February 11, 2015

When to Use Photoshop vs. Illustrator For Laying Out Your Design

There are quite a few wordy articles out there about when to use Photoshop vs. Illustrator. To help you layout your designs for the purposes of our products, here it is in a nutshell:

  • Use for our heat press products: Stock Casita Canopy Tents and Stock Table Throws, 1 or 2 Color Logos.
  • Use when creating or updating logos.
  • Preferred for vector art.

So you love Illustrator more than Photoshop? Well, that’s okay. You can still use it to lay out your design for our other products. You just got to do a couple of things before you submit your artwork:
    1. Don’t forget to create outlines on your fonts, basically converting text to shapes. This is important to your design because we may not have the same font and when we receive the file, your font will default to a different, generic font.
    2. Don’t forget to embed all images.
Don’t know how to create outlines? Click here to watch a 3 minute video tutorial on how to convert text to shapes.

  • Use for all other products that are not heat press.
  • Use when manipulating photos.
  • Use when compiling multiple images into one design.
  • Mainly raster art (aka pixels).
  • After you’re done creating or updating your logo in Illustrator, bring it back into Photoshop. Having a vector logo will save you headaches when designing for large format displays since there isn’t any pixelation in vector art.

Tips on Image Quality

  1. To ensure high quality images, search for images with the highest DPI and file sizes. They will give the best quality output and will allow an increase or decrease in size with the least amount of pixelation.
  2. Don’t forget to view your artwork at actual size. In doing so, it will give you peace of mind that your image looks great at actual size.
  3. If there is pixelation in your image at actual size, how do you know it’s okay to use? Step away from your computer two to four feet and look at it. Does the image look any better? If yes, then it’s fine to use. If not, then fix it. (Why two to four feet away? Because at a trade show or other event, people will see your displays about that far away.)
  4. Want to know a good place to get vector images and images that have large file sizes with higher DPI? Here at San Diego Sign Company, we like to use iStock Photos.


  1. Many thanks for the tips and tutorial on creating outlines. I do not see there anything extra. Only practical advice. Very easy to use format providing information. For my projects, I use vectors from here free vector icons. Then I edit for my needs. It saves time.

    1. You're welcome Anthony! And thank you for the comment and vector link as it may help others who also need vectors.