Insights   |  Best Practices   |  Which applications to use

Which application
should be used?

What you need
to consider before
choosing a package
to work in.

Jason explains why it is important to remember the basics when it comes to package choice...

Unsurprisingly over the years, I have seen many different ways of working, some perfectly acceptable & others damn right amateur. One thing does surprise me though & that is the lack of understanding of what package to use to achieve your creative goals.

To me, it's relatively simple. There is a rule of thumb generally in production that should be applied,
if a document is text-heavy or has numerous pages then it should be created in Indesign only; as Indesign
is a page layout package much like QuarkXpress & therefore designed to work with heavy text formatting & manipulation plus numerous pages, sectioning, printers pairs etc. Any other artworks of a printed page format should be produced using either Illustrator or indeed Indesign. I personally favour Illustrator for most single page items simply as I prefer the tools & how illustrator works over Indesign's clunkiness. I do not like how Indesign tries to do what Illustrator does but poorly. For Digital work you can use Illustrator as a start point, however,
more often than not you will pull your work into Photoshop at some stage either to be saved out as an
RGB jpeg or png etc.

Why Illustrator for single page artworks

One reason I tend to use Illustrator for single spread artworks is that I can deconstruct the file a lot easier to repurpose it for other uses i.e a powerpoint presentation or another design. Yes, you can do the same in Indesign but for me, it is a personal preference. Also, the main advantage for me in using Illustrator over Indesign for these single page artworks is the artboard function, where I can split an artwork up over as many artboards as need be in order to accommodate for instance a substrate maximum width like 1000mm Vinyl. My artwork may span 5 or more strips of 1000mm substrate but by using the artboard feature I can allow the printer to run each strip & apply the level of bleed on the printer functions he/she requires.


Another reason that I use Illustrator for all single page artworks is a historic one due to my routes in the print industry & my early experiences of the World of artwork. I came from a working environment where artwork was still pasted up onto lineart boards & covered in overlays for the various colour separations etc. (yes I know to the under 40's reading this I am talking in Black & White here, but trust me artwork was far harder back when I started out & done mainly by hand!). My very first job was as a junior in a small design studio & part of my job description was actually a paste-up artist.

An artwork back then was a physical thing that was shot on a PMT camera & negatives where produced. Printing plates followed by developing an aluminium sheet coated in a light-activated chemical that basically developed the sheet rather like a photograph by way of passing light through the negative onto the plate beneath via a UV lamp. The plate once developed would transfer ink to paper on the printing press. The whole process being a lot different to today's workflow.

The text was printed oversized in columns from the one & only mac in the studio, (it was a mad dash back then, as you had to get your work printed within your allotted 30mins slot on the shared dare I say it "Classic Mac" which Apple introduced in October 1990, the Classic was the first Macintosh computer to sell for under $1000). It was then reduced on the PMT camera producing sheets of bromide paper with crisp text at the correct size, it was then cut out with a scalpel & pasted with wax onto the artboard using a  parallel motion to align it perfectly horizontal & a set square for your vertical.

Sheets of thin clear plastic were used as overlays & more text & graphics were pasted to those if they were a different colour to the base layer (pantone® chips would be attached to their corresponding separation layer).
The last layer apart from the dust cover that protected the whole artwork was the MARK-UP layer. This layer would be a thin bleed proof layout sheet that covered the whole artwork & where the artworker would write notes & comments & specifications for the printer to follow.

Those days were the dark old days in terms of technology, however it gave me a great understanding of why things are done a certain way. moreso than any theory taught at college. The hands-on experience of separating colours & aligning elements to grids, columns gutters, margins absolutely invaluable. Yes things took longer back then but clients had a respect for the artwork procedure that does not exist today unfortunately as everyone believes creating artwork is as quick as pushing a button & that's not quite the case even if it is much faster
than it used to be. 

I use Illustrator because it allows my artworks to be more like the traditional artworks of the past in terms of accuracy & ease of use for both artworker & print specialist. 

Overview of packages

Page layout (text heavy) - InDesign
Page layout (minimum text single spread) - InDesign, Illustrator
Illustrations, logos, icons & graphics - Illustrator
Photography - Photoshop
3d renderings - Maya, 3ds max, cinema 4d, zbrush
Motion graphics - After Effects, Premiere
Presentations - Powerpoint, Keynote, Acrobat PDF


If you are in need of a little extra help in achieving your creative goals,
need some advice or simply need to offload a project you have no
internal resource for then get in contact today.