As an illustrator, I use a lot of raw textures I capture or scan on my own, and then go through a series of steps that require a lot of effort and time. In order to provide a better picture of what I’m doing, I’ll list the most important steps of my workflow:

I design the vectors and the whole visual composition in InDesign; I capture, scan, or select the textures (usually as massive, sluggish TIF files) I need for the illustration; I open the textures and paste them inside the vectors in InDesign. This is the only way I know to actually change the colours of the textures (see attached illustration).

With this in mind, what are other ways to accomplish the same result in a way that I can deal both with vector illustration and raster graphics with ease? The kind of answer I’m looking could be something like:

Design the vectors in Illustrator Compact the huge TIFs in Photoshop Paste the vectors into Photoshop and fill them up (or use layer masks) with textures

Please bear in mind I don’t have much experience with Photoshop, I just threw the above steps out of the blue. You can check some of my work at fatinha.com.

Dealing with textures

2 Answers 2


Actually, you are on the right track.

You can create your vectors in Illustrator and then copy/paste or place them into Photoshop as Smart Objects. This embeds the vector data in Photoshop and is then separate from the original vector file, but it's all still vector. Photoshop merely copies the vector data and includes it as part of it's own file. Photoshop is also smart enough to know that if the data was generated in Illustrator it should use Illustrator to edit the data when requested. If you need to edit the vector, simply double-click the layer thumbnail in the Layer Panel and it will open the vector data in Illustrator.

In Photoshop, you can do whatever you need to with the textures - change colors, mask, duplicate, transform, etc. You will actually have much more control over the textures in Photoshop than you do in InDesign.


The easiest way is to stick with one program, if I were to do this, I would do it in Illustrator. You can throw in your textured images, live paint them, turn them into custom brushes, and then start to build a library of vector brushes which you can scale to your needs as they come up. You can also get custom brushes made specifically for vector on the web until you learn how to make your own brushes in Illustrator. Here's a quick video tutorial of custom brushes: via youtube

InDesign is great, but it's more for layout than image editing. You'll want to stick with Illustrator or Photoshop for creating your TIF and EPS files for print.

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