Do I have to buy Photoshop/Illustrator?
August 15, 2013 2:11 PM   Subscribe

I'm 27 and I want to learn design on the side just for the hell of it, not because it has anything to do with the job I have now. Does that mean I have to buy Photoshop and Illustrator to start with?

This is assuming I'm loathe to pirate a copy. Or is this what 99% of people do?

I was just wondering if you're not a student in a university, and you don't want to pirate Photoshop, your only choice is to buy Photoshop and Illustrator.

Or do people start off with cheaper and more basic programs? Do they enroll in courses and get discounts that way?

I'd love to hear stories from other people who decided to learn about design later in life, after school.
posted by Busoni to Media & Arts (19 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Depends on what you plan on designing. "Design" is a pretty broad term. Is this just for kicks or do you want to get a job eventually?
posted by LionIndex at 2:15 PM on August 15, 2013

If you *know* a student (that's willing to buy a copy for you), that could be an option that is a) more ethical, and b) safer (so many pirated programs get bundled with free malware, it's pretty much worth avoiding software piracy for this reason alone).

Also, it looks like won't be able to 'buy' photoshop in the future (so buy older versions while you can).
posted by el io at 2:16 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd say learning design doesn't start with software. Learn the design side first and then worry about software. Consider taking a community college design class that will get you started with design *and* get you a hefty software discount. In fact, the student discount alone would probably pay for the class compared to paying full price.
posted by cnc at 2:17 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

There are cheaper legal options, such as the open source GIMP, but there's also a reason why Photoshop is by far the industry leader for graphic design software.

Adobe put up a download page for Photoshop CS2 a while ago. This is a much older version of Photoshop (there are no 3d features, for example) that is no longer supported by their authentication servers. It's made available as a cloud backup for people who originally bought the disks.

That means it's technically not legal for you to use it, but I don't think Adobe would care much either.
posted by jess at 2:17 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

GIMP and Inkscape are two extremely-capable, free/open-source programs that do many of the things that Photoshop and Illustrator do. All four programs are very sophisticated, and take quite a bit of effort to learn and get good results out of.
posted by spacewrench at 2:17 PM on August 15, 2013 [5 favorites]

Adobe switched to creative cloud, , instead of the purchase model for most of their software. At around $50 per month its pricier in the long run, but cheaper for you to try it for a couple months. But once you are decided on using it, you have to keep paying per month, they don't sell the current version for outright purchase anymore I believe.
posted by TheAdamist at 2:17 PM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

If you're on a mac, Pixelmator and iDraw are excellent substitutes for Photoshop and Illustrator, respectively. Also, they're a lot cheaper!
posted by helios410 at 2:24 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

TheAdamist has it. Do Creative Cloud (it's 75 a month without a subscription) but you get everything. You could also a la carte the apps you want, do if you just want to spend a month of photoshop alone, you can do that. And I love and have mentioned them before, but I've learned a ton there. 25/mo. Self-paced. So for 100/mo, you could build a pretty strong intro curriculum and try everything out.

I also like the free CS2 idea. Lots of changes since then, but people did solid work with it.
posted by mochapickle at 2:30 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Check out Adobe Creative Cloud -- they offer affordable monthly membership rates to access all of their apps, including Photoshop and Illustrator. It's pretty rad.

(Update: Ah! Just saw that theadamist and mochapickle already mentioned Adobe CC. So yes, thirding that!)
posted by colorproof at 2:32 PM on August 15, 2013

Adobe CC also allows a 30-day free trial... which I am using right now for a short term project that has heavy image editing needs.
posted by drfu at 3:37 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

drfu, i completely forgot about that! adobe has a terrific trial policy. i just finished up a Captivate trial this way. also kind of a neat niche tool if you want to parlay your design into training or presentations.
posted by mochapickle at 3:59 PM on August 15, 2013

Or is this what 99% of people do?

It totally is, just to clear the air. Do whatever you want, but like 1 in 50 copies of Photoshop out there was actually paid for.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 5:14 PM on August 15, 2013 [6 favorites]

I'm not advocating the piracy of Photoshop (I work in the software industry myself), but it's pretty well known that Adobe really doesn't care that much about hobbyists/students pirating their products.

People learn on Photoshop, then they get hired by a newspaper, or magazine, or large company, or small company, or whatever, and then that company buys a license for Photoshop for them. This system seems to work for Adobe.

I would say fewer than 1 in 50 copies of Photoshop were paid for.
posted by Precision at 5:37 PM on August 15, 2013

Nope. Get a sketch pad, pencils and some books about design.
posted by thylacine at 6:24 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you were to follow up on cnc's idea of taking a design class in your free time, you might find that your college has a computer lab with lots of software to use for free; they might also provide access to professional tutorial sites. My college, for example, provides full access to the video tutorial site, which covers photoshop from many angles and levels of expertise.
posted by MansRiot at 7:32 PM on August 15, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks, I'll keep these things in mind.

If people still see this, maybe they can answer this question I had. Part of the problem I saw with learning with GIMP/Inkscape/etc. would be that I'd have learn everything all over again if I were to transition to the Adobe suite? Is this less of an issue than I think?
posted by Busoni at 7:07 AM on August 16, 2013

There are certainly differences, and there will be a learning curve switching from one to the other. On the other hand, a lot of those differences are relatively superficial; the actual concepts and techniques you use are mostly the same. There are some guides online about "___ for ___ users" that you might check out to get an idea of what to expect. There is the frequent problem of feeling continually annoyed when program X does something less elegantly, or just differently, than you've gotten used to. I think you would experience that going in either direction.

Two more things: if you're just doing this for yourself, you might not feel any reason to switch to Adobe. Also, there are a few things that GIMP and Inkscape do better than their Adobe counterparts or that the latter don't do at all. Even if you do switch, it can be useful to know what else is out there.
posted by trig at 12:28 PM on August 16, 2013

Adobe has specials for Creative Cloud sometimes as low as $20 per month for students.
posted by jmd97 at 11:54 PM on August 16, 2013

You know that you can get a 30 day trial of all of their software right? I'm currently on a trial with InDesign and Lightroom for reasons similar to yours, I just want to play with some photos and other projects I have going on at the moment. If I find that I'm still enthusiastic and keen by the end of the 30 days, then I'll probably spring for a Creative Suite subscription. (Here's where I ended up when I clicked the 'Try' button for Creative Cloud: link.)
posted by HopStopDon'tShop at 6:01 AM on August 19, 2013

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