posted by Matt Ward on Jan 9, 2010.
Perhaps as a direct result of too much Batman: Arkham Asylum, I found myself asking the question: If Photoshop was Batman, what would Illustrator be? In this silly little article, I explore some of the intriguing possibilities.
Can we have a little fun in this post? Let’s start by me admitting that I’m a pretty big Batman fan. I’m not obsessive. I don’t follow the story lines or buy all the comics every month, but I have a deep interest in the Dark Knight as a character. He’s troubled and complex and terribly interesting – definitely my favorite comic character of all time!
I was also lucky enough to get Batman: Arkham Asylum for my X-Box 360 this Christmas, and I am absolutely loving the game (even though I haven’t really had the chance to play at all over the past few days). It’s probably one of the best games I’ve ever played, and it’s gotten me back onto a big Batman kick.
So, what does this have to do with design? Absolutely nothing!
However, a few months ago, I was reading a pair of articles over at GoMediaZine, where the author had Photoshop and Illustrator engage each other in an epic and imaginative battle of words. It was an interesting pairing of articles. Personally, I found the writing to be a tad obnoxious, but that’s just how some people roll. Anyhow, the posts stuck with me, and I think back to them every once in a while.
One of the things that really struck me, though, was the way that the author simply presupposed this massively antagonistic relationship between Photoshop and Illustrator. Personally, I don’t see it at all. For me they are like the Dynamic Duo of my design workflow! Each application serves its purpose, and I quite often use them in tandem.
I find they work quite well together when I am working with more complex vector illustrations in Photoshop. I create a vector Smart Object in Photoshop, opening and editing it in Illustrator, as necessary. It works really well for me.
Still, there seem to be a variety of different views on the relationship between these two applications, and I found myself thinking about various relationships between Batman and the various characters in the DC universe. More specifically, the thought occurred to me – if Photoshop was Batman, what would Illustrator be? Here are some possible scenarios.
They’re both on the same side, but their methods are quite different, and as such they occasionally clash, though usually with a peaceful resolution. In this scenario, Illustrator is unquestionably the stronger of the two, with its polished and squeaky clean image(s).
Photoshop on the other hand, works in the rougher, grungier world of pixels. It may not have the same Kryptonian strength, but it’s bag of tricks had more to offer, and it’s not afraid to get its hands a little dirty to get the job done.
Also, they rule over completely different areas. Photoshop is the Dark Knight of Gotham’s pixel graphics, while Illustrator keeps its vigil over Metropolis’ vector art.
Photoshop is the head of the operation, here. He makes most of the decisions, calls most of the shots, while Illustrator is the younger, less experienced sidekick. Sure, Illustrator has a few good tricks – it’s flexible and acrobatic, but it lacks the vast knowledge of Photoshop.
Illustrator dreams of making it on its own one day, and does occasionally find itself taking on solo missions. For the most part, though, it remains firmly and safely under the tutelage of Photoshop, who it looks at like a friend and mentor, someone to appreciate and learn from.
Illustrator is all grown up. It used to be more of a sidekick to Photoshop, but has finally matured and struck out on its own. It’s still acrobatic and flexible, but has also grown in strength and is now more than capable of handling things all by itself.
Still, Illustrator recognizes that it’s working in Photoshop’s turf. Illustrator may have grown up enough to be able to handle itself out on the the tough streets of Gotham, but there is no doubt as to who is the big Bat in town.
Note: For the purposes of this article, I am purposefully disregarding the fact that Nightwing/Dick Grayson does actually don the cowl for a while.
Illustrator is level-headed, hard working and incredibly loyal. It’s saved Photoshop more than a few times in the past, cleaned up messes, stitched up mistakes and just helped keep the entire operation glued together. Photoshop could probably survive without it, but it just wouldn’t be the same.
Ultimately, though, Illustrator remains Photoshop’s butler. It works hard and diligently, but all of it’s efforts are ultimately done to support Photoshop in some way.
Photoshop and Illustrator never know what their relationship is going to be like on a given day. Sometimes they find themselves working together towards a common goal. At other times, though, they are at each others throats, battling each other towards conflicting and irreconcilable ends.
Neither would consider themselves enemies, and there are even hints of some level of mutual attraction. At the same time, though, they just cannot bring themselves to completely consider themselves allies either. They both see themselves as be doing good work, but while they do share some similar methodologies, their approaches are just too different for them to work well together on a consistent basis.
Lately, though, there have been more positive encounters than negative…
Both Photoshop and Illustrator believe themselves to be working towards the greater good, but their ideologies and approaches to achieving their purposes are so incredibly different that they cannot help but come into direct conflict time and time again, often violently.
Despite their differences, though, there remains a grudging respect between them, as they each recognize the other’s unique strengths and abilities. In the most extreme of circumstances, they may even be willing to temporarily set aside their animosity and work together towards a common goal. Such an alliance must always teeter on the edge of the proverbial knife, and both sides know that it simply will not last.
There is nothing buy enmity and hatred here. Everything they do opposes each other and there is no hope of any alliance ever forming. In fact, their actions are almost entirely antagonistic to each other, especially Illustrator’s whose brightly coloured exterior masks a much deeper psychosis.
Each drives the other, however, in a sort of cyclical relationship in which Illustrator obsesses with besting, and perhaps even destroying Photoshop, while the ever-resourceful Photoshop continues to find ways to overcome Illustrator’s plots, but refuses to cross into that place where he ultimately destroys his arch-rival.
Alright, I think it’s fair to say that none of these imaginings will perfectly depict the relationship that exists between Photoshop and Illustrator. There are just too many varying factors, both between the applications themselves and between the various characters from the DC Comics universe. Still, I hope you found it to be a fun little exercise, and that it got your thinking about the relationship between Illustrator and Photoshop in your own workflow.
Do you keep the two applications completely separate from each other, with no thought for combining them? Or, do they function more as a team, working together to achieve the same ultimate goal? Are you satisfied with this relationship, or do you want it to change and evolve into something more productive? Even if this article was mostly just fun and silly inner-geek indulgence, these last few questions are interesting and at least worth thinking about (assuming, of course, that you actually use Illustrator and Photoshop).
Adobe has been making strides over the past several releases to help both applications play nicely together, through the introduction of things like Smart Objects. Illustrator is also equipped with some raster-based effects and familiar Photoshop filters. Personally, I find that the movement from Illustrator into Photoshop is much smoother than the inverse, though this likely at least partially due to the way that I like to work.
With that being said, though, it’s your turn to talk. What do you think? If Photoshop was Batman, who would Illustrator be for you? Would you name anyone on this list or would you choose someone else entirely? The Riddler? Bane? Commissioner Gordon? I’d love to hear your views on this (silly?) comparison! Hope you enjoyed it, too!Post A Comment
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