View Full Version : Photoshop vs Illustrator

04-22-2008, 10:06 AM
I currently have Photoshop CS, and am looking at potentially upgrading to CS3, but I would like to know if Illustrator might be a better package to work with.

Obviously I use Photoshop to do maps with, but I am also looking for something that I can use for work. I work at a church and am looking at doing graphics for Powerpoint and website.

Should I stick with Photoshop or go to Illustrator, or should I (gulp$$$$) buy both?

04-22-2008, 11:04 AM
gimp (http://www.gimp.org/)and inkscape (http://www.inkscape.org/) :)

(not to start a holy war, but they will certainly provide the functionality for the church powerpoint and website graphics, and $$$ was identified as a possible issue...)

-Rob A>

04-22-2008, 11:06 AM
Since they're designed by the same company to complement rather than compete you have to be very clear on what your tasks are.

Raster graphics will always be messy compared to vector graphics but some people find photoshop (and similar packages easier to work with). "Messy" is a very relative term and may never be an issue depending on your application.

If its a business decision I'd take a hard look at adobe's cheaper competition too.

There are lots of professional artists who still swear by photoshop 7.


04-22-2008, 11:32 AM
Is there enough improvement in functionality in CS3 over CS1 to be worth spending money on it? I've been using both Photoshop CS1 and v7, and there are barely any differences to be seen, certainly not enough to be worth the upgrade fee. Granted, I am fairly inexperienced with Photoshop.

I agree with Rob. Check out Inkscape, and use the money you save to escape from PowerPoint. Go for a spin in MediaShout (http://www.mediashout.com). You'll never want to touch PP again.

04-22-2008, 12:37 PM
Or consider using Xara Xtreme - this is hybrid raster/vector application that has the functionality of some photoshop features and most of Illustrator's features. It in fact uses PS Plug-ins as well. Xara costs about $89 so its not free like GIMP or Inkscape.

Here's a free link to download a trial of Xara Xtreme, if you're interested...

My affiliate link to Xara Xtreme... (http://stats.xaraonline.com/ID.859297/redirectid.Xara/affiliate.html)

04-22-2008, 12:57 PM
Well, since the work you are doing is either maps or relatively small projects for the church it all comes down to what you want to deliver. If you are doing a church newsletter and want to create artwork for it either will work, though I find Photoshop more flexible as illustrator's primary strength isn't needed for the job.

However, I only use Photoshop currently because I have it left over from my time as a Graphic Designer. If I had to pay for it, I probably wouldn't. I find that the upgrades between CS, CS2 and CS3 are pretty incremental and don't affect my day to work. Since I am opposed to a cracked version, I'll probably switch to GiMP when I am forced to leave Photoshop CS (version 7).

I was a late adopter to illustrator as I was originally trained in Freehand. Since I am not creating art that needs to scale freely any longer I don't find myself opening illustrator often. Windows says I last used the program on October 21, 2007.

This is all based on how you will be using the programs. If you are only using to crank out fast maps for your tabletop gaming then you'll be fine with whatever you currently use. At least that's my situation. But with the work for your church you may consider keeping the old version of photoshop and using the money for a new copy of illustrator.

Another thing to consider is that if you get into video presentations, final cut pro can use photoshop and illustrator files natively. So if that's an idea for the future, be prepared for it if you decide to ditch adobe in favor of GiMP and Inkscape.

04-22-2008, 09:13 PM
Thanks for the comments, and for the other suggested programs. I will take a look at some of those to see how they work.

It sounds like I really won't use a lot of the features from Illustrator, and since there aren't that many significant advances from CS to CS3, I will probably stay with that.

My biggest upgrade is a graphics tablet that I just bought, so I will have that to play with now:twisted:

04-22-2008, 10:40 PM
Sorry to chime in late, just a few thoughts.

I use Illustrator almost exclusively for my maps, by which I mean something like 99.8% of the time. I can tell you a couple of things though about it:

1) Considerable learning curve. I dinked around with this program a long time, building up my skills. There are still a lot of things don't do, and other things that folks who use it more than I do scratch their heads over. I like what I can do with it, but it doesn't come quickly.

2) Some things you will not do. There are some things that this program does not do. Period. There are a lot of cool effects in PS and other programs that I look at on other people's maps and say "Cool. Not something I'm going to do though." What it does well, it does well, but some stuff just isn't there. Or maybe I have not found it yet. Very possible.

3) Develop a style suited to the tool. Or not. I have developed a style that is (I hope) very well suited to this program, which actually makes working with PS harder for me because I get frustrated and just do what it isI was try9ing to do in Illustrator. This might be a bad thing, maybe I ought to branch out. Frankly, I don't know and I don't have the time at the moment to start from scratch. If I do get the time, I probably will, but if that is a factor for you as well, I'd skip it (re-read Number 1 above). On the other hand, I like the output, and so do some people here (again, I hope).

04-22-2008, 11:22 PM
Illustrator is great (big learning curve)
Ideal for postcards flyers brochures and posters although only a page at a time.
and it is absolutely necessary for logo design speaking as someone WHO work in the printing industry I absolutely hate it when someone sends in a bitmap logo they made in photoshop ugh!!!!
it is also an essential tool for editing and repairing problem PDF files
I consider it the Swiss army knife of graphics program and a necessity for serious graphics professionals.

in regards to photoshop cs cs2 cs3 I think the upgrades are little more than an attempt to squeeze more money out of us(OK there are some cool new features but still what ever happened to cs1.2.31)
of course Photoshops value is obvious so i will leave it at that.

the free tools will most often get the job done but if you need to send files to a printer you may just frustrate them

for booklets, manuals, and modules In-design or quark is the way to go

04-23-2008, 10:18 AM

Thanks for the comments on Illustrator. One of the things that I am looking at for the church is doing new logos and illustrations for the church's website that we are beginning to develop, and also for banners and mail outs. So Illustrator might be good for that. Right now, I will stick with PS for maps.

When CS2 came out, I looked at that, but it looked almost the same as CS, but CS3 looks a little different, but there is a pretty significant cost in upgrading, so if it is not vastly improved, then I won't do it!

04-23-2008, 10:29 AM
Another cheaper vector drawing program worth looking at is Serif Drawplus (circa $100 US for the latest version, less down to free if you buy earlier versions)- if you look at RobA's sticky on different software that's available you can find more information there. Still...inkscape is free and pretty good too from what I've heard.

The best thing about Drawplus is that the learning curve is really quick which makes it a joy to use. Everything is intuitive.

04-23-2008, 10:48 AM
The latest version of inkscape has implemented svg filters, as well, so a whole host of effects can be acheived (who the UI is a bit awkward, imoo). Here is an example tutorial making a logo:

-Rob A>

04-24-2008, 01:17 PM
I use both, but almost always use Illustrator for maps. The "high quality at every scale" and "ability to move lines long after I drew them" wins for maps, as far as I'm concerned. It is true, however, that using vector art does lend a particular "look" to your maps, and that can either work for or against you.

As for "worth the upgrade", I can only speak for the Mac version. The CS3 version was very much worth the upgrade, because it was Intel native. Feature-wise, it didn't seem much different than CS2.

For those looking for cheaper alternatives for the Mac, you might be interested in my Mac shareware recommendations (http://divnull.com/lward/software.html), particularly Pixelmator (hhttp://www.pixelmator.com/) and VectorDesigner (http://www.tweakersoft.com/vectordesigner/). (Inkscape on the Mac, btw, is garbage.)