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Creative Software Review

Adobe Creative Cloud 2020 Review

Adobe’s Creative Cloud is a collection of 20+ desktop and mobile apps and services for photography, design, video, web, UX and more. Explore your creativity with software like Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator. Voted #1 in graphic design software.

Pros:

  • Industry-standard and highly recommended by creative experts.
  • Complete package with more than 20+ creative apps.
  • Free trial available. No credit card needed.

Cons:

  • Only available for a monthly or annual subscription.
  • Less suitable for beginner or amateur use due to the relatively high cost.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. This means that, at no added cost to you, we might earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

More About Adobe Creative Cloud

Adobe Creative Cloud Reviews

Find out what each expert had to say about Adobe Creative Cloud.

Nicole Garcia

Chief Marketing Officer - Most Craft

I’m a graphic artist and I also handle a creative team that makes the bulk of the graphic designs you see on our site. In Most Craft, we utilize 2 software for our images, and I truly recommend all of them. These are Photoshop and the Canva photo editor.

✓ Adobe Photoshop
Adobe Photoshop is a mammoth image editing software that everyone is familiar with. In our company, we use this to retouch, make complex edits, and make new images out of the old ones. Depending on your skill level, anything is possible with this software. However, it can be challenging if you’re working with dozens of images on a tight schedule. That’s why utilizing the other tool is a great big thing.

✓ Canva
We use the Canva photo editor for efficiency. The broad template collection you can easily access is a lifesaver. It saves you time and effort because the design template and stock images are easily available for you to tweak. Whether it be for a social media post or banner for your site, creating one in Canva is a breeze.

Roxanne Brown

Creative Art Director - PageSparx

✓ Adobe Creative Cloud
For a solution that covers most broad-based graphic design needs, most industry professionals including us, would recommend Adobe’s offerings. Adobe has become the standardized format for the industry, pushing giants like QuarkXpress and others to the wayside. Unfortunately, like many companies, Adobe has moved to a SaaS (Software As A Service) model that a lot of graphic artists/designers grumble about. Gone are the days where you can just buy software in a box and update when you wanted or needed to. With the new model (which isn’t exactly new because they rolled out the Creative Suite SaaS model back in 2012), you’re forced to pay a monthly fee for a subscription to their family of applications.

There are plenty of good alternatives to Adobe products, but they’re not conveniently all under one roof – or company. If you don’t mind using apps from various companies, there are even quite a few free options out there. These programs may be compatible and open certain files but may cause problems when you want to save to a specific proprietary file format.

Kristin McCrossin

Creative Director - Boomtown Internet Group

✓ Adobe Creative Cloud
For true graphic designers, the Adobe suite can do everything. The Adobe tools are intuitive (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, etc) once you know the basics of how to use them. They can do anything you want – from editing images to creating a logo from scratch.

Monica Lent

Editor - Fun With Fuji

✓ Adobe Lightroom
Adobe Lightroom Classic is still the best photo editing software for the majority of photographers.

It supports a wide variety of camera makes and models, is easy for beginners to learn through free content online, and allows you plenty of flexibility and performance as a professional as well.

The downside of Adobe Lightroom is that the latest version is only available on a subscription model. While it’s good because Adobe regularly releases new features and performance improvements, the cost is higher in the long run for most users.

But if you like getting new features and improvements on a regular basis, the $20/mo photography package from Adobe is a great option and includes Photoshop as well.

Capture One Pro is an excellent photography processing tool, especially if you’re shooting with a system that isn’t well supported by Lightroom.

For example, Fujifilm RAW photos often lose detail as a result of the way Lightroom decodes the files captured by an X Trans sensor. Instead of adding a pre-processing step to your workflow with an additional tool like Irident X Transformer, it might be more efficient to work entirely in Capture One.

Apart from processing certain types of files, the distinction between Lightroom Classic and Capture One Pro is mostly up to personal preference. The former is simply more popular and has more learning material online than the latter.

If you want to own the software outright instead of paying a monthly subscription, Capture One Pro offers both a lifetime license and a subscription option. I’d recommend any user start with a monthly subscription to get a feel for the tool and see how it suits their workflow.

Jose Gomez

CTO & Technical Lead - Evinex

✓ Adobe Photoshop
There is no doubt in this one. Photoshop is the best software out there for photo editing. It has a massive community behind it, and Adobe is always improving it and enhancing its features.

It is a super complete software that allows you to do all kinds of image editing tasks. The learning curve may be challenging at first, but it is worth it.

Michelle Kraft

Graphic and Web Designer - Michelle Kraft Design + Dev

✓ Adobe Creative Suite
If you want software that is going to get the job done right, you need to go with the non-surprising industry standard—Adobe Suite. For the last 15 years, I’ve consistently used Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign to create everything I need for both online and print. Recently, Adobe has come out with templates, presets, and tutorials to compete with Canva and allow a user to dive in and get started right away. You can create your own brushes, patterns, and effects to make sure your designs stay unique to you and your brand. There are zero limitations with what you can create in your Adobe designs. I’ve arm-wrestled with trying to create a simple drop shadow in Canva, and I always go back to Adobe software to create what I need to import into Canva.

Brandon Ballweg

Founder/Editor - ComposeClick

The photo editing software that I recommend is Capture One and Affinity Photo.

✓ Capture One
Capture One is used to make your initial photo adjustments like exposure, color/white balance, sharpening, and organizing your collections of photos. The control you have with Capture One over the color palette of your images is really unrivaled by any other photo editor.

Adobe Lightroom used to be basically the only game in town for this type of photo editing but Capture One has surpassed them, although Lightroom is still a viable option.

✓ Affinity Photo
For more advanced edits, like when I need to cut out sections of a photo, do more advanced dodging and burning, or graphic design, I use Affinity Photo, which is a direct competitor to Adobe Photoshop. I like the results I get with Affinity Photo better than what I was getting with Photoshop, plus it’s actually cheaper.

Catherine Nguyen

Photographer/Owner - Catherine Nguyen Photography

I use a combination of Adobe LightRoom, Bridge, and Photoshop.

✓ Adobe Bridge
I mostly use Bridge to rename batches of my files quickly.

✓ Adobe Lightroom
I use Lightroom as my primary catalog of images. I also use Lightroom as a way to preview my images and do a first-round edit by getting rid of those which I will not submit to the client. Then, I use LightRoom’s Develop feature to correct for color temperature, exposure, contrast, reduce noise, correct for lens distortion, etc.

✓ Adobe Photoshop
If I find that further in-depth masking and editing need to be done, I take the photo from LightRoom into Photoshop and complete my retouching there. Lastly, I use LightRoom to export my images in the requisite file formats for my clients.

I recommend LightRoom because it is a very powerful organizing as well as editing tool. It is an integral part of my post-production process. It allows you to develop your RAW images as well as manage your image catalog, assign metadata and export or print your images. In addition, there are Map, Slideshow, Book and Web features.

Elizabeth Moosburner

Lead Designer - Venta Marketing

✓ Adobe Creative Cloud
As the design department for a full-service digital marketing agency, our team is responsible for creating the assets used in landing pages, ads, multimedia projects, websites, and branding guides. To handle all of these digital mediums, we rely on the versatile design tools in the Adobe Creative Suite — primarily Illustrator.

Illustrator gives graphic designers the freedom to create, draw, scale, and add dimension to high-resolution vector art. From basic shapes to advanced 3D elements, Illustrator helps our agency create pixel-perfect designs for every marketing campaign.

Joseph Black

Manager Support Services - ABC Software house

The best photo editing software in the world must be Adobe Photoshop, right? It’s an easy answer, but the wrong one!
The best photo editing software isn’t necessarily from Adobe! There are plenty of Photoshop and Lightroom rivals that bring very different tools, styles, effects and possibilities for keen photographers.

Remember that Photoshop is also for artists, designers, videographers and illustrators too. There’s a lot in Photoshop you won’t need, and there’s only a finite amount of space inside Photoshop for photography-specific tools.

So Photoshop is great at what it does, but what it does start to look pretty limited. Which is why the other programs on our list all deserve a long, hard look? Many are cheaper, many are simpler, and many are smarter.

Lightroom is so powerful you may not need Photoshop at all, Affinity Photo does everything that Photoshop does at a fraction of the price, Capture One Pro is like Lightroom for pros and DxO PhotoLab can make the results from ordinary cameras and lenses look better than you could ever have imagined.

✓ Adobe Photoshop
If you’re looking for cheaper all-in-one photo editors, get Adobe Photoshop Elements if you must, but first take a look at ON1 Photo RAW2020, Exposure X5 and Skylum Luminar. Adobe might still be the big name in photo editing, but don’t decide anything until you see what its rivals can do!

Here is the list of different software names that’s also a substitute for Adobe Photoshop.
✓ Affinity Photo
✓ PhaseOne Capture One Pro 20
✓ DxO Nik Collection 3
✓  Luminar 4

It depends on the needs of the designer which one he will select, as per his requirements.

David Jon Walker

Assistant Professor of Art in Graphic Design - Austin Peay State University

✓ Adobe Photoshop
Adobe’s Photoshop, at this point, has become a verb as the expected solution of static visual graphics. It serves as the go to software for photograph editing and compositing multiple images for complex graphics; think movie posters and advertisement images for web graphics.

✓ Adobe Illustrator
Illustrator is a program for heavy lifting in vector-based artworks. Designers prefer to use Illustrator to create logos, illustrations, display typography, signage and more.

✓ Adobe InDesign
InDesign is the professional standard (replaced Aldus’ Pagemaker) for publication layout for magazines, books, and presentations. Imagery created in photoshop or designs from illustrator can be easily imported for use within a layout. Formatting text and large bodies of text is its strong suit. These three are the leading programs utilized by designers all over the world, from freelancers to advertising agencies.

Teaching graphic design as a professor at a university, it’s imperative that my students gain an adequate level of proficiency using these programs in order to push the boundaries of their creative muscles while readying themselves for the field. Experimentation and the collaborative use of these offerings continue to push the heights of design to new levels.

Joshua Galinato

Graphic Designer - Galiway

As a photographer & graphic designer I have been using the Adobe Suite for over 10 years now. When it comes to editing photos it’s really down to the two main photo editing software:

✓ Adobe Lightroom
Great for organising albums and grading photos.

✓ Adobe Photoshop
Great for manipulating photos even further.

Having said that, this year I wanted to try my hands on open source software. The equivalent would be:

✓ Darktable
Lightroom equivalent.

✓ GIMP
Photoshop equivalent.

Although the free alternatives are similar, I can’t deny that the Adobe products are far better and more intuitive to use.

If I was an amateur with a small budget, GIMP & Darktable would do just fine. If I’m in a professional environment, I would need to use Photoshop & Lightroom.

Brian Gargone

Founding Co-Owner - Squeeze Marketing

✓ Adobe Creative Cloud
At Squeeze Marketing, all of our designers use the Adobe Suite. It is the software we are all most familiar with and it gives us greater design opportunities. We use Illustrator for hand-drawn designs, whereas we use Photoshop or InDesign for laying out projects. Additionally, we most recently started using XD to wireframe our websites to show clients their navigation before taking it into development.

Jase Rodley

Founder/CEO - Dialed Labs

✓ Adobe Suite
Of course, there is going to be no better alternative than the leader of the pack Adobe suite, which offers everything you want, and is the likely the package you would be used in most workplaces.

Although there is little to offer in the way of competition for professional editing, there are some great phone Apps which allow enough of a resource to the more casual editor.

✓ Instrafitter
One of my current favourites being instrafitter, which allows you to put a number of border styles around your photo, given them the perfect vintage feel of a polaroid, and adding an extra pop to your photos when sharing.

Laurence Norah

Travel Photographer - Travel Cats Media Ltd

✓ Adobe Lightroom
Personally for the majority of my photo editing work I use Adobe Lightroom. This is because it allows me to both manage my photography catalog, as well as edit my photos, meaning I can do the majority of my photography workflow within the software. Lightroom is also specifically designed for photographers, with all the tools that most photographers need for photo editing.

Of course, Lightroom does require a monthly subscription, and there’s quite a steep learning curve. I’ve also had positive results working with Skylum Luminar, which is a lot easier to pick up and use if you’re just starting out, and comes with a lot of easy AI powered tools that let me achieve useful effects very quickly, such as replacing a sky in a shot, or adding objects.

Patrick Nugent

Photographer - Camera 1

I have 3 different categories of software:

✓ Capture One

For image capture there is no better software than Capture One. If you currently shoot in a studio environment, and are not tethering your camera to your computer with Capture One, it’s time to revolutionize your work flow. Capture One is the industry standard for image capture, along with a fast preview render, it allows you to set custom crops and image adjustments that you can see in real time to ensure that you get the photos that you need. When there is little room for error, reviewing in real time to check your exposure, focus and composition will keep you ahead of the game.

✓ Photo Mechanic
While a lot of people swear by Adobe Lightroom for their image review and organization, I like to lean on Photo Mechanic. Photo Mechanic is a blazing fast, barebones tool for reviewing your images. When you have a client over your shoulder, being able to quickly flip through hundreds of photos, tag, mark and narrow down selections is a high priority. This is what Photo Mechanic does best – curate your collection of images. It’s not an organization or editing tool, it does previews well and keeps things flowing. Additionally it’s a nice easy way to rename and set your ITPC info to all of your files.

✓ Adobe Photoshop
At this point, Adobe Photoshop is a household name and is synonymous with edited images. There is a reason for that. As a 20+ year user of Photoshop, the folks over at Adobe continue to make things better, faster and more efficient. There is a reason for their reign as the kings of image manipulation and it’s not ending any time soon. While a lot of the ‘one click’ tools are very gimmicky, they offer an excellent starting point and usually offer a ‘good enough’ result for the average person at home. If you are serious about image editing, you use Photoshop.

Louise Everarts de Velp

Graphic & Web Designer - ledv studio

✓ Adobe Creative Cloud
I’m a huge advocate for the famous Adobe trio – Indesign, Illustrator and Photoshop. They’re the standards in the industry, with the greatest variety in functionality and a wide availability of resources and tutorials to really elevate your work. Since the design community has been thriving on Adobe for years, there are nearly endless possibilities to leverage top-notch tools and bespoke community resources such as fonts, textures, etc. to create something truly unique. There is a bit of a learning curve, but these programs are simply the best and most professional tools out there to bring any design to life.

Dan Cruz

co-founder - inbeat

✓ Adobe After Effects
After Effects is a powerful tool, which allows you to create custom animations faster than any other “easy to use” software out there. To top things off, it allows you to export animations in SVG format, which loads much faster than a gif or a png on a web page. It also allows me to create custom product interactions efficiently to show our developers how a user will interact with the product.

✓ Adobe Creative Cloud
Of course, I use Adobe Creative Cloud every day (Photoshop and Illustrator mostly), but Figma and After Effects are those two tools that empower my design workflow.

Curtis Bickler

Director - Expert Media Design

✓ Adobe Photoshop
For photo editing, there’s no substitute for Adobe Photoshop. Any designer or illustrator could name a few alternatives, but there’s a reason the name has become the verb we use to describe altering photos.

Sieglinde Van Damme

Interdisciplinary Artist - studiosieg

✓ Adobe Lightroom
Adobe Lightroom is my favorite software for two reasons:

1. The easy-to-use, visual slider system takes your photograph from good to great in just a few quick steps. Then simply copy your adjustments and apply to the other photographs in the same series with just one click (minor additional tweaks may still be needed).

2. Feel the need to experiment? Simply create virtual copies in Lightroom to play with, and never lose the original nor fill a folder with way too many saved alternatives. Use the star rating to keep the side-by-side good experiments apart from the ones that need more creative thought. Export the successful ones only as the finished work.

Nicholas Allen

Founder / Designer / Developer - Sublime Dzine

✓ Adobe Suite
For graphic design, no one beats out Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop. They’ve been doing graphic design since the beginning. That said, both are pretty hefty pieces of software with steep learning curves and can be rather expensive. Adobe’s creative suite is a great option for getting the best and keeping it cheap.

✓ Canva
As a professional, I find myself also using Canva pretty consistently as well. Their tool is fast and browser-based with a nice mobile app too. I use them for most of my social media and website graphics that aren’t fully custom or when I’m short on time. Canva is also great when you need to create a large number of graphics in a single sitting. I’ll make a month’s worth of graphics for a client’s social media calendar in about an hour for instance. Oh, let’s not forget the library of stock images from Canva with image templates and the ability to post directly to your social media.

Ryszard (Rick) Gold

Owner/Lead Designer - The Stem Creative

The software tools I use in my graphic design business are Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator.

✓ Adobe Photoshop
I use the Adobe software mostly because of the sheer amount of experience I have with the software. You comfort level and familiarity with software really helps. Adobe has been producing graphics software for decades and has become the de facto standard for most graphic designers like myself. They continuously leverage new levels of power offered by modern computers and advances in computer engineering, such as AI, to improve the tools at our disposal. For example, the relatively new “Content Aware Fill” tool in Photoshop intelligently gathers image information around a selected area and fills in a void. This would allow you to completely remove a subject from a photo, then fills in what the background behind it should be.

✓ Adobe Illustrator
Illustrator allows me to create vector based graphics, that is, graphics that can be scaled to any size required without image degradation. Using tools that allow you to create shapes and lines, fills and textures, i use it to create marketing items such as logos, business cards, icons and even full brochures. Again, with Adobes long history, it’s the program I choose to use because of it’s industry standard status. One of the interesting advancements in recent years is an intelligent tracing command. You can take a pixel based image and Illustrator will find contours and generate vector line art based on the image. This can be an incredibly useful way to start a project that otherwise may have taken hours of manual tracing to achieve.

The fact Adobe software is industry standard means excellent compatibility. When I’m talking with printing shops, the vast majority of them support and even require the file in Adobe formats. Feature sets aside, compatibility is the key if you are a graphic design business. If you can’t give print ready files to a printing company in prepared formats, you can’t properly print your clients project.

One note of dissent though, Adobes implementation of Photoshop on iPad is an absolute embarrassment. When it was announced, Graphic Designer everywhere rejoiced, but we were all incredibly disappointed when it was finally delivered. We understood that the interface would have to change because of it’s move to a touch input, but there was practically zero common elements. There was no way of easily translating usage from desktop to iPad. I personally spent a few hours trying before deleting the app, the absolute lack of features, the unnecessary different usage made it incredibly frustrating.

Maximilian Benner

CEO - Fotura, Inc.

✓ Adobe Lightroom
When I started out as an event photographer, I used Adobe Lightroom. Lightroom made it easy to go through hundreds of photos that all need pretty basic retouching. That said, it is a sluggish piece of software and can get frustrating when working on low end computers.

✓ Adobe Photoshop
When I started photography school, I left behind Lightroom and exclusively used Photoshop. Even though Lightroom is a useful too, Photoshop offers many more options for fine grained control for low volume, in depth retouching. Unfortunately, just like Lightroom, Photoshop certainly isn’t a speed champion. That’s why I eventually ended up with Affinity Photo. It offers most of the tools of Photoshop but comes with an unreal speed improvement. Everything works smoothly, even on my 2015 low end Max Book Pro. And, if that didn’t convince you, you can get Affinity Photo for a one time payment, forever. No subscription.

Holly Mullinax

Art Director - The Symphony Agency

✓ Adobe Creative Cloud
Adobe Creative Cloud or Creative Suite is the industry standard for design software and has been for the past 20+ years. Most professional design jobs will require you to work with this suite of tools, so it’s important to learn them regardless of the other options that are available. Photoshop is often the first program designers learn to use and is probably the most versatile tool in the Creative Suite tool chest. However, Photoshop is a pixel-based, or raster program and therefore not ideal for professional vector graphics (logos and illustrations), text, or multi-page print layouts. For these projects, using Photoshop in tandem with a vector software like Illustrator, or a desktop or web publishing software like Indesign or XD will create the best final output.

The main programs I use for print and digital design are Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, XD, and (in some cases) Bridge and Lightroom for batch photo editing and file organization.

Photoshop is a pixel-based software used for image creation and manipulation. It utilizes a layered editing system and allows editing/compositing through the use of masks, blends modes, filters, and transparencies. Photoshop is the go-to software for artists, designers, and photographers because of its versatility.

Illustrator is a vector-based software for creating resolution-independent illustrations and graphics. Illustrator is often used as companion software to Photoshop to handle the vector graphics within a Photoshop file. It’s also used as a stand-alone program for creating vector graphics (e.g. logos) and illustrations. The benefit to graphics created in illustrator is that they are scalable without losing resolution. This means they can be resized larger or smaller and not lose visual quality or become “pixelated” or blurry.

InDesign is a desktop publishing software and is best suited for typesetting and creating multi-page layouts or layouts with text, photos, and vector graphics. It can be used to create flyers, brochures, magazines, business cards, postcards, menus, etc. Newer versions of InDesign allow for digital publishing or web/application layouts. InDesign can be difficult for a beginner and is often best learned after developing a strong understanding of basic design principles, Photoshop, and Illustrator.

XD is a prototyping tool used by web designers, UI designers, and UX designers to design apps and websites. XD adopts both the functionalities of other design software while adhering to, and focusing on, web-based design principles.

Jeremy Lessaris

Founder & CEO - Designed.co

✓ Adobe Creative Cloud
Adobe dominates the professional graphics software world with Creative Cloud that includes a comprehensive suite of design, video, animation, web, and other media applications. They are platform-agnostic (Mac/PC) and run on nearly every device you can think of. Adobe is the standard for nearly all professional creative projects. However, when it comes to digital design including website, app, and UI design (not development) I would also include Figma which offers the best balance between features, usability, and overall performance.

Honorable mention:

Going beyond software I would also recommend collaboration tools for working on ideation with clients. Our secret sauce here at Designed.co is a Jamboard. We love whiteboards but this is next level collab and allows our teams to be just as effective remote as they are in the office.

Andy Barker

Owner - Freelance Photographer

I’m a street & travel photographer, photography teacher and tour guide based in Vietnam. I use Adobe Lightroom to edit my “good” photos and Snapseed for my “fun” photos.

✓ Adobe Lightroom
As a street photographer, I edit my photos very lightly, often tweaking little more than exposure, shadows and highlights. I never heavily edit or manipulate my photos. So why would I recommend the relatively expensive Lightroom software, if I don’t really use it to edit? Well, because it’s the by far the best way to catalogue and organise your pictures. And when you have hundreds of thousands of photos on multiple hard drives this becomes very important. I found when I started using Lightroom I began to enjoy looking at my own photos much more, which meant I did it more often, which in turn improved my photography.

✓ Snapseed
I use the Snapseed app to edit photos I take with my smartphone, and photos I bluetooth to my phone from my camera. I use the app to lightly tweak my images in a very similar way to Lightroom. I like the simple and intuitive user experience of the Snapseed and found it a good way to accelerate my image sharing workflow.

Myra Wafiqoh

Executive Assistant to CEO - Breadnbeyond

✓ Adobe Creative Cloud
For software, it usually depends on the type of design being worked on, if a lot of work with vectors, then usually use vector-based applications such as Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw.

But if you use a lot of raster images or work with photos, for example, photo/image editing, or digital imaging, then use a raster-based program, such as Photoshop. There are many other programs that are more specific, for example for editorial layouts such as magazines, for example, using Adobe InDesign. But in general, mostly use vector and raster-based applications will be or Adobe Photoshop or Illustrators.

Johnathon Lovett

Creative Lead - Reicura

✓ Adobe Creative Cloud
The most essential tools for the vast majority of my design work are Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. These two applications, much like the rest of the Adobe suite, arm me with the expansive tools necessary to complete a wide variety of projects. They are both applications that continue to enrich the learning of the user. Every time I approach a new project, I can practice a new route to accomplishing my goal. This creates a deeper and richer understanding of the suite and using it effectively, both within the specific application and beyond.

Aside from these desktop applications, using my iPad Pro as a drawing tablet has opened the scope of possibility for implementing my physical artistic skill in more of my design work.

Adil Advani

Digital Marketing Executive - PureVPN

✓ Adobe Photoshop
Photoshop is the most recommended software for photo editing. Because it has a lot of features for editing and it’s a comprehensive and powerful software, and despite its reputation for being complicated it can actually be used with relative ease by photographers of all ability levels and graphic designers.

Ray Allen

Assistant Manager of Motion Graphics - Shop LC

✓ Adobe Photoshop
After over 10 years of personal and professional use, Adobe Photoshop continues to be my preferred photo editing and graphics software. I’ve used Photoshop for traditional photographic touch ups and editing as well as for more graphic and editorial projects. The tools and features continue to evolve with more specific nuanced editing options becoming available every year. It’s amazing to see how much the digital creative industry has evolved in the 21st century, and Photoshop continues to be the standard bearer.

Madhsudhan Khemchandani

Writer - MK's Guide

For over two years, I have been using Photoshop and Canva for eye-catching images.

✓ Adobe Photoshop
Photoshop allows me creating new images, editing screenshots and exporting as a web which compress the images without losing the quality. The reduced size is essential in the web world. The only downside of Photoshop is that it’s not free, and you also need a good computer to perform some tasks.

✓ Canva
I use Canva to create amazing thumbnails for my YouTube videos. The tool allows creating images which users want to click on. Canva is a free tool, but it offers a paid version which comes with many great backgrounds, elements, and images to work without finding the images on Google.

✓ Snapseed
In terms of mobile, I use Snapseed as it offers some of the great tools such as auto-enhance, dual exposure, curves etc. If an image is taken on my mobile, I edit and compress the image in Snapseed and upload to my website straight away.

George Kern

Art Director - Printed Pixel

✓ Adobe Suite
Adobe’s Creative Cloud (Photoshop, Illustrator etc) (successor to the Creative Suite Master Collection) is the industry standard and is easy to recommend based on the amount of features the collection of software has to offer. New users may be overwhelmed by the number of features each application has but once you used to their software and its interface you get a pretty good feel for how their other software will behave and how to use it because of similar look and feel of the workspaces. A lot of people might be turned off by the recurring monthly subscription costs but for professional usage, it’s just another cost of doing business.

Charlie Wright

IT Consultant - Imprima

✓ Adobe Photoshop
Adobe Photoshop is our number one tool when working on any graphic design project. We love its interface because it offers various targeted workspace layouts, as well as 3D applications and a high level of customisable options.

✓ Canva
In a nutshell, Canva offers more than a hundred of fonts and designs you can choose from. Its templates are very easy to use, and most of its applications are mobile-friendly, which makes the tool much valuable.

✓ Adobe Illustrator
We have always used Adobe Illustrator due to its higher compatibility with all our devices. Additionally, its mathematical equations generate all the graphics, which ensures that your designs can be printed in any dimension (as they are highly precise).

Nell Chronister

Designer - Hoot Design Company

✓ Adobe Suite
As a designer, I highly recommend the Adobe Creative Suite. I learned the basics of the entire Adobe suite in less than a year while I was in my undergrad. The software is always evolving and updating, and there are countless free tutorials and webinars that allow you to grow as a designer. If you put in the time to learn the software, it becomes intuitive. And once you have a handle on Adobe, the possibilities are ENDLESS!

Orsolya Kis

Graphic Designer - RENTCafe

✓ Adobe Photoshop
For photo editing and any kind of photo manipulation, I would highly recommend Adobe Photoshop. The Adobe Cloud has a few more photography-related apps, but I strongly believe that Photoshop is the most important one.

I love the fact that Adobe keeps improving the app! I have been using it for 18 years now, and Photoshop has come a long way over the years, constantly updating. It’s very useful for both graphic designers and photographers. Basically, Photoshop allows creatives to do anything you can imagine. You can turn very simple photos into masterpieces, you can do realistic collages, so it is an absolute must for designers. Also, there are lots of online tutorials, so it’s easy to learn, even for beginners.

Greg Corey

Founder/CEO - Porchlight

✓ Adobe Suite
We recommend Adobe Creative Suite, with Illustrator, PhotoShop and InDesign being the ones we use most. They are the standard for our industry. In addition, we like that they have online training videos that make it easy to log in and out between your office computer and home computer. This has really helped during the COVID-19 crisis and the remote working schedule that we have lately had to deal with.

3D design software – We use ESKO and Strata. These programs help us turn our flat Illustrator files into the full 3D-rendered images that we send to our clients so they can see what the packages look like from all different angles. Then we use Strata to build the actual store environments. We create the floor, shelves and signage to help tell the story of how the packaging that we’ve designed will look on the shelf.

Mike Charles

Owner - Broadview Studios

✓ Adobe Lightroom
For my workflow the software that I find the most powerful and efficient is Adobe Lightroom. Lightroom is the industry leader in software that is able to easily catalogue a large number of photos. The photo editing features are also very powerful and can handle any editing need from the most basic to the most advance. There is a monthly subscription cost for using Lightroom but Adobe constantly updates the software. There is also a bit of a learning curve but there are numerous free online tutorials that can help a new user get started.

✓ Luminar
The other image editing software that I use in my workflow is Luminar. This can be used as stand-alone software or as a plug into Adobe. It features a number of advanced features that can speed up edits to photos such as sky replacement or Artificial Intelligence-based editing. It’s available for a nominal cost and if you find that you’d like to do some more powerful edits than what Adobe Lightroom provides it’s a valuable piece of software to add to your toolbox

Meghan Kotz

Senior Brand Manager - Eat Your Coffee

✓ Adobe Creative Cloud
I’d highly recommend the combo of Adobe Illustrator and Adobe XD. Illustrator is constantly updating to stay in line with the latest trends. It’s also so widely used, meaning there is a YouTube tutorial on just about anything, which makes it that much more user-friendly.

Adobe XD is great for teams and creating responsive web design. Although it is mostly used for experience design, it can be used for less-skilled designer or those who need to collaborate with teams (you can share and edit the same design). It has some quicker grab-and-go items that make the design experience less technical and a bit more simplistic. The files also work in the same platforms .xd will open in Illustrator and .ai will open in XD. It’s great for website mockups and plotting out ideas.

The most crucial part about using these in tandem with the whole Adobe Creative Suite is ability to share an asset library between the programs. I have saved assets and brand guides, colors, etc. for certain brands that make it fast to use exact color matches and brand in seconds.

Aaron Hockley

Founder - Tech Photo Guy

For basic editing using tools that you might already have, take a look at using Apple Photos if you have an iPhone or Google Photos if you use Android. These programs have increasingly-sophisticated editing tools and take advantage of artificial intelligence to make your photos even better. Both offer cloud sync options and have companion apps that can be installed on your desktop computer for backup and sync as well.

✓ Adobe Lightroom
✓ Adobe Photoshop
If you want to take things to the next level, regardless of whether you’re using Windows or a Mac, the Adobe Photography Bundle is one heck of a deal at $10/month. You’ll get access to the full versions of Lightroom and Photoshop. Lightroom will help manage your image collection and provide a powerful set of editing tools for your images. Photoshop takes things to the next level to provide detailed retouching and composite tools for advanced users. There’s a bit of a learning curve, but these are the industry standard tools and time you spend learning them will pay off in the long run.

Eden Weinberg

Creative Marketing Manager - Bell + Ivy

✓ Adobe Illustrator
As a graphic designer and creative in the digital marketing field, Adobe Illustrator is my preferred software platform for creating designs. I would recommend learning Adobe Illustrator to anyone interested in developing and furthering their graphic design skills on a professional level.

The reason I recommend Adobe Illustrator as the most beneficial baseline software for graphic designers is the ability to create vector graphics. Once you can master creating a vector graphic in Illustrator, your design capabilities are expanded exponentially.

The ability to create and manipulate vector art with Illustrator gives you the freedom to customize designs to bring your creative visions to life in a way other softwares may not allow you to. My opinion is that creating vector designs with Illustrator is the most important foundational skill as a graphic designer.

Some examples of practical applications of this skill using Illustrator are:
– Creating custom professional logo designs,
– Custom social media graphics and templates,
Email marketing designs and templates,
– Web design assets like banner graphics and custom graphic icons
and much more.

Farhan Karim

Digital Marketing Strategist - AA Logics Pvt Ltd

Today, if you want to get a cool photo, you really should not only make the best shot itself but process it, apply some filters and get the right result. Modern photo editing software allows you to change the colours, retouch faces, swap backgrounds, delete unwanted objects. Here is my top 3 pick of photo editing soft:

✓ Adobe Lightroom
Adobe is one of the biggest names in photo editing and in software in general. Lightroom is a perfect tool for any enthusiast. It allows you to take photos from your phone or camera, edit them on your PC or smartphone, or maybe both. It’s a cross-platform app with a simple and intuitive interface.

Lightroom is not only about beautiful presets but also it allows you to do some manual editing to get the best result.
Also, it has a smart catalogue tool that uses AI. It gives your photos handy tags and allows you to keep them in order to not lose even one when you need it most.

✓ Skylum Luminar
This software is a great alternative for Lightroom. It has an immense number of cool filters, lens correction, and other stuff that lets you up to your game.

Luminar is a powerful software that would suffice an enthusiast as well as a beginner. Workflow mimics Lightroom in many ways to make switching from one to another painless. Also, you have all the manual tuning stuff that is very important to experienced users.

✓ Fotor
This program is an online photo editing suite, utilizing exclusive technology to bring an unprecedented level of editing control to anyone and everyone. While the ‘collage’ and ‘edit’ features are already enjoyed by millions of users, daily, the new ‘design’ feature gives the common user the ability to design any form of graphics and cover, limited only by imagination.

Han Castanedo

Senior Designer - Duckpin

✓ Adobe Creative Cloud
Adobe products are of course the obvious and invaluable pieces of software to learn, with the top products being Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and Xd.

Photoshop is an important part of editing and resizing assets and versatile enough to handle digital painting and light animation.

Illustrator is the premier tool for creating editing vector graphics and typography across both print and digital.

Designers interested in pursuing publication design should learn the ins and outs of InDesign, which has a variety of tools catered specifically for print needs.

Nicholas Boris

Photographer Videographer - Livli Productions

I’ve been using Adobe programs such as Photoshop, Lightroom, and Premiere Pro for 7 years now.

✓ Adobe Lightroom
✓ Adobe Photoshop
I started off in Lightroom when I began editing photos for a super car event company. With any of these softwares they can be daunting at first look. However, I quickly found myself navigating through the menu’s and finding a flow that was pushing out hundreds of photos a day.

I attended formal military training on photo, video, design and editing. For these tasks the US Navy provided the Adobe Suite. As I grew as a photographer and videographer I also purchased the Adobe Suite so I could pursue freelancing outside the Navy.

Since I’ve started I have found that Adobe’s cross compatibility has made jumping from program-to-program exceptionally easy. I don’t have personal experience with any other software, however, there are always conversations in my filmmaker group as to which is best. I say Adobe because it’s what I know and I have a work flow where I can push product out in a timely manner. Another artist I know uses Final Cut Pro because it’s what he started on. They both will produce a beautiful end result at the end of the day.

With the Adobe Suite you get a mass collection of softwares that will help you accomplish any project.

Jermaine Amado

Photographer - J Amado Photography

I have been a portrait/wedding photographer for 15 years. During my editing process for every shoot, I use 3 different programs:

✓ Adobe Lightroom
This is my favorite program to cull my images and to correct the light and colors.

✓ PortraitPro Studio Max
The next step in my editing process is correct facial redness, smooth out the skin, and whiten teeth if needed. I love this program because you can create presets for different types of situations.

✓ Adobe Photoshop
In the last step of my editing process I remove any unwanted objects in the final image. A distracting car, people in the distance, stray hairs, or fresh pimples.

Ray Morrone

Designer - The Agency Orange

As the lines get blurred between Graphic Design, User Interface Design and Front End Delevopement most Creative Directors look for designers with a full toolbox of software knowledge.

✓ Adobe Creative Cloud
Knowing Adobe Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop is mandatory. But having knowledge of After Effects to create Ui/Ux annimations and prototypes is increasingly valuable.

✓ Cinema 4D
Knowing 3D software like Cinema 4D lets you take your projects to an impressive new level.

For example, a typical corporate logo project may start with the logo being created in Illustrator. Then the work will be imported into Cinema 4D and manipulated as a 3D object. From there it will be animated, cleaned up and refined in After Effects..

William Angelos

Owner - The Expat

✓ Adobe Photoshop
I think that if we’re talking about the best everyone is going to think about Adobe Photoshop. It has all the features and can do just about anything anyone might need to do. It is however super expensive, and for most people it is complete overkill.

✓ Affinity Photo
Most people will just never need to do all that this program can do. For those people there is Affinity Photo by Serif. Rather than charge a monthly fee they just charge a 1 time price of $50. Adobe Photoshop is something you rent at $10 a month. Affinity Photo does +90% of what Photoshop does. So when cost and actual use is considered for me Affinity Photo is my choice for best photo editing tool.

Orlando Delbert

Art Director - OTK Media Group, Inc.

✓ Adobe Creative Cloud
The graphic design software I would recommend others to use would be largely based on the type of design he or she intends to focus on mainly. I myself have been using mostly various Adobe products from the Creative Suite, (as well as some high-end proprietary hardware-based systems), for many years.

The mainstay for many graphic designers is Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. Photoshop is considered by many to be the best imaging and graphic design application, for it’s versatility, ease of compositing layers, creating masks, editing of photographs, and for creating design pieces that can be introduced into video and visual effects projects. Photoshop is exceptional for combining text elements with photography, as well as to create your own elements, with tools that allow you to create shadows and highlights to create a sense of depth and realism in your artwork.

And if you plan on doing a lot of work with logo creation and typography, Illustrator offers some of the same features as Photoshop, while working in a resolution independent, vector-based graphics environment. What that means is, unlike Photoshop which is raster-based, (based on colorized pixels), Illustrator uses mathematical formulas and coordinates to create many types of graphics, not bound to resolutions of the print or film resolution worlds. Illustrator is largely used for web design, product packaging, and large-format designing needs, such as banners and billboards because of its resolution independent nature.

My design background is largely in motion graphic design and special digital visual effects for television and film. I’ve been using Adobe After Effects since their initial beta release decades ago. After Effects is exceptional in the creation and combining of individual design and video assets and to animate them in a 3-dimentional space, in an affordable software package. While the elements themselves are 2-dimentional, the end user has the ability to change the look and location of each individual element over time.

Jaclyn Hoffman

Project Manager - Falcon Marketing

✓ Adobe Creative Suite
As a designer, my preferred software is the most current Adobe Creative Suite (2020).

Between Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign, each of these softwares serves a different yet essential purpose for graphic designers.

For example, Illustrator, which is a vector-based software, is an amazing tool for creating design elements such as logos and drawings.

InDesign is the best layout software. If I am building a page for both print and digital media that is composed of text and images, I will always turn to InDesign.

Photoshop is probably the most commonly known Adobe design tool, as it is extremely diverse, and has so many helpful features.

Aside from the obvious photo editing capabilities, at Falcon Marketing we use Photoshop for designing full websites. Each page of the site is mocked up in Photoshop, and then the Photoshop files are used to develop the code to build pixel perfect websites.

Syed Usman Hashmi

Digital Marketing Strategist - PureVPN

✓ Adobe Illustrator
Illustrator is best for the detailed crafting of creatives for your landing pages with a variety of tools with vector-based designing however it needs much more expertise than other tools e.g. photoshop or canvas.
The helpful user interface, it’s in-pane editing, no resolution issues and minimum utilization of resources makes this software unique and much preferred than other tools.

Nate Heim

Senior Art Director - Company Man Studios

✓ Adobe Creative Cloud
As a graphic designer who splits time between the digital and print industries, the “must-know” programs are Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign.

– Photoshop is great for manipulating photos, compositing photos or sometimes building an image from scratch.
– Illustrator is a must for logo design and illustrations. Since it’s vector-based, files can be enlarged to any size and keep their clarity. Chances are that any logo you see, they were designed in Illustrator
– And if doing a print piece, like a multi page document such as a brochure or tri-fold, folder, etc… InDesign will make your life easier. InDesign is also usually the most preferred file type for printing companies and presses.

Lisa Schroeder

Creative Supervisor - The S3 Agency

✓ Adobe Creative Cloud
As a designer and production specialist, I recommend Adobe Creative Cloud for layout and production tasks, specifically Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop. It’s an essential product for collaborating within the design industry, whether you’re sharing files with internal team members, clients, creative partners or suppliers. The desktop programs are robust and powerful, the apps allow access on other devices, and then there’s Adobe Fonts. Most designers I know will agree, a well-designed typeface is the icing on the cake.

Louis Porter

Graphic Designer - CoinCorner

In the graphics design team at CoinCorner, we use a number of Adobe’s design software to create everything from marketing materials to Bitcoin sock designs.

✓ Adobe Creative Cloud
Illustrator is my top recommendation as it doesn’t limit the types of designs you can produce.. I use it daily to create the likes of web and mobile landing pages, industry-standard vector graphics, infographics and web banners, and more. It has very useful features such as being able to blend typography and graphics together, and adding multiple artboards to one document so that all work can be kept together.

Secondly, I’d recommend Photoshop as the best software for editing, manipulating and transforming images. It makes the entire process of image editing very easy, allowing users to combine photos and graphics to create new pieces of artwork, as well as make GIFs for use on social media and marketing emails.

Finally, as a graphics designer rather than coder, I liaise closely with our in-house tech team to optimise designs for our web and mobile platforms. To make this process easier, I use the XD software to produce functioning mock ups without the need for any coding. Designs made in XD can be shared with others across the business, giving them the chance to play around with the web or app design elements before it’s coded into our applications too.

Theo Fels

Creative Director - Feisty Brown

✓ Adobe Creative Cloud
Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. This service allows you to use any of Adobe software for a monthly fee. The software is easy to install and is automatically updated so you are never using out of date software. Adobe also has free tutorials for all its applications and free downloads of all adobe fonts.

Also, all adobe products integrate with each other so importing files is easy because you can use the adobe native format (.psd .ai, etc). You don’t have to export into typical formats such as .jpg, png or .mpg.

Adobe Creative Cloud has a ton of stuff, here’s a rundown of the must haves:

InDesign – Print design
Photoshop – imaging and graphic software
Illustrator – vector (resizable graphic) software
After Effects – Motion graphics”

✓ Webflow
It’s also a subscription service. You don’t have to know anything about coding to use Webflow. The genius of Webflow are their tutorials, they are smart, informative, and entertaining. Our studio uses Webflow to make comprehensive prototypes that are fully interactive and responsive. We can show our clients exactly how the website will work and act before we hand it off to our developers. You can also use as a development tool but ONLY if you have the development capabilities in-house.

Adobe Creative Cloud FAQ

What is Adobe Creative Cloud?

Adobe’s Creative Cloud is a collection of 20+ desktop and mobile apps and services for photography, design, video, web, UX and more.

Is Adobe Creative Cloud any good?

We asked 53 creative experts on most have recommended to use Adobe Creative Cloud. It’s by far the most popular solution for graphic designers.

Is Creative Cloud free to use?

Adobe Creative Cloud doesn’t have a free plan. You can either sign up for a monthly or an annual plan.

What’s included in Creative Cloud?

Adobe Creative Cloud includes 20+ apps like Photoshop, InDesign and Premiere Rush. You only get access to Adobe Fonts, Adobe Portfolio, Creative Cloud Libraries and cloud storage space.