For creating Banner Artwork, the 3 main programs that graphic designers use are Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and Adobe InDesign. If I had to guess the breakdown of all 3 of these programs that I see the most from artwork submitted by customers it would look something like this:
Adobe Illustrator 50%
Adobe Photoshop 45%
Adobe InDesign 5%
I would say Illustrator beats out Photoshop by just a hair. This makes sense because graphic designers use Illustrator so frequently for their designs that it’s not suprising they will use this powerful program to send over the pre-press files for banner prints or other large format jobs just because of their overall comfort level with this program.
Personally, I use Photoshop. Partially because I just jive better with Photoshop and have a strong comfort level, but also because I feel like Photoshop is also a better program for pre-press files. Now, don’t get me wrong, if the goal was to create a logo, then I would agree 100% that Illustrator is the way to go, but for the sake of this conversation the aim is to create the artwork file that your banner or display is ultimately printed from.
Why I like Photoshop
Here are some reasons that Photoshop is my favorite tool for creating and saving my pre-press file:
1) Photoshop’s default black for things like text is a Rich Black vs Illustrator that typically has True Black as it’s default setting
2) Photoshop is great for generating raster files (dots per inch | DPI). Whereas Illustrator is great for Vectored Files like logos.
3) Photoshop has a “Flatten” feature. This does a few things. It helps reduce the file size that makes it easier to upload or share. It looks everything in place so that nothing changes from computer to computer or program version to another program version. This is helpful especially when using fonts that your printer may not have installed on their end.
4) Photoshop is the program that is commonly used to generate the proofs that you ultimately approve. Typically we open up the template for the product you are purchasing and then place your artwork right on top of it to make sure there are no problems and that it fits.
While there are no set rules for which programs can be used to generate your banner stand or display layout, it is helpful to know the differences since each have their advantages and/ or disadvantages.
Rule of Thumb
In summary, here is how I think of each program:
Adobe Illustrator: Great for illustrations (hence the name) like logos or other vectored designs
Adobe Photoshop: Great for making the full size layouts for Large Format Printing which of course contains all the other elements like vectored logos, backgrounds, text, etc
Adobe InDesign: Great for multi-page documents like catalogs, brochures or other types of off-set printing