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Adobe InDesign vs Photoshop

If you need to create a print-ready design, then Adobe offers two options for you to consider: InDesign and Photoshop. Both are included with a Creative Cloud subscription, but what if you only want to have a subscription to one Adobe app? Which one should be chosen for your design needs?

InDesign is a good option for those who are preparing traditional designs for print. If you work with magazines, books, and other forms of paper media, then it is a solid choice to take on the print project you’ve got going on.

Photoshop offers good design options as well, with deeper customization opportunities to include with the design, but a steeper learning curve that must be followed.

Here are some of the key differences to consider.

1. Detailed Layers

InDesign and Photoshop both allow users to create layers for their graphic designs. InDesign offers a simplistic method of building layers through a basic dashboard that, if you can keep track of your changes, can create professional results in no time at all. Forwarding designs to others, however, can be difficult if the person is not familiar with what you’re attempting to create.

Photoshop applies effects in a way that is easy to edit or reverse. You can view the effects when they are applied or keep coming back to them while focusing on other design elements. This allows you to build depth through blending and use the various adjustment marks to create highly complex designs.

2. Workflow

InDesign makes the process simple. It will ask you what your design is for as you’re creating it and then you don’t need to worry about it anymore. You don’t need to worry about permanent image edits or color outputs while creating your design since the images are linked.

Photoshop has an automatic color mode that makes it difficult to work in CMYK print-ready designs. This is because Photoshop is generally designed for photographs, not print designs, so the standard rendering is RGB to match what most cameras will output. You can convert the file, but this can create distortions to the final images. If you’ve applied filters before converting to CMYK, then your work may be completed discarded during the transition.

3. 3-D Designs

Bottom line here with InDesign: you’re not going to get a 3-D rendering of your design. Period. You can still create print-ready designs that can be used in a three-dimensional way, such as a book cover, but the platform will not provide you with a graphic rendering of what the final printed product should look like.

Photoshop will provide you 3-D visualization for the finishing touches you may need for your print designs. The final product will still print flat, as they would with InDesign, but you’ll get to see what the wrap-around item will look like before you print it for your upcoming project. This makes it easier to show off your portfolio, give yourself some peace of mind, or take care of that final bit of work that needs to be done before you send the project to the printer.

4. Multi-Page Projects

InDesign provides several different templates and customization options that make it very easy to design multi-page print-ready projects. You can select the number of pages in your template, add page numbers to the design, and even use automatic formatting, such as the Book template, to put specific sections, chapters, or designs into the book. You can even modify the text box options for each page template to create different designs.

Bottom line here with Photoshop: creating a print-ready multi-page document is not something that the platform excels at providing. If your design has a lot of word-based content to it, then Photoshop is going to struggle to provide something you can use.

5. Control

InDesign has some effects that can be implemented with your print-ready design, but its strength is providing you a straight-forward template where your text can be inserted quickly and effectively.

Photoshop gives you more control over the final project with its image editing features. You can create layouts in real time as you manipulate the various graphic elements to fit with your design expectations. The text elements of the image have more flexibility with their inclusion as well, though the actual amount of word-based content that can be included is naturally limited by the platform.

If you’re writing a book or have a text-heavy flyer to create, then InDesign is a better option. For image-reliant single-page designs, Photoshop tends to be a better option. Now it’s up to you: which platform will best meet your specific needs?

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