Photoshop vs Illustrator: Which Program Is Best for Graphic Design?

When it comes to picking the right programs for graphic design, most of the designers get frustrated with the number of tools and apps offered over the Web. One of the most common problems of choice happens when designers can’t decide between the two main Adobe programs most of the graphic designers dealing with. This article is dedicated to an “infinity war” of Photoshop vs. Illustrator. In search of advantages and disadvantages, beginning graphic designers should understand that the choice depends on some specific factors, like the direction the designer works in, skills he has, etc. So let’s get the things sorted out for those who are still making a choice, or is looking for some arguments and clear points in favor of Photoshop or Illustrator.

What Is the Key Focus of the Photoshop?

Source: whizual

The first and the main difference between Photoshop and Illustrator is that the first one was created for the work with pixel or raster based graphics. This factor defines its field of use:

  • Photoshop has a lot of room for photo and image manipulation and editing. You can easily blend the colors, combine and retouch multiple images, add shades and textures, use gradients evenly, etc.
  • Photoshop is perfect for digital painting. You can easily create drawing from scratch. Thanks to the advanced and powerful brush tool you can create creative and beautiful arts.
  • Photoshop is a must-have for photos manipulation. Its advanced functionality allows a complex approach to photo improvements, like advanced retouching, composites (combining several photos into one), creating HDR images, detailed healing of defects like blemishes, wrinkles, flabs or yellow teeth, etc.
  • Photoshop is great for video editing and creating animations.
  • Photoshop is great for enhancing stock images. Designers often use stock images in their arts, but the problem is that the most of the stock photos are plain, bleak and boring. Photoshop helps to improve it by adding additional texture, shades, and creative effects.
  • Photoshop is great for customization of pre-designed PSD templates. You can easily edit fully layered templates and turn them into original print-ready business cards, flyers, brochures, etc. Here are 20+ websites with fully free PSD templates for any purpose and business needs.

If you mainly work with raster graphics, you can definitely go with Photoshop: Get Photoshop as part of a Creative Cloud single-app plan for just US$19.99/mo

What Is the Key Focus of Illustrator?

Source: Free PSD Templates

Unlike Photoshop, Illustrator was created as vector graphics editor. The main focus of Illustrator program is put on the work in the following directions:

  • Illustrator deals best of all with shapes. If you work mainly in packaging and branding design, Illustrator is what the doctor ordered.
  • Illustrator is a God Sent for logo designers. Thanks to its vector oriented functionality, it allows creating high-quality logos which you can both shrink or enlarge without affecting its quality. As logos are applied in different small and big design spaces, they need to have clean and accurate lines which don’t change its structure and quality in the process of resizing.
  • Illustrator is perfect for typography.
  • Illustrator helps in creating great icons and complex illustrations.
  • Illustrator is also good at the design of page layout and web pages.

If your graphic design skills are focused on one of the above directions, then your perfect match is Illustrator: Get Illustrator as part of a Creative Cloud single-app plan for just US$19.99/mo

Pros and Cons of Using Photoshop and Illustrator in Graphic Design

While choosing this or that Adobe editor for your graphic design work, you should take into account their advantages and disadvantages. Below are the pros and cons of both Photoshop and Illustrator programs which will help you make a final decision.

If you decide to use Photoshop for your graphic design projects, you should be aware of the following pros and cons:


+ A powerful photo-editing tool;

+ A powerful detailed layers panel;

+ A great 3D modeling which allows creating 3D mockups of your print design projects and demonstrates them to clients;

+ Flexibility and advanced functionality thanks to a huge number of plugins;

+ Powerful tools for creating animations and editing videos;

+ Have a user-friendly interface and is easy to learn.


– Supports only PSD, PNG and JPG files;

– A no-go for logo design, as they lose their quality in the process of resizing.

– Can’t handle large amounts of text, so if you need to work with huge paragraphs, it’s better to go with Illustrator or InDesign;

– Not multi-page design oriented.

If you decide to use Illustrator for your graphic design projects, you should be aware of the following pros and cons:


+ You can scale graphics an unlimited number of times without affecting the resolution and quality of images;

+ Advanced typography edit tools which give a lot of room for text manipulation and formatting features and effects, like paragraphs composing, text skewing, wrap and kerning;

+ A comparatively small size of the files allows simple sharing and emailing.

+ It is perfect for creating geometric shapes like charts, diagrams, cartoons and illustrations.


-The time-consuming process of creating graphics;

– Supports only AI, SVG and EPS format files;

– Poor photo manipulation features;

– Is more complex and takes a lot of time to learn.


As you can see, there is no all-in-one solution. Each of the programs has specific strengths and weaknesses. If you plan to work with raster graphics only, then there is no need to master Illustrator and vice versa. Anyway, a seasoned graphic designer skips the shortcuts. So if you want to become a graphic design guru, have more room for creativity and more freedom of choice when selecting future design projects, then you better master both Photoshop and Illustrator.

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