Software for Creating Print-ready Artwork

An Artwork Creation Program is any computer or cloud-based software application that can be used to create the artwork file for print. There are several different programs that can be used, but the standard recommended suite of programs is Adobe Creative Suite or Adobe Creative Cloud.

Adobe Illustrator CS or CC 

Adobe Illustrator is an ideal program to use for print products as it is a vector-based program. Vector images are based on anchor points and the lines that connect them [image of a vector sample that shows points and lines]. This unique structure means that a vector image can be scaled up or down without losing image quality. Illustrator is designed with many tools and features to create and edit vector images. This program is perfect for designing flat pieces with one or two pages (single or double-sided), such as postcards, business cards, or flyers, as well as more complex items with die-lines like kit folders, boxes and other types of packaging. It has built-in functionality to ensure that files can be set up properly and will pass all prepress inspections. This is one of the two recommended programs that be used to create a proper print-ready file.

Adobe InDesign CS or CC

The other program that is recommended to create print-ready artwork is Adobe InDesign. This program is also vector-based but differs from Illustrator in that it is not intended to create or edit vectors. The main purpose of InDesign is layout creation, for example, multi-page books or files [screencap of a multipage book]. As such, there are many features in InDesign that Illustrator does not have that are specifically designed to create, manage, and edit documents with more than 2 pages. This program can be used for the creation of books, catalogues and other multipage documents, complex one or two-sided items like brochures, as well as simpler flat products like business cards or postcards. 

Adobe Photoshop CS or CC

Adobe Photoshop can be used to create print files if Illustrator or InDesign is not available, or if the user is unfamiliar with these two programs, but it is not recommended. Photoshop is intended primarily to edit photographs and perform colour corrections, touch-ups, and other manipulations. This program lacks many of the print-production features of the other two programs and is also not a native vector-based system. As the primary purpose is photo manipulation, the program is pixel-based and therefore the images produced are dependant on the resolution set in the program. PDF files exported from Photoshop are much more difficult to manipulate than those from Illustrator or InDesign, and so it is much more difficult to perform file corrections to ensure optimal print quality.

Industry best practises recommend that Photoshop be used for the intended purpose of editing the photographs to be used in a print file, and creating the final print-ready output in InDesign or Illustrator, both of which support the importation of all Photoshop outputs (JPEG, TIFF, as well as native PSD).

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