SOFTWARE REVIEW Illustrator • Photoshop • InDesign

This exercise will reacquaint students with Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign. These are three core Adobe design programs used by our industry.

The three also work seamlessly together. Linked images will continue to update between programs while you are designing.

For example, you may Link an image that is Placed in Illustrator from Photoshop. If you change something in Photoshop and save it again, the linked file in Illustrator should update. You can even place that image from Illustrator (linking to the Photoshop image) into an InDesign document and continue working between the programs. (But to prepare it for sending out to a vendor, you'd fix it to only link once.)

If you need help while working -

  • I can come over and help in class! Just ask!
  • I can also help outside of class too. Just Slack message.

When is this due?

Files from this Software Review are due in your shared Google Drive folder for this class in SOFTWARE REVIEW sub-folder by 9:00 am on Monday, September 20th. This will be covered again at the end of the review in this Spark page.



A quick sketch was created in a staff meeting and handed off to you.

This will go to print and the elements will be pulled apart to use on social media, so the type needs to stay clean vector (= Illustrator), but a photo of water is called for (= Photoshop). (Though social media platforms don't require as high resolution as print, it always good habit to build to the most demanding. You can reduce file resolution and size, but you can't increase it because the digital information is lost.)The final page will be created in InDesign. Start in Illustrator and Photoshop to create the H2O icon.


Create a document, SAVE IT, and prepare your workspace.

1. New document, set to 5 inches x 5 inches, no margin. Color Mode RGB.

Save file as YOUR LAST NAME_SoftwareReview. (It should default to the native Illustrator file type .AI)

To clean up any of the Adobe workspaces, have Select (top outlined arrow on Toolbar) selected. Then click Shift and Tab buttons at the same time at the same time.

Also remember YOU control your view. See under View the different options. Get REALLY used to the following shortcuts that are usually the same across all Adobe (and many other) programs:

Under View

Note: The STEP # does not respond to how the steps are numbered on screen. (I did not consider the term "STEP" when I was naming the videos and how that might be confusing on this Spark document. Oops!)

2. Use Type tool and type H2O (capital letter o, not number 0).

3. Make this Century Gothic Bold (if not available, use Arial Bold and be sad).

4. You can make it large now. After selecting the letters, change to 200 points. It will be larger than the artboard. If you cannot see it, zoom out (View : Zoom Out or shortcut of Command and - )

5. Make the text into vector line art instead of a digital font. To do this, click on the Select tool (outlined top arrow). Then Type : Create Outlines. Now the text is no longer “live”, which means it now vector artwork that doesn’t call to a font file. The video below shows the difference between the two when you View : Preview (default view) and View : Outlines (to see vector details).

6. While still selected, go to Object : Ungroup. >> Deselect. Now with the Select tool , you can move each letter separately.

7. Go to View : Outlines. Move the letters/numbers around so they line up EXACTLY (see video). View : Zoom In or use the Magnify tool .

Then make these 3 letters into 1 symbol. >>

8. Select all of them. First be sure the Select Tool is highlighted (top outlined arrown on toolbar). Then because those 3 shapes are the only items on the page, just Select : All (Command + A).

9. Window : Pathfinder. The top left square is Unite (when you hover over it, the words will appear). Click this and your H 2 O will unite to 1 solid vector form instead of 3 separate forms.

Finalize. >>

10. View : Preview. With the H2O symbol selected, be sure you have a Black stroke (should default to 1 pt. stroke) and None fill. Note: White is not the same as None. See video below while you use Window : Swatches.

11. Save file again and then move on to Photoshop! :)


Next we want to get a water image to crop to the H2O shape. (If you happen to be pretty snazzy with Illustrator and Photoshop already, you know there are Clipping Masks that can do what we are about to do. However, I want a clean file build with as little excess digital information as possible.)

Open Illustrator file in Photoshop.

12. Open Photoshop and clean up your workspace (Select, then Shift + Tab if there are many boxes open).

13. File : Open your Illustrator file. Photoshop sees that this is a vector file and you are opening it into a raster program. You know it is going to rasterize when it asks you what the DPI should be. Vector isn’t concerned with DPI. Bring it in as 150 DPI and RGB. Crop to the Media Box.

14. Be sure when it opens the background is transparent (gray checkerboard). As long as you didn’t add a white background in the Illustrator file, you should be fine.

15. Save as YOUR LAST NAME_SoftwareReview.PSD. << The PSD will be added by Photoshop because it's the file type.

FYI: Even tracing a raster file in Illustrator will not retrieve the clean vector. Photoshop cannot save over an .AI file (but it can save over a vector .PDF and .EPS, so be careful with those file types).

Then crop a water texture to the shape.

16. Open WATER_1.JPG* from your SOFTWARE REVIEW SUPPLIES folder. *This is pulled from the web and I do not own it. I have also already made sure it is large enough for what we need in this project because you can't just assume!

17. Select : All and Edit : Copy.

18. Edit : Paste this into your H2O PSD document. You can close the WATER.JPG image now because we're done with it.

19. Window : Layers to open your Layers palette to see that Photoshop will automatically create a new layer when pasting work into it.

20. Label your layers “Image” and “H2O”.

21. Place your Image layer below the H2O layer.

22. Select your H2O layer. Using the Magic Wand tool , select everything outside of the letters. Hold down the Shift key and also select the area within the O. (Or just do it in two separate steps like I did in the video.)

23. Click to the Image layer while the "marching ants" are still selecting the area from the H2O layer. Click Delete.

24. File : Save again. Just always do that as often as you can.

25. Hide the top layer that held the H2O black lines (click on the eye by the layer). You should have 1 visible layer that is a water image shaped like letters. You should also still have a transparent background. SAVE.

Create a shadow in the shapes.

26. In the Images Layer, click within the artboard and Select All (Cmnd + A) if you had deselected. Then double-click the Images Layer to open Layer Style.

27. Add an Inner Shadow as shown below. (Multiply; Opacity 44; Angle 118; Distance 11; Choke 22; Size 9) Then save again.


Bring the Photoshop file into the original Illustrator file.

28. With Illustrator file open, go to Window : Layers. Create a New Layer.

FYI: Only Photoshop will automatically create a new layer. This is because Photoshop has had layers since I installed the program using floppy disks. :) Illustrator existed for years with no layers option, but there are "layers" within the vector art that are easier to control than Photoshop's raster work.

29. File : Place your PSD (Photoshop) file into this new layer. Keep it Linked (see video).

30. Label your layers IMAGE and H2O again.

31. Move the IMAGE layer below the H2O layer.

Both layers should have transparent backgrounds. If they don’t stay transparent, see Prof. Nikki and we will figure what step was missed.

32. Move the image and type so they match. Because of the way the file has been built, that should mean just lining up one square over the other.

33. See the difference between vector (H20) and raster (Image). Hide the H2O layer so that all you see is the ocean letters of the IMAGE layer. View : Outline. You will just see a square because the image is raster even though it is an image of letters. Hide the IMAGE layer and view the H2O layer. You can see the vector art. REMEMBER THIS when working in Illustrator if you wonder whether something is raster or vector.


Read below and watch the video. There is nothing for you to do here, but WATCH IT.

Remember that we LINKED (vs. Embedded) the Photoshop file when we placed it in the Illustrator file. That means when we change it and save it in Photoshop, Illustrator will ask to update the linked artwork.

With experience, you will learn how to work between the three programs seamlessly. :)




  • Photoshop never links to anything. It is completely self-contained and is usually a large file because raster digital imagery is large.

----- >>

  • Photoshop native file type: PSD
  • Common raster image file types: JPG, PNG, TIFF, GIF
  • Be careful of these because the file type can be saved as either vector or raster, which means you could accidentally write over a vector file: EPS and PDF



  • InDesign usually contains either "live" type that calls to a font and/or images placed in it. Though InDesign gives the option to embed images, just ignore it. It's not like Illustrator.
  • You are usually going to update images outside of the program before you're done with your InDesign file.
  • This is also why InDesign easily packages everything for you when you're done, gathering everything that created it.

----- >>

  • InDesign native file type: INDD.
  • InDesign cannot Save As anything other than an InDesign file format; however, it can File : Export to other file types. The most common exported document is a PDF, especially Print PDFs and Interactive PDFs.



  • As you've seen in this Software Review, Illustrator will either Link or Embed a placed raster image in its vector environment. If it contains embedded images, the file will be larger because it has more digital information contained.
  • Illustrator will not package anything for you. That means if you used a font or linked an image, it's up to you to keep track of those. (For example, if you moved computers and opened your Illustrator file that has linked images that you didn't bring, you are going to have a problem. Same thing if you don't have the font on the computer.)

----- >>

  • Illustrator native file type: AI.
  • Illustrator will also commonly be saved as an EPS or PDF and keep all elements vector.
  • Other common vector file types: SVG
  • Illustrator will File : Export to raster images, but doing all that in Photoshop will give you more control.

***NOW BACK TO WORK....***


Embed the linked image file into the Illustrator file.

34. First Unlock the Image Layer. Then Window : Links.

35. Select the image file (it's the only image available in this document) and then using dropdown menu on Links palette, select Embed Image(s).

See the image that appears on the Links palette. Remember this for easy reference in future creations when you may have a ton of images placed, some linked and some embedded.

Now make the Illustrator art have "rough edges" as requested.

36. Lock the IMAGE layer. Click on the H2O layer.

37. Now click on the artboard anywhere and Select : All. Your H2O vector should be the only thing selected because the IMAGE layer is locked.

36. Open Window : Brush Libraries : Artistic : Artistic_ChalkCharcoalPencil. You can also mess with lots of other brushes available here included default with the program. Also open Window : Stroke.

37. With the H2O vector art selected, find the stroke treatment that closely resembles what I have here. Try others, including other Brush Libraries and Stroke weights - have fun!

38. File : Save again.

We move on to InDesign next!


Note: if your computer begins to operate slowly, close that space-hogging Photoshop.

Create an InDesign document.

39. Open InDesign and File : New.

  • Change Units to Inches if they are not already by default.
  • Make document 5 in (inches) x 5 in (inches)
  • Orientation doesn't matter because it's a square.
  • 1 page
  • NO Facing Pages (= no check mark by "Facing Pages")
  • Start #1
  • NO Primary Text Frame (= no check mark by "Primary Text Frame")
  • 1 column (the number doesn't matter because there isn't a gutter with only 1 column)
  • No margins (0 in)
  • No bleed (0 in)

40. See Window : Pages. This Software Review will not use Master Pages, so just use the default Page. Be sure you are on a Page and not a Master Page.

41. File : Save As YOUR LAST NAME_SoftwareReview.INDD (INDD will populate by the program).

42. DOUBLE-CLICK the Rectangle Frame tool on the tool bar. Then click once on the artboard. A dialog box will appear. Type in 5 in x 5 in. Once this box appears, align it to the artboard.

43. Select (top arrow) the box you just created and File : Place your AI file.

44. It probably looks very low-quality. This is because InDesign must render the Postscript to make it look correct and this can be unnecessary when working with massive multi-page documents. You aren’t working on anything massive, so go View : Display Performance : High Quality Display and it should look perfect.

Usually you would also need to be sure an image fits the box. Though you don't need to do that here, the video still shows it.

Match the composition to the rough sketch.

First position the image.

45. Move your image around with the Direct Select (top arrow) tool and place what the initial sketch seems to show. The video also shows these important skills to use:

  • DO NOT SKEW the image if you decrease the size. A quick way to scale the image by eye is to hold down Shift and Command while you toggle the image with your mouse.
  • Use View's sub-menus to see how you best like to work with your files.
  • We will work with how text flows (or doesn't) around a placed image later in the semester. The control for this is located under Window : Text Wrap and you will use it a lot in the future.

Then make the block of text.

46. With the Text tool, draw a rectangle in the bottom right corner for a column of copy.

47. Now select the type box. Type : Fill With Placeholder Text. The box will fill with made-up words imitating the visual structure of the language.

48. Window : Type : Character to open the palette that controls the type.

49. Select all the text with the Type tool and make it Garamond Regular (or Times New Roman if that's not available). Play with the pt. size and the space between lines of text (called "leading" - rhymes with "bedding").

In the video below, see what happens when you don't first select the type before you mess around in the Character palette. The program won't change anything if it doesn't know what it's supposed to change. ;)

50. File : Save 


Read below and watch the video. There is nothing for you to do here, but WATCH IT.

It used to be that anything at all that was linked in InDesign that was changed at all in another program immediately alerted this when one opened (or returned to) InDesign. It looks like the latest version of InDesign makes the user update the link when ready.

This seems an odd change, but perhaps it was because designers wanted more control while thinking and working between the programs. Either way, InDesign will not allow final file preparation to happen without warning of missed links and fonts.

So this video shows me manually checking InDesign's Links palette after the Illustrator file that you watch me change (and save).


FILE : PACKAGE >> InDesign's most magical gift to designers!

51. File : Package and let InDesign double-check all of your work and gather everything you ask.

  • First the program will check all of your links and fonts. As the video shows below, everything is OK and linked.
  • Don't worry about the other categories for now.

52. When this box comes up, see the Folder name defaults to the file name. Then select Copy Fonts, Copy Linked Graphics, and Include PDF [High Quality Print]. Make it a habit to save things to your Desktop while working and then moving them to the cloud or external device when you leave the computer that day.

53. InDesign will then always warn you about copyright next. Just click ok.

54. Find the folder on your Desktop (or wherever you saved it). Remember it should be named YOUR LAST NAME_SoftwareReview Folder. If it isn't, go back and package again.

See how the folder contains the InDesign file (.INDD), the fonts you used, the Illustrator file (.AI), and a PDF.

  • Why did it gather only the Illustrator file? The Photoshop was embedded in the Illustrator file, so we only linked once. InDesign won't gather the links of linked files.
  • Why doesn't the Document Fonts folder contain the sans serif typeface I used to create the H2O art? The Illustrator file had not "live" text because we outlined* all of it, so InDesign gathers no fonts from that document. *Remember that "outlined" just means it made vector art out of a font file.

Turn in your work for credit.

55. Within your shared folder for this class is a sub-folder titled SOFTWARE REVIEW. Depending on how you have your desktop view, it will look like one of the following (except your file folders in Fall 2021 do not include "Typography Workbook" or "Working Files"):

56. Drag the entire folder to this sub-folder. Check to make sure it's all there.

DUE by 9:00am on Monday, September 20th.


You're done! Good job! :)

Created By
Nikki Arnell


Created with an image by Quangpraha - "shellfish mussel sand"