Here’s some helpful information to explain the differences between InDesign and Photoshop, including when to use each program.
InDesign is a design layout program. By starting with a blank template (any size, any number of pages) you’re able to create your own work: flyer, brochure, catalog, poster, pocket folder, etc. You place the text, photos and any other type of artwork you desire. It’s very easy to use and fast because the file size stays small.
Photoshop is an image-editing program. It’s the one you use to fix any image, or create an image of your own. Here you have many tools to color-correct, create unique effects, hide something, erase something, add something, etc. Photoshop is NOT designed for building your print or web project.
In Photoshop you generally start with an picture/image as your template. To make a change you usually add a layer on top of the original image and edit the layer. This way the original remains the same, and any edits are easily removed. This is very handy when altering a picture. But it comes at a cost: each time you add a layer you increase the file size. If you had 20-50 layers, you’d have a VERY large file that’s VERY slow to work on.
Building a brochure, booklet or catalog in Photoshop, is a slow process. And it doesn’t provide the wide array layout tools that are available in InDesign.
InDesign allows you to place a great deal of information (text and images) WITHOUT creating a humongous file. This is because you aren’t actually placing those large photos into your InDesign document but instead “linking” the picture box up with the location of your image (on your hard drive). You’ll see the image in your InDesign document but it isn’t actually sitting there. It’s merely linked up. This keeps your file size small.
When your InDesign document is ready to print, you package up your files (which gathers all the links and fonts) and send it to the printer. This is done automatically when you select “package.”
Here’s an example of the time you can save with InDesign:
Using Photoshop to build a 12-page catalog could take forty hours. Working in InDesign it would take about four hours. And the InDesign version will look better, too.
This is the basic difference between the two programs. Photoshop is for image editing. InDesign is for layout.
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