I usually build grey-ish government type applications but lately I've been try my hand at some iPhone and iPad work. It looks like graphic design plays a large part in these systems.

I'm wondering if there is any one product which has the bigger community, or is the most frequently used. E.g. I don't want to spend hours learning Photoshop and then learn that 80% of designers use Adobe Illustrator.

  • 5
    Uh...not meant to be snippy here, but graphic design should be part of any system. Good graphic design should = ease in UI use (it's not just for making stuff look shiny, although shiny is always good for keeping government employees' attention) which = better use of the system. If you can't find the "any" key you can't hit it when required to do so. ;-) Oh, and welcome to the Graphic Design stack exchange. :-) Commented Oct 3, 2011 at 14:11

3 Answers 3


Here's the generalized algorithm that I've developed over the years:

def determine_graphics_app():
    if you_have_dough_for_adobe_products:
        if vector_images_required:
            return "illustrator"
            return "photoshop"
        if vector_images_required:
            return "inkscape"
            return "gimp"
    # unreachable: mspaint

The concepts of a bitmap tailored graphics application are pretty global (not the implementation or the usage, but the concepts). Same holds true for vector graphics. There's a learning curve when learning any new application, but the general principles are fairly consistent.

The application you learn doesn't impact you so much as what it is that you've output.


Learning design theory and concepts is more important than a particular piece of software. It's akin to how learning HTML, CSS and JS is more important than learning DreamWeaver.

To implement, you then pick the particular software you need for the particular task. There is no one universal do-it-all software program for graphic design.

You'll typically want to learn vector illustration and raster illustration.

Vector options:

  • Inkscape
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Corel Draw

Raster options:

  • Photoshop
  • Fireworks (also does some vector)
  • the GIMP
  • Pixelmator
  • Paint.net
  • I find it amusing you mention CorelDraw but not CorelPaint
    – Ryan
    Commented Mar 1, 2012 at 21:00

The Corel Draw suite provides pretty good bang for buck, providing an image editor (Photo Paint), Vector drawing program (Corel Draw), plus a suite of other utilities. Adobe snobbery aside, it's not bad - it was pretty flaky around the mid 90s with version 6/7, but nowadays it's stable.

As a bonus, it comes with a large collection of good quality Bitstream fonts - something like 1,000. IMHO it's worth the money for the fonts alone.

Now for the good bit. Look for older versions like X3 or X4 on ebay. You'll be pleasantly surprised at the price, even for full retail editions. I got X3 a few years ago for £135.

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