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Adobe Programs: What’s the Difference?

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Header image with the logos for Adobe's Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator, with the text "Adobe what's the difference?"

So you’re preparing to design your pages, and you’ve been hearing about the incredible number of files Adobe has for all your creative endeavours. You may wonder then: what does each program do, and which ones do you want to use?


Photoshop is a raster-based* graphics editor. While it’s the best known out of the array of tools that Adobe offers (and the industry standard in digital art), it’s not necessarily the best when creating layouts for print. Adjust your photos to their best advantage before using in your publication. Be careful though, you can do almost anything in here, and it’s easy to get lost.

Use: Photo touch ups; creating digital artwork; web graphics; product mockups.

Avoid: PDF presentations; online publications; multi-page documents; infographics.


Illustrator is a vector-based* graphics editor. Commonly utilized for logos, motion and web graphics, and type setting for stationary. Whatever you create in here is infinitely scalable, so it can be used at any size. A great tool for a more advanced designer looking to create items for covers or divider pages, but not always useful for photo heavy pages.

Use: Digital artwork; Logo design; infographics

Avoid: Photo editing; print documents


InDesign is a text-based* design program. Producing print ready files and a high amount of control, this program is most often used for creating layouts for magazines, books, and brochures. Likely the best place for you to gather your artwork from other programs and design your pages. Make sure you’ve edited any photos and/or artwork before bringing them in though, there are very few manipulation tools available.

Use: PDF presentations; Online publications; business cards; Multi-page documents

Avoid: Photo editing; digital artwork creation; 3D elements

Now that you (hopefully) have a better idea of what each program does and how to utilize it, you can decide which are worth investing in for your team. What are your favorite creative applications?

Raster graphics are 2D pictures made up of square pixels. Also can be called contones.

Vector graphics are infinitely scalable, allowing for creation of fonts, and other items that need to be resized.

Text based design is when the intended end product is a stationary visual item, such as a PDF or printed document.

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