Should I use Illustrator or Photoshop for my Creative Projects?

Whether you’re a freelance photographer, graphic design student, or web designer, you’ve likely heard of (or even use) both Photoshop and Illustrator. Both are widely considered to be industry standards for design software. So what are the differences between the two? Which one should you use for your next project?

In this blog post, we’ll be taking a closer look at the pros and cons of both Photoshop and Illustrator. Ultimately, you should better understand which software best suits your needs.

Overview of Photoshop and Illustrator Capabilities

Let’s start with the basics. Both of these software programs are provided by Adobe and are part of what’s known as the Creative Cloud Suite. Adobe is celebrating its 40th birthday this year and has been the industry leader in design software for decades. Here’s an overview of their two biggest successes:


As the most famous of all Adobe programs, Photoshop is primarily known as a raster graphics editor, meaning it’s used for working with digital images. It first launched in 1990 and has been through many different iterations over the years.

photoshop and illustrator icons

Photoshop is an incredibly versatile program that you can use for everything from photo editing to creating digital art. It’s also widely used in the world of web design and for creating User Interfaces (UIs). You can learn to use Photoshop for:

Removing Backgrounds From Images

With the help of Photoshop’s many different tools, you can easily remove the background from an image. This is a common technique used in product photography and for creating mocked-up designs.

Photo Editing

Whether you’re a professional photographer or someone who just likes to take photos for fun, Photoshop is a great tool for editing your images. Adjusting the brightness, contrast, saturation, and other settings of an image is a breeze with Photoshop. Photoshop can help you turn a good photo into a great one, from minor tweaks to complete makeovers.

man editing photos on photoshop

Digital Art

With all of the different brushes, effects, and filters that are available in Photoshop, it’s no wonder that it’s a favorite tool among digital artists. The artwork will be pixel-based, but you’ll have a lot of flexibility when creating it.

Adding Text to Images

Photoshop is often used for adding text to images. Many people have recently used it to create ‘memes’ – often funny or topical images with text overlays. In a business setting, Photoshop can be used to add watermarks or labels to images.

As you can see, there’s a lot that Photoshop can do. However, its main strength is taking an existing image and manipulating it in some way. This is why it’s often referred to as an ‘image editor.


On the other hand, Illustrator is a vector graphics editor. This means that instead of working with pixels, it works with points, lines, and shapes – known as ‘vectors.’ Vectors can be resized without losing quality, which is why they’re preferred for things like logos and illustrations.

Illustrator was first released in 1987, just three years before Photoshop. It too has undergone many different iterations since then and is now on its 26th version. Due to its vector-based nature, it’s considered a more ‘precise’ tool than Photoshop. 

Illustrator can help you with:

Logos & Icons

Perhaps the most popular use for Illustrator is creating logos. Since vectors can be rescaled without losing quality, they’re perfect for creating a logo that can be used in both small and large formats. Icons are another common use for Illustrator. Since they need to be small and precise, vectors are the perfect tool for creating them.

Zooming Capabilities

Have you ever seen a piece of artwork that looks great from far away but falls apart when you zoom in? This is often because it was created in Photoshop with pixels instead of Illustrator with vectors. Vectors don’t become blurry when they’re scaled up, so you can create detailed artwork without worrying about it losing quality.


Illustrator is often used by typographers for creating and editing typefaces. Typefaces are similar to fonts, but they contain a lot more detail. Since they are vector-based, they can be resized without losing quality.

Freeform Drawing

Unlike Photoshop, Illustrator isn’t restricted to rectangular canvases. You can draw anywhere on the ‘page’, which gives you a lot of freedom when it comes to creating your artwork.

Types of Jobs That Require the Knowledge

So, who should bother learning Photoshop and Adobe? Here are a few types of jobs that require the knowledge of Photoshop:

  • Photographers: Of course, photographers need to know how to use Photoshop. Even the best photographers can benefit from a little digital enhancement.
  • Graphic Designers: Many graphic designers use Photoshop to create everything from website designs to print ads.
  • Web Designers: Photoshop is often used for creating website designs, especially when it comes to the layout and graphics.

In the case of Illustrator, here are a few types of jobs that require its use:

  • Graphic Designers: As we mentioned before, many graphic designers use Illustrator for creating vector-based graphics.
  • Fashion Designers: Fashion designers often use Illustrator to create sketches of their designs.
  • Game Designers: Game designers use Illustrator to create 2D game assets, like characters and backgrounds.
  • Motion Graphics Artists: Many motion graphics artists use Illustrator to create vector-based animations.
  • Architects: Architects often use Illustrator to create detailed plans and drawings of their designs.

Standout Features

Now that we’ve gone over some of the basics let’s take a more in-depth look at both Photoshop and Illustrator. We’ll compare and contrast their standout features, so you can get a better idea of which one is right for you.


Beginner-Friendly: Photoshop has a fairly intuitive interface, which makes it relatively easy to learn. Even if you’ve never used Photoshop before, you should be able to figure out the basics within a few hours.

Powerful: Photoshop is one of the market’s most powerful image editing programs. It can do almost anything you could ever want to do with an image.

Lots of Tutorials and Resources: Since Photoshop is so popular, thousands of tutorials and resources are available online. So, if you ever get stuck, you can always find the answer with a quick Google search.

Supports Layers: Layers are one of Photoshop’s most powerful features. They allow you to edit individual elements of an image without affecting the rest of the image.


Scalable Graphics: One of the best things about vector graphics is that they can be scaled up or down without losing quality. That means you can create a design once and then use it in any size you want. Vector graphics are also perfect for print because they can be printed at any resolution without losing quality.

Customizable Brushes: Illustrator comes with a wide variety of customizable brushes, which give you a lot of control over your artwork. You can also create your own custom brushes.

Live Trace: Live Trace is a handy tool that allows you to convert raster images into vector graphics. By using this tool, you can trace photos and other images to create vector-based artwork.

Wide Variety of Export Options: When you’re finished with your design, you can export it in various formats (PDF, JPEG, PNG, etc.). This allows you to use your design on almost any platform. It also integrates seamlessly with other Creative Cloud programs, like Photoshop and InDesign.

Which One Is Better For Photos or Videos?

This is a difficult question to answer, as Photoshop and Illustrator are both used for photos and videos. However, we would say that Photoshop is better for photos, while Illustrator is better for videos. 

mad editing video in illustrator

How to Choose the Right Program?

The best way to find the program for you is, quite frankly, to try both of them out. They each have unique strengths and weaknesses, so the only way to really know which one is right for you is to jump in and try them both. They both have free 7-day trial periods, so you can test them out and see which one you prefer.

Test each user interface, compare the final results of projects, and try out different features. If you find yourself using one program more than the other, then that’s probably the right program for you.

Available Plugins For Each

What if you could add even more functionality to your favorite image editor? Well, with plugins, you can! Photoshop and Illustrator have hundreds of plugins available, which can help you do almost anything you could ever want to do with an image.


Pexels: Pexels is a free plugin that gives you access to over 1 million high-quality photos. These images are royalty-free, so you can use them in your designs without worrying about copyright infringement.

Luminar: Luminar is a plugin that allows you to quickly and easily edit your photos. It comes with a wide variety of features, including an AI-powered sky replacement tool, which can instantly make your photos look more dramatic.

Aurora HDR: Aurora HDR is a powerful photo editing plugin that gives you all the tools you need to create stunning HDR images. It comes with a wide variety of presets, so you can quickly find the perfect look for your photo.


VectorScribe 2: VectorScribe 2 is a plugin that gives you a wide variety of vector editing tools. It includes a “smart” knife tool that automatically creates cut lines based on your image.

Symmetry Works: Patterns are a great way to add interest to your designs. With Symmetry Works, you can quickly and easily create complex patterns with just a few clicks. You can then replicate those patterns across your design with ease.

Texturino: Texturino makes it easy to add textured effects to your vector graphics. You can add realistic-looking textures like wood, metal, and fabric with just a few clicks. This plugin is perfect for giving your illustrations a more “handcrafted” look.

Software Compatibility With Mac/PC

Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator are compatible with both Mac and PC. However, there are a few things to remember when using these programs on a PC. First of all, you’ll need to have a fairly powerful computer to run them smoothly. Secondly, the shortcuts for each program are different on a PC than on a Mac. So, if you’re used to working on a Mac, you may feel a bit lost when using these programs on a PC.


Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator are both parts of the Adobe Creative Cloud, which means they’re available for purchase as part of a monthly subscription. The individual subscription price for each program is $20.99/month with an annual commitment.

However, if you want to subscribe to the entire Adobe Creative Cloud, it will cost you $52.99/month. You’ll have access to over 20 different Adobe programs, which is a great deal if you plan on using more than just Photoshop and Illustrator.

Learn more about Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop by subscribing to CreativeLive’s online courses. With CreativeLive, you can learn at your own pace and get lifetime access to all of their courses.


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