There are so many programs out there for graphic designers to use but the three most popular are Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator. In order to be a good graphic designer, you have to know the differences between the three and when is the best time to use each program. For the purpose of this blog, we will mainly be focusing on InDesign and Illustrator.

What is Adobe InDesign?

InDesign is a vector based program, meaning that it uses a mathematical grid to map artwork and the artwork is scalable, meaning that you can resize the file as small or as large as you want without losing the quality of the image or making it grainy.

InDesign is great to use when you need to create multiple pages that you want to look uniformed. InDesign allows you to create “master pages” so you can easily create a booklet or magazine layouts with consistent design and automatic page numberings.

The great thing about InDesign is its ability to combine artwork from Illustrator and Photoshop to create multiple page spreads and layouts. InDesign should be used for larger, multiple page documents, or PDF presentations.

Vector versus Bitmap Example

What is Adobe Illustrator?

Illustrator is also a vector based program so it uses the same foundation concept as InDesign, but it is used for different types of projects. Illustrator is best used for Website designs, logos and full page designs. It is also good to use when you want to make your company logo very large, as Illustrator and InDesign will not distort the image. When it comes to resizing photos, it is best to use Photoshop.

Illustrator is great to use when you want to create depth perception because it allows you to create multiple layers. It also has more powerful drawing capabilities than InDesign.

A slight downfall to Illustrator is it cannot automatically implement multiple page or page numbers. This is generally not a problem, unless you have a document that happens to be 30 pages long and you decide to insert a new one after page 3 – then you have to manually re-number the pages.

bitmap versus vector example with letter e

If you’re thinking about venturing into the design world, be sure you know how to efficiently use each of these programs. Adobe offers tutorials on how to use InDesign and Illustrator, as well as how to buy the programs, right on their website. The chart below shows a quick checklist of when to use each program.

Chart showing which Adobe program is best for certain dsigns