What are the best software programs to prepare artwork and graphics for printing?
I have some pictures and graphics I want to use in a promotional brochure, and want to know what software to use to prepare a file for a printing company.
I prefer indesign, then Illustrator and then photoshop. Indesign is great tool for digital publishing, it provide you variety of formats for print with accurate bleed setting. Illustrator can provide a good quality vector based output. though photoshop work in multiple dimensions you can still have CMYK layout created in it too. If you don't have any of these GIMP is a great free alternative.
If you are laying out a project for print you need to use a combination of software. Adobe CC includes InDesign. InDesign on its own is a okay program. It works best with Photoshop and Illustrator. It is a layout program.
Illustrator is great for vector graphics and a specific kind of illustration. Logos and branding work great in Illustrator.
Photoshop is for photo retouching and getting creative with pixel based images. Photoshop is also a illustration tool.
Now when you have your elements that you need from Illustrator and Photoshop. You can bring all the elements together into InDesign. InDesign is where the magic of layout happens. How text, images and graphic elements all work together. The three main programs work so well together. Even Illustrator and Photoshop have some back and forth that can be amazingly helpful.
InDesign truly is for laying out the design. An Example would be a magazine layout. You could do each page in Illustrator but you would have some workarounds. You would loose some of the functionality that makes InDesign so good. You could do some illustration work in InDesign but really you are using dumbed down versions of the great tools found in Illustrator. Together the programs work as a excellent suite. In the past Adobe sold the Creative Suite. Now they have CC.
CC works on Windows or Mac platforms, you should be good with any of the more recent versions of Windows. I am on a Mac OS and love it. Adobe’s website should have a list if you really want the specifics. You can get CC versions for Photoshop but the full CC is the one that includes InDesign. You will have loads of software with this package. First step is to learn the basic tools, from me or youtube or linda.com or a credited collage. Do not get overwhelmed it is easy to do. I have been using Adobe products for over 20 years and I still find cool new techniques that I love. They keep innovating with the products as well, this brings new cool things to help streamline workflows. Once you have the basics you can add a little bit here and a little bit there to grow your knowledge. I find podcast are a good way to keep up to date. The Internet really helps. Just little tips and tricks keep us getting better all the time. Other points about using CMYK and file types are good. Let know what you decide.
Suitable software are Adobe Indesign and Illustrator...Illustrator is more suited for branding on promotional items while Indesign is very good for designing booklets and brochures, that is, when preparing documents with more content. Both of these software produce a high quality vector based artwork which can be saved in PDF format when preparing for print.
Photoshop on the other hand is very good when working with images and is also capable of producing very crisp effects on text, 3D or any other object whether imported from Illustrator or drawn in photoshop. It can be used for designing single page artworks like posters, business cards, leaflets etc...(Artwork for not very heavy duty print).
This needs a well trained person to use so my advice is that you hire a good graphic designer to help you with this.
I hope this will help.
Ideally graphics should be in a vector format (.ai, .eps, etc.) and any images should be 300dpi CMYK. The file itself should be converted according to the appropriate print output characteristics (offset, digital) or using file exchange standards such as PDF/X, and color-space standards such as SWOP, GRACoL, or FOGRA.
If all that sounds like gobbledegook to you (and why shouldn't it...) and your budget precludes giving the work to a professional, then in my opinion the best way forward is to speak with your printing company.
Any print services provider worth their salt will be happy to give you advice on how to create and present the file to them to ensure optimized print output. It's as much in their interests as yours to ensure a successful result.
My recommendation is to contract a designer or firm to take your pictures and graphics to design and write appropriate messaging and call to action. Purchasing professional design software would be expensive, require design skills and involve a large learning curve. If you truly feel you can do it yourself, then use a vistaprint or similar where you just drop your photo in a generic template and print. You don't need software for that.
Over the years my experiences have been positive with them. We have used them to upload custom work and do small print jobs. The quality has been fine and as expected. I don't represent them or use them often, but I think for the price, and if someone needs a template to work with, they would be viable.
If it's just a brochure I use indesign or illustrator. You will have to contact your printing company to find out their file requirements. Some prefer high quality/print ready pdfs and some prefer the working file with all links and fonts.
If you dont want to spend a lot of time designing and editing, and want to just drag and drop your idea, use Canva.com its like InDesign + Photoshop on Steroids :-)
Plus it Autosaves everything
I would say that if you are asking this question it would be best to contact a graphic designer to help you versus spending hundreds of dollars for software you may only use a few times and because of your skill level may not get the results you want — costing you more money in the long run.
Furthermore, you could ask your printer to take the raw images and put them into the appropriate format for their purposes. Most, if not all, printers offer graphic design services as well.
I'm a big fan of Canva. Most elements are free, the templates are beautiful and integrate perfectly with social media. https://www.canva.com/