Which should I use, Photoshop or InDesign?

Which should I use, Photoshop or InDesign?

Have you ever tried to put together some shelves, but you didn’t have the right tools? You’ve got all of the pieces to build them—boards, nails, and screws—yet, it seems impossible to mash these elements together into a usable piece of furniture. A shoe or butter knife might do the job, but it’ll be a heck of a lot more difficult and an unstable product in the end.

That’s kind of what using the wrong graphic design software is like.

Last week, we talked about the strengths and attributes of both Photoshop and Illustrator.

This time let’s put all that hard work together.

A refresher on Photoshop

Photoshop is an incredibly powerful, raster graphics program. A raster graphic is any image that is comprised of pixels. This type of image is commonly found as a .jpg, .gif, .png file type, and it distorts when it is scaled up or down.

Photoshop is an amazingly powerful, raster graphics tool. It is excellent at photo manipulation, creating digital art, or web graphics.

However, where it falters is when you need to create documents that can scale without distortion, ones that contain a lot of text, or when you’re creating something for print. It especially falters if you’re creating a print document that has multiple pages.

What do you use in this instance?

Meet InDesign.

What’s InDesign?

InDesign is Adobe’s desktop publishing software. Basically, InDesign was created to combine your files from Photoshop, Illustrator, and your word processor into usable print-ready files. InDesign is the industry standard for book, newspaper, magazine, and print layouts.

InDesign allows you to easily create multiple page files that are in either CMYK or RBG color space. These pages can be text or graphics intensive. If you’re unsure of your layout, you can lay down column guides and content blocks.

Text in InDesign is managed through stylesheets. This maintains consistency throughout your entire document. In fact, InDesign offers a robust and easy to understand set of typographic tools that make creating beautiful print layouts pretty darn easy.

So, when should you use InDesign?

When you want to keep your design consistent through multiple pages

InDesign has a feature called master pages. Basically, you can define your basic layout and apply it to the spread with a simple click. Your font choices can be managed through styles. Together, this creates a unified layout that always looks consistent and on-brand.

Multiple pages, multiple layouts, managed with ease.

When you want to keep track of page numbers

Illustrator and Photoshop are not great at managing multiple pages. For small projects, you can create a few pages on art boards, but if you want to generate elements like page numbers or table of contents, InDesign should be your go-to from the start.

You want to combine graphics and text from multiple sources

InDesign allows you to easily import vector and raster graphics to use in your layout. Large bodies of text are simple to place into columns and place around images. Neither Illustrator nor Photoshop is able to wrap text, and both lack the robust text adjusting power of InDesign.

You want to collaborate on a text-heavy project with a teammate

InDesign doesn’t embed all the objects imported into it automatically. That would make the file size huge and make editing elements in the project more difficult. Instead, InDesign allows the user to package their project into a folder to share and send. This folder will compile all the linked files together in one place, so it is simple to send off to a colleague for further edits.

You want to create a document for print that has more than a couple of paragraphs of text

InDesign lets you quickly create layouts using text boxes and columns. Their text boxes create professional, polished text areas of documents quickly. While Illustrator features some of these options, Photoshop doesn’t. If you want to edit the text in your document, InDesign makes it easy. You can even perform both find and replaces and spell checks right in the program.

InDesign handles this mountain of text like a champ.

When should I use Photoshop?

Photoshop is best suited as your graphics editing program. If you’re creating a brochure, newsletter, magazine, or book, touch up your graphics in Photoshop first. InDesign is unable to edit your raster files other than simple crops, frames, and layer styles.

What’s the best workflow for InDesign?

  • Start by planning your layout on paper. Determine which photographs you will use and any vector graphics you will need.
  • Edit your photos in Photoshop. You can go back and edit them again later if you need to make changes.
  • Create your vector graphics in Illustrator, like new logos or design elements. Complicated typography, like weathered or morphed text, is easier to do in Illustrator than InDesign.
  • Combine your vector graphics, raster graphics, and planned text into InDesign.
  • Use styles and master pages in InDesign to create a unified look throughout your document.
  • Create your layouts.
  • Export to PDF for print applications or export as a package if you want another person to edit it.

InDesign is the perfect tool for desktop publishing. It can’t replace or even perform many of the same functions of Photoshop. The Adobe Creative Cloud suite is best used together. InDesign is a perfect example of a program that shines when utilized in tandem with its software siblings.

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