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In Design Last updated: August 2, 2023
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Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop are two popular graphic design software by Adobe that helps photographers, designers, creative artists, and other users showcase their skills, experiment with different ideas, and turn their views into reality.

Whether you are an individual, a small business owner, or a large enterprise, you will need efficient tools to design logos, edit, create, and do much more. 

In this domain, the popular platform, Adobe, offers two advanced software solutions –  Illustrator and Photoshop. Both help unleash the true creativity inside you with their amazing features and capabilities.

But if you were to choose one of them, what would you choose?

There is a lot to answer these questions.

This is why we need to compare Illustrator vs. Photoshop in this article to understand their differences and determine which one is better for what purpose.

Let’s start!

What Is Adobe Illustrator?

Adobe Illustrator is a graphic design software based on vector graphics that allows designers to create drawings, artwork, and illustrations with ease. (Vector-based graphics software utilizes mathematical constructs to design beautiful graphics.) 

Adobe adobe adobe adobe adobe adobe.

Since it uses vector-based graphics, you can resize your images as small or large as per your needs without disturbing the resolution and clarity of the original images.

By utilizing mathematical constructs like lines and points, Adobe Illustrator helps you create graphics. This means when you draw a line (straight or curved), Illustrator displays only the line every time. It redraws the line shape from scratch via an equation already inside its memory.  

Furthermore, Illustrator is designed, developed, and marketed by Adobe Inc. The development began in 1985 for the Apple Macintosh. Then, it was shipped in 1987 for commercialization purposes. It has undergone numerous updates since, and now it’s part of Adobe Creative Cloud. The latest version was released in October 2022, which is the 27th generation. It was reviewed as vector graphics in 2021. 

Illustrator is used by web designers, professional illustrators, visual artists, and graphic designers throughout the globe to create quality artwork. It includes a lot of beneficial drawing tools that reduce time and effort. In addition, it supports MacOS and Windows computers. 

The common vector file extensions it supports are .ai, .svg, and .eps. In fact, Illustrator is considered the best vector graphics application for:

  • Freehand drawing
  • Infographic creation
  • Projects that used extensive line drawings, such as charts and graphs
  • Icon and logo creation
  • Custom typography and fonts
  • Custom font creation
  • Print projects using excessive typography
  • Drawing or art that needs to be scalable in order to adapt to a range of products and platforms

Also read: Illustrator Plugins To Maximize Your Design Potential

What Is Adobe Photoshop?

Adobe Photoshop is a raster-based graphic design software used for editing images, designing graphics, creating digital art, and more. (Raster-based graphic software depends on pixels to edit or design images.)

YouTube video

The tool uses layering-based graphic design to allow flexibility and depth in the editing and design process. Additionally, it provides powerful editing tools that help you edit and enhance any design with ease. 

Photoshop is powerful, user-friendly, and widely used graphics or image editing software designed and developed by Adobe. It offers features like image wrapping tools, fluid camera rotation, file display tools, alpha compositing, masking, and more so that you can compose and edit raster images. 

The first version was developed by brothers John and Thomas Knoll in 1988. In 1988, Adobe Systems Incorporated bought and upgraded the software with a set of advanced tools, commands, and features. The latest version of the series, Photoshop Creative Cloud, helps you unleash your creativity to the next level. 

Photoshop is a great platform for:

  • User-interface design
  • 3D painting and animation
  • Graphics with minimal gradient
  • Photo enhancements and editing

Photoshop was initially published for Windows and macOS only. Now, it also supports Android and iPad. The default extension of the file is .PSD (Photoshop Document). A PSD file contains 30,000 pixels which are maximum for height and width, with a file length limit of 2GB. Another file extension is .PSB (Photoshop Big) is a large format for documents that extends up to 300,000 pixels in width and height. The file length for .PSB file is up to 4 exabytes. 

Illustrator vs Photoshop: Features

Features of Illustrator

#1. Generative Recolor

An illustration of a woman with sunglasses and a colorful background.

Illustrator offers color themes and palettes you may never have imagined with simple and easy-to-use text prompts. Here, you can create product packaging, artwork, posters, and more. It helps you view different variants of color in your vector artwork. Type a prompt like “terracotta desert, faded emerald, or strawberry fields and see various color schemes within seconds. 

In addition, you can change colors repeatedly without disturbing the original image. It allows you to generate several color combinations of an image or piece so that the art will look fresh. 

#2. Logo Design

Illustrator lets you create a professional-looking logo design packed with many options and features. Whether you want to design a logo for cocktail napkins, glasses, business cards, or websites, Illustrator offers the most flexible vector graphics software for your creativity. 

You can combine and manipulate geometric shapes easily and with precision. With Shapebuilder and Pathfinder tools, you can create unique logos and make them a memorable part of your creativity journey. It provides a library of fonts that helps you choose any font style you like. Moreover, Adobe Capture lets you sketch and scan drawings to boost the logo design process. 

#3. Typography Font Design

A screen shot of a website showing a font design.

Illustrator helps you design custom fonts and letterforms that fit your unique business and individual needs. It lets your words be distinct from other letters by using Adobe Originals. Also, you can choose from existing fonts for a faster design process by adjusting the weight, slant, or width of the type. 

Import digital art or hand lettering from Photoshop, or draw freehand and get the exact look you wish for. The tool lets you transform the imported sketch into an edited vector graphic using Image Trace. You can make use of third-party plugins to manage and finalize fonts easily. 

#4. Hand Lettering Design

Whether it’s about branding, tattoo, or other use case, Illustrator helps you design hand letters easily. You can scale the custom lettering and vectorize the art by adjusting the ideal size of the design. You can start freehand using Image Trace and convert lettering to adjust them to your creative needs. 

With the help of adjustable brush settings, you can stylize the lettering and also utilize a paintbrush or pen to replicate the strokes. In addition, you can get the exact dimensions with grids and rulers. 

#5. Other features

Illustrator offers a wide range of features that helps freelancers and businesses enhance their creativity level. These are as follows:

  • Icon design: Improve your graphic design with stylish icons. Illustrator allows you to create communicative vector images to be used in web, logo, and icon design. 
The homepage of a website with a yellow and black background.
  • Infographic design: Create infographic designs and go beyond pie charts with Illustrator. This allows you to use visual content and data points to tell your stories directly to your readers. You will find various design elements to create bar graphs, timeline infographics, flowcharts, and more with the Charts tool. 
  • Banner design: From effective website banners to simple display ads, craft anything you want with Illustrator’s banner design. Add your own logo design, custom lettering, and graphics, and shape your vision using artboards. 
  • Chart design: With this feature, you can build professional graphs and charts for your marketing brochures, presentations, infographics, and more. Furthermore, you can add clarity using icons, make graphs stand with color, and design labels for optimum effects. 
  • Wallpaper maker: You can use typography, vector art, and photos to create unique wallpapers. Illustrator artboards allow you to design wallpapers for computer monitors, mobile devices, and tablets. Create patterns, illustrations, crisp icons, and more using vector art. Additionally, you can use free-form color gradients to apply natural color blending in the wallpaper designs. 

Features of Photoshop

#1. Generative Fills

Adobe Photoshop allows you to create, add, replace, or remove images quickly by using simple text prompts. From brainstorming ideas to creating complex refinements and edits, Generating Fills feature helps you realize your vision quickly, giving you full control over your creation. 

Dream bigger with genitive ftl.

Explore your unique ideas and experiment with them in a matter of time. Photoshop lets you turn a vertical image into a horizontal picture by extending the image, changing its background, adding generated objects, and updating an outfit. 

Generative Fill can be created using appropriate shadows, lighting, reflections, and perspectives that offer stunning outputs with little editing. You can use a text prompt to add yellow lines into a wistful mist and then make adjustments accordingly. Furthermore, you can remove unwanted elements from the image easily. 

#2. AI in Photoshop

Uncover the power of generative AI in Photoshop and make your dream come true. Photoshop continuously evolves with Adobe tools, including Object Selection, Content-Aware Fill, Generative Expand (beta), and Generative Fill (beta). 

You can add more elements with Generative Fill, change the settings of your photos with generative AI, and extend a picture in every direction with Generative Expand. Adobe offers more AI-powered tools, such as:

  • Curvature pen tool: to draw smooth curves and straight lines
  • Match font: to find the right match for the fonts in your photos
  • Remove tool: to replace unwanted areas
  • Sky replacement: to change the current sky of your image
  • Object selection tool: to create precise masks and selections
  • Neural filters: to reduce larger workflows in a few clicks

#3. Remove Backgrounds

A black screen with the words everyone can change backgrounds.

You can change the background of your image easily with Photoshop. To do this, pick your photo, click to remove, refine the edges, replace the current background, and the background will change. In addition, you can use white and black brushes to conceal or reveal some images. White brushes are used to reveal, and black brushes are used to conceal unnecessary pixels. 

Refine Edge brush tool helps you cut out unwanted edges, like human hair, animal fur, etc., and blend the image with a new background. Furthermore, you can isolate your image by using white background transparency. This will help you pop your object, branding, or logo onto email signatures, website headers, ads, and more. 

#4. Remove Objects

Make use of Content-Aware Fill and remove unwanted objects from your picture. Photoshop will magically fill up that space as if nothing was there. Select what you want to replace, hover over the object, click over that, and keep creating. Sampling Brush helps you choose the area and replace that area easily and clearly. 

#5. Colorize

Do you have any black-and-white photos? It’s time you must add color to it using Colorize Neural Filter. It automatically chooses the colors that suit the best for your black-and-white photos. You can adjust saturation, global colors, etc., and change colors in particular areas. 

#6. Masking

Vector masks and layer masks help you enhance your workflow. Layer masking is useful in case you want to hide parts or sections in your image instead of erasing them. This feature is useful for modifying the background colors, targeting your edits, removing objects, and making image composites so that it will affect only the selected areas. 

Illustrator vs Photoshop: Advantages and Limitations

Illustrator vs photoshop.

Advantages of Illustrator

  • Print output is better.
  • It provides great image quality regardless of any display size.
  • Great for drawing and logo designs.
  • It is not resolution oriented.
  • It is ideal for creating graphic illustrations and vector drawings.

Limitation of Illustrator

  • You may face difficulty in making changes to the existing images or graphics.
  • It has relatively fewer filters, editing functions, and image adjustment options. 

Advantages of Photoshop

  • Photoshop is ideal for updating and designing regular images and raw photos.
  • It offers a wide range of editing tools.
  • It is ideal for adding special effects to your image.
  • The tool can keep the images at a fixed size.
  • You can have full control over your design.
  • You will get pixel-level image processing access. 

Limitation of Photoshop

  • It is not suitable for drawings and logos.
  • While scaling up or down, it loses the image quality.

Illustrator vs. Photoshop: Similarities

Illustrator and Photoshop are both part of Adobe’s Creative Suit; hence, they share similar interfaces.

  • Both tools use Adobe Bridge to manage files.
  • They also utilize layers to separate elements of your design or image. 
  • The Clone Stamp tool works similarly for both programs, except that it uses artboards in Illustrator instead of the single canvas.
  • Illustrator and Photoshop utilize gradients but in a separate way.
  • Both have alignment tools, color palettes, tool palettes, and more. 
  • Both are equally good at color correction.
  • You can run both software in macOS and Windows.

Illustrator vs. Photoshop: Differences

Illustrator uses vector graphics.Photoshop uses raster graphics.
It uses mathematical equations for designing various forms and shapes. It uses colored pixels to modify images. However, the original one gets distorted. 
It is used for designing, manipulating, creating, compositing, etc., several vector illustrations.It is used for resizing, replacing, correcting, and compositing of images. 
It presents various drawing tools that help you create unique artwork, graphics, and more.It offers a few art tools that help you edit and enhance the existing image. 
It is a simple drawing program but is capable of handling text Illustrator.It is basically an editing program used to manipulate photos and add graphics to it. 
The Pen tool is used to create designs.The Pen tool is used to select the area or the element. 
You can zoom your images up to 900 percent and still get a clear image. You can zoom the image, but it gives messy and blurry images, which results in bad quality. 
It has multiple objects in a single layer.It has a single object per layer.
Its learning curve is high.The learning curve is low.
It has high flexibility level. It has low flexibility.
It is used to create logos, creating vector artwork, drawings, comic art, and more.It is used to manipulate, edit, and enhance regular images.

Final Words

Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop are amazing design tools with rich features and functionalities. Illustrator is better at creating and modifying new images from scratch. On the other hand, Photoshop is better at editing, manipulating, and enhancing an existing image. 

Thus, if you want to draw and create branding items, logos, ads, or any other creative designs, Illustrator is the right option. But if you want to focus on editing and modifying raw photos and images, Photoshop would be the better option. 

However, if you want to leverage the functionalities of both tools in your business, you can integrate them. This way, you can benefit from an effective drawing tool, Adobe Illustrator, to create incredible designs and an outstanding editing tool, Adobe Photoshop, to enhance images. 

Next, check out Photoshop plugins to take your design skills to the next level.

  • Amrita Pathak
    Amrita is a freelance copywriter and content writer. She helps brands enhance their online presence by creating awesome content that connects and converts. She has completed her Bachelor of Technology (B.Tech) in Aeronautical Engineering…. read more
  • Rashmi Sharma

    Rashmi has over 7 years of expertise in content management, SEO, and data research, making her a highly experienced professional. She has a solid academic background and has done her bachelor’s and master’s degree in computer applications…. read more

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