Digital Art Adobe Photoshop vs Illustrator: Which Software Reigns Supreme?

Adobe Photoshop vs Illustrator: Which Software Reigns Supreme?

Photo of author
By
/

When you buy through my links, I may earn a commission which will support me in creating more helpful content for you.

Adobe offers a wealth of tools for both amateur and professional graphic artists. Two of their most popular programs are Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator.

From the outside, they may look like very similar graphic editing programs, although they both do completely different jobs. This means that one option may be better for you than the other.

In this blog post, we want to compare Adobe Photoshop vs Illustrator. We hope that comparing the features and the major uses for each of the programs, should give you more of an idea of which option is right for you.

Check out our article on the Best Photo Management Software

Adobe Photoshop vs Illustrator: At a Glance

Let’s start by giving you a chart that showcases the main differences between Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. We will be expanding on these points as we go through the rest of this blog post.

ComparisonPhotoshopIllustrator 
Use of SoftwareEditing photographs. Can work with other image formats.Creating illustrations.
Graphics TypeRasterVector
Supported File FormatsMost image formats, especially PNG, JPEG, and TIFFEPS, SVG, and AI
Ease of UseEasy to use, plenty of tutorialsHard to get to grips with, but much more flexible.
Recommended ForPhotographers, and anybody editing work, but not making it from scratch.2D artists.

Adobe Photoshop vs Illustrator: The Purpose of The Software

Many graphic artists will have both Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator in their toolkit, and anybody aiming to be versatile when it comes to image editing is advised to do the same. This is because the purpose of each piece of software is entirely different.

As the name suggests, Adobe Photoshop is more about working with photographs and similar images. It’s not to say that you can use it for creating your own 2D images, but it has never really been the aim of photoshop. This is (mostly) an editing platform.

Illustrator is about creating beautiful drawings. You can use it to draw comics, create logos, and even make comics from it. It works well for drawing using a computer-connected drawing tablet or even moving your mouse about to create something fantastic.

Check out this in-depth course if you want to learn Illustrator – Link Here

As a digital graphic artist, you may already know which option you want.

Adobe Photoshop vs Illustrator: Graphics Type

This is perhaps the biggest difference you will notice when you pit Adobe Photoshop v Illustrator. Adobe Photoshop will create raster images, while Illustrator creates vector images.

We know that many of our readers will already know the difference between raster and vector.  But, for the benefit of newbies on the scene, let’s give you a quick overview. Again, this will show you why each piece of software is suitable for a very specific type of work.

Check out this tutorial on using the Live Paint Bucket Tool in Adobe Illustrator.

Photoshop creates raster graphics. Raster images are made up of millions of pixels. Each of these pixels is in a very specific location. If you zoomed in on a raster image, the location of those pixels remains the same, they just look bigger.

This means that a very zoomed-in image created by Photoshop will have an incredibly jaggy look to it. An image made with Photoshop can only be blown up so far before it loses a lot of the image quality. Great for photos, not so much for logos and the like where you need the look to remain consistent no matter how much you are changing the size.

Adobe Illustrator uses vector graphics. We don’t want to get too technical here. However, all vector images are made up of various lines. curves, and points. These images are not made from pixels. Unlike raster graphics, the size of these is not fixed. Instead, the image format keeps track of where the various points are.

Then, using a complicated set of mathematical calculations, when the image is blown up (or shrunk down), everything shifts position while maintaining the same proportions. You can change size as much as you like, but those edges are always going to remain smooth.

There is a lot more going on behind the scenes with vector graphics, and if you are serious about doing digital art, we urge you to look up a more complete description. However, that description does help to serve us in our comparison.

Images created with Photoshop tend to be made to be displayed in a single size. You can only zoom in and out a certain amount before the image starts to get distorted. If you look closely at any digital raster image, you will always be able to see the pixels.

Adobe Illustrator images do not have pixels. These images are made for blowing up or shrinking really small. You can have them in any size that you want. Because of how these images work, they are fantastic for printing, particularly in large formats.

Adobe Photoshop vs Illustrator: Supported File Types

Both Photoshop and Illustrator support a lot of different file formats. However, let’s go through the main ones. This should give you an indication of the type of job each piece of software does.

Photoshop uses PNG, JPEG, and TIFF. While you can print images in these file formats, they are mostly web-friendly file formats. If you see an image online, then it almost certainly will have one of those file extensions.

Illustrator focuses on EPS, SVG, and AI file formats. All of these are print-friendly file formats. If you are sending an image off to a printer, then they will request you send the image in one of those file formats. These file sizes tend to be large due to the amount of data they store (thanks to vector), so they are not good as a web format.

Adobe Photoshop vs Illustrator: Layers

This ties in with the supported file types. How each piece of software handles layers is a bit different, even though it looks similar at the start.

When you save a file in a raster format, that’s it. The layers will be merged together and, unless somebody has the original Photoshop file, they are never being dragged apart.

Vector graphics are different, though. Even when an image is saved, each layer is not saved together. The layers are not merged. This means that if somebody had the SVG file, for instance, they can open it back up in Illustrator at a later date (or most software that accepts SVG) and edit the layers without issue.

Adobe Photoshop vs Illustrator: Flexibility of The Software

For drawing graphics from scratch, then Illustrator is always going to win. It has been built from the ground up to be the perfect companion for a 2D artist.

You can hook up your drawing tablet, play about with your mouse and keyboard, and use a wealth of tools that can help to create stunning pieces of artwork. Illustrator is so much better at dealing with layers too.

While Illustrator is flexible, there are some things it doesn’t do well. For example, Illustrator does have editing tools, but they are nowhere near as sophisticated as the editing tools found in Photoshop.

So, Photoshop is always the best option for dealing with existing images that aren’t in a vector format. You also can’t really work with photos in Illustrator. We are not saying it is impossible, but it is hard.

This course covers the Fundamentals of Photoshop – Link Here

For a graphic artist, you will find Illustrator the best option. You can draw in Photoshop but it is so cumbersome that it isn’t worth it.

Adobe Photoshop vs Illustrator: Ease of Use

We find that Photoshop is considerably easier to use than Adobe Illustrator. This is not to say that you can get to grips with it within a couple of minutes. It is still a pro-level piece of software.

There is just a lot less going on with it. Due to the popularity of digital photography, you will find a lot more tutorials on the intricacies of Photoshop.

Of course, this doesn’t mean too much if you are planning on creating illustrations. While Photoshop is far easier to use, you still can’t do a lot of things with it. So, if you are never planning to edit images, you still want to go down the route of Adobe Illustrator.

Adobe Photoshop vs Illustrator: Cost

Adobe Photoshop is an insanely popular piece of software. A lot of photo editing goes on, and Adobe has managed to pull in the amateur photography crowd by aiming for a very competitive price for Photoshop.

It’s going to cost about the same as an Amazon Prime or music/TV streaming solution. It isn’t going to blow a massive hole in your bank account.

Adobe Illustrator is only really used by serious amateurs and pros. It isn’t used anywhere near as often as Adobe Photoshop, and it is a much more technical piece of software. Because of this, the cost is almost double that of Photoshop.

Of course, we are hoping the price won’t enter it for you. If you are drawing images, never pick up Photoshop instead of Illustrator in a bid to save money. In our opinion, it would be a waste of money as Photoshop simply cannot do what you want it to do.

Final Thoughts – Adobe Photoshop vs Illustrator

Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator are two different image programs from the same company. They each have their own place in the world of graphics.

If you are editing photos or simple images, then Adobe Photoshop is the ideal option. It isn’t a very flexible piece of software, but it does image editing well.

If you are looking to create beautiful illustrations, business logos, and more, then Adobe Illustrator is the best option. Not the best at image editing (it is pretty terrible for editing existing images), but fantastic for creating hand-drawn computer artwork.