adobe creative suite

Design 101 : Adobe Creative Suite Basics

Graphic Design

Kristin Pruis



The company Adobe provides unparalleled products for designers, artists and creatives to do what they do best: create. However, simply owning the product does not make one an expert in Adobe Creative Suite technology. Graphic designers and creatives spend years learning the intricacies of each program and continue to learn as Adobe releases new and powerful features.

The first step to becoming a master of Adobe products is to understand the core features and strengths of each program, how they work together holistically and how to use them appropriately. Since the Adobe product offerings are ever growing, I’ll spend my time talking about the “Golden 3” Adobe programs closest to a graphic designer’s heart (or at least my own).

Adobe InDesign

Nowhere near as popular or trendy as Photoshop, Adobe Indesign is often overlooked by designers and non-designers alike. Nonetheless, Indesign is hands-down my favorite Adobe program. InDesign was developed to be a powerful text-based layout program. Think of it as a word processor on steroids to the 10th power and then some. With InDesign you have complete control over placement, typography, page layout and so much more. 

Best uses for InDesign:

  • multi-page booklet, brochure or ebook
  • poster, sign or flyer
  • restaurant menu
  • business card or business stationary
  • invitations or advertisements
  • standard format printing

Adobe Illustrator

While Illustrator can also be used for layout it’s primary strength is very obviously derived from it’s name, to illustrate. It is most effective at creating beautiful vector-based illustrations comprised of shapes and lines. With the advent of flat design and growing popularity of mobile-based technology and apps, Illustrator has become a go-to resource for many designers creating detailed sets of icons and graphic illustrations. 

Best uses for Illustrator:

  • logo design
  • product packaging artwork
  • vectorized hand lettering
  • drawing paired with a tablet
  • icons or graphics for web use
  • storyboarding or wire framing

Adobe Photoshop

Photoshop is definitely the cool kid of the bunch and most widely known among non-designers. However, I feel it is often abused or misused in place of other programs because people are simply more familiar with it. Even so, Photoshop is an invaluable tool when it comes to dealing with photographic imagery.

Best uses for Photoshop:

  • editing, recoloring & processing photos
  • image-heavy posters or album artwork
  • mocking up designs in real context
  • creating image-based perspective
  • checking image resolution and size

Learning to use the Adobe Creative Suite programs will, for most people, no-doubt be an ongoing process. Remembering the core functions and strengths of each program will help to establish a strong foundation from which you can begin to build a smart design workflow.

If you liked this article, stay tuned for more Adobe tips and tricks. Leave a comment below with your Adobe software questions and share how you like to use your favorite Adobe programs

Photo Credit from Adobe

Want to be pen pals? Subscribe to my blog newsletter and I'll share my latest tips and tricks with you every week.