Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign are three image editing/creation program offered by Adobe. Each program has tools found in the other programs that can more or less do the same functions as the other programs which can make it difficult to decide which program to use. Instead of focusing on the similarities, let’s focus on the differences and how those differences relate to each program’s intended purpose.
Photoshop is a professional-grade photo editing software. Its main purpose is to edit photographs and transform and create raster images which are composed of a grid of pixels. Projects created in Photoshop are dependent on the resolution meaning the resizing of images is limited to the original file. If images or photographs are enlarged beyond a certain point the image or photo becomes pixelated as pixels are added and enlarged to encompass the larger image which degrades the quality of the artwork.
Illustrator is a sophisticated drawing tool used to create logos, drawings, illustrations, and other artwork by working with vector images. Vector images are malleable, 2D points which can be mathematically resized unlike a grid of pixels. This allows the quality of the image to stay intact no matter what size a file is resized to. Lines will stay crisp regardless of size, and images can be printed in high resolution.
InDesign is the design industry standard for digital, print, and video mediums. What sets it apart from Photoshop and Illustrator is it focuses on the quality of text and typography. It’s not meant for creating images from scratch. InDesign is a layout design program that can handle a large number of pages and/or text and gives the user control over the design and content. Some examples of its common formats include newspapers, magazines, books, posters, or any other layout that uses any combination of text, images, and drawings.
Here is an example of how Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign would be used in a real-world setting. When developing a magazine, Photoshop would be used to edit the cover photo and the photos within. Illustrator would be used to create company logos, diagrams, and infographics also seen in the magazine. In creating the layout, InDesign would be the final step. The front cover, back cover, and all the pages in between would all be created using InDesign. Each program has its place as demonstrated with a magazine. In summary, Photoshop is for editing photos, Illustrator is used for creating drawings, and InDesign is used for creating layouts of images and text.