Which Adobe Applications do I use?

Adobe Tools

Graphic Design Apps

If you’re a new designer just beginning your graphic design career, it can be difficult to know what the best application is for your project. Here is a list of the industry standards. It’s not the only way to complete a project, but this is the most common use of graphic design tools.

Adobe InDesign is a page layout application. It’s used for publications, advertising, brochures, invitations, business cards, books, posters and anything else you can think of that requires a layout.

It has sensitive typography styling options and makes it easy to lay your type anywhere on the page you want it in relationship to your images. You can import the following formats: eps, ai, ps, pdf, png, jpg and tiffs, making it extremely flexible.

You can easily create repeatable headers and footers for multipage layouts and spreads. Fonts are always clear and crisp. You can output to pdf, jpg, html, EPUB and more.

Adobe Illustrator is a drawing application. You can draw in the program, or trace over your own freehand drawings from a scan and convert to vector. A vector file is drawn with points in whatever size you want to use the drawing, as opposed to being a raster file which is pixelated like Adobe Photoshop. You can import a raster file into Illustrator for placement or to trace over, but it’s not automatically a vector file, just because you placed it into Illustrator and saved it as an eps. It must be redrawn to become a vector file.


Adobe Photoshop is a photograph manipulation tool, and so much more. You can paint in it, you can lay your type in it, you can place Illustrator files in it as well as .eps, tiff, jpg, pdfs, gif and so much more. It’s extremely complex and all encompassing design tool. You can drop out backgrounds of your photos, you can compose photos from different images, you can recolor images and more and more. 

I could go on for days about Photoshop, but you can see where I’m going with this. Photoshop files are large, they take a lot of memory and storage space. Photoshop is not very good at manipulating lots of type. It wouldn’t be good for a publication, but it does work well when you don’t have a lot of type to work with, for example an ad. 

Adobe Acrobat is a pdf tool. If you’ve opened a pdf on the web, you probably have Acrobat Reader on your computer. Reader is a paired down version of Adobe Acrobat, just for reading. The full version of Acrobat allows you to create pdfs in different qualities. A pdf for the web is different than a pdf for printing. PDFs are used when you want to show a client your progress on a project. It puts your Photoshop or InDesign file into a format that they can see even on a PC. Most forms are now in pdf format. If you have the full version, you can fill out the form in Acrobat and even change the form. It’s a versatile cross platform application.


Lightroom Classic is a professional photographer’s tool used to organize RAW or original files out of a camera. The files are reviewed in Lightroom, you can make technical adjustments to light and color as well as image format. It’s a great way to look at a large number of images at once and zoom in on the ones you need to inspect closer. The classic version keeps all of your files local on your hard drive or external hard drive.



Lightroom CC is the same as Lightroom Classic above except that it keeps your files in the cloud as part of the Adobe Creative Suite.




I hope that you’ve found this helpful as you begin your journey into Graphic Design. It’s a very fun and rewarding profession. Let me know in the comments if you have any questions.

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Ads – A new Skillshare class!

Create an Ad

How to Create an Ad

I created a new Skillshare class on how to create an ad in InDesign. It contains layout, typography, Photoshop color modes, production to print or digital and output to pdf as well as packaging your files for the vendor. Here’s the link if you’re interested. It covers the basics of a few InDesign tools, geared mostly for beginning Designs, but an entrepreneur could also use it to produce a simple ad for print or digital use. Materials are provided for practice, but you could also use your own images, copy and logo to produce the ad. If create ads, you might find these charts helpful. One chart converts fractions to decimals and the other converts inches to picas to points.

Create an Ad

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Photoshop’s New Masking Tool

Photoshop Masking Tool

Photoshop Masking ToolIf you haven’t upgraded to the newest Photoshop Creative Suite 2015.5 (June 2016) version, you’re missing out on a great new masking tool it has to offer. You know how tedious and time consuming it is to outline an image to drop out the background in your photo, well Adobe Photoshop has just taken that job and simplified it tremendously. They’ve created a new workspace similar to the filter workspace with some powerful tools and adjustments for you to outline or mask out anything with a great deal of precision. Even hair! You know how difficult that is! Here’s a link to the video with directions on how to use the new tool.

How to use the Photoshop Masking Tool Video.

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The Anatomy of a Print Advertisement

Anatomy of a Print Ad

Anatomy of a Print Ad

Print Advertising Specs

If you’re new to graphic design you might not understand the elements of print advertising specifications. Hopefully this information on what the specs mean will help you.

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Producing Advertising Typography


TypographyHi, Here is the second version of a double truck ad. This one leaves no gutter allowance for the typography. I know the design is using the typography to create a texture in the background of the ad, but I think I still would have allowed for the gutter, because you can still read the words even though they are screened back. If the production artist had left 1/8 inch allowance on each side of the gutter (or even 1/32 inch) it would have made all of the words legible. What do you think? Does it matter since the type is being used as a texture? Do you think the designer wants us to read the type? or not?

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Producing a Double Truck Ad

A double truck ad is an ad that spreads across the gutter to both pages -usually with a bleed, but not always. When producing a double truck ad, you should make allowances for the type to cross the gutter. A beautifully produced ad will leave the reader unaware that there is a gutter. In the first image below, you can see that the designer left a huge gutter. Much to large for this magazine. This is a rather high end home decor magazine with a high end advertiser placed within the first 10 pages of the publication ( a pricey placement location). The creative in this ad is really sophisticated and beautiful, but the production was poorly executed.

Double Truck Ad info

I know that most times, the designer doesn’t know where in the publication the ad will be placed, but as a rule of thumb, you can use a 1/8″ gutter on each side of the gutter, and be ok most of the time. Usually the publication will have a gutter size in the specifications of the ad. In this case the gutter is much too large, it’s about 3/8″ on each side of the gutter. It’s possible this ad was created for a different publication and then sent to this magazine — maybe the wrong file was picked up and sent to this publication. Either way, you should always print out the ad at 100% and mock it up with the actual gutter size to proof yourself, before sending the ad out for printing. I know it takes more time, but it’s worth it, to make sure your production is as high quality as the product the ad is selling.

The one thing you don’t want to do, is allow the magazine to revise the ad for you, they just don’t have the time. They will more than likely print whatever you send them.

Tomorrow, I will post an ad with the opposite problem. Let me know if you have any questions, I’ll do my best to answer it.


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