Posted On May 24, 2016 By Tom Gillan

The dozen or so programs available within the Adobe Creative Suite, available now by subscribing to the Adobe Creative Cloud, or CC for short, are world-leaders in digital production software. Some programs, for example InDesign and Photoshop, are used for creating static page and flyer-type documents, whilst other programs within the suite are used for web design and video editing.

The two main Adobe programs used for the production of marketing and design collateral are Photoshop and InDesign, and they integrate seamlessly.

Photoshop’s main strength lies in its ability to manipulate photographic (or pixel-based) imagery, whilst InDesign is used at the later layout stage, where we combine our text and imagery into multi-page documents for print or digital production.

A typical workflow

A typical workflow would include importing text, images and diagrams into a multi-page layout in InDesign. Our text may either be created within InDesign itself or copied from an existing PDF. Or, most commonly, imported from Microsoft Word documents received from various departments or colleagues. When we import this text we may either ignore or preserve the existing formatting. Often we prefer to use our own text styles, in accordance with our company style guide.

Photographs are usually first manipulated in Photoshop, then imported into InDesign. In Photoshop we can adjust the tonal or colour levels of a photograph, or retouch any blemishes within the image. Photoshop has a vast array of tools for each job.

Diagrams and illustrations, which are vector-based rather than pixel-based like Photoshop, would be created within Adobe Illustrator, and similarly imported into InDesign.

Using templates

Brochures and newsletters are usually created using pre-formatted templates. These may be downloaded from design sites on the Internet, or created from scratch. Many InDesign users prefer the latter method, utilizing their company’s style recommendations for colours, fonts and logo placement. Company templates can also be shared with colleagues in order to keep the design consistent within documents.

A typical template consists of page size and orientation, as well as settings for margins and columns. A company masthead would be placed on the front page, as well as a table of contents and contact details. Corporate colours would be saved as swatches for consistency, and these can also be loaded from previous documents. And styles for headers and paragraphs would be created and saved within the template. These can also be imported from existing Word documents.

Adding style

Headers and footers, logos, coloured sidebars, and automatic page numbering are all saved within InDesign’s master pages, allowing for easy formatting of each individual page. Layers are also used to separate text and graphic content.

Object Styles may be used for effects like drop shadows and text wrap, thus keeping the appearance of all graphics uniform throughout our document.

The document is then saved as a template file format. InDesign users will have a raft of templates created over time. When a new document is required, the user simply opens a template file and a new document opens based on that template. It’s then a simple matter to import new images into placeholders in the template, as well as import text documents from Microsoft Word. We would then apply our various paragraph and header styles, and lastly export the document ready for print or web distribution. In this manner, the appearance of our multi-page documents is kept consistent from issue to issue, in accordance with our company’s style guidelines.

Creativity flows from knowledge

The full benefits of the Adobe Creative Suite lie in knowing when to use the right tool for each design job. This is all a matter of practice and experience, but our Adobe courses provide you with simple, easy-to-follow workflows, taking the pain out of the learning process.

Tom Gillan has been using Photoshop and InDesign for almost 20 years, and training the programs within the corporate world for the last 9 years. His background was originally fine arts, before transitioning into graphic design, and software training.