A Quick Guide to Adobe for Beginners

Adobe and their wide range of products are among the most widely used in the creative arena. However, in the church, where training is not as readily available, it can be difficult to get to grips with the broad scope of these products. Here’s a quick overview of the Adobe applications that I make use of on a regular basis and what I use them for:

Adobe Photoshop

Photoshop is, to me, the workhorse of the bunch. It’s the first application that I learned and extremely versatile. It’s a photo editing tool; the name itself has even become a verb for editing: “eg. Ah, that picture looks so Photoshopped”. It can be used to manipulate multiple layers of images to create really interesting projects, like this:

Example of Adobe Photoshop

Photoshop isn’t simply restricted to using photos. You can use it to make all sorts of digital and print media. If you only subscribed to one graphic design application, I would recommend this one. This is why there are a growing number of Photoshop tutorials at the Complete Church Creative!

Adobe Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator is perhaps the application in this list that I am least familiar with. However, it shines when it comes to vector-based digital artwork. Let me explain:

Have you ever come across an image where the more you enlarge it, the more pixelated and nasty it looks? This is because it is a raster image. Vector images are important because they are infinitely scalable. I strongly recommend checking out this article by Design Shack that explains the difference extremely well.

Essentially it boils down to this. Raster graphics are great when it comes to photos, but vectors are the way forward when it comes to things like logo design and things like that. As a general rule, use Illustrator for scalable vector work such as logos and digital artwork, and use Photoshop for…you’ve guessed it: photos.

For example, when my wife and I got engaged, I made her a few cartoon images based on the “story” of our relationship up to that led to our engagement. Illustrator was perfect for this:

Adobe Illustrator Example

Adobe InDesign

If you’re looking to design something like a magazine, a poster, a flyer or a book, InDesign is the way to go. It has a whole range of features, but personally, there’s one thing that most stands out for me: its ability to handle multiple pages in a single document while still keeping a broad range of design options available to you.

If you have been using Microsoft Office and want to take things up a level in terms of layout and design, this is the way to go. In church, I’ve used it to design things like our church bulletins, annual reports, and worship handbooks. 


Adobe Premiere Pro

Videographers use Premiere Pro to edit video. For the longest time, I was nervous of the application and stuck with iMovie which was far less intimidating. Don’t get me wrong, iMovie is not a disaster, but it is very limited in what it can do. However, whatever you’re looking to achieve with video, Premiere Pro has got you covered.

Personally, I believe Premiere Pro shines brightest when you are using multiple camera shots. There was a reasonable learning curve to the application (when compared with something like iMovie), but the level of detail and speed of workflow is staggering once you get to grips with it. I spent nearly ten years trying to avoid it, but there’s no way I would turn back now. It’s fantastic!

Adobe After Effects

Adobe After Effects is a motion graphics application. Basically, if you want to put text over video or use moving text, this is the thing to use. I like to think of it as the Photoshop & Illustrator of video editing. With After Effects, I think it’s perhaps most helpful to see for yourself what it can do. My favorite tutorials come from a channel called Video Copilot – check out some of the videos and see just how incredible the application can be!

To be honest, my limited experience with After Effects and current needs mean that I mostly stick to basic text animations. However, knowing enough to work through the fundamentals is a huge asset!

…One more thing.

Adobe Lightroom, Dreamweaver and Acrobat all get honorable mentions as I do use those applications to a certain extent as well. But the most important thing to mention in this article is how well Adobe software works together. It’s staggering!

I will often design a vector graphic in Illustrator, pull it across to Photoshop to create something else, before sliding the overall output to InDesign. You can work in Premiere Pro and After Effects simultaneously, using formats from the previously mentioned applications too. It’s awesome. The cross-compatibility of these applications is such that it vastly improves my workflow on any given project and for this reason as much as any other, I highly recommend using Adobe CC in your setting (for now)!

Do you have any questions about any of the applications mentioned? If so, let me know!


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