This blog is about Graphic Design, Vector Art, and Cartoon Illustration

What to do if you've been asked to learn Adobe InDesign

Congratulations, someone has asked you to learn InDesign. If your background isn't as a Graphic Designer, this may surprise you, and scare you a little bit. But hang on, you'll be fine. It can be quite a compliment, or it can be a disaster.

Of course, if you've studied Graphic Design, you know InDesign. You also know Photoshop. In the world of print design, those are the essentials, and they work together.

If you don't know either one of those software programs, especially if you're only familiar with Microsoft products, you have your work cut out for you. Because Adobe software is completely different from Microsoft. But don't panic, you'll just need to approach it as a learning experience. If you're not too old to learn, you can do this.

If you have been asked to learn InDesign by just turning it on, you have been asked by someone who doesn't understand its complexity. InDesign is not a simple "app" that you install on your phone, ask your favorite thirteen-year old how it works, and go. It's a professional Print Media Graphic Design software, the best in the world, and is used all over the world by professionals. This is not for amateurs. If you learn it, it will be a very impressive thing to know, and to put in your resume. If you're working for a company that understands the complexity of the software, and has a professional approach, you'll be fine. If they just tell you to turn it on and try to figure it out, you're gonna have a mess. Don't do that.

There are actually two steps to learning InDesign, and the first step is to learn Photoshop. InDesign is a layout program that combines both text and images. The images are Photoshop images, so you need a basic understanding of that program. You need to know what pixels are, that sort of thing. You don't need to be a Photoshop "wizard" but you will need basic knowledge of it. If you know Photoshop a bit, you're fine, and can proceed to learning InDesign. If not, stop and learn a little bit of Photoshop. A day's training class should be plenty for Photoshop, you don't need a semester at the Community College. Photoshop is a fairly easy program to get started on. That is, its learning curve isn't steep. Little kids can use Photoshop.

Once you're comfortable with Photoshop, it's time to learn InDesign. The learning curve for InDesign is much steeper. Remember that InDesign is for print, that is, brochures, magazines, that sort of thing. So it handles fonts, multiple columns, spell check, all of those things. But it does it in a completely different way than a word-processing program. If you try to make it Microsoft Word, you're gonna have a bad time. I'm not putting down Microsoft Word, but it's a completely different program for a reason. Page layout is different from word composition. There are similarities, of course, like spell-check, but overall it's a completely different animal.

So, you have to make a decision. If you've been told "Here's InDesign, figure it out at your desk", you have been handed a disaster waiting to happen. Smile and say "No thank you". But if you're working for a reputable, professional, company, they'll invest in training for you, the same way that they invested in the software, the computer, and your salary.