Which Adobe Should I Learn First? Read this First!

Deciding to learn a new skill is amazing. It takes effort and focus to commit to something new. With so much on offer with the Adobe Creative Cloud, it’s hard to know which to learn first. Let’s talk about the most popular to get you started.

Choosing the first Adobe product to learn will be based on your needs as a design. The top three are Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign. Illustrator will allow you to learn both tools and formats.

No one Adobe product is easier than another but all have similar tools and interfaces. It is very dependent on what your ultimate goal is in learning an Adobe product. Let’s take a look at what each app is aimed at and which is most suitable for your needs.

Top 3 Adobe Products

Firstly let’s look at the top 3 Adobe products. They are Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator. We also have Premier Pro but that is an editing program and is in a different environment than the first three. 

Top Adobe Products PS AI IND

Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop is an image editing app where you can alter images and also add text, color, filters to an image artboard. Photoshop is always perceived to be very involved and it can be but if your goal is to edit, scale or reformat some pics then it’s very manageable to navigate around.

Adobe Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator is predominantly used for creating logos (vector graphics) where resolution won’t be lost when scaled. Images can be placed within your artboard but can’t be altered apart from scaling.

Adobe InDesign

Adobe InDesign is the leading Desktop Publishing (DTP) app available. Used by graphic designers to create brochures, magazines, banners, and signs. Images and vectors can be placed within your document but can’t be altered apart from scaling, opacity, some basic filters.

What is it you are hoping for?

Ultimately the first product you learn will be dependent on your project or your job needs.

If for example, you are compiling a bunch of photos that need tidying up or changing the format, then your first Adobe app to learn should be Photoshop. 

If on the other hand you are putting a magazine together or a project that is text-heavy then you should learn InDesign.

If you are focusing on individual logos or pieces of artwork (a tattoo artist for example) then your go to app should be Adobe Illustrator.

What experience have you had with Adobe apps?

This is also something that needs to be considered. I have been a graphic designer for 25+ years and sometimes it’s hard to remember actually learning the Adobe products. 

I initially worked with QuarkXpress as a DTP app but I migrated to InDesign when I gained a new client, but also it made more financial sense when Adobe introduced their online subscription.

But I always was an Illustrator user. I drew maps for a time for a chain of hotels and loved using Illustrator. It really taught me the toolbox and how to manage layers in really large jobs.

If you are a brand new, never used a design app before, I would recommend Illustrator to learn first. It will teach you all the basics that you can then take to other Adobe products – shapes, text, lines, color, format.

Illustrator allows you to design single-page pieces of artwork. It can become as technical as you wish or you can design very simple but very effective designs.

What I love about Adobe

Adobe products in the Creative Cloud Suite are fantastic in that all the apps can interact together. You can save an Illustrator file and open or place it in Photoshop or InDesign. This saves a lot of time. But the other thing about Adobe is that whichever app you begin on you will find that when you move on to the next app a lot of the tools and layout are the same or very similar.

The panels have the same constant throughout all apps, pages, layers, character styles.

The same goes for the toolbox. Of course, each app will have tools that are specific to it but once you get the hang of one app it is easier to migrate and feel comfortable with another.

So Let’s Get Started!

Adobe apps are part of the Creative Cloud Suite. This is a subscription online for one, several, or all apps that you require.

You can choose which app you require, but also you can tailor your subscription to paying monthly or annually. You can pay for one app or the entire suite.

You can also receive reductions if you are a student or a teacher.

But the best thing about it is you can trial each app for 7 days for FREE. This allows you to get a feel for each app and decide which one suits your needs the best.

The best value package is the complete suite that offers 20+ apps including all the big hitters, Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and also access to Fonts and some stock pics. 

But this option is not for everyone. You may feel that you would never be using an editing app or a DTP app and if that is the case don’t be swayed by the marketing.

I have the complete subscription but use 4-5 apps on a weekly basis, so it makes sense for me to pay for the whole suite.

Alternatively, you can start out with a single app and easily upgrade to the entire suite if you feel you need more. This is done through the Creative Cloud portal. If you have paid in full for a single app you will receive a refund and a new payment plan if you choose to switch going forward.

Creative Cloud Pricing

In Conclusion

The first Adobe product you learn is very dependable on what exactly you want to do graphically. But Adobe is fully on board with this which is why they offer Free trials and all the different payment plans. So what are you waiting for – get stuck in and start designing!

Here are some other posts you might find useful:

Is it worth learning Photoshop?

Is it worth learning InDesign?

Tara Cunningham

My name is Tara. I am a Graphic Designer for the last 25+ years. Designing everything from Wedding stationery to Magazines. I have been using Adobe products since I was in college and know all the tips and tricks that make life a little easier when completing a project. Hopefully you will find the answer to your question on PurpleHotKeys.com

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