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Photoshop vs. Illustrator

Sometimes it can be difficult to choose which tool to use to design a new shirt. Should you use Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator? Both have benefits and drawbacks. We discuss the differences between both of the programs and discuss their best uses. 

Background of Photoshop and Illustrator

Illustrator was released to the general public in 1987. The creator was John Warnock. The original use for Illustrator was to commercialize Adobe’s software PostScript file format which was used for fonts. The software was very popular and soon overthrew its competitors. This was the premiere product by Adobe. In 1990 Photoshop was developed by Thomas and John Knoll. They sold Photoshop to Adobe in 1988. The program was then packaged and sold as a companion to Adobe Illustrator. The thought was that if you purchased Adobe Illustrator we would throw in this little program called photoshop also. Little did they know that Photoshop would eventually outsell Illustrator and lead the company to global domination of the image editing industry. 

What is Photoshop?

Photoshop is a raster image editing software. This type of software is used to edit pixel-based images such as photographs. What makes Photoshop so unique is the ability to edit photos on layers similar to using an overhead projector. The software has many tools for selection and editing. The program is so thorough it can be considered complex for a beginner. 

What is Illustrator?

Adobe Illustrator is a vector editing software. The software uses lines and shapes to create larger images based on mathematical equations. Illustrator is useful in creating designs that can be enlarged without losing their sharpness. Illustrator is perfect for designing logos and fonts.

Price differences between Photoshop and Illustrator

As of this writing there is not a difference between the pricing for Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. You can purchase subscriptions to each of the programs for $20.99/month. You can purchase each of the programs individually or you can purchase a monthly subscription to the Creative Cloud. The Creative Cloud is a collection of 20 different design programs which include Photoshop and illustrator. The current price for the Creative Cloud is $52.99. You’ll need to determine what is the best deal for your needs.

Which is Better For Screen Printing

When it comes to screen printing Adobe Illustrator completely surpasses Adobe Photoshop. There is a reason for this. Screen printing typically requires vector graphics. While Photoshop has the ability to create vectors, it does not have great capabilities when it comes to editing them. Illustrator has a wide range of tools that can be used to edit vectors. 

It is possible to create a vector in Photoshop and use that in screen printing. This image would be scalable. One of the reasons that Photoshop is not widely used for screen printing is that a photo uses a lot of colors in it’s design. Most screen printers use only 4 colors to print with. Screen printing cannot deal with gradients very well so most people use Illustrator as the primary tool for screen printing. 

There is another type of garment decoration product called direct to garment (DTG) printing. This type of printing can use full colors and even print photographs. People who use this method of printing can use either Illustrator or Photoshop. They are more likely to use Photoshop.

What is the final word on Photoshop vs. Illustrator

Both programs are great. Really. They have revolutionized multiple industries. From screen printing to public relations they are great tools for design. The decision comes down to what you are printing. Ultimately if you are going to be working with photos/raster images then Photoshop is the best tool on the market. If you are working with line art/vector images then Illustrator is the program to use. This basic rule of thumb will help you going forward.

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