Which Adobe software should I learn first?


New Member
I'm thinking of venturing into the world of Graphic Design (freelance) however I work full time and have financial commitments and so taking a full time degree just isn't possible.

If I wanted to learn from home, I'm assuming the place to start is the software, namely Adobe - Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, Corel Draw - correct?

If so, in what order should I learn them?

Also, what books would you recommend?

Many thanks.
Last edited:
There are two schools.

Those that take the Corel route and those that take the Adobe route.

I'm in the Adobe camp but this is mainly due to it all being Adobe applications at college / uni and then in each of the design studios I've worked in.

In regards to what to learn first, are you going to specialise in a particular field? Logos, print design etc . This would have an impact on what to learn first. I personally would say try to learn Photoshop & Illustrator as these are the workhorses and then move onto InDesign for page layout.

The Corel route is much cheaper but I don't have any experience of their software so can't really comment :)
Thanks for your response.

My main interest is web design, and second to that would be all the other relative design aspects (logo, print etc). I've always felt the best websites are those designed by graphic designers.

I've always had artistic flair and a creative mind and so I feel graphic design is something I could maybe excell in.
go for it! if you've got a creative talent then graphic design is the way forward.

I can't honestly say I know anyone in the industry who uses corel...pixels i don't have experience in that either haha

The way forward is definitely Adobe, and perhaps the easiest to learn to use is Illustrator.

Check out Tutorials - Online Training - lynda.com for a really fab video library that will teach you how to use pretty much any design software out there.

Once you've got one sorted the rest generally follow the same kind of style for working and so it will get easier.

Although I would say this to you, being a master of Illustrator doesn't make you a graphic designer. Go out there and read books, look at other peoples work, eat live and breathe design because if you can't offer original unique design then you might as well just be copying and pasting from other designers websites.

Learn about typography, not just clever tricks for software because once you've used up all the tricks in your bag you'll have nothing left to offer.

Your best tool is a piece of paper and a pencil!

Hope this helps

Thanks Laura.

What books would you recommend?

It's been a long time since I picked up a pencil to draw. I excelled in Art at school and college but put down my pencil shortly after and haven't picked it up since. My drawing skills were excellent but I could only ever copy (images etc from magizines, books etc).

I wonder if I have lost it (my talent) or whether I could pick it up again if I just started drawing again. My worry is that I could never draw from scratch - I always need something to copy. Perhaps that is my lack of experience and this will come with practice.

How important is artistic/drawing talent?
It's intriguing, because I've always been interested in graphics, yet I'm not particularly artistic. Although I've come to the conclusion, that if you've got ideas, through constant practice, you can achieve what you're after.

As far as books go, it's difficult to answer because everybody has a different learning trend. I'd say your best bet would be to go onto Amazon and check some reviews. I've always found dummies guide to... books to be of most use, although if I'm being honest, I'm a strong believer that you can get most of the answers through persistent google searching, and assuming a hands on approach by just playing with the programs.

There are often some insightful tutorials on psdtuts for photoshop, these will help you to improve your techniques as much as any book. Once you begin to appreciate the values of what each tool does, you can begin creating your own work. No doubt you'll have a different method for learning, but this is one that I found aided me.:icon_smile:
Just to throw a spanner in the works and completely disagree with Pixels, but I would suggest learning InDesign above all other programs. I have found that 90% of design is about layout so it makes sense to be able to use the layout program really well. I'm not saying that you should ignore the other programs as you will defiantly need them but I use InDesign more that any other program. However if your planning on doing web design then it is going to be a different matter. Maybe dreamweaver is something you should look into
Last edited:
In all honesty I work on Adobe software for over 4 years now through them changing it and found it easier to adapt between Coral and Adobe.
So i would learn Adobe software first once your confident branch out.. there is good tutorials online to help as well as videos of people teaching so if you do get stuck your not on your own.
Also i find some companies haven't branched out to the top latest software quite a few use Coral but to have quite a lot of software skills behind you is an advantage at the end of it all.
Also you can never stop learning the software. Hope it helps go nuts! :)