InDesign vs Illustrator – the Ultimate Design Software Comparison

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The first step toward efficient, creative projects is a strong understanding of contrasting design software dynamics. We’ll help you take that first step by comparing two powerful software tools. Adobe InDesign and Illustrator each have unique, beneficial design functions. Here’s a quick rundown of each system, followed by an in-depth breakdown of their similarities and differences.

InDesign

Adobe InDesign is a program that is used to create both print and digital projects. This typically includes things such as books, newsletters, brochures and newspapers. InDesign is often used by graphic designers, as it has extensive editing potential. It’s also used by marketers from time to time.

Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator is a software tool used to create different graphics, such as illustrations, artwork, drawings and more. Both the Windows and Mac operating systems are capable of running Illustrator. It is a vector graphics tool, meaning it constructs images using different lines that form shapes.

Two words standing above others that spell 'AI'.
Illustrator uses vector graphics.

Now that you have some details about each app individually, here are four areas of comparison for the two systems, along with a breakdown for each:

1. Single and Multi-Page Projects

Both InDesign and Illustrator handle single and multi-page tasks, so it’s important to weigh the benefits before deciding which to use. When it comes to single-page documents, especially print projects, Illustrator has the edge. Business cards and posters are ideal for Illustrator because it manipulates image and text size. It also handles visual features precisely.

Illustrator is capable of creating multi-page projects but InDesign is the superior multi-page option. InDesign has a Master Page function, which allows users to edit numerous pages without editing them individually. Furthermore, InDesign is ideal for multi-page, as it automatically numbers pages.

A user creates a newsletter using Adobe InDesign.
Decide which design software best suits your needs.

2. Comprehensive Drawing Features

Though it may seem obvious that Illustrator is the more in-depth drawing software, it’s critical to learn nuanced differences between the two programs’ drawing capabilities. Furthermore, it’s vital to know where Illustrator is lacking. When looking to draw creative, enhanced designs, Illustrator is the right choice. The artboard has multiple options and provides plenty of space to draw and create crisp designs. The only time Illustrator struggles with images is editing, so retain an alternative program to edit photos.

InDesign does have a few drawing options, including a pencil tool and the ability to draw some lines and shapes. Also, drawings done on Illustrator can be imported into InDesign. This is helpful when a team member completes a multi-page project, as Illustrator is better for single-page projects.

A drawn flower next to other flowers.
Illustrator has superior drawing features.

3. Logo Creation and Manipulation for Organizations

InDesign creates shapes for logos but lags behind Illustrator in quite a few ways in this area. Illustrator is perfect for logo creation because images in Illustrator are made to fit any size while maintaining original quality. Logos change placements and sizes, so software that reacts correctly to the changes is necessary.

Another valuable function that makes Illustrator great for logo manipulation is the typesetting features. It shapes text to the preference of an organization. InDesign is great for text-related projects as well but it doesn’t measure up to Illustrator. Remember that each organization’s logo needs are drastically different. This information should guide you toward your program choice.

A screenshot of the INDD logo.
InDesign falls short of Illustrator in logo design.

4. Beneficial Integrations

A crucial aspect of choosing design software is determining how well it syncs with other programs. When it comes to integrations, Adobe InDesign flawlessly corresponds with important systems. One compelling InDesign integration is with Canto DAM, a digital asset management system designed to manage files.

Digital asset management is a comprehensive file storage solution. DAM provides a central location to store assets safely. InDesign connects to Canto and gives users a connection to open images from their media library in InDesign. This integration is vital for businesses who use InDesign and cloud storage systems.

The dynamics of a venture evolve and the choice between these software will change as well. Understand their subtle differences to create strong projects.

Amelie Timm - Marketing Director I Canto

As an InDesign and digital asset management expert, Amelie artfully writes about different DAM-related topics from our Berlin offices.