Some might say I’m over-dramatic. I just think big goals lead to big results.
You aspire to create awesome menus, mind-blowing signage, and a logo that knocks more stockings off than a rompish sock hop.
As far as you know, Photoshop is the go to for pretty well everything you need. But as it turns out, it’s not.
But to be fair, you’ve been following us for awhile now and know the difference between raster and vector graphics.
Here’s a quick run-down on what you need to know about the Adobe Creative Cloud and the programs you’ll actually be using.
First off, if you’re not aware, Adobe CC is a subscription based platform. Gone are the days of off the shelf programs and suites. A number of years ago Adobe switched to a monthly subscription paid plan (an annual plan paid monthly). In for a penny, in for a pound.
There are just two options I would consider. Being that really there are three programs that are essential and will make your job easiest, the $49.99/mo makes the most sense. You could get away with a single application plan but I wouldn’t make that one program Photoshop as you might expect.
Illustrator is actually the more versatile program for your uses. Editing photos for your social media feeds could just as easily be done on a free alternative—we’ll get to those later.
With Illustrator you can create logos that will look stellar across the board in preferred vector format. On top of that, it has better tools to manipulate type—what you need for menu design. And lastly, building signs in Illustrator ensures that you will have crystal clear prints even at jumbo sizes.
Photoshop and InDesign are what complete the trifecta of essentials if you go the full suite route.
Photoshop's strengths truly lay in photos–whodathunkit?
The primary use for a restaurant business would likely be social media feeds. Here you can tweak colours and lighting and a host of other issues that might look less than the deliciousness you’re cooking up. Remove a pea that’s out of place or a fingerprint left on a dish.
For some, Photoshop's use is the art of manufacturing reality. For social media, honesty and authenticity is the name of the game. Adjust only to what you experienced and saw in the dish. Subtle embellishments are all you ever need.
What’s also great about Photoshop is that you can use it to build and bring in texture to otherwise flat menu designs.
Say you want to create a worn paper effect or the look of a chalkboard. Photoshop is your guy (or gal).
But I said that menu design shouldn't be done in Photoshop. That’s true. What we do in Photoshop can easily be brought into another application that is best suited for creating a menu.
Enter InDesign. 80% of my design work is done here. It’s where you take your wet ingredients and mix them with your dry and bake them into a scrumptious cake. InDesign is the oven where all the magic happens.
InDesign is the powerhouse here because it can place files from both Illustrator and Photoshop and beyond (it takes a whole basket full of different formats). It does so without bogging down your machine by displaying low resolution (i.e. ugly) versions of those files. This is great because it means you can focus on layout and not a sluggish computer.
The most pressing reason to build a menu in InDesign is the powerful ability to edit, manipulate, and perfect text. Exactly what you’d want when creating a menu.
Here it is easy to ensure all your section headings and menu items match for a unified message. By keeping things consistent not only will the menu look a like million bucks, your readers will be more easily be able to read it and buy from it.
If you only have the two arms and two legs and none to spare, Adobe CC certainly is at the higher end of the spectrum on price, even paid monthly. Fortunately there are some free alternatives out there.
GIMP is basically the ipso facto free version of Photoshop. It has a tremendous following and has been around since 1996. In many ways it is very Photoshop-esque in its user interface. If you’ve been using the free 30 day free trial from Adobe you really should have no trouble wrangling pixels here too.
InkScape, which plays nice with GIMP, is your best bet for a free version of Illustrator. A quick stroll through their gallery and you’ll see the unlimited potential for creation there really is. Just because Adobe™ isn’t on the box doesn’t mean you can’t create just as professional graphics for your business.
Scribus is your go-to for a free InDesign replacement. Full disclosure on this one, we haven’t yet had the chance to fiddle and design inside of this one. But being Open Source, it’s built to play nice with both GIMP and InkScape, what you’d really want to complete a suite that rivals Adobe’s.
No matter what you use, it’s just how they’ve always said, “It’s not about the tools you use, it’s all in how you use them”.
That being said, my Dad always said “If you’re going to do a job, you may as well do it right”. That’s what proper tools can help you do.