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InDesign vs IllustratorWhen it comes to print media, designers have many choices of tools to produce the highest quality graphics and text they can. Bringing quality print design to the table is vitally important for many businesses so they can outshine the competition. We live in a visually saturated and technologically savvy world, so everywhere you look, there is some type of print media that captures people’s attention and communicates a message. This course introduces you to the basics of graphic design.

Choosing Between InDesign vs. Illustrator

Many print media designers begin by learning how to use Adobe Photoshop. If you don’t know how to use Photoshop, this course will cover the basics for you. More advanced print media designers move beyond Photoshop to some more advanced resources. Two of the top tools used by print media design professionals are both also manufactured by Adobe: Illustrator and InDesign. They’re both highly-prized resources by the designers who use them, but the question remains, why should a designer use one over the other? What will you get with Illustrator that you won’t get with InDesign? In the war of InDesign vs. Illustrator, perhaps they both have their uses, and maybe they’re best used as complementary applications to one another. This article will seek to shed some light on the functionality of each design tool so that print media designers can make the most informed decision on which to use.

The Design Value of Illustrator

What you’ll soon discover is that Adobe Illustrator is great for your basic print media design needs. Where Illustrator excels is in the ability to design graphics, and because the drawing in Illustrator is vector based, the images you produce in Illustrator can be manipulated easily and the images are scalable. You can change the size of the image you create with Illustrator to make it either bigger or smaller, and you won’t lose any of the image quality that you would if you were dealing with pixels. Illustrator is ideal for creating logos or other web graphics. It’s also an effective solution for creating motion graphics.

Illustrator works great if you’re designing a single page that is heavier on graphics than it is on text. Where Illustrator tends to break down is when you need to design something that requires more than one page and is heavier on text. This course will get you started in using Adobe Illustrator.

The Increased Functionality of InDesign

Where Illustrator is a great design option if you’re working with only one page, Adobe InDesign steps up the design functionality by being an ideal option for designing print media that is multiple pages. This means that you can use InDesign to design and produces books, multi-page brochures, full-color magazines, business catalogs, and any other print media option that requires multiple pages. Where Illustrator works best is with projects that are more graphics heavy, InDesign works well with more text heavy projects. Illustrator is the option to go to for any project you have that has a master layout. With layouts, you have more user-friendly type-wrapping tools than you do in Illustrator. You also have the ability to define page numbers in your multi-page projects.

Of course, as with Illustrator, there are areas where InDesign falls short and Illustrator comes out ahead. It is possible to draw objects and create graphics inside of InDesign, but it doesn’t work nearly as well as in Illustrator. Layouts that feature both text and graphics work great if you’re designing with InDesign, but your specific graphical designs should be produced outside of InDesign. This means that if you have to create a quality company logo, you’re better off going with Illustrator. This course is a great introduction on how to use the design capabilities of Adobe InDesign.

Two are Better Than One: Utilizing the Best of Both

Clearly, there are strengths and weaknesses to each design tool, and this makes the decision difficult if you have to choose only one. Of course, you don’t really have to choose just one, and maybe you shouldn’t. Illustrator works as a graphic design and drawing tool, while InDesign falls short in this area. However, InDesign is better with layouts, multiple pages, and more text focused projects. To get the full range of design capabilities you need to be at the top of your game as a print media designer as well as ahead of your competition, you simply can’t rely on just Illustrator or just InDesign.

Who wins the war of InDesign vs. Illustrator in the end? They both do. If you have a multiple page project that requires some original graphic design images, you need InDesign for its multi-page capability, but you need Illustrator for its drawing capability.

What if there’s not a war at all? It seems that the best designers would make use of both tools to to ensure they provide the best quality print media solutions they can offer. If you’re creating a 15-page color brochure for a high profile business, you don’t have to think twice about which tool you would choose over the other. You would create the graphics you need in Illustrator, then import them into your layout in InDesign. It’s the best of both worlds, and your client will be happy with the end product you give them.

As a print media design professional, you have two great design tool options available to you, and they both excel in different ways. You’ll do well as a designer to take the strengths of each to compensate for the weaknesses of the other. When it comes to InDesign vs. Illustrator, the best solution for a large number of the projects you tackle is to use them both. If you’re a designer and you’re interested in running your own design business, this course will walk you through basics.

Page Last Updated: March 2014

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