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Jorge Piñon

Why I can’t switch to Photoshop for icons and other UI assets #

September 9, 2012

Most of the time when I need to create icons and other UI-type image assets, I fire up Illustrator. It seems that most, or at least a lot, of designers use Photoshop. The stuff on Dribble usually blows me away but I've just never been convinced that rich, depth-illusioning interfaces are for me. Maybe because I went to Art School and associated more with the post-impressionists than the realists. Flat was always better than realistic for me. I wanted to make art like Picasso, Hans Hoffman, Matisse, Alexander Rodchenko, and Basquiat. The phrases manerist and trompe l’oeil made me cringe.

That’s probably why the Flat Design Era sounds right to me.

So whenever I have to create an icon or whatever else falls in the UI image category, I just can’t bring myself to open Photoshop. It feels like the wrong path. Illustrator isn’t a perfect fit either, but it’s roots are vector instead of pixel.

Features that Photoshop lacks: #

For what it’s worth, here’s a quick list of what I wish Photoshop had right now. These things are in Illustrator.

While I’m making lists, Illustrator really, really needs: #

Better slice control #

On the rare ocassion that I have to create html email (sorry, all recipients), I have to deal with this crap. Aligning Illustrator slices to a 1-px grid is like whack-a-mole (“Why did that point’s x-value change to 4.99999px?!”)

Effects to match photoshop (inner shadow, inner glow) #

It’s like they started to do stuff and got tired. A few of Photoshop’s effects palette stuff is here, but only a small group and they don’t work the same. The silver lining here is that it always reminds me that I could do without that extra Inner Glow anyway.

OK, forget Effects, all I really need is Base64 #

The only effect I would really like is noise. How awesome would it be to be able to add noise to a shape in Illustrator with a simple palette that generates data:image/png;base64 patterns? Don’t know what I mean? If you don’t know, now you know.

Other, non-Adobe Options #

If you’re out there saying “This idiot’s never heard of Fireworks” or “only dumb sheep go with any Adobe product. Sketch/Pixelmator/Gimp/Inkscape is my tool of choice.”, I love you. You guys are my kind of trailblazers. Please keep those companies in business so that their software matures enough for me to dedicate myself to learning it and depending on it.

Actually I’m soooo close to buying Sketch...