Adobe Illustrator vs. Photoshop

In this practical guide, we've outlined the strengths and weaknesses of Adobe Illustrator vs. Photoshop. 

Adobe Illustrator
Graphic designers, fine artists, and cartoonists can all find something to love in Adobe Illustrator. The interface is built for vector images, which can be scaled to virtually any size without losing quality. Unlike raster images (which are constructed with hundreds of tiny pixels), vectors are made from mathematical shapes. Here are just a few situations where Illustrator excels: 

  • Designing a Logo: Vectors are more versatile for logos and brand material. If you want to design an eye-catching graphic that can scale to billboard size, and then use the same asset on a business card, Illustrator will be your best friend. This is equally true for digital icons, cartoon mascots, and vector-based text.
  • Advanced Typesetting: Unlike Photoshop, Illustrator provides much more control over your type. With a few clicks, you can convert any text into a shape, and then warp the shape however you like. This is incredibly useful for graphic and type designers, and Photoshop's text functionality doesn't come close. 
  • Creating a Print Graphic: With a combination of robust vector tools and raster image support, Illustrator is perfect for print media. Whether you're designing a poster, brochure, or product packaging, it's easy to create a graphic that "pops" on the page. 

Adobe Photoshop
Meanwhile, Adobe's most popular software is designed for editing raster (i.e. pixel-based) images. If you're retouching a photo, layering multiple images into a collage, or adding complex filters, Photoshop is the way to go. The image adjustment tools are more nuanced and powerful than Illustrator, and Photoshop contains plenty of artistic tools as well. We recommend using Photoshop when:

  • Optimizing Images for the Web: Resize your banner ad, social media image, or blog header with Photoshop's precise editing features. When you're happy with how an image looks, you can optimize it for the web, so that it takes up as little space as possible. 
  • Retouching Photos: Image editing is Photoshop's bread and butter, and it's the reason why the phrase "we'll Photoshop it out" is so common today. If you need to adjust a subject's skin tone, remove a distracting blemish, or apply color correction to an image, it's all possible in Photoshop. 
  • Sketching a Website: Even though Adobe has dedicated apps for UI/UX design, Photoshop's layer-based system makes it fairly easy to create a website mockup. Once you've figured out the site's dimensions, you can start moving elements on the canvas until you achieve a pleasing composition.  
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