You’re walking around school and come across two posters taped onto the wall. You take a closer look at the first one: text is placed in random places, there’s a sad low-res picture, and (dare I say it) it’s covered in Comic Sans or Papyrus. The horror. You think, “That looks like it was made on an abacus.”
The second poster has fonts you’ve never seen before. There are hi-res illustrations and photos, and the whole design is coherent, snappy, and fresh. “That looks profesh!” you think.
Most of the time, the difference between these two posters is not necessarily the designer, but the designing software. No matter how talented you are with a computer, using Word or Pages to design a poster can only get you so far. If you want to get serious about designing posters, flyers, and beyond, think about investing in the Adobe Creative Cloud (CC) Suite of design applications.
Adobe CC includes all the applications normally in the famed Creative Suite (CS) like Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Bridge, and many more, but they are all downloadable from the cloud and contain useful seamless integration features.
Chances are, if you’re into design, you’ve heard of the big three: Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. They’re known for being powerful but exceedingly expensive (CS6 licenses used to run upwards of 700 dollars), which is where the concept of CC comes in: instead of loading the apps onto your computer permanently, you can download them from the cloud and pay a monthly subscription fee. This means that you can update the software when new versions are released without having to purchase a new license, even though the physical applications remain on your hard drive (and don’t need an internet connection to run).
Creative Cloud also allows you to easily transfer elements between design and photography apps, like creating a universal library for Illustrator and InDesign structures that’s available in either app. Photos edited in Photoshop can be easily accessible around the various apps. Color groups created with Adobe Color are available anywhere, as are TypeKit fonts and over 50 million photos through Adobe Stock (which does require an additional subscription). The great thing about all of these features is their seamless integration into the CC applications.
Creative Cloud memberships also include access to Adobe’s amazing mobile apps. Adobe Shape allows you to take a picture of anything and build a vector shape from it (which is then available in the CC library to use in any other app). Adobe Voice lets you create voiceover animated videos (great for anything PR), Slate lets you create beautiful, interactive stories with photos and text, and Comp is great for brainstorming page layouts (which can then be imported directly into InDesign). There’s also Lightroom for mobile, almost like a mini-Photoshop for your phone (your ‘gram feed will thank you).
If you plan on doing any kind of graphic design-related work in college or a career, it’s definitely a good idea to invest in CC, as most major publications and firms use Adobe apps for their creative pursuits. For students, Adobe offers a discounted monthly fee of $19.99 for the CC suite (which includes the full range of apps) for the first year. After that, feel free to cancel the subscription if you don’t use it often.
Personally, I use CC for almost everything. If I even have a school project that requires something more creative than just an essay, I build it in InDesign. I’ve created programs and posters for school events, edited personal photos in Photoshop, designed resumes, business cards, and more; the possibilities are endless. Ultimately, if you’re planning on designing at least two decent-sized projects per month, it’s worth the 20 dollars to have all those fancy apps—as long as you know how to use them (Adobe offers free tutorials on their website). So, if you decide to go for the Adobe Creative Cloud suite of applications, you’re probably going to find yourself making posters that are worthy of a “profesh” description.