InDesign, Illustrator & Photoshop, which program should you be using?


Here at TPI Solutions Ink we receive all kinds of files to be printed. Sometimes these files have been created using an Adobe program that wasn't the best fit for the job. InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop all have different capabilities to consider when creating a file, and were designed to work together. This blog will illustrate the best way to use these programs to output a print document correctly.


Adobe Photoshop CS6 icon

As its name implies, Photoshop is meant to be used when working with photos and/or any raster based artwork. This program lets you manipulate images in a number of ways and has also become popular in the web design world. Some of the best uses for Photoshop include:

• Color correction, retouching & enhancement of photos

• Special effects

• Creation of web & motion graphics

• User interface & mobile design

As far as printing goes, Photoshop should be used to ensure that all the images you want to print are high resolution and use the CMYK color space. It is important to use high resolution images when printing to ensure the best output quality. As far as color goes, images that come from the web or your camera use the RGB color space by default, and usually need to be converted to CMYK. Using the correct color mode ensures that your printed piece will have the most accurate colors possible.


Adobe Illustrator Icon CS6

Illustrator is mainly used when working with vector graphics. Unlike raster based artwork, vector illustrations can be scaled to any size without losing any of their resolution or clarity. For this reason, Illustrator is the most popular program used for creating elements like logos that are going to be used in a variety of different circumstances. The most popular uses for Illustrator include:

• Logo, monogram and insignia design

• Vector illustrations

• Non photographic website elements

Vector artwork created in Illustrator is almost always print friendly. You can create vector graphics using CMYK or spot colors, depending on what best fits your needs. Like most Adobe programs, Illustrator allows you to output your vector artwork in a variety of file formats, depending on how it is going to be used.


Adobe InDesign iconFinally we arrive at InDesign, the layout program that brings everything together. Here you can assemble a layout using your Photoshopped images and illustrated vector graphics along with any text your design needs. InDesign has the most advanced type tools and page management of all the Adobe programs. Some of the best features of InDesign are:

• Multipage document creation (books, brochures etc.)

• Master pages & page numbering options

• Text wrap & other typesetting tools

• File packaging

InDesign is the program we prefer to use here when creating files to print. It allows you to bring different elements together in one space, and gives you the most control over how those elements are arranged. InDesign also allows you to package a file and send it with all of it's information included. For more information about this feature, visit our article about how to preflight and package.


We hope this blog makes it easier for you to determine which program(s) you need to use. Remember, InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop are meant to be used together to create the best output possible. Take some time to play with all 3 to figure out the workflow that's best for you.


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About The Author

Graphic Designer, Amateur Homebrewer, Iced Coffee Connoisseur, Avocado Addict