Photoshop or Illustrator – What should I use?

Which one should I use Photoshop or Illustrator? Which of the two is better Illustrator or Photoshop? I am looking for a cheaper version of Photoshop, can I use Illustrator? I have both Photoshop and Illustrator and do not yet know anything about either of them. Which one should I learn first?

I have come across these and similar questions on various forums and websites. The answers to these questions are simple only if you understand the purpose of each program. Though there are some common features, each is designed for a specific purpose and hence there is not question of one being better than the other. It is like asking which one is better, a pizza or a burger.

In this tutorial, we will understand the purpose of each program and help you choose the right one for your use.

Adobe Photoshop

Photoshop is a ‘Bitmap’ (raster) image processing and manipulation program. It is a pixel based program primarily suitable for enhancing, retouching and manipulating digital photographs and paintings. Raster graphics are made up of pixels.

Photoshop can be used for following projects:

a. Photo retouch and manipulation (Modify images too)

b. Digital paintings

c. Web and Poster Design

d. Special effects and Photo realistic illustrations

e. UI Design and Web graphic design

f. Projects that do not required size manipulations in future.

Adobe Illustrator

Illustrator is a vector-based drawing program. It is suitable for creating high quality vector graphics that are scalable to the infinite power without any loss of the quality.Vector graphics are made up of Bezier lines and curves.

Illustrator can be used for the following projects:

a. Logo / Logotype / Monogram design

b. High quality Print Media / Stationary

c. Web / Motion Graphics

d. Vector Illustrations and Drawings

e.  Ads, Brochures and Menus (Though ideal program for creating Brochures is Adobe Indesign, Illustrator too does a commendable job)

Bottom Line

Use Photoshop for digital media and web graphics. Do not use it for creating logos or stationary like Business cards. For logo design and stationary or any print media always use Illustrator. You can always work with both Photoshop and Illustrator, by importing and modifying artwork in either of the programs. For instance, export images from Photoshop to Illustrator as vectors (paths and anchor points) and modify them using Illustrator. Similarly vector graphics can be exported to Photoshop as layers.

Both Photoshop and Illustrator are the best programs in what they do. So I suggest you to choose the program based on your project. Ideally as a designer you should have and use both the programs to create best and stunning art work.

NOTE: If you are looking for a cheaper option for Photoshop, try Photoshop Elements. Since I have not used it, I cannot provide you any more details about Photoshop Elements.

Filed Under: Adobe IllustratorAdobe Photoshop


About the Author: Minal is a freelance web and graphics designer. She specializes in designing Logos, Stationery, Graphics and Icons as well as website templates using graphical tools like Photoshop, Illustrator and Expression Web. Twitter @saffronstroke

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