Whats the difference between InDesign and Illustrator?

 Whats the difference between InDesign & Illustrator

The Adobe Creative Suite comprises of many different pieces of software, the big three for all Designers is Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign but actually what are they all used for?

The most commonly used is Photoshop, this is rastor based which means each image is made up of tiny dots or pixels, Photoshop is used purely for editing your pixel based images.

Adobe Illustrator and InDesign however do have a few blurred lines between them so some people find it hard to see what the difference is…

What is Adobe Illustrator used for?

Illustrator is a vector based program, this means that unlike photoshop which is rastor based and uses pixels, Illustrator uses a mathmatical grid to map the artwork that is created, therefore all artwork created in Illustrator is scaleable, you can resize as small or as large as you like and you will never loose any quality. Every company should have a vector version of their logo so it can be applied consistently to the side of buildings and also to letterheads. If you only have a Jpeg version of your logo from Photoshop you will always be limited to how large you can print this without it becoming pixelated.

Adobe Illustrator can be used to create logos and paint with brushes, it also has a lot of very powerful type tools for creating dynamic layouts, in recent versions of Illustrator it has been possible to work on more than one Artboard or page, so you could design a double sided A4 leaflet without having to use two documents, Illustrator however is not very powerful with multiple pages or spreads, for this you need InDesign…

What is Adobe InDesign used for?

InDesign is also a vector based program much the same as Illustrator, however InDesigns strengths really lie in its ability to handle multiple pages and create master pages, you can easily create book or magazine layouts with automatic page numbering and consistent templates on each page all linked to an editable master page.

adobe indesign training

InDesign is purely a page layout program, you can bring together all your artwork from Illustrator and Photoshop to create multiple page spreads and layouts. In recent versions of InDesign there are a lot more interactive output options, you can generate e-books for devices like a Kindle, you can also create layouts for viewing on tablets like the iPad, you can even add in video and export interactive PDF files.

UPDATE – Please see my new blog ‘When to use Adobe Photoshop Vs Adobe Illustrator Vs Adobe InDesign’

Summary..

Ultimately if you want to be a well rounded designer you need to be using all three pieces of software to their full potential. However if you are just designing small leaflets and newsletters, Illustrator is great, there are loads of art brushes and type tools to create some great artwork. If you are making larger multiple page documents then its time to learn InDesign.

Mark Williams is the Director of Creative Studios Derby LTD, the East Midlands largest and most experienced Adobe training centre. If you need help learning any software from the Adobe Creative Suite, then contact us.

We regularly run Adobe InDesign Training Courses and Adobe Illustrator Training Courses from our state of the art studio in Derby.

32 thoughts on “Whats the difference between InDesign and Illustrator?

  1. Tendx says:

    Great insight there, Well said no dilemma neither confusion

    1. Mark says:

      Thanks I’m glad you liked it!

  2. Sajjad Saeed says:

    just want to know that. if I want to be a well rounded designer I need to be using all three pieces of software to their full potential…. what are these three software? Just name three software.
    or any other software is also required?

    1. Erik says:

      The articles reference the programs already (Photoshop,Illustrator and InDesign).

      1. Mark says:

        Yes thats right its the main 3 programes from Adobe

    2. Mark says:

      Hi Sajjad the main three are Adobe Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator

    3. Leslie says:

      Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Indesign

  3. David says:

    Thanks for the summary.
    By the way – it should be raster, not rastor.

    1. Mark says:

      Thanks I have amended 😉

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  5. Pauline says:

    I am new to learning any type of graphic works. I usually try to work in WORD but is very limited in what I can do. I wonder where or which software I should start with so that I eventually become proficient in all aspects of ADOBE. I work for a company and want to educate myself so I can do ads, flyers, using company logos and also a rather large 25 page newsletter. So just wondering where I should start.
    Thanks

    1. Marko says:

      My first program was GIMP, which was free. GIMP helped me to get touch to world of graphic design.
      I used it around 3-4 years and then stepped up to Photoshop, that i use now weekly.
      Now my job has a demand to learn more vector based software and i started using illustrator.
      Illustrator have been in use around 3 months, still learning more everyday, even basic things.

      Indesign is still unknown to me.

      1. Mark says:

        Gimp is ok for home use but Adobe really is the industry standard, I would recommend trying to use InDesign its a very useful tool.

      2. Mark says:

        Illustrator is the industry standard, Im sure you will reap the benefits if you keep practicing

    2. Mark says:

      Hi Pauline, I would start with InDesign I think this will be perfect for the kind of projects you are describing.

    3. Mark says:

      Hi there I would start with Adobe InDesign as this is the best for large newsletters.

    4. Mark says:

      Hi I would start with Adobe InDesign as its the best for multipage newsetters

  6. Ibraheem says:

    Thanks for the explanation. It’s really helpful and informative.

    1. Mark says:

      Its good to get an idea of what each software is used for and when to use it.

  7. Tosin ezekiel says:

    Really helpful

    1. Mark says:

      Thankyou Tosin I’m glad it helped

  8. Asfand Shakeel says:

    very helpful,

    1. Mark says:

      Thankyou I’m glad you found it useful.

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  10. Tabitha says:

    I am a textile Artist who paints large designs on Canvas.Im looking to attend an evening course where I can play around with images of my paintings to create other designs/images from my work to get printed up on canvas.I need advice on what course i should be doing,is it Adobe design? I am a complete beginner who needs advice,
    Many Thanks

    1. Mark says:

      I would say illustrator is the best course for you, drop me an email mark@creativestudiosderby.co.uk and I can give you more information 🙂

  11. I think the compression in InDesign is superior to Illustrator. I like to create vectors in Illustrator and import to InDesign, then add the text in InDesign because it is superior in that regard. Rarely do I use just one. I like a high-quality (but small as possible) pdf file to send to customers.

    1. Mark says:

      Its best to use the software to its individual strengths

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  13. Kerry says:

    I am new to design software. I will be creating newsletters, business cards, and sell sheets. Is Illustrator or InDesign best for me?

    1. Mark says:

      InDesign is the best for that

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