Wednesday, 01 October 2014

It is fast becoming the age-old question on
creative forums; which is better –
Photoshop or Illustrator? The answer given
to these confused creatives is often the
same; that depends on what you want to
use it for. This is true, although it would be
brilliant if we only ever had to buy one
program for all our creative needs. But this
is simply not the case. Buying both can be
extremely expensive, however, to make the
decision (if you are financially forced to
make one) easier we will look at the best
software for various creative disciplines.
First, let us consider the primary use of both
programs. Surprisingly Illustrator was the
first to be launched in 1986 . Its primary use
was logo design and typesetting. For this
reason it was predominantly used by
Graphic Designers; now it is used for
creating images by illustrators, designers,
and artists.
Launched two years later, 1988’s Photoshop,
as the name subjects, was used by
photographers to edit and manipulate
images. Over the years, advances in the
program now mean that there are a plethora
of tools for the photographic editor, making
it useful in many more disciplines than that
to which it was first intended.
When comparing these programs it is easy
to see why potential users can get confused:
both programs share many of the same
tools, but, as you will see, it is not these we
need to consider when making our choice.


As a student, or new designer, Photoshop is
often the go-to program; I for one didn’t use
anything else until college. It is true that
Photoshop has all the necessary tools to
make a professional looking logo that will
look excellent on screen. But problems will
arise when the logo is applied to print. You
will soon discover that when the branding is
resized in anyway it will become pixelated.
This is because Photoshop works in Raster
images, which are pixel based. In simple
terms, this means if you increase the size of
the logo you will find the individual pixels
become more visible, giving your smooth
curve a jagged edge.
Alternatively, Illustrator uses Vector objects,
made up of paths and nodes; it is these
that increase in size rather than the “shape”.
Unlike Photoshop’s Raster images, vectors
can be resized indefinitely and still retain
their crispness.
There is nothing more frustrating for
designers or printers than to receive a logo,
only to find it has been produced in
Photoshop. The time and energy it takes to
recreate the branding in Illustrator costs
money and takes time away from creating
new designs.


Where bitmap images may be the wrong
choice for logo design, they are perfect for
web design. This is because you can set the
DPI (dots per inch) to match the resolution
of your screen. Bitmap images often have a
far smaller file size than the vector
alternative, meaning the webpage will load
much faster.
Saying this, Illustrator should not be written
off entirely for web design. It can be very
good for designing web icons that can be
resized to fit various sites. This is where
Illustrator’s symbols panel should be
utilised. It enables users to create a library
of icons they have designed. This is perfect
if you want to create vector packs to be
redistributed and used on several sites.
A useful tool both programs have is the
Slice tool. This lets users divide an image up
into sections, which will then save as
individual images. Both also share the ‘Save
for Web & Devices’ option, which enables
users to specify the file type and size of the
images to make them suitable for websites.


There is no clear choice when it comes to
which program to use for digital art; it
depends entirely on the type of art you wish
to produce. If you have a drawing tablet,
and create all aspects of an illustration
digitally, then Illustrator is the obvious
choice. The various path tools make
controlling lines and shapes far easier.
Whereas, if your digital artwork starts life as
physical pencil sketches, which are then
scanned and finished on a computer, then
Photoshop is a far better choice, as it
allows pixel-by-pixel manipulation.
Ultimately though, most artists use a
combination of the two. Utilising the
manipulation of Photoshop and the control
of Illustrator.


For those of you who are unsure,
wireframes are the sketches designers
create of websites, which are then passed
on to web developers. For most designers,
myself included, Photoshop is the first
choice for laying out wireframes. I find the
layers panel makes managing the various
sections easier.
Conversely, many say that illustrator is both
quicker and easier to use. For someone who
creates content for websites frequently,
Illustrator is probably a far better choice.
The symbols panel means all of the content
needed for a wireframe is in one place.
In this context both programs have their
merits, meaning it usually comes down to
which you are more comfortable using.


When deciding between Photoshop and
Illustrator, the latter is the best option for
page layout. It is possible to create more
than one page using the program, although
these will have to be laid out individually as
there is no master page option.
Really, neither of these is the best option. If
editorial design is your primary discipline
use InDesign. Text layout is the principle
use of this program. It enables users to
create master pages, which allows all text in
that document to be laid out in the same
way. As well as this it also gives the user
more control over the way the document is


So, which is the best program? That
depends entirely on what you want to use it
for, both have their merits and downfalls. If
you need to pick between the two, but don’t
have a specific discipline, think about
whether you will be working in Vector or
Bitmap. For web and photographs, you will
usually use Bitmap, so Photoshop is your
best choice. If you want to print your
designs, then you will need to use vector
images, and Illustrator is the program for

credit: chrissy emersson and my lovable friend kerry butters.

posted by: @djshyluckjimmy.

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