Determining which Program Works Best for Your Infographic Needs

By Justin Beegel, MBA, The Infographic World Team

Sometimes, one of Adobe’s powerhouse programs will work better than the other one. Over time, you’ll develop a sense of whether Illustrator or Photoshop is a better fit for various tasks. Until then, here’s a primer on how each program handles various elements of graphic design work.

Graphing

Photoshop is not a graphing program. You can create graphs but not dynamically from data. The process is more like hand-drawing a chart.

Illustrator offers flexibility. Built as a graphing program, Illustrator lets you create several distinctly different types of graphs and customize them to suit your needs.

Detailed icons

Photoshop has sophisticated visual effects. Its blend modes and layer effects are first-rate and can provide a high level of polish to icons. The color overlay feature enables you to change icon colors quickly.

Illustrator offers scalability and sophisticated visual effects. Vector icons can be used small on business cards, or blown up to billboard size without any changes or loss of quality. However, Photoshop offers more robust options regarding drop shadows and opacity changes.

Patterns

Photoshop has a pattern overlay feature, which is a layer effect that can create a scalable seamless pattern to use in concert with other layer effects and blend modes. Custom shape tool has great presets that can be used to create patterns.

Illustrator offers a Pattern Creation tool that allows you to make seamless patterns you can save as swatches and apply to any shape. More precise control with drawing tools makes creating custom objects for patterns easier than in Photoshop.

Type manipulation

Type tools are in important part of creating infographics, since you need to start with content for a successful project. Here is how type manipulation works in Photoshop:

  • Area type: Larger type blocks can be put into area type blocks instead of as regular point type, and you can control alignment and leading, as with Illustrator, but setting up columns is not as easy.

  • Type alignment: Photoshop has vertical and horizontal type alignment tools, but no Align to Path options.

  • Type masking: There are several ways to use live type to mask photographs, which can help you create sophisticated effects in your infographics.

  • Type styles: These allow easy formatting and changes to type styles.

And here is how type manipulation works in Illustrator:

  • Touch Type tool: Use this tool to work with letters as individual objects, scaling and rotating them at will, without separating them from the rest of your type. This tool is also compatible with touchscreen or direct-touch devices, making the letter manipulation even more organic and intuitive.

  • Type alignment: In addition to left, right, and center, type can be aligned vertically or aligned to a path. (For fun, align some type to a spiral line to see what happens.)

  • Type masking: Create by choosing Object→Clipping Mask→Make.

  • Type styles: These allow easy formatting and changes to type styles.