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Why did I move from Photoshop to InDesign?

OK, the title of this blog is a little deceptive? I haven’t switched my image editing program from Photoshop to InDesign. InDesign is not an image editing program. But I did have an interesting discussion with myself as to why I had to stop laying out an ad in Photoshop and move it over to InDesign.

My journey started when I created a banner ad for my upcoming one-day seminar on Mastering the Creative Suite (flagrant plug). I had originally laid out the three banner ads in Photoshop because I was outputting as JPEG web images.

But when I got a half-page ad in InDesign Magazine, I figured it would be easier just to keep the artwork as a Photoshop document and save it as a Photoshop PDF. That way I would maintain the crisp, PostScript text without having to recreate the layout in InDesign.

If I didn’t save as a Photoshop PDF, and just saved as an ordinary Photoshop document, all the text would be rasterized when the Photoshop file was placed into InDesign.
But there was one tiny problem that forced me to abandon the Photoshop layout except for the area of the magnifying glass and the text underneath.

The problem was the Creative Suite Conference logo that I had placed in the Photoshop file as a Vector Smart Object.

Although they may be called “Vector” Smart Objects, they do not output as crisp vector information. Vector Smart Objects may store their vector information for editing purposes, but they are rastered on final output.

In my case I needed the logo to output as PostScript. This meant adding the logo to an InDesign file as an Illustrator file, PDF, or EPS.

This is the basis for my next wish for Photoshop (and no, I don’t know anything about what’s coming up):

I want the current type of Vector Smart Object to be divided into two categories. In addition to what we have now, I want a Vector VerySmart? Object that will maintain its vectors.

In addition, I want the VerySmart? Objects to maintain any spot colors that have been applied.

This would give Photoshop a much-needed boost in its spot color abilities which have hardly changed in three or four versions.

Sandee Cohen

Sandee Cohen

Sandee Cohen is the author of the InDesign CC 2014 Visual QuickStart Guide as well as the co-author, with Diane Burns, of Digital Publishing with Adobe InDesign CC.
Sandee Cohen

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7 Comments on “Why did I move from Photoshop to InDesign?

  1. I completely agree with both your points, Sandee. I love vector smart objects in Photoshop, but the fact that vectors aren’t maintained on export is incredibly frustrating to me.

    As for spot colors: I often get the feeling that Adobe forgets that anyone prints with spot colors anymore. Au contraire: We had a guy at The Creative Suite Conference in Chicago who printed only B&W and spot color jobs. He was very confused as to how to make any of the spot color stuff work in Photoshop. Adobe dropped the ball on that years ago.

  2. If I tell you how a high level printing house in Switzerland (they have, and they were the first to get it, the famous 12 color Heidelberg) prints with CMYK + 8 spots (including metal) from Photoshop files, you wouldn’t believe me. It’s up to the level of Star Trek and Star Wars together. And add Dune to be the geek of the day…

  3. When working with spot colors we typically build production files using 2 process colors. This makes the production a lot easier and more flexible, especially in regards to PhotoShop.

    When we have needed to show the client an approximation of the PMS spot colors I have used scripts to make FPO CMYK files of Illustrator and PhotoShop files in the past.

    When I have needed to build an entire job in the spot colors we typically build the photoshop files as CMYK files with one plate for each spot color then duplicate those channels to spot colors after the art is built. This allows us to use effects and layering that are not available when working in the spot channels alone.

    My biggest complaint about working in spot colors is that you have to guess at the opacity of the ink to set in the spot color channel. I would think that Adobe would have some standards for the major color systems that they support.

  4. I completely agree with you. Smart objects work great and are an enormous advancement from previous versions, but the output is not what it could be.

    I, too, have made the switch to InDesign in recent months. It took a while getting used to, but it was well worth it.
    Great article by the way.


  5. hi guys…….is all this stuff about vectors not outputting as proper vectors still the case with CS2 or CS3?? i thought i had been doing something wrong, but it seems you are all saying what i am experiencing! HELP!! i want to emboss the logo on my website!

  6. Emboss the logo on your Website?! No offense, but I’m not sure what that has to do with InDesign or vectors. You can’t really get vectors on the Web except for Flash or SVG or Silverlight. But no, if you use vector smart objects in Photoshop, they aren’t exported as vectors.

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