When Should You Use InDesign vs. Photoshop or Illustrator?

When Should You Use InDesign vs. Photoshop vs. Illustrator?

The world is changing so fast. Nearly everyone now is design savvy. We all know what good design looks like. And some of us are even expected to design information sheets and booklets at work.It can be frustrating for an admin person to hear “Oh, by the way, I want you to create some sales sheets for the team.” Huh… wait… what?

That’s why we often hear questions like: “Can I use Photoshop to create a brochure?” And the answer is “You can.” But you probably shouldn’t because it will take you about four times longer than it would in InDesign.

Adobe’s Creative Suite is amazing. You can use it to create logos, floorplans, maps, flyers, brochures. You can make crappy photos look good and you can create amazing infographics. But which app does which?

When to use Adobe InDesign

Indesign is generally used for:

brochures
newsletters
ads
sales sheets
business cards
posters
reports
books

With InDesign, you take the elements that you created in Illustrator and Photoshop – and the text that was created in Word or that spreadsheet from Excel – and put them all together.

InDesign is the go-to app for multi-page projects like reports or booklets or brochures. It is perfect when you need master pages so that things like a header or a logo can appear on all of your pages. And everything you do in InDesign can be repurposed into a presentation at a moment’s notice. It’s a huge time saver.

People can, and do, put together layouts with Photoshop or Illustrator. But, in doing so, they often create files that are way too big or take way too long to make.

InDesign is great but it does have its limitations. It doesn’t have any photo editing capabilities, for example. For that, you go to Photoshop. InDesign does give you the ability to work with vector graphics like those you might find in a logo. But it cannot compare to the power or speed of Illustrator when doing the same things.

When to use Adobe Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator is generally used for:

logos
diagrams
floorplans
infographics
illustrations
fashion design
signs
packaging

Illustrator, as its name suggests, is perfect for creating and editing vector-based graphics that need to be scalable.

While it is possible to create multi-page documents with Illustrator for items like brochures or annual reports, there are a few drawbacks:

  • Illustrator does not have Master Pages
  • Illustrator doesn’t allow you to automate page numbers
  • Type controls look the same in Illustrator as they do in InDesign but, in fact, they are clunky and it takes longer to set up good looking text
  • Text Wrap controls are limited. Basic text wrap works fine but workarounds are required for contour wraps

When to use Adobe Photoshop

Photoshop is generally used for:

enhancing photos
– retouching  photos
– colour correction
– sharpening photos
compositing
masking
resizing photos

With Photoshop, you can make quick edits, add artistic touches, or transform your photos to improve them dramatically. The program was originally developed as a tool to enhance photographs, but over time its functionality has developed to the point where you can literally turn a frown into a smile or stitch several photos together to create a seamless panorama. Its power is amazing.

Do not create logos with Photoshop – it’s a bad idea. Do not create brochures or sales sheets in Photoshop. You’ll waste your time.

The good news

Each of these apps is incredibly powerful. Yet learning the basics is not hard at all; the learning curve in class is actually pretty gentle. After your course, we guarantee you’ll be comfortable doing the things you need to do. Plus, you will have established a solid base of new skills that you can build on.

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