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.
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’
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.