Differences and Similarities Between Photoshop and Illustrator

Photoshop and Illustrator

Photoshop and Illustrator are two of the most popular tools for graphic designers, but what exactly are the differences and similarities between Photoshop and Illustrator? The articles in this guide will help you make a better decision as to which tool is best suited to fit your needs.

However, if you’re just now arriving at the realm of graphic design, or are simply curious about some of the tools we designers use on a daily basis, you’ve come to the right place.

The differences between these two may seem complicated at first, but with a little patience, we can have you in the know in a jiffy.

So, without further ado, let’s jump into the first major difference between these essential applications.

What is Photoshop?

Photoshop is a raster-based program made for editing photographs and other bitmap-based art. It includes tools for adjusting brightness, color, tone, and sharpness. You can print in color or black and white, add text, or edit existing text.

Photoshop also allows you to apply layer styles (drop shadows, bevels, glows) or use filters to create special effects with your images. You can warp and distort text and images using specific tools found in the program.

What is Illustrator?

Illustrator is a vector-based program made for creating logos and illustrations. Since vector art is resolution-independent, it can be easily resized without losing quality.

Illustrators are typically used to create logos because they can be scaled to fit any application without losing image quality or clarity.

Art created in Illustrator is also more flexible than art created in Photoshop. Vectors allow you to adjust lines, shapes, and colors without losing image integrity.

Similarities of Photoshop and Illustrator

  • Both programs are part of Adobe’s Creative Suite and share similar user interfaces.
  • Both programs use Adobe Bridge for file management.
  • Both programs use layers to separate elements of an image or design.
  • Photoshop and Illustrator both offer drawing capabilities with the Pen tool, however, Photoshop’s pen tool is more robust than Illustrator’s because it has more options such as creating custom paths and shapes
  • Use the Eyedropper tool to select colors from an image in either program.
  • The Clone Stamp tool works similarly in both programs, except that cloning in Illustrator uses artboards instead of a single canvas.
  • Photoshop and Illustrator can create gradients but they are made differently.

Differences Between Photoshop and IllustratorDifferences Between Photoshop and Illustrator (2022)

As a designer, you’ve probably wondered what the difference is between Photoshop and Illustrator. The short answer: Photoshop is a pixel-based program that’s used to create raster graphics like photos, logos, favicons, and illustrations.

Illustrator is a vector-based program that’s used to create scalable graphics like logos, icons, banners, and illustrations.

Photoshop: The photoshop program will be the first thing you open when you start working on a project. This program is used to enhance and touch up photos, as well as create new ones. The file format of a Photoshop document is .psd.

Illustrator: This software is used when you want to design something from scratch with shapes, typography, or illustrations.

You can start with a blank document in Illustrator, or import an existing file and edit it there instead. The file format of an Illustrator document is .ai or .eps.

Which One Should I Be Using?

Some of you may ask about “Adobe Illustrator vs Photoshop”. Both programs are powerful and there’s a reason they are industry standards in the graphic design industry. But which one should I be using? It depends on your end goal.

If it’s high-quality print products (like flyers or brochures) you want to make — or if it’s vector-based design work (like logos or icons) — then you need Adobe Illustrator.

If it’s photo editing you want to do — or if it’s raster-based designs (like banners or website mockups) — then you need Adobe Photoshop.


Ultimately, what you can take away from this is twofold. First, it’s largely a matter of personal preference; neither Illustrator nor Photoshop is definitively better than the other, at least based on current capabilities. Some people prefer one over the other for artistic reasons.

However, if you’re a photo-editing professional, you should go with Photoshop because it has more tools and features specifically geared towards improving the image quality of photographs and other visual media.

Perhaps in the long term, we may see many of these advanced tools integrated into Illustrator as well, but for now, it still remains primarily made for producing graphics from scratch, without photographic elements.