Know When to Use Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator for Your Graphics Needs

by Emily Retherford

2 min read

Whether it is for business cards, advertisements, or web pages, every small business needs graphics, images, and logos. Oftentimes, small business owners do this work themselves and use Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator. Read on to learn more about these powerful software programs and when it is more appropriate to use each one.

The Basics of Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop was first released in 1990 and has quickly become one of the world’s best image design and editing software programs. It is the industry standard for raster graphics editing. These types of graphics are made up of individual square pixels. The software can compose and edit images in multiple layers, and supports alpha channeling, masks, and multiple color models. Photoshop can import and export files in numerous file formats. The main thing to remember about Adobe Photoshop is that it is a pixel-based editor.

The Basics of Adobe Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator was initially released in 1987. It is an advanced vector-based program. This means that instead of using individual pixels to create images, Illustrators use mathematical models to create images using vectors. In other words, a line created in Illustrator is two dots connected by a mathematical algorithm, while in Photoshop, the line consists entirely of pixels. The advantage to this is that vector-based graphics do not lose any resolution when resizing. The downside of Illustrator is that it is much more difficult to edit images that have already been created and imported into the program. The most important thing to remember about Adobe Illustrator is that it is a vector-based editor.

When Each Program Should Be Used to Create Graphics

Both Photoshop and Illustrator are useful in their own ways, and at times, they can complement each other. But without a doubt, each program is better suited to get certain types of jobs done. Photoshop is best used for the following items:

  • Editing or enhancing existing photographs and images
  • Images for web pages
  • Banner advertisements for the web
  • Highly detailed video graphics
  • Designing pictures for print
  • In general, any image that never needs to be resized

Photoshop should not be used for creating logos or business cards. Nor should it be used for any image with text that needs to be physically printed. Illustrator is best used for the following items:

  • Generally any image that needs to be resized and scaled
  • Business cards
  • Company logos
  • Icons for web or mobile
  • Text of any type that needs to be printed, as vector quality is much higher than pixel quality
  • Simple game graphics, such as cartoon-like figures
  • Basic graphical art
  • One-page documents

The Cost of the Programs

As of late 2016, both programs are offered on a monthly subscription. Adobe Photoshop is available for approximately $10 per month, while Adobe Illustrator is available for approximately $20 per month. Purchasing both programs may be a wise decision for your small business if you want to create your own graphics and marketing materials.

References & Resources

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