Both Illustrator and Photoshop have helped Adobe become a huge global software giant, and PS in particular is widely seen as the industry standard for photo manipulation and editing.
Two brothers created Photoshop, and Adobe saw the program as a companion piece for Illustrator, but only expected to sell a modest amount.
However, Photoshop became so popular that Adobe bought the rights for $34.5 million from the Knoll brothers, which as history has shown, was an extremely shrewd investment.
Photoshop is recognized as a killer app, which is to say that it is one of the few pieces of software that directly influences hardware sales.
But, Illustrator and Photoshop are not the only two graphics packages available, and Procreate has a huge loyal following too.
While Procreate cannot match the number of people that are using Photoshop and Illustrator in a professional setting, tens of thousands of individuals downloaded the app in January 2023 alone.
And, many people are offering Procreate classes and supplying resources such as color palettes, brushes, and tutorials.
All three packages let users create artwork on digital devices, but while there are some similarities, there are also several differences.
Adobe offers various Creative Cloud packages, but Photoshop alone will cost you $20.99 a month.
Widely seen as the premiere photo editing software, Photoshop allows amateur and professional users to manipulate images, perform touch-ups, add filters, and masks, and adjust contrast, brightness, and other levels.
Artists can use Photoshop to put together ideas for websites, and design UI as the program is raster based rather than using vectors. Though if you are looking for beginner UI design software, you might find Adobe XD a simpler option.
That’s because Photoshop has gone through many updates, with new features regularly added and improved upon. And the more complex Photoshop gets, the harder it becomes to learn.
This piece of software is also considered the industry standard for many artists and graphic designers. This is despite having to fight off competition from Corel Draw, Macromedia Freehand, and others over the last 3 decades or so.
Illustrator is vector based although it allows the importing and exporting of raster files such as Jpegs. The program can be tricky to get used to at first if you have never used bezier curves in a vector package before, but it is a very powerful tool for illustration and typography.
The first thing you will notice about Procreate is likely to be the price which is only $12.99 for life, and also that it is only available on iOS.
To use the respective graphic tool successfully, you will need an Apple iPad and an Apple Pencil. Unless you own these already, the cost savings between Procreate and Photoshop will be somewhat lost.
And, if you’ve never used an Apple Pencil you might need some tablet drawing tips before you are comfortable.
Despite a few shortcomings, it has many positives too. The savvy editing tool is raster based and can be used to produce digital artwork and alter photographs.
Unlike Photoshop, it is best at adding effects to photos rather than manipulating and editing them, and it cannot produce native vectors.
Each of the software packages offers something for the user that the others cannot match. While there are similarities between Illustrator and Procreate, for instance, the former can handle some design needs far better.
But, conversely, Procreate can be used on the fly to create illustrations and artwork, whereas AI runs better on a decent setup with enough horsepower to utilize its tools properly.
While you can certainly use AI to produce beautiful illustrations, and many artists do, it has much practical business use as well.
Illustrator handles separate artboards, bleeds, overprint, trim, and scores, as well as many other aspects required for taking digital files to final print.
Illustrator can be used for creating logos, business cards, packaging, templates, flyers and leaflets, posters, labels, and vector artwork.
The program also integrates and works well with other graphics packages across the Adobe Creative Cloud, including Photoshop.
Because Adobe Illustrator is part of the Creative Cloud suite of programs, users can access every design tool they could wish for. Just as long as they are happy to pay a monthly subscription that is.
Having said that, Photoshop has photo-editing tools that other packages cannot match and a user base that is unlikely to switch to another platform any time soon.
Beginners can use Photoshop to crop images and make minor adjustments, and professionals can create composites, touch up photos, and use AI neural filters to create stunning images, and there are numerous tools to make the artist’s life easier.
For many people, one of the best points is that Procreate can be purchased with a small one-off payment, and be licensed for life.
However, Procreate is also a powerful illustrating tool and is being used every day to create original artwork by countless individuals.
Procreate is popular with non-professionals because it has a short learning curve unlike Photoshop, and most users can jump straight in and start creating art.
Photos can be turned into watercolors, simple animations can be created, and the resolution can be set for print or screen artwork.
Another positive point about the graphic enhancement tool is that it was specifically designed for the iPad. It is therefore highly portable and can be used on the move, in the park, or anywhere basically.
In theory, Procreate could provide you with most of what you need to produce quality pieces of artwork and graphic design. However, if you needed to heavily edit photographs you would probably find the respective tool lacking.
You might also find the lack of vectors means you have less control over your designs, especially with typography.
Yet, a Procreate course can give pointers to how strong typography can be created within the program, and there are some workarounds for importing vectors.
The answer to this question will depend on what your actual design and illustration needs are.
Procreate has found countless fans who aren’t working in any professional capacity, but it is also being used by numerous individuals for paid content.
It allows artists to work on the fly and put together ideas no matter where they are. But, it still lags behind Photoshop in terms of its user base.
According to Adobe’s Fast Facts, More than 90% of creative professionals use Photoshop across the globe, and this has led Creative Cloud services to have revenue of over $9.5 billion in 2022 alone.
Illustrator is probably the least likely package to be replaced by Procreate because of its use of vectors and typographical tools. Photoshop offers many features that it just cannot match right now, and possibly it never will.
Nevertheless, a designer could find great uses for Procreate in conjunction with their existing Adobe products. And, it isn’t unusual for designers to have a number of different platforms to help them on different projects.