Just a few generations ago, designers had to generate art by-hand. Today, there are so many different kinds of apps and software that make it easy and fun to format books, create websites, and edit photos. In this article, I am going to specifically focus on Adobe products. I will cover apps from other companies and developers next time!
Adobe has been the dominating company for apps and software in the design industry for years. I bought my first Adobe Suite in 2010, when they were still on discs. Now, Adobe provides a Cloud based access system that only requires an internet connection to establish. Designers have been debating whether or not this was a good move ever since, but that doesn’t stop us from using each app religiously. It’s very rare for someone to not have at least one Adobe app listed on their resume, but most of us have several. If you have an idea, Adobe almost certainly has an app for that.
I will be selfish and list my most favorite of the apps first. Illustrator was, for me, one of the most confusing apps I’ve ever tried to learn. At one point I questioned whether I had chosen the right profession. Eventually, I started to discover how truly in-depth Illustrator could be. Utilize this app to create shapes, patterns, textures, and typographical designs. I think you will love how intuitive Illustrator is once you get used to it.
Uses: Patterns, Logos, One Page Layouts, Digitizing Sketches
Main Purpose: Vectors
Mobile: Illustrator Draw
This is an app that really excels when used to create multiple paged layouts. InDesign is a sophisticated, robust, and sometimes underutilized program. Create logos in Illustrator, edit photos in Photoshop, and then put them all into InDesign to organize. In addition to book design, this app can be extremely useful when dealing with a lot of information. For example, if you have one business card design but 100 different names, you can use a spreadsheet to import them and simultaneously create all of the pages needed. You can also design Ebooks in InDesign and export them as HTML pages to load onto a server or database!
Uses: Multi-Page Layouts, Ebooks, Grids, Structure, Magazines
Main Purpose: Books
On the surface, Photoshop is a photo editing software. When you look closer, it is so much more. Not only can you clean up unwanted items from your photos and color correct, you can also create mockups, manipulations, and even animations. Use different lighting techniques, textures, and shading to simulate a sign on a wall or a new paint color in your room. Show your clients exactly what your poster will look like in a coffee shop or how a logo will appear stitched into a hat. The timeline feature can be used to carefully construct animations and even save GIFs for any occasion. Whatever fantastic scene your imagination can dream up, you can create it in Photoshop.
Uses: Photo Editing, Manipulation, Animation
Main Purpose: Photos
Mobile: Photoshop Express, Photoshop Sketch, Photoshop Mix, Photoshop Fix (Yeah, there are a lot.)
When you need a fast, simple photo editor that does the basics in a user-friendly way, use Lightroom. Often when I am editing a photo in Photoshop, it can be tedious to straighten a photo or even just to sharpen it. If I’m in a hurry or need an efficient method, I just import whatever I need into Lightroom and edit as many photos as I want very quickly. Even saving the photos back out is fast.
Uses: Color Correcting, Light Adjustments, Batch Editing
Main Purpose: Photos
I have to admit I hardly ever use Dreamweaver. I used it a lot when I was in school to learn the basics of HTML and CSS. Unless a client specifically requests an HTML site, the agency I work for encourages WordPress or Wix. However, it can be extremely useful to have Dreamweaver in situations where you need to see what your code is going to do. If you do build a site using Dreamweaver, it will show you a live view of what will result from your code, and can even suggest fixes to errors. To be clear, Dreamweaver is not the place where you would design your website, it is where you would build it with code.
Uses: HTML, CSS, Coding a Site from Scratch
Main Purpose: Websites
Premiere is a video editing program. It is much more advanced than your everyday video editor, but you’ll mostly just use it to arrange/trim clips, and make lighting/color adjustments
Uses: Video Editing, Time Remapping, Stitching Clips Together
Main Purpose: Video
Mobile: Premiere Clip
If you get to a point in editing your video that you want to add lower thirds or import an animation, you’ll create these in After Effects. You can generate beautiful visuals effects and elements to really make your video stand out. Whether its a bouncing ball, a small animal, or even a VR scene, you’ll really want to get familiar with this complex app.
Uses: Motion Graphics
Main Purpose: Animation
If you recorded your audio, but decide that it needs a bit of retouching, then Audition is your app. You can clean up, restore, and mix clips and sound bites to then import into Premiere to pair with visuals. There is a small amount of audio editing that is available in Premiere, but Audition just goes a bit further. This app is one of the cheaper of the bunch if bought by itself, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t just as impressive.
Uses: Music Editing
Main Purpose: Audio
One of the interesting uses of this app is to create mockups and wireframes of how UX/UI interactions work. Users can make artboards that represent pages of a website, and then connect the different artboards to one another to show what would happen when you click a button. Implement a transition like “slide” to simulate swiping right on someone in a certain phone app… There is a lot you can do to really give your customer an idea of how the end product would operate. (and its free!)
Uses: Apps, Websites, UX/UI
Main Purpose: Mockups
Stock – Provides designers with stock photos.
Bridge – Organizes files, plugins, and scripts that you use across apps.
Media Encoder – A places to export and format different types of files based on presets.
Character Animator – Helps create animated characters with features like facial tracking and organized body movement.
Animate – Create small animations to be used on websites and games as opposed to video.
Spark – A really easy way to use stock designs to create videos and graphics for social media posts, websites, and more.
Comp – A simplified mockup creator for apps and websites.
Connect – Watch videos and virtual workshops.
Social: Content Workflows – A post manager and scheduler for a few platforms.
There are so many other small Adobe apps that I have left out because they may no longer be supported or updated. What are your favorite Adobe apps? Did I miss anything? Message me to let me know what I should add and if you have any questions!
*I have no affiliation with these companies, and receive no monetary compensation. I just want to send out some love and pass on what I’ve learned.
Amber Cornett is a Graphic Designer at Active8 Communications. She has 8 years of experience in design working for companies that include Modern & Smart, Mentor Enterprises, and Xarisma. Her specialties include branding, websites, illustrations, and social media.