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Do I really need Illustrator AND Photoshop?


Junior Member
I work in sales but I am trying to develop as a designer in my spare time with the hope that in a coupla years I'll be able to change career path and get a job as an illustrator/graphic designer.
For that I'm obviously going to need a decent portfolio so I'd like to start putting some stuff together, decent work leads to decent work and so on.
Obviously you've all seen the news about Adobe going 'cloud only' recently. Well, here's my conundrum...
I've been making do with a copy of Illustrator CS2 and Photoshop Elements 7.0 for the 'hobby' bits and bobs I've been doing, but I'd like to get a bit more focussed in an effort to churn out work on a more regular basis to really build my portfolio. Plus a lot of the tutorials I've seen in magazines like Computer Arts all seem to fall flat when you don't have the 'killer feature' of the latest software, which as you can imagine is more than a little bit frustrating.
As it stands I really can't justify (to the wife!) commiting to £46.88p/m for the full Creative Cloud bundle but I'm a bit more comfortable with £17.58p/m for Illustrator only. I have no real interest in web design or video editing and such, I just want to produce illustrations and typographic stuff really.
However, my question is this...
Do I really need Photoshop as well as Illustrator? Obviously then I'm looking at £35.16p/m, which is closer to the full CC bundle price.
I guess the other angle is am I limiting my employability by focusing exclusively on Illustrator? Or doesn't it matter provided I've got a badass portfolio?

Any thoughts? My head hurts...


Well-Known Member
Speaking as an illustrator, I made do with CS2 for years, until very recently. It really depends on what kind of stuff you want to be doing. I still use Photoshop mostly,
although I probably shouldn't. I don't know what limitations Elements has, but I would stick with what you have if you're only doing it in your spare time.
If you want to be a designer, though, you will need to look into getting InDesign further down the line. Just to add to your headache. :)


Staff member
Funny you should mention this.
I'm a Designer/Illustrator and I specialise in vectors (AI).
I'm actually still using AI and PS CS1 and they still do all I need.
I use CS6 at the in house gig and I haven't really found anything in it for me to justify the upgrade.
There are a few bits that would make my life a bit easier but I still think using AI is like kicking a dead pig.
I know I'm going to have to upgrade when I get a new Mac so I've been thinking about the same thing as you.
A colleague has started using Elements for simple tasks and I've been showing her how to go on and up to now it seems to cover everything that I use PS for so I may just get that.
I think it comes down to where you want to go and what kind of things you want to create really but for me, I think it will work.
I think that if you want to be a generalist, then your software skills are more important than your design skills but to get away with being a specialist you gonna need to develop some kick ass skills.


Senior Member
That is a little tricky as obviously Adobe’s new structure doesn’t seem to cater well to the casual user.
Since you already have a full (albeit dated) version of Illustrator, I would buy a full copy of Photoshop if you’re going down the one product subscription route as Photoshop Elements isn’t really Photoshop whereas Illustrator CS2 is probably about 85-90% of CS6 so there’s a lot you can do with it.
Now I think about it, I think Adobe now gives away all of the CS2 stuff for free so if your system supports CS2 you can just use CS2 everything to cut your teeth.

Sean Lee-Amies

As a designer/illustrator I stick with Photoshop for virtually everything. I've got PS CS6 and AI CS6, I just don't use AI. I find that virtually all of my illustrations can be done in PS. Unless you're looking to start doing a lot of complicated, intricate vector work which requires symmetry on a grand scale then I would just stick pick PS for now and get AI and InDesign when you can. Hopefully Adobe launches a new mid range service instead of forcing people to take one program or all programs. A huge mistake on their part... every time I've had a conversation about Adobe Cloud, the majority simply say they don't want to pay £50~ a month for all of it. Adobe better hope that a new competitor doesn't spring up!
Or just use the CS2 stuff for free!


Staff member
Well adobe have supposedly sent out questionnaires due to all the 'complaints' about their latest idea.... including price questions (can't see them changing the prices but I can see them adding in another couple of tiers....) Not to mention cc has been hacked already... that took a long time, about a day lol

As to the question about do I need both... simple perspective.... can you do what you need to do with what you have now or is there something specific you need to complete your work.

And as daft as this sounds, there are options (Corel's suites will cover most peoples needs) out there that can replace adobe for 90% of things, it's just getting people to switch.
Hello THodgson,
If you want to be a professional designer you have to take in account that Adobe is the industry standard in three main areas: Photo Editing (Photoshop), Vector Illustration (Illustrator) and Desktop Publishing (InDesign). This needs to be considered when you collaborate with another designer and you have to provide an editable file to him/her. Same thing with a client.
Having a current version of the software is instead not indispensable, but it may increase your productivity. For example, Illustrator CS6 has a quick tool for creating patterns, and also an easy option to apply a gradient to strokes. But if you know how to use the software you can achieve the same results in different ways and with previous versions.
Even though you may think that Illustrator is all you need in order to work, my personal opinion is that there is no way a professional designer doesn't have a copy of Photoshop in his-her computer. Sooner or later you will need to edit some photographic images as part of a project. Besides, I read you want to be an illustrator. Many illustrators use Photoshop's brushes for their creations with a graphics tablet.


Junior Member
Thanks for the replies folks and thanks for the link wac, I think I'll just download CS2 from there and have a play.
If it comes to it that I need to upgrade later I'll consider it then, but I reckon I can get by with AI and PS CS2 for the time being.
Let design commence!

Sean Lee-Amies

That is the thread for the task! It'd be nice to have a more robust system to display our members work, wouldn't it!


Well-Known Member
Well it's a forum and when people post their work in that thread other people pipe up and give feedback! 99% of the time it's flat-out praise, seems to be much more forgiving than most of the feedback threads for some reason, haha.

Sean Lee-Amies

Jim, there's a reason that it's mostly praise! The majority of the work put up in that thread is of a very high calibre. The same simply cannot be said for other threads! I always give my honest opinion on work, and there have been a couple of times in the illustration thread where I've had to give a lot of feedback on some pieces :)
We love the content that thread produces, especially as it's on such a regular basis. We really want to make better use of that content stream in the future.