I have used Photoshop and Illustrator a little bit and am about to spend time learning more about Graphic Design.

I would like advice on what one (Windows 7 compatible) application to purchase when doing the following things:

  • create designs for fairly simple on-line games
  • General web design
  • Logo design

8 Answers 8


Photoshop and Illustrator are more then enough for what you are trying to do. I would suggest mastering those tools first instead of learning other tools. You mentioned that you are about to spend more time learning graphic design, you do not need to learn tools for this. If you really want to learn graphic design then buy a good book. Please note that I am suggesting this only after having personal freelancing experience doing web design, branding, publishing etc.

  • Ved, What graphic design book do you recommend?
    – Leilani
    Commented May 13, 2011 at 15:14
  • Check this out amazon.com/s/… ...all of them should be good enough...I would recommend going to the book store first and checking them out like Barnes and noble or something
    – Ved
    Commented May 16, 2011 at 23:56
  • I agree whole heartedly with this answer's essential premise that for what you are trying to do, getting deeper into Photoshop and Illustrator will be better than learning other graphics tools. However, while I don't disagree that books are helpful, I would suggest that it's far more worth your while to just keep making stuff. Keep playing, trying things out, and post them somewhere to get feedback. Hope that helps.
    – Questioner
    Commented Aug 17, 2012 at 5:31

Since you are already using Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator I recommend learning Adobe InDesign which will complete the Trinity. InDesign is primarily used in the Print Design Industry, however it is also used to create PDF Documents, Interactive PDF Documents, PDF Forms and Ebooks.

This will be good for doing presentations and portfolios necessary to get new clients and to showcase your work, particularly if you will be doing Logo Designs and Brand Guides.

There are plenty of free Applications for Basic Web Design if You are going to use HTML so you don't necessarily need to buy one. Adobe InDesign will help you in putting together guides and presentations for those web designs and wireframes however so clients can make decisions.

This is especially useful to present and explain individual game screens and character designs, since this is the software you would use to put together a Game Manual like the ones you'd get with old Nintendo Games that told you how to play the game and what the backstory was.

So much of the Design side and Business side of Games and that industry comes down to presentations and storyboards so the traditional Adobe Trinity of Photohsop, Illustrator and InDesign would likely be the best fit for you.


blender is a good bet... few people in design learn it, but if you can pick it up, that's a bonus


I think some similar questions may have already been asked:

Photoshop or Illustrator OR ...

Designing A Website from Scratch – Illustrator or Photoshop?

There is no "one-off" program that will do everything you never need for you.

Generally (and this is my opinion), Photoshop does most of everything I need. I use Photoshop for web design, graphic design ... I use it to create interfaces, etc.

Illustrator is vector based and has the advantage that things can be resized as you see fit with no quality loss (which is great for some cartoonish game graphics or simple logos). But I personally find that fine-tuning gradients or adding effects and what not is easier with Photoshop.

With that said, a lot of things you can do with Illustrator you can do with Photoshop and vice versa. The ideal solution is to get both, if possible, because they work well with each other and they pick up on each other's weaknesses.

There are of course free alternatives as well:



Paint .NET


The answer depends very much on how deeply you want to go in the world of graphic design. Since you're already familiar with Photoshop and Illustrator, you should consider one of the Adobe Creative Suite bundles. If you own a Photoshop license already, you can get a discount on an upgrade to Web Standard or Web Premium.

There are two major advantages to this route: 1. The programs work extremely well together and make for a very tight workflow that gets you from start to finish more quickly than any other products out there; and 2. the web and your local bookstore are packed with learning resources at every level from beginner to advanced. There is a huge community of users to interact with, extensive tutorials on Adobe TV and from third party sites like Lynda.com, for example, which has a wide range of video tutorial courses on every program in the entire Creative Suite.

A third plus is that the most recent versions (Creative Suite 5.5) have been upgraded in key areas to make web development faster and much simpler.

For Logo work, Illustrator reigns supreme, but InDesign has many of the same capabilities as both Illustrator and Photoshop (code from Photoshop is actually baked right into InDesign), but is the king of layout. Since CS5 I have moved quite a lot of work from Photoshop to InDesign because it's much faster and more precise for many things that used to be the exclusive province of Photoshop.

If you're on a very tight budget and not considering graphic design as a profession, consider Xara (www.xara.com). The feature set is smaller, but the programs are light and fast and may do everything you need.

  • Curious how you see InD as having the same capabilities as Illy and Pshop? It's certainly more powerful for layout and type handling, but it's weak in drawing and image manipulation. IMHO, it's pretty terrible for web layout too. Commented Mar 29, 2014 at 22:50
  • Well, that's not what I said at all. Id has "many of the same capabilities" means just that, not "the same as." Commented Mar 30, 2014 at 6:31
  • Sorry, I guess I'm not following. I thought you might have found some fun stuff I'm not aware of being a cloud-free customer ;) Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 20:17
  • Heh. I wrote that nearly 3 years ago, long before the cloud came along. At the time, transparency effects (drop shadow, glows, bevels, etc.) were still fairly new in Id. As John Nack put it, Adobe ported a "headless Photoshop" into InDesign, eliminating many round-trips to Ps. Id's vector capabilities had expanded to the point where many of things that used to be Illustrator-only could now be done as quickly in Id. These certainly affected my workflow, and I'm sure the same was true for many other folks. Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 21:29
  • I've fallen into the trap of watching the board in "recently active" mode and not checking the actual question/answer dates :D Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 23:07

I use Xara Designer Pro for web design. It's a bit like Adobe illustrator and Adobe Fireworks without the large footprint or pricetag. I love it for it's speed and agility (and it can use Photoshop plugins, yay!). It is a different UI though and if you already are using a lot of Adobe products it may be a bit of a learning curve.

If you want to use staple products that most people in the webdesign industry are using then stick to the Adobe products Photoshop/Fireworks and/or Illustrator (for explicit vector/logo work).

If you get a lot of print work I suggest you stick with Adobe products like InDesign as Xara has a few quirks in the PDF export region :)


Are you wanting/needing to share production files with fellow design professionals? Then yea, Adobe Suite is the way to go.

If you don't need to share production files right now, then get started with much less expensive software:

Inkscape = a really great open source vector illustration application (I prefer over AI for most of my work).

The Gimp and/or Paint.net = two pretty good open source raster image editing apps (akin to Photoshop).


Well you're asking three different questions:

  1. Create designs for online games
  2. General web design
  3. Logo design

I love photoshop and illustrator but I'm not sure why people are suggesting them when you seem to indicate "What to learn next" being after photoshop and illustrator. So my advice:

For online games and logo design I would focus on improving drawing abilities by hand. Beyond that I would say AutoCAD or CorelDRAW are both indespensible for doing precision illustration work and if you ever want to be able to make signage using the logos.

For web design I would start with TextMate. GUI for learning web design I find to be terribly difficult because you won't get a decent foundation. To this day I still do 99% web design work in a scripting environment. Yes, I do have Dreamweaver but for a beginner you'll get lost in Dreamweaver. Start in Notepad or TextMate. (Note: TextMate is Mac only but https://stackoverflow.com/questions/82611/is-there-textmate-like-editor-for-windows will point you towards Windows alternatives. I'm on Mac so can't really say which option is best. Many are very cheap or free though.)

Beyond that some other things you might want to look into is FlexSDK which will give you some game and added versatility in your webdesign. You could also look at Processing.js or Paperscript.js as visual design applications that will also help you to learn javascript at the same time.

  • You might want to take a look at Brackets by Adobe. Text-based web editor, open source. Nice stuff!
    – curious
    Commented Mar 29, 2014 at 19:10

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