Adobe InDesign CC - Essential Training

What are the differences between InDesign and PageMaker, Illustrator, Photoshop, Quark?

Daniel Walter Scott

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So what is the difference between InDesign, and say Quark, Photoshop, Illustrator, PageMaker, FrameMaker? There's all sorts of other programs out there. Let's quickly talk about where they all sit.

In terms of InDesign, it has some direct competitors. One would be Microsoft Word, which is-- its more of an amateur program, you're not going to get a design job with it, and it has quite a lot of limitations. You can do some nice stuff in Word, but really that's the kind of entry level program, and then you move in to InDesign.

Now, other competitors to InDesign would be-- the main one would be QuarkXPress. When I was learning, when I was doing my degree as a Graphics Designer, we all learned Quark. As soon as I left my degree, to get my first job, InDesign got launched, and all those tools that are-- I started actually teaching Quark way back then. And it just, it slowly, but surely, died a death. I'm sure that people who like Quark right now are-- they are still making versions, and there are people still using it but it's a very, very small percentage of work. Pretty much, any kind of new work is all done in InDesign. Some legacy files you stumble across occasionally are done in Quark, but we don't use Quark very much anymore. I don't use it at all. I haven't used it for probably about 10 years. It's a long time I did.

Now PageMaker is made by Adobe as well, and you're probably never going to touch it unless you are-- it's for really big things. Say I need to put together a scientific document about some sort of miracle treatment medicine that we're making, I might open up PageMaker because it allows many people to work on one document; it updates it, and tracks it. If I was going to build a nuclear reactor, I'd probably document how its made, and how its been maintained via PageMaker. It's a big old program, so not a lot of people using that one. Definitely not for creative design. It's all about InDesign.

The other products that might go hand-in-hand with InDesign, is Photoshop and Illustrator. Generally designers will know Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign altogether. Now where they separate out, Photoshop's nice, clear, different. InDesign is a layout program. You bring in images, bring in text, and you combine them in amazing designs. Photoshop, you open up photographs, and you manipulate them, make them better, change them, mess with them, fix them up. And when you're finished with them, you bring in to something like InDesign. If I was making a flier, its a 1-page flier, and I start making it in Photoshop, I could probably get away with it, and it would be fine, and I could make it work but that would be using Photoshop for what it's not meant to be used for. You can do basic stuff like that, but as soon as you have to have multiple pages, Photoshop just falls over. You can't do multiple pages, you can't have master pages, or headers and footers. And it doesn't deal with 'Type' very well, because it's mainly a photo editing program. So that's where Photoshop gets used.

Illustrator is the one that is-- its reasonably close to InDesign, it can do a lot of the same things. Illustrator is mainly for people illustrating. But what I use it for, mainly in the design field, is more logo work, and making icons. It's really kind of geared-- all the tool structure is around doing those things. But if I were to do a 1-page flier, it would look great in Illustrator, or InDesign, it wouldn't really matter to me. I'd have both programs open, check for the ones open. I'm good at both of them, so doesn't really matter.

Where InDesign gets used, if its-- if I have to start doing things, say its going to be a monthly newsletter or flier, then there's some tools in InDesign that may help the flow for doing monthly stuff. The other thing for InDesign is multiple pages. Illustrator can do it, you can have, what's called Artboards, but if you got a really image heavy document, and you start getting past three, four, or five pages, you'll find Illustrator starts grinding to a halt. Get to 10-20 pages of images, and text, it's quite hard to use. It starts struggling as a program, whereas InDesign, you can have a 400 pages document, and fly through it, and start working. Its engineered to deal with those lots of pages.

Same thing with InDesign, you can do some basic Illustrator stuff in there. There's a Pen tool, you can build shapes, and you can make icons, and import them. You can do that in InDesign, there's a bit of a crossover between those two. But if you've got to separate them out-- Illustrator is for doing things like branding, logos, and illustrations, and InDesign is all about Desktop Publishing. I hope that helps with some of the softwares, and which ones you should be learning. If you're completely new to this you can start with InDesign, and probably the next stop would be Photoshop, unless you want to start making your own infographics and those sorts of things then you look at Illustrator. I've got courses on all of those, so if you are keen, go check out those ones as well.

Alright, that will be it for the what, and where does InDesign sit in the world of Design.