Please forgive the open-ended title. My actual question, I think, is a bit more specific and suited for this site but it is rather difficult to articulate my need in one simple sentence.
Quick background– I’ve recently had a minor shift in my career. I need to manage a website for a non-profit and since it will be rather graphical, I need to start learning how to extensively use image editing software. On a beginner-level, I’ve used PhotoShop in the past because that was what was available to me. I can use it but I’ll be honest… I’ve always hated PhotoShop and reached for alternative editors when given the opportunity to use something else. To me, it’s just not as intuitive as many other tools that I’ve used and, let’s face it, it’s expensive compared to many of the alternatives.
My specific question is, is PhotoShop such a massive, de-facto industry standard that should I not realistically consider using another tool if I ever want to find competent volunteers (or future employees) that will need to manage our image assets?
I know that their are a ton of PhotoShop alternative but, other than GIMP, most people have never heard of any of them.
If I prefer to steer clear of PhotoShop for our needs, is this going to cause a problem in the future regarding finding competent workers that could take over my work, or are the other top-used image editing tools in enough use that I should be able to find competent workers that are familiar with these tools?
I will choose to use PhotoShop if I have to in order to remain relevant. However, that will only be out of begrudged necessity. Any advisement would be appreciated.
Please note that this IS NOT a direct request for PhotoShop alternatives. Instead, I just want to know that if I do go with something else for my personal work, will I be causing a bigger problem in the future when I need to hand over my work to someone else who is hopefully more capable than myself.
The only things that matter are the images which come out of the process.
There is very little reason for the final art to be in a format which is not universally supported: you will use PNG, TIFF, Jpeg primarily. This is because for web and print, you are providing fixed content with 100% guarantee of interoperability.
If you are planning on sharing many working PSD files with people, you should be using Photoshop because interoperability is required. If you are sharing editable content with people who do not need to edit it, you are doing it wrong.
If you are concerned about archiving the working sets of files for use later, then there are ways to handle this. TIFF supports layers. One key problem will be text. However, from experience, even when using the same storage format, missing linked content such as font files are always going to be a problem when your whole workflow environment has changed. For archival purposes, it is probably a good idea to rasterize text (at least a duplicate of any text layers) so that you can easily re-align new text layers with the new fonts you will inevitably have to resort to using. If this is too much work, hen you probably don’t need to worry too much about it. The final working art can be picked up and used as a template.
Most people do things differently and you might find that in the scenario you suggested (short term volunteers with various levels of experience) etc., the difference in working styles will probably hinder the usefulness of providing archived editable art, to say nothing of the mismatched versioning problems you will experience.
Focus on storing branded materials for use in their own original works and request the working file they used as well as a flattened version in a universal format.
I agree quite a bit with Scott’s answer. The tool only matters with interoperability and I think that the one main place for someone in the OP’s position where interoperability really matters is in print submission for a complex publication where you need to provide a printer with materials they can make a plate from. All the rest, including 2-sided single sheet printing, can be done with virtually any tool as long as the file format submitted is open enough.
The images are like cabinets, and Photoshop is like the set of jigs used to make it. If the recipient only needs a cabinet, then the jigs are meaningless.
If you have a volunteer doing a slide for the front page of your WordPress, you provide the brand guide, the logo required in eps/svg/etc format and ask for the native file and the PNG. Archive the native file, which you will never touch, and then upload the PNG.
There is no reason why you can’t run a png though photoshop, gimp, two imagemagick filters via command line, write a VB program to animate text on it creating an animation set, then import into windows movie maker (!) and export an mpeg, bring it into an editing suite add mask effects, and then take a screencap for your homepage (saved with paint.net).
If you use closed formats, the above workflow gets difficult.