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    Russell Viers is a Transition Expert in the publishing world. Since 1997 he has helped newspapers and magazines adapt to changes in the industry. Read more...

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  • InDesign vs. Illustrator

    May 2nd, 2006 by Russell Viers

    There’s a lot of press comparing InDesign to QuarkXPress…and for good reason.
    But what about InDesign vs. Illustrator?
    I love InDesign, and I have since the day it was released. But, to be honest, Illustrator is now my favorite program. Photoshop used to be, but I’m afraid it has been replaced.
    As these three programs start blending functions more and more, sometimes it’s hard to decide where to do what.
    It didn’t use to be this way. The lines were very clear at one point: Photoshop for raster, Illustrator for vector and a page layout program to pull it all together. Anyone creating an entire flier or ad in Photoshop was breaking the rules and anyone daring enough to layout an entire 12-page brochure in Illustrator was…well…daring…or nuts.
    Now I see it every day. People using these programs not necessarily as intended.
    So now where do we draw the line?
    I’ve seen people layout entire broadsheet newspapers in Illustrator and I’ve seen people buy InDesign just to create single-page fliers.
    Who’s right…who’s wrong?

    I think there are a couple of clear differences between the programs that dictate their usage: Illustrator doesn’t effectively do multi-page documents…InDesign doesn’t have as many design options as Illustrator.
    So, I’m not saying I’m the standard by which you should all decide, but here are some of my guidelines: (guidelines…not rules)
    I’ll use Illustrator for logos, graphics and other assets I plan to use in multiple documents. I’ll also use it to create any design element that is beyond InDesign’s capabilities…even it it’s only going to be used in a single document.
    I’ll use InDesign to pull all the pieces together.
    Unless…I’m creating a single-page item, then I tend to use Illustrator, unless I’m working with someone whose head would explode if they had to work on an Illustrator file.
    One of the things I like about using Illustrator for single-page items is how easily is works with PDF. Since an AI file is basically a PDF file with an AI icon sitting on top, I can get the benefit of PDF with the continued editability of Illustrator. Whereas in InDesign, you have to go to the InDesign document to make changes and re-export the file to PDF, overwriting the old one…hopefully.
    Bottom line…we need both. If you are an InDesign user who has not used Illustrator, I can’t stress enough that you should learn it. If you’re a hardcore Illustrator user, you should take a look at the benefits InDesign offers in multi-page documents.
    So what do you use…and how do you use it? Keep it clean, folks, and let’s discuss why and how we use the Adobe products. Don’t be afraid to admit you break the rules…perhaps your way is better.
    But before we decide which one is better for what, perhaps we should take a look at how well they integrate.
    The first film shows how easily, almost seamlessly, Illustrator and InDesign can work together on a project.
    Click Here to Watch the Video.
    This film shows how you can use Illustrator to create vector frames to be used in InDesign. That’s right. You can preserve the editing capabilities of clip art and graphics in InDesign by copying from Illustrator and pasting into InDesign.
    Click Here to Watch the Video.

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