As sophisticated as online design programs like Canva have become, they really aren’t a replacement for professional design software like the Adobe Creative Suite. If you want to take you design skills to the next level, investing in tools like Illustrator, Photoshop or InDesign are key.
And an investment they are.
Unlike software programs of yesteryear, Adobe moved to a subscription based model that will set you back $49 a month if you opt for the full Creative Suite, or $20 if you select just one application.
If you’re a budding designer, then I definitely recommend becoming proficient in Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign. But sometimes lack of budget forces you to chose just one tool to purchase first.
So which should you choose? Continue reading for an in-depth overview of the pros and cons of each. And make sure to read to the end of this post for my personal recommendation!
Adobe illustrator is the premiere graphic design software and the best choice for designing graphics of all kinds, particularly logos. This design software is vector based (not pixel based), which means what you create can be scaled up or down without impacting the resolution of the design. This attribute is why you should always use Illustrator for logo design projects.
Illustrator is by far my favorite design software. I use it for 90% of my client projects. It’s not only great for designing custom graphics, it’s also robust enough to design more complex marketing materials. I’ve used it to design websites, in-store signage, full page sales sheets, etc. Probably my favorite feature is the ability to scan in an original illustration and immediately digitize it. It’s a great way to deliver a truly custom design, like hand lettering which has become so popular.
Cons: Although this software allows you to design complex projects, photo manipulation beyond cropping is very limited (this is Photoshops jam). Designing multi-page documents like manuals, books and magazines is infinitely more cumbersome too. (You would choose InDesign for these types of projects).
Photoshop is a photo editing and design tool that allows you to modify an image down to the very pixel. If you’re a photographer then Photoshop is absolutely a must learn, must have tool. Have you ever wondered what tool magazines use to digitally airbrush celebrities? It’s Photoshop.
But Photoshop is more than a blemish remover. The application’s robust toolkit and features makes it possible to blend, delete and modify every aspect of an image. What is possible is only limited by the imagination and skillset of the designer.
Cons: Of the three design programs, I think Photoshop is the most difficult to learn. And while the application’s layer-based system is the reason you can create truly remarkable designs, it can over complicate simple design projects.
Like I mentioned earlier, InDesign is ideal for designing multi-page documents like magazines and books. The program’s best features are its ability to create master templates that can be applied to multiple pages (saving so much design time!) and its ability to easily format large amounts of text. Of the three design programs, I found InDesign to be the easiest and most intuitive to learn.
Cons: InDesign is not robust enough for designing stand alone graphics from scratch or manipulating photos. Instead it’s the tool you use when you have all the pieces of a publication finished (text & graphics) and need to assemble them into a final document.
And if I had to recommend just one…
It would hands down be Illustrator! I’m so passionate about this design tool, that I am currently working on creating an Illustrator 101 course to share my knowledge and love of this application. If you’re interested in expanding your design skillset by learning Adobe Illustrator, sign-up to be the first to learn about this information-packed course.
Now I want to hear from you! What Adobe program do you use most often. Did you find one more easier to learn?