Photoshop is primarily used for the manipulation, correction, and compositing of photographic images while Illustrator is primarily used for manipulating, creating, and compositing vector illustrations. Both are extremely useful and serve their own purposes well.
Whether you are new to graphic design or just the Adobe Creative Cloud system, you might have a question that has come up before: what is the difference between Photoshop and Illustrator?
Well, Photoshop is raster files, and Illustrator does vector files. Which you need depends on the type of work you intend on doing. Here’s a very short list that might help you.
is best for:
- Photo retouching
- Photo color correction
- Compositing photos
- Compositing 3D Renders
- Key art (book covers, posters, game covers—designs that revolve around a single piece of art)
- Matte painting
- Digital painting
is best for:
- Logo design
- Icon design
- Web design
- Page layout
- Typographic art
- Vector illustrations
About Adobe CC in Photoshop and Illustrator Programs:
Just in case you are new to the designer scene. Adobe offers a suite of programs called the Adobe Creative Cloud, and for a monthly subscription fee, you get access to all of their offerings. In there are the two programs that we are dealing with today: Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop. Each one has their focus, and it is important that you know what both of them are if you want to be a quality designer.
I have got a client that sells custom car equipment, and he has a super complex logo that I’ve worked with over at my sticker business. There is a variation of the design that includes the state flag in the middle, and when he wanted that version included in a flyer that he wanted me to design, I asked for the file. He sent over a JPEG, and I knew we were in trouble.
Photoshop files have default file extension as “.PSD”, which stands for “Photoshop Document.” A PSD file stores an image with support for most imaging options available in Photoshop. These include layers with masks, transparency, text, alpha channels and spot colors, clipping paths, and duotone settings. This is in contrast to many other file formats (e.g., .JPG or .GIF) that restrict content to provide streamlined, predictable functionality. A PSD file has a maximum height and width of 30,000 pixels, and a length limit of 2 Gigabytes.
Photoshop files sometimes have the file extension “.PSB”, which stands for “Photoshop Big” (also known as “large document format”). A PSB file extends the PSD file format, increasing the maximum height and width to 300,000 pixels and the length limit to around 4 Exabytes. The dimension limit was apparently chosen arbitrarily by Adobe, not based on computer arithmetic constraints (it is not close to a power of two, as is 30,000) but for ease of software testing. PSD and PSB formats are documented.
Adobe Illustrator is a professional quality graphic art program. Its applications are diverse, from creating a print to web graphics and, for our purposes, posters. Although the program is complex and requires a significant amount of time to truly master, it is quite easy to learn the basics and create work with a professional appearance. Designing a poster does not require any special artistic talent or skills; it just requires having the patience to get acquainted with the program. As with most computer applications, I recommend using the trial-and-error methodology to figure out the intricacies of this program. You will make numerous mistakes, and frequently want to make changes. Thankfully Illustrator is equipped with an undo option. In fact, undo [Ctrl+Z] will become a very familiar action as you design your poster.
It is also recommended that you create the general appearance of your poster first with pen and paper so that you have a general idea of what you wish to accomplish on Illustrator.
Raster V/S Vector Images:
JPEGs are raster files (bitmap files), and they are made up of pixels, which are those tiny blocks that make up the display on your computer. Your personal photos and most image content on the web are raster files, and it allows for blending of tones, shading, and things like that. Raster files are no-nos in the world of logo design, which is why I was upset when he sent over that JPEG. Worse yet, the designer that worked on it previously had spilled colors into each other, so it was just messy. And the client complained that although the design worked OK on a T-shirt, he couldn’t do much else because the quality just wasn’t present. There’s a reason for that.
It is based on lines, not pixels. This means that no matter how small or how large the design is, the computer will render it exactly the same way. It is the reason why you can have an identical logo on a business card and a billboard, and create them from the exact same file.
Let’s say you have two identical images, and they’re the exact same size. One is a vector drawing (done in Illustrator), and the other was made in Photoshop, making it a raster file. If you enlarge the vector, everything will be perfect and look flawless. But enlarging the raster file is different. Since it’s based on pixels, changing the number of pixels present in the object causes the computer to estimate where pixels need to be removed or added to complete the look. Sometimes that works great, sometimes not so much. It’s why if you blow up an image to twice its size that it looks gnarly and pixelated.