The choice between Illustrator vs Photoshop can make you confused, because both software are the most popular graphic editors among beginners and professional designers.
That’s why I decided to make a direct comparison of Photoshop vs Illustrator, to discuss some of their main differences, advantages and disadvantages.
Anticipating the info below, I can say that the main difference between them is the goal you want to achieve.
Unlike Photoshop, which uses a pixel format, Illustrator uses vectors (mathematical constructs). This is a line that consists of two points connected by a computer algorithm, and not just a line of pixels. The main difference between a vector and a pixel is the best quality when scaling. The biggest advantage over Photoshop is that the size of the illustration can be in the size of a real house. In Photoshop you have a limited size of the canvas.
A vector will never change (lose) quality, no matter how many times you increase/decrease the size of an object. That is why professional designers use Illustrator to create logos or huge banners that will be further printed in different sizes.
Recently Adobe released Illustrator for iPad, which is now available in beta, but comes with advanced tools like “Radial Repeat” and “Symmetry”.
Infinite resolution with vectors. Everything that you create in Adobe Illustrator is done using vectors, i.e. the editor doesn’t work with pixels. These vectors consist of contours and reference points, and the end result is a flat, clean image that is suitable for any task, including large format printing. Vector images can be scaled to infinity without loss of resolution, which allows you to keep clear lines that make your design stand out.
Easy workspace. In Illustrator, you can work on artboards as well as in the workspace surrounding artboards. This is useful for dragging items into and out of the final project without having to hide them from view.
Artboards. Photoshop allows you to have only one canvas for each document. Illustrator provides you with multiple artboards in one document, giving you the possibility to create and multi-page documents.
The source file is small. Compared to many Adobe Illustrator alternatives like Photoshop, InDesign, etc. Illustrator creates relatively small files (on average it is 5-15 MB, instead of 100MB). You can easily share them and send them as an attachment. No need to spend a lot of time synchronizing your massive files with the cloud to share them through a service like Dropbox.
Advanced plug-ins. Illustrator comes with its own plug-ins that help turn a blank canvas into a brilliant web page, but you can always expand them by downloading ready-made ones from professional designers. For example, you can try the package from "Asture Graphics", which contains 16 unique options, where “DynamicSketch” is used for intuitive vector drawing, and “Stipplism” provides the effect of smooth movement, or use ready-made logos.
Close integration and proper use. All Creative Cloud products are closely interrelated, but do you use this feature correctly? Knowing that Adobe Illustrator files work seamlessly with Adobe After Effects, you can import files and animate them in various ways, while preserving the vector qualities of the Adobe Illustrator file.
Ability to create a vector image from a pixel. There are times when you have a pixel-based image or logo, and simply placing it in Adobe Illustrator doesn’t turn it into a vector. Using the “Image Trace” tool, you automatically turn your graphics into vectors that can be scaled to any size.
NO limitless support for raster graphics. In case you need to edit a bitmap photo with the pixels structured in a dot-matrix manner, Illustrator will be of little help. Of course, you can convert a raster file into a vector format and use the available tools for processing, but a portion of the information will be inevitably lost.
Inconvenient price restrictions for team editors. If you use Adobe Illustrator for business, the minimum price is $69.99 per month, plus tax in some places, which is more expensive than Photoshop costs.
Comparing Illustrator vs Photoshop, the latter is impeccable at performing professional image retouching using Frequency Separation, Dodge & Burn, restoring and enhancing images to make them look the way users want. In addition, Photoshop includes many unique filters, special effects and tools, while masks and adjustment layers provide even more options.
As well as Illustrator, Photoshop belongs to the Creative Cloud family, which means it has close integration with other products and gives access to the best cloud storage for photos up to 10TB (per user), Adobe Portfolio, Adobe Fonts and Adobe Spark.
Pixel image editor. Raster (pixel) files are great for artists because they offer more flexibility. You can mix, use brushes and get smooth gradients with raster files, and although you can achieve some of these things with vector files, you need to spend less time doing it with a raster photo.
Advanced text editing features. Despite the fact that Illustrator positions itself as an excellent program for creating fonts, the manipulations that you can perform in it are minimal. For example, Photoshop can use layers to make text transparent, thereby create a watermark. In addition, you can adjust shadows, vibration, sharpness and more for each individual letter.
Helpful plug-ins. A variety of Ps plug-ins enables every user, even a beginning one, to create really beautiful works. Starting Photoshop, you get access to lots of overlays, actions, brushes, fonts and textures. This resembles the collections of presets in Lightroom, but the choice is bigger.
Advanced layers. Layers in Photoshop simplify the design of templates, because you can return to any stage of the work with one click and edit the necessary area. The non-destructive "Adjustment layers” allow you to combine several shots, producing a single professional photo.
You can perform deep photo retouching and color correction. It allows you to not only work on the design, but perform a deep image retouch using tools such as Dodge and Burn or correct colors using Camera RAW.
Video editing. Perhaps, when creating your web page, you want to add a small animated video under the text description, and for this task you need a video editor. The thing is that Photoshop can easily handle this. It can perform all the necessary basic operations, cut simple videos and add graphics, filters, text, animation and more.
Quality loss. Bitmap or pixel graphics created in Photoshop, can sometimes look a little jagged, because bitmap images consist of separate colored squares known as pixels. Everything in Photoshop is just a series of pixels, so if you scale something up or down, it can lose quality very quickly.
Not suitable to prepare files for printing. To print a photo as clearly as possible, the file must be vector. Photoshop exports files in the form of pixels – only 300 DPI. This is a normal resolution for a small landscape photo, but if you want to print something bigger, forget about the PSD format. You can save your files in .EPS format, which allows you to export fonts as vectors, but nevertheless, this is not the best practice, so you’d better avoid doing it.
Comparing Illustrator vs Photoshop in the price aspect, I can immediately note the leader, and it is Adobe Photoshop. The reason for this is simple, unlike Illustrator, which you can buy for an individual subscription of $20.99, Photoshop is available for only $9.99 as “Photography Plan”, although you will have to sacrifice the size of cloud storage (only 20GB, instead of 100GB). Moreover, you will get Lightroom free, which will be a nice chance to edit lots of photos from your recent trip.
Speaking of individual plans for Photoshop and Illustrator, you have the opportunity to expand the storage to 10TB, as well as use Adobe Portfolio, Adobe Fonts and Adobe Spark.
Comparing Illustrator vs Photoshop, I came to the conclusion that each program deserves the attention of professional designers, and the final choice depends only on your needs.
If you design magazine covers or banners for further printing, then you need a vector program, i.e. Illustrator, because it saves quality regardless of scaling.
If you create a design for your site (drawing a template) or a brand where your logo/picture will be represented, then Photoshop is your match, since it offers more features for work and manipulations that can be performed.
Regardless of your personal favorite in the Illustrator vs Photoshop battle, you can use these free plug-ins to speed up the workflow. This is especially relevant for beginners. Download and test these filters, and don't forget to examine the complete collection.
If you advertise your clothing brand by showing various items on a model, use this free action to add a sandstorm to a black background. To avoid problems with the action, I recommend using it exclusively in studio photos with a plain background.
When designing a web page template, you can use a photo of the night landscape as the background. In order to add some zest, I recommend using this free overlay, to scatter some stars across the sky.
Use this free logo or modify it to suit your needs. Such a logo with a camera lens can suit many images.
This free trendy logo is great for fall style photos if you want to advertise the clothes designed for this season. The font and a picture of the camera are selected in a special way to emphasize the "fashion" of your brand.
When developing banners, logos or page templates, do not forget about the uniqueness. A properly chosen font, for example, Aqutaken, can add to it. This is a universal photographic font, with a few extra serifs around the edges. It can easily fit into any image.