Like most things these days, the graphic design software industry has a multitude of different solutions to choose from. How do you know which one is the best fit for your business? The truth is, they can all be right for you – in different circumstances. Different situations/clients/briefs call for the use of different apps to produce the best results.
For example, it is a lot better to use Adobe Illustrator instead of Photoshop when working on logo design. Making artwork that can scale to any size is one of the fundamentals in logo design. Photoshop can produce vector graphics, but that’s not what it was designed to do. Illustrator, on the other hand, boasts vector graphics as its main function, and as a result it has more tools to appropriately produce scalable logos.
Understanding the Basics
Before diving into more detailed differences between the graphic design platforms available, let’s talk about vectors and rasters. Understanding the differences between them is helpful so you can identify which program is most appropriate for your intended use.
Rasters Vs. Vectors
Raster images are made up of an array of pixels to form an image. Vectors require mathematical formulas to compute where a line, shape or a curve starts and ends.
Raster Images: All smartphones today are equipped with cameras of various specifications – 8, 12, 16 megapixels. The higher the number goes, the better quality the picture is. Think of pixels as tiny squares of different colours.
If we look at the specifications of our smartphone cameras, the higher the “resolution”, the greater number of pixels an image has. With most smartphones, the front camera has lower resolution than the back camera.
Vector images: Because Vectors require mathematical formulas to discern shape, you are able to resize or zoom in a vector image without losing quality.
Resizing raster images has its limitations. The lower the resolution or the number of pixels, the more it gets pixelated or blurred when to blow it up.
You can easily spot which is a raster and a vector image by their file extensions. The most common raster files are .JPG, .BMP, .TIF, .GIF and .PNG. Vectors come in .SGV, .EPS and .PDF. To illustrate this, we took a JPEG and an EPS file of our logo and resized them 100 times the original size. Clearly, you can see some blurring on the raster image.
When editing raster images, (photos that come from smartphones or digital cameras,) the go-to application would be Photoshop.
Photoshop uses pixels to create images and is designed for editing and creating raster-based art. If you are looking to crop, resize, enhance, brighten, darken, adjust lighting or other image manipulation, Photoshop is the best tool. It is the better tool to design images for print, web and mobile applications.
There’s so much you can do on Photoshop that you can’t find in other image editing platforms. For instance, you can remove skin blemishes, straighten or skew them at a certain angle, change colors, add colours, adjust exposure to light, remove backgrounds from images and so much more. With the many features Photoshop offers, it still has its limitations. For instance, it would be pretty difficult to draw custom shapes if you are creating a logo or brand marks. This is where its brother, Illustrator, comes in handy.
When to Use Adobe Photoshop:
1. Images for websites
2. Banner ads
3. Video graphics
4. Images for print
Illustrator is a vector-based program that is perfect to create smooth lines. This is why it is the best program for creating logos, text-based designs, letterheads, illustrations and more. In Illustrator, you can basically “draw” from scratch.
Documents for print that require large or tiny texts are always best made in Illustrator because the fonts will not blur no matter the size. This is also why business cards are best made with Illustrator.
When to Use Illustrator:
1. Creating vector art
2. Text-based outputs
Adobe InDesign is a desktop publishing tool that takes the edge over Illustrator when it comes to multi-page documents like books, magazine, flyers and brochures.
It is best used for text-heavy designs. Although you can do the layouts in Illustrator, InDesign allows you to setup master pages and templates for entire documents. Illustrator only allows you to work on one page at a time. InDesign has specific features set for publishing like columns, margins, automatic page numbering and more.
When to Use InDesign:
1. Designing Magazines
Learning these three tools requires time. Adobe is constantly updating their program features; it also requires a certain degree of patience to get familiar and comfortable with them. A perfect alternative to all three of the above software programs is Canva.
Canva is raster-based so it is perfect to use when designing social media posts, infographics, documents, flyers and so much more!
Canva users can specify the resolution so that the resulting file will not be blurry or pixelated. It is a web- based program so you can work on any computer or mobile device where internet is available.
Canva is probably the most user-friendly graphic design platform out there. It provides thousands of shapes, images and pre-made themes so even the less design-savvy can use it. Beginners swear by the ease of its use. The software has been designed for the everyday user with it’s easy to use features.
The drawback to using Canva is its inability to create vector images and lacks in features when it comes to image retouch and enhancements.
Below is a summary of the most popular design software solutions available.
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If you are struggling to select the best solution for your needs, consider outsourcing to a graphic designer who is familiar with all the products and will be able to customise your designs with ease and efficiency.
There are many ways we can assist you with your business administration or marketing needs. Feel free to schedule a call with Nicole and explore how we can support you.