Is Photoshop or Illustrator Better for Graphic Design?

Photoshop and Illustrator are two graphics editor and design programs/software commonly used by graphic designers of all skill levels and interests. Both offer a wide range of features and can be great for creating professional designs as well as works of art. However, if the choice must be between one or the other, which is best for graphic design?

Ideally, graphic designers should have access to both Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator but determining which is best for graphic design largely depends on the task. Photoshop should be used for bitmap/raster-based tasks and Illustrator should be used for vector-based tasks.

In this article, we’ll compare Photoshop to Illustrator and describe how their vector or bitmap/raster-based software affect how they work and which graphic design tasks they’re best suited for. Keep reading to learn when to use each software and which you should invest in first.

Should Graphic Designers Use Photoshop or Illustrator?

When it comes to graphic design software, Photoshop and Illustrator are always at the top of any recommendation list, so it can be difficult determining which is best for your and your graphic designing, particularly if you have limited funds or resources and can only acquire one.

It is usually recommended that graphic designers opt for Photoshop first, especially if they are new to graphic design software, as it has more tools and features, and its bitmap/raster-based software is more beginner friendly than Illustrator’s vector-based software.

Photoshop certainly isn’t the be-all-end-all graphic designing software, but there’s a reason it’s so reputable, and that’s because of its versatility and ease of use. While beginner graphic designers might struggle at first to get the hang of this resolution-dependent software, most find the process easier than the object-based confines of Illustrator; and once they do, they can do anything from digital painting to video graphic designing to photo editing and beyond.

Once you have the hang of Photoshop, it is easier to move on to Illustrator. However, there are certain tasks that are going to be much easier to perform on Illustrator than Photoshop based on the software they use. The key component to opting for one over the other is knowing what type of software is most advantageous to your graphic design style and tasks.

Vector Versus Bitmap/Raster

The two predominant graphic groups are vector and bitmap/raster and knowing the difference between them is essential to create effective, timely, and impactful graphic designs.

Illustrator’s vector-based software creates vector graphics which are object-based documents and editing tools that allow the graphic designer to create images using custom lines, points, curves, and common shapes. Because of this, the software is optimal for images you’re confident will need to increase or decrease in size, as zooming won’t cause blurring. Vector-based software is also the best for graphic designing involving text and crisp lines and images.

Comparatively, blurring is something you’ll need to keep in mind with Photoshop as it utilizes a bitmap/raster-based software that creates raster graphics. As opposed to the object-based structure of Illustrator, Photoshop works with chunks of pixels and the paths you create with them. Although increasing and decreasing size is more of a challenge with raster-based software, it is extremely advantageous for graphic designers who want to manipulate and blend color or add various textures.

When to Use Photoshop Versus Illustrator?

Now that you know the difference between Photoshop and Illustrator’s software, lets discuss which option is best for various graphic designs. If you’re looking for the most versatile software, Photoshop is usually the place to go, but there are times using Illustrator will be much easier and less time-consuming.

The best times to use Photoshop versus Illustrator include:

Ideal for PhotoshopIdeal for Illustrator
– Photo enhancement and editing
– Video graphics
– 3D animation
– Digital painting
– Editing existing works
– Logos
– Business cards
– Icons
– Sketching/creating images from scratch
– Reports and brochures

A simplified way to determine this is to ask yourself if your graphic designing needs to be scalable or if it is pixel-based. Any graphic that needs to easily increase and decrease in size with minimal affect on its overall quality should be made in Illustrator, and any graphic that relies heavily on pixels should be created in Photoshop.

Graphics like logos and icons are almost always created in Illustrator because it is assumed these images will need to alter in size to fit on papers, websites, merchandise, and more. Business cards, reports, and brochures should also be done here because they are usually very text-based, and since Illustrator creates vector graphics, it excels over Photoshop at providing crisp, clean text.

Pro Tip: For creating graphics from scratch, consider a tool like because it has 90,000+ pre-made templates to start from. This saves a ton of time and expands creativity.

Something graphic designers might be surprised about is the fact that Illustrator should be your first choice if you enjoy having the freedom to sketch out a new idea or create graphics from scratch. Thanks to its software and the many accessories you can pair with Illustrator, it is the best choice for any free-hand graphics as opposed to Photoshop that excels at editing pre-existing works as well as enhancing and editing photographs.

Any time you want to involve a photo in your graphic design, Photoshop needs to be the first place you run to. Additionally, its bitmap/raster-based software makes it the clear choice for any video graphics, digital painting, or even 3D animation. This is because you’re bound to need as many tools and features as possible to blend colors rather than being confined to the clean lines of Illustrator.

Final Thoughts

If you’re trying to find the graphic designing program that is inherently better, we can tell you that both Photoshop and Illustrator or equally excellent. They’re simply created for different tasks, and so, which software is best for you depends on the type of graphic designs you intend to create. Most graphic designers with an artistic or photographic flare will opt for Photoshop while those that are more business-oriented find Illustrator more advantageous. Our advice: have both in your graphic designing arsenal. That way you vastly increase your graphic designing possibilities and can create vector or raster graphics as you please.