Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign: What’s The Difference and How To Start Working With Them

  • Focus: Design

These three Adobe programs are often touted as a graphic designer's best friends and they can be yours, too! Here's a "quick-and-dirty" intro into what these programs are and how you can work with them.

We've talked in the past about free resources like Canva to create graphics and presentations for yourself or your business, but what if you need or want more customization ability? What if you got the Adobe Creative Cloud membership as a present, or you've secretly fantasized about redesigning your logo the way you've always seen it in your head?

Turns out, you don't really need a graphic design background to - at least - get started. There are 3 key ingredients to using any graphic design software, whether you're a veteran design pro or you're a wide-eyed freshman into the world of visual artistry.

Origami in heart shape

1. Have A Passion To Create

You don't have to be passionate about graphic design, specifically. (If you are, then we definitely recommend that you pursue a career in that!)

What we're referring to is passion to make something.

Whether it's specifically for your company, like designing your own logo, or whether it's just to have something tangible to show people, like a one-page flyer to promote your next event. (Flyers, by the way, are a perfect example of how digital media crosses over into print collateral.)

Paint colors

2. Learn The Basics of The Tools

Nobody knows the basics of Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign software right out of the womb. Most Adobe experts don't even know all the available tools inside each software, with how fast their software updates keep telling us to install them.

By understanding the basics of the tools at your disposal allows you to wield them effectively. (This is, of course, true of everything in life!) Spend a little time watching, observing, absorbing the introductory knowledge, ask questions and boom! You'll be a graphic design wiz in no time.

We know what you're thinking:

  • But I don't have any time!
  • I don't even have 15 minutes to spare!
  • I'm not going to learn anything new in 15 minutes, even if I did have the time!

We understand. Between rushing from here to there, this to that, and scheduling, or over-scheduling, your days and your nights, it's hard to actually find time to do anything that you actually want to do.

But here's the thing. You spend 15 minutes in one day, or 15 minutes per day, on expanding your knowledge and we promise it will be a priceless investment into your life, long-term. You have to prioritize, shuffle around some things, but find the time. It's worth it.

3. Be Bold Enough To Try Things

The third key ingredient to successfully using design software when you don't have a design background is to keep trying new things. This works even for that veteran design pro. You may have been doing the same thing over and over again (or maybe you have been asked to do the same thing over and over again because you're very good at it) but it's always a good idea to try your hand at something new.

Even as a successful graphic designer, you have to think outside of your design box, and try new things. This is beneficial to you in several ways:

  1. That's how you avoid falling into "complacency"
  2. It makes you more excited about your craft
  3. It allows you to inject new life into your future work

If you're new to design work (and this applies to any new venture) you can't go into it thinking that you "can't do it" because then you won't be able to do it. Self-fulfilling prophecies? They're a real thing; the mind truly is that powerful.

Go ahead, experiment, fall flat on your nose (we've all done it!) - and then try it again.

Some of the best results and outcomes in our lives come from these experiments. So pick up that pen, that tablet, that tool, and go to town!


Stay tuned for part 2 of our Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign: What's The Difference and How To Start Working With Them.


Tatiana Ivan

Originally from Romania, Tatiana Ivan combines operational prowess with creative flair to produce smart and visually stunning brands. With degrees in neuroscience and psychology from Brandeis University plus experience working with start-ups in the biomedical and pharma industries, Tatiana knows first-hand that the most powerful way to persuade people to get behind an idea, concept or product – no matter how creative, technical or complex – is by telling a compelling story. As the COO and Creative Partner of Waverley Knobs, she combines powerful cinematography and compelling storylines for clients so they stand out and shine in the market.

In addition to turning visions into reality and running the daily show at Waverley Knobs, Tatiana is a twice-published poet. She’s also a certified InsideOut® Coach, able to unlock the knowledge, skill and talent already within people and teams so they can improve performance and results.

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