the difference between these three pieces of Adobe software? Want to know what to use each one for? Read on!
Photoshop is a great tool, but people often use it for the wrong reasons. Photoshop is a raster based software, meaning it works on a pixel based level. Images built using rastor based software can easily become pixelated, but that can be avoided. Photoshop is ideal for editing pictures/photos but not ideal for images with text, or for designing layouts for web or print.
Illustrator is hands-down my favorite of all the Adobe products out there. You can produce pretty much any type of image or file from it, so I use it to produce all of my web graphics, web designs, and even documents. Illustrator is different from Photoshop in that it is a vector based software, meaning instead of working on a pixel level, it works using lines. You can zoom in and out as much as you want from whatever you make in Illustrator, and it will never lose it’s detail. Now when you output that into a rastor based image such as a jpg, you may end up with some pixelation, but when resizing within Illustrator, you’ll never lose that detail. If you continuously resize your image in Photoshop, you will certainly distort it. So all of this makes Illustrator great for producing web graphics, documents, and full page designs, but not so great for working with photographs.
InDesign is most commonly used for complex book layouts. What I personally tend to use it for is actually to produce pdf presentations. As a designer, I much prefer pdfs over any other document type such as a Word document or Powerpoint presentation as I think they appear more professional. InDesign is a vector based program just like Illustrator, and has much of the same capabilities, but focuses it’s strengths on multiple pages and master pages. This allows you to make a master view for your presentation or book (i.e. logo in the bottom right corner, page numbers, et cetera) while also allowing you to customize each page. I wouldn’t advise InDesign over Illustrator for anything but books and presentations simply because you do lose some functionality from Illustrator.
To help you decide between software options, try out this table:
|Editing Vacation Photos|
|Editing Photos To Print|
|Editing Photos To Post Online|
|Creating An Icon For The Web|
|Creating An Image For The Web|
|Creating An Image With Text|
|Creating A Document For Print|
|Creating A Document For The Web|
|Creating A Website Design|
|Creating A Multiple Page Document|
|Creating A PDF Presentation|
|Creating A Book Layout|
If you have any specific questions or examples you’d like to ask about, don’t hesitate to ask!