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Absolute novice needing advice on what software to learn

Hi, I'm in the business of music and I'd like to be able to take idea's in my head for artwork and create them digitally as I can't draw for ****, I have been using a graphic designer to do a recent project (he uses some adobe software, I'm not sure what one) and I can't quite communicate my idea's properly, I'd rather sit down and do it myself as I really like to experiment with things, I'm not bothered about anything else besides creating and manipulating images in 2D. If anyone can advise me as to what software I should be learning, the price of such and maybe a few tips on how to go about learning it, this would be much appreciated :thumb:


Staff member
Like learning an instrument, it's not just a short course to learn the software, and like music some people have an ear for it and others don't.

You can find tutorials all over the web, the most recommended would be Lynda.com - and it's a paid subscription.

Software is Adobe - Software and services for creative professionals | Adobe Creative Cloud which you subscribe to monthly.

3 pieces of software required

Illustrator - for vector logos and images
Photoshop - for manipulating photographs
InDesign - for page layout and creating print ready artwork

What you see on screen isn't what necessarily prints, what looks good on the monitor may not print right.

Printing companies charge a premium for fixing artwork that is not print ready.

There's more to design than learning programs, and there's more to the programs than meet the eye.

If you're willing to invest a year and a a few hundred quid in software and training then that's up to you.

But you really should find a better way to articulate your ideas to your designer(s) or find another designer.

There are no shortcuts in this industry - not everyone that buys a mixing deck ends up being a top dj - and not everyone that picks up a guitar sells out arenas.

Your time and money would be better spent by

Articulating what you want the way you'd describe it to a 4 year old
Researching images of similar style to what you want to emulate
Creating a colour mood board to send on to your designer
Searching through some fonts that you like (but not necessarily will use)
Selecting logos or other icons that you find interesting (but won't use but just like)
Thanks for your advice :)

I feel I could adapt to the software pretty quickly as I have in depth knowledge and skill of music programming and editing software and have noticed the similarities of operation. You'll probably laugh but I used paint to do two album covers and it took me absolutely ages, fighting with pixel problems etc and I achieved quite a lot with the little abilities that were to hand. I am at the stage where I'm thirsty for a tool that answers the questions that paint couldn't answer and from what I seen on adobe (warping, layers, dragging files from one project to another etc) I'm pretty keen on it but I'd prefer to buy the software outright. I agree with communicating better and I do to the best of my abilities but often there's just no way to explain what's in my head, I'd rather push on with it myself. Which is what I think I'll do and I'll keep an eye out for a graphic designer who I connect with better. The thing is the boy is good at his job but I feel it is only my own creativity that can satisfy my needs right now and I look forward to meeting someone who can achieve this for me :) I'd like to be able to sculpt my idea's and prepare artwork for a professional finish so would illustrator be maybe the only software I would need?


Well-Known Member
Yes, from what you have said, Adobe Illustrator sounds like what you need, but if you are going to be doing photo-manipulation then you'd also need Adobe Photoshop. When working, most of us graphic designers integrate between various Adobe software, with the 3 mentioned above being the most popular. There are things that are achievable in one program that is just not achievable in the other. It all depends on exactly what you need to do.

Why don't you get a trail version, and see what you can achieve in a month. I also prefer buying software outright (I am not keen on the new 'renting' system in place these days), but in your case it is probably best to try them first for free. See how you get on, and if you think you can teach yourself to create professional design work, and it is worth your time and money, then you can go about purchasing the software(s) in full or pay monthly.


Staff member
You never own software. Like if I bought your album it doesn't make the music mine.

Anyway Adobe doesn't sell its licences under a perpetual licence anymore .

Free versions

Good luck
I can't quite communicate my idea's properly, I'd rather sit down and do it myself
Not sure that's a great attitude to bring to a graphic design forum. Doesn't show the greatest respect for people that have spent years learning their trade.

If you can't communicate your ideas properly then you might be better working on that, rather than learning some software to experiment with.