Archive for January, 2011

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

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!

Adobe Photoshop
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.

Adobe Illustrator
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.

Adobe InDesign
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:

Project Description Photoshop Illustrator InDesign
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!

GIF, JPEG, and PNG: What’s The Difference?

Not a graphic designer? No problem! You can still easily master when to use different types of images for different purposes just by understanding some of their individual benefits! So find out below what each image type is good for:

GIF: Graphics Interchange Format
Images with a .gif extension are commonly used for the web because they compress quite well. They function by allowing you to restrict the number of colors that make up the image, with a maximum of 256 allowed. GIF images also allow for layering, which is commonly used to create moving images that you may often see in the form of internet ads or moving smiley faces. GIF images also allow for transparency so that items can be seen that appear beneath them.

JPEG: Joint Photographic Experts Group
Images ending in a .jpg or .jpeg extension are the most versatile images around. They have different levels of compression and are compatible with both RBG and CMYK color formats, making them suitable for both web and print. They have no color limitations, which can make their file sizes much larger than GIFs.

PNG: Portable Network Graphics
Images ending in .png only allow the RGB color format, meaning they are not suitable for print. Their biggest benefit is fantastic transparency capabilities that GIF images can’t match. They also tend to have a large file sizes because their compression isn’t always as successful as that of GIFs or JPEGs.

To help you decide what format to use for your images, try out this table:

Image Description GIF JPEG PNG
Black & White Photo
Full Color Photo
Black & White image for print
Color image for print
Small Icon
Image w/ just text
Moving image
Image w/ complex transparency
i.e. curved lines or drop shadows
Image w/ simple transparency
i.e. straight lines

If you have any specific questions or examples you’d like to ask about, don’t hesitate to ask!

Javascript: Creating a Text Watermark

Update: Read about the JQuery version of this text watermark or better yet, check out my lightweight JQuery plugin which handles inputs, textareas, and even passwords!

This post is in response to a request to see how to create a textbox watermark using only text instead of an image. In a previous post, I explained how to use an image for a textbox watermark. Textbox watermarks are fantastic tools you can use to improve the usability of a website, as they give the user guidance on what to enter into the textbox. If you don’t want to use an image as my other post describes, here is how to create a simple watermark using javascript. Before we begin though, see exactly what you are making:


So either in an external Javascript file (which is called the same way as an external CSS file), or in the head of your HTML inside a <script> tag, include the following javascript:

The Javascript:

function watermark(inputId,text){
  var inputBox = document.getElementById(inputId);
    if (inputBox.value.length > 0){
      if (inputBox.value == text)
        inputBox.value = '';
    }
    else
      inputBox.value = text;
}

This javascript function checks if the textbox text isn’t empty, and then determines whether to clear the text or not. It also will put the watermark text back in if the user deletes what they entered or doesn’t enter anything. The function needs to be called in both the onblur and onfocus events of the textbox, which is explained below.

Here is the HTML that goes with the JS:

<input id="inputTextboxId" type="text" value="type here" onfocus="watermark('inputTextboxId','type here');" onblur="watermark('inputTextboxId','type here');" />

That’s all you need! And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask! A question on my image watermark post lead to this post, so you never know!