Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign Differences
Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign; what’s the difference?
Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign; what’s the difference? If you’re creating print assets for your business for the first time, it can be tricky to work out which program you should be using to create your artwork. Let’s clear up some of the confusion…
Raster vs vector explained
Before we explore the pros and cons of each platform, it’s important to understand the difference between raster graphics and vector graphics.
In a nutshell, raster graphics use pixels to represent shapes and colours. Examples of raster graphics include photographs, document scans and digital paintings.
Raster graphics are better for rendering detailed images and continuous colour tones. However, since they’re displayed in a single resolution, bumping up the size of the graphic degrades the image quality; resulting in an ugly pixelated look.
If you want to use the same graphic for print materials of different sizes (for example, on small A5 flyers and giant billboard posters), you’ll generally need to save several copies of the same graphic at different resolutions.
It’s also impossible to edit a raster file once it’s been saved in a raster format (such as a JPEG or a PNG). You can add new edits on top, but unless you have the original project file (such as a PSD), you won’t be able to change or undo any previous edits.
That’s where vector graphics come in. Instead of pixels, these use lines to create shapes, outlines and regions of colour.
While they’re less than ideal for creating detailed graphics and smooth colour transitions, vectors can be scaled up or down as much as you like without losing image quality. It’s also much easier to re-edit vector file formats (such as SVG or PDF).
It’s the ubiquitous visual editing tool for hobbyists and professionals alike; but believe it or not, Photoshop is not always the best choice for print artwork.
That’s because Photoshop is primarily a raster editing tool; fantastic for creative photo editing, blending and effects, and useful for making website graphics, but not so great for creating scalable, future-proof print files.
Photoshop’s workflow is also better suited to working on a single project at a time; so if you’re creating multiple pages for a brochure or magazine, this isn’t the best tool for the job.
That doesn’t mean that artwork designed in Photoshop can’t be printed; if it’s your preferred design tool, go for it! Just keep in mind that Photoshop designs may cause issues for print quality and design versatility down the line.
Illustrator is essentially Photoshop’s vector-based cousin; which makes it great for designing logos, visual branding, geometric shapes and text-heavy page layouts, but not so great for editing photographs and achieving smooth colour transitions.
Remember, vector graphics can be scaled to whatever size you like without losing definition, so a logo designed in Illustrator and saved in a vector format can be reused for pretty much any print project.
However, if you’re still looking for a program that can manage multiple pages, you’re better off choosing…
InDesign is a more specific and less versatile tool than Photoshop and Illustrator; but if you’re looking to create a magazine, catalog or any kind of multi-page document, this is the program for you.
InDesign allows you to set up master page designs, making it quick and painless to maintain consistency across your publication. You also have a lot more creative freedom in displaying and arranging text, which makes it especially useful for text-rich designs.
On the negative side, InDesign doesn’t offer much in the way of raster editing or complex vector shapes; so you’ll still need Photoshop or Illustrator if you want to make photo creations or logos.
Or all three – or none of them!
But here’s the good news – you don’t have to limit yourself to one program. Want to add a photo to your vector design? Simply use Photoshop to work with the photo until you’re happy with it, then import it into Illustrator to finish your design. Need to turn that flyer into an ad page in your brochure? You can easily export that Illustrator file to InDesign and work on it from there.
And remember, while Adobe’s programs are the industry standard for most design work, you don’t have to use them! There’s plenty of alternative raster editors, vector editors and publishing tools out there; some of them are even free to use. As long as you can save your finished design as a PDF, Better Printing can print it for you with no fuss.
Need more help with your design? Take a look at our guide for supplying print-ready artwork – or let us take care of the design work for you with our stress-free design services. Get in touch on 023 8087 8037 or for more info!
Learn how to use Adobe Illustrator and InDesign to create interactive infographics
Designers often cringe when tasked with turning numbers and figures into visual components. For me, I find it fascinating and really enjoyable. It's even better when you can add interaction to infographics.
In this tutorial, you will learn just that as I will go over how to create simple infographics in Adobe Illustrator and transfer them to InDesign where we'll add the interaction and user experience.
As always, you can find the material for this lesson here so you can follow along. In this tutorial, i'll be using the typeface Filson Pro – an Adobe font that you can download here.
There are two infographics I will show you how to create in Illustrator. The first is the circular infographic that explains what this fictional communications company offers its clients and shows the organization's growth and success.
Create a new Document in Illustrator that is 800px by 800 px to design the infographics.
Round Pie Infographic
Use the Ellipse Tool to create a circle shape on the artboard.
Set the Fill to Black or any colour of your choice to start.
With the shape selected, go to Edit > Copy or Command + C/Ctrl + C and then Command + F or Ctrl + F to paste another copy in front.
Use the Selection Tool to Scale down the secondary copy. Just keep in mind the thickness size of the outer shape you want to place icons and labels.
Select both shapes and with the Shape Build Tool, remove the centre area but holding Option on Mac, Alt on Windows and dragging through the middle portion to knock out the inner shape.
Click on the Line Segment Tool and draw a diagonal line at 250° degrees.
With the Line selected go to Object > Transform > Reflect and click Copy, which will create a copy of the shape in reverse. You should now have an X shape overlapping the circle. Make sure that the edges of each line is extending outside of the circle.
Draw one more line segment that goes horizontally across the circle.
To ensure that the lines are aligned horizontally and vertically on the shape, select all the lines and the circle and use the Align Horizontal Centres and Align Vertical Centres in the Control Panel or Align Panel.
Open the Pathfinder panel, which can be accessed by going to Window > Pathfinder.
Click the Divide Icon – this will cut the areas of the shape where the line segments intersect.
You should now have six individual pieces on this shape, which you can create into different colours. Here's a look at how the circle should look before and after the steps explained above.
Next you can separate the pieces to create space between each. With the Direct Selection Tool, click on the left pieces and while holding Shift, nudge it over once with the left keyboard arrow. Do the same for the right pieces. Repeat the same for the top piece and lastly, the bottom piece. Finally, select the upper three pieces and while holding Shift, nudge it up with the up arrow key.
Add the icons provided to you in the material download folder as follows:
Let's move on to the next infographic piece – the four pillars that will house the icon switches when it's time to add the interaction.
Click on the Rectangle Tool and then click on the blank Artboard once.
In the dialog box, set the Width to 130px and the Height 350px. Then click OK.
Click and drag Live Corners (circles in the shape) to set the Corner Radius to 60px or somewhere around there.
Create three more copies and alternate the colours from dark blue to brighter blue.
Place the four logos inside the white circles on the arboard and set them to the corresponding pillar just created.
Here's how the pillar infographic shape should look like after following the steps explained above:
In your lesson files, you will also notice a United States map graphic. This will just need to be copied over to InDesign when the time comes.
You're ready now to move over to InDesign, where you will building the text frames to build out the infographics. It is better to add the text in InDesign in case the text has to be modified or edited. Copying it over from Illustrator will paste it as uneditable, vector text.
Copy and paste the Pie Infographic from Illustrator to your InDesign page, which is sized at 1920 x 1080 for web viewing.
Once pasted, ungroup the infographic by going to Object > Ungroup or Shift + Command + G (Mac) or Shift + Ctrl + G (Windows).
I have provided text pieces that you can find on the pasteboard of the InDesign file. You will set up buttons to trigger these info pieces, but first you will have to convert them into a Multi-State Object.
To access Object States, go to Window > Interactive > Object States. You will also need the Buttons and Forms panel for this part, which can be accessed by going to Window > Interactive > Buttons and Forms.
Setting Up Interactivity to Pie Infographic
Select all six text frames and align the horizontal and vertical centres so the frames are stacked on one another. The order is not important right now – this can be adjusted in the Object States panel.
In the Object States panel, convert the selection to a Multi-State Object. You will notice that all six text frames appear in this panel.
Rename the Object Name to Main Infographic Figures.
Click individual states once in the panel to rename each as follows: 72% (Growth Figure), $1M (Research Figure), 1.8K (Creative Figure), 92% (Goal Figure), 25M (Success Figure), 25+ (Ideas Figure).
Click on the first piece of the pie infographic, which is the Growth piece. In the Buttons and Forms panel, convert this object to a Button.
Set an Action of Go to State.
Choose the Main Infographic Figures Object and the first State of Growth Figure.
Click on the second piece of the pie infographic and in the Buttons and Forms panel, convert the object to a Button.
Set an Action of Go to State.
Choose the Main Infographic Figures Object and the first State of Research Figure.
Repeat these steps until you have completed the remaining pieces in the pie infographic.
Copy the pillar bars and icons and paste them into the InDesign layout. On the pasteboard, you will find four text frames that contain the info for the pillar infographic. Place them inside each shape as follows: Growth, Research, Creativity and Ideas.
Setting up Interactive Pillar Infographic
Double-click the grouped Growth text frame until you select the title. Go to Edit > Copy and then Edit > Paste in Place to create another copy. Select the text in the frame and make it one of the blue colours provided in the assets.
Click the icon in the Growth pillar and while holding Option on a Mac, or Alt on Windows, draft another copy to the top of the shape.
Select both icons and in the Object States panel, convert the selection to a Multi-State Object.
Rename the Object Growth Switches.
Rename the bottom State "Growth Switch Off" and the top State "Growth Switch On". Make sure that the Growth Switch Off State is above the On State. This can be done by clicking and dragging the state above the other in the Object States panel.
Use the Selection Tool to click the text frame in the Growth pillar shape again and in the Buttons and Forms panel convert the object to a Button.
Rename the button Growth Info
Click the "Hidden Until Triggered" box.
Click the Growth title with blue text and in the Buttons and Forms panel, convert it to a Button.
Rename this button Growth Title Blue
Click on the Growth Switches Multi-State Object and then double-click the Growth Switch Off icon.
In the Buttons and Forms Panel, convert this to a Button and rename it Growth Button Off.
Apply an Action of Go to State.
Set the Object to Growth Switches and the State to Growth Switch On.
Set another Action of Show/Hide Buttons and Forms.
In the Visibility section, hide the Growth Title Blue button and Show the Growth Info button.
Click the Growth Switches Multi-State Object and double-click the Growth Switch On icon.
In the Buttons and Forms Panel, convert this to a Button and rename it Growth Button On.
Apply an Action of Go to State.
Set the Object to Growth Switches and the State to Growth Switch Off.
Set another Action of Show/Hide Buttons and Forms.
In the Visibility section, Show the Growth Title Blue button and Hide the Growth Info button.
You have set up the first switch interaction to the infographic. Here's a visual look at the steps explained above.
Repeat the same steps to complete the remaining three pillar shapes in the infographic.
Follow along in the video tutorial to learn how set up interaction to a map of the United States.
Creating artwork files: Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign?
Users can choose from a variety of editing programs to make their creative projects come true. Whether montage, logo design or newspaper layout: The software company Adobe alone offers numerous programs geared to specific applications. In this workshop, you will learn which program to use for which purpose and why. We will explain the three major differences between Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign, the most commonly used graphic programs: The central question is: Which program should I use to create a print-ready artwork file with optimum processing capabilities for an online print shop?
Contents of this article:
What are the advantages of Photoshop?
Photoshop is a professional tool for varied and complex photo editing tasks.
Main functions of Photoshop
Photoshop is used mainly to edit and manipulate photos and graphics. The software provides a broad range of corrective settings for colour, brightness, saturation, etc. Moreover, the tool is sufficiently flexible to create website layouts, for example. Graphic designers use Photoshop to add a specific mood to photos to create a certain impact on the observer. This includes working with different colour spaces. For example, photos taken with a digital camera (RGB mode) can be converted to CMYK mode to get them ready for printing.
The technical side
Photoshop is a pixel-based graphics editor. This means that the user can assign a specific brightness value to every single pixel within a working document. The higher the resolution, the smoother the representation. Basically, there are two resolutions which are commonly used internationally. 72 dpi (dots per inch) are generally used for web projects and 300 dpi for print applications. However, Photoshop also allows user-defined resolutions.
Photoshop file formats .psd – the file format for Photoshop documents .jpg – file format with losses, suitable for web .png – lossless file format, suitable for web – lossless file format, suitable for print
Additionally, there are numerous other file formats for further applications. This includes the PDF format. You will learn why you should not create PDF files intended for printing in Photoshop in section The problem: PDFs created in Photoshop and Illustrator.
What are the advantages of Illustrator?
Unlike Photoshop, Illustrator is capable of displaying, processing and creating vector graphics. This makes the tool popular especially for drawing applications. Combined with a graphics tablet, Illustrator allows creating impressive pictures.
Main functions of Illustrator
Illustrator is a vector-based graphics program. It is particularly well suited to create logos and scalable graphics. The vectorize function allows scaling images to any size without quality loss. Therefore, the actual resolution of a working document is secondary for the time being. Photoshop operates with brightness values of individual pixels, whereas Illustrator links to paths only. These paths are very flexible and can be manipulated in any way. Illustrator helps connecting and grouping paths to create new areas that can be coloured as desired.
The technical side
Illustrator does not operate with brightness values of individual pixels; its display depends on the screen resolution. The resolution of a monitor is much higher than that of a working document which ultimately assures the lossless display of graphics. Combined with a graphics tablet, Illustrator is a very powerful software program. The weight of a brush stroke, for instance, can be defined by increasing the pressure on the graphics tablet. Illustrator transfers the stylus pen movements directly to the screen.
Illustrator file formats .ai – file format for Illustrator documents – lossless file format with path information
Illustrator additionally provides a function to save PDF documents. We advise against creating PDF files in Illustrator. The reasons why are described in section The problem: PDFs created in Photoshop and Illustrator.
What are the advantages of InDesign?
InDesign is a very powerful layout program and ideal to create print-ready artwork files. It is capable of merging all elements such as logo, text and pictures and preparing them for the printing process. InDesign displays and processes both pixel-based and vector-based graphics. The tool itself works on the basis of vectors which assures that fonts always appear sharp regardless of the font size.
Main functions of InDesign
InDesign is the interface between creating a layout and printing. You can assign colour profiles to the artwork files which are saved with the files. So a print-ready document created in InDesign contains all the information a print shop needs later on to put the desired design on paper or another substrate. The most important step when creating print-ready files also takes place here: exporting to PDF. A PDF file created in InDesign is the ideal artwork file format.
The technical side
InDesign can be considered a hybrid among graphics programs. It processes both pixel-based and vector-based graphics. A print document is always the starting point. InDesign does not necessarily provide the suitable toolbox for web applications. The export is only possible to a PDF file. Moreover, InDesign allows arranging multiple pages sequentially as in a book which greatly facilitates the layout process. The program also provides so-called masters where the user can predefine layouts and insert them as a standard template if necessary.
InDesign file formats .indd – file format for InDesign documents .idml – enables opening documents in earlier InDesign versions .pdf – the ideal file format for artwork files
The problem: PDFs created in Illustrator and Photoshop
PDFs are different. Neither Illustrator nor Photoshop were originally designed for print applications. Therefore, PDF documents created in Illustrator and Photoshop still can cause problems when printed.
PDFs created in Photoshop
Regardless of the resolution, document size and colour settings, a PDF document can be created in Photoshop via File > Save as > Save as PDF. Always bear in mind that Photoshop is a pixel-based program. This can create an ugly jagged effect especially with low-resolution objects. This is particularly evident in fonts, but may also affect other elements such as shapes, lines, etc.
PDFs created in Illustrator
Illustrator also allows exporting PDF files. The program is vector-based so that both text and graphics appear razor sharp. This is not necessarily bad and may even be useful in some cases, for example if you created a logo and want to send it as a PDF file for viewing. But Illustrator, in our opinion, is not the best choice for print applications, especially in designs where large texts are being used. Instead, import vector files in InDesign and create your printable PDF there.
Conclusion: PDFs are different Illustrator and Photoshop export PDF files in a different way than InDesign. Therefore, PDF files created with these two programs are not suitable for print applications. This is where InDesign comes into play: InDesign integrates all file formats that can be exported from Photoshop and Illustrator and consolidates them to a print-ready artwork file. Only InDesign PDF documents deliver all the information needed to produce a successful print result.
What to do if only Photoshop is available? Export your file as TIFF not as PDF. By doing so, you are on the safe side. However, please remember to flatten everything to one background layer and choose lossless LZW compression when exporting the file.
JPG files exported with maximum quality can be printed as well. The option to “flatten to one background layer” is not available since this file format does not allow any layers.
The correct workflow
So what is the correct workflow from working files to the print-ready document? To illustrate this process, we will combine a landscape photo with a logo to create a postcard and prepare it for printing.
3 steps to create optimum artwork files:
Photo editing in Photoshop Logo design in Illustrator Print-ready files in InDesign
1) Photo editing in Photoshop
The main function of Photoshop is to provide the landscape photo in the right resolution and to convert it to CMYK mode. Define a resolution of 300 dpi (dots per inch), select the suitable colour profile via Edit > Convert to profile and subsequently optimise the colours a bit.
2) Logo design in Illustrator
The logo is created in Illustrator. Using the paths and brush types in Illustrator, you can easily add a nice effect even to lines. The logo can be scaled to the desired size without quality loss.
3) Creating artwork in InDesign
InDesign now merges the background image from Photoshop and the logo from Illustrator. We create a print-ready document with the following parameters:
The document should be sized 148 x 105 mm with a circumferential bleed of 2 mm. Disable the Facing Pages check box.
Downloading free document templates If you do not want to make all the settings yourself, you can also download a suitable template. Go to the corresponding product page in the online shop to download the template for your print product.
We will now position the background and the logo in the InDesign document. A drop shadow is added to the logo to enhance its visibility. The 2 mm bleed defined previously allows adjusting the background image exactly to the outer lines.
On the General tab, we choose the PDF standard PDF/X-3:2002 and compatibility from Acrobat 4 or PDF 1.3.
tab, we choose the PDF standard PDF/X-3:2002 and compatibility from Acrobat 4 or PDF 1.3. The InDesign presettings under Compression can be retained in most cases. A setting of 300 dpi assures an excellent and vibrant print result provided that the original material is of a similar quality.
can be retained in most cases. A setting of 300 dpi assures an excellent and vibrant print result provided that the original material is of a similar quality. For marks and bleed , you should use the bleed settings of the document if these have already been set up correctly when creating the document. Our templates have the bleed included in the size of the canvas. We do not want to output any marks and auxiliary characters!
, you should use the bleed settings of the document if these have already been set up correctly when creating the document. Our templates have the bleed included in the size of the canvas. We do not want to output any marks and auxiliary characters! Go to the Output tab and to Color conversion and choose the option “Convert to destination (Preserve Numbers)” and define the colour profile adjusted to the printing substrate as the destination.
tab and to and choose the option “Convert to destination (Preserve Numbers)” and define the colour profile adjusted to the printing substrate as the destination. If you are working with transparencies, choose a high resolution at Advanced for transparency reduction.
for transparency reduction. Skip the Security tab because online print shops are unable to process PDF artwork files that are password protected.
More information on Exporting artwork from InDesign
After clicking Export, the document is saved as specified. The PDF now contains all important information: The 2 mm bleed has been created, the background graphic is available in CMYK mode with sufficient resolution to produce a sharp image, the logo is vector-based and stays razor sharp even when magnified.
Result: technically perfect artwork files.