Many budding designers wonder whether they should use Photoshop or Illustrator for fabric design. And of course, there are the purists/classically trained artists among us who like to design with pen/pencil/pastel/paint and paper.
The short answer is that there's no RIGHT way to design fabric! You can use any one of the methods above OR combinations of some or all of them. Each software program, however, does offer advantages (and have shortcomings!) depending on the type of design you prefer.
In this section, I will discuss each program as it relates to fabric design.
Side note: Personally, I prefer Illustrator for most of the design work I do because of its ability to scale artwork (without quality loss) and how it smooths lines. But you may find you prefer the more organic look/feel of working in Photoshop. It completely depends on the design experience and final look you wish to achieve. I encourage you to learn BOTH so you can determine what works best for you.
Photoshop is best for painterly and free-handed designs. It's also perfect for creating repeats of hand-drawn/painted artwork that you've scanned into the computer. Here are its features at-a-glance:
Illustrator is best for creating smooth lines and more graphic artwork. Here are its features at-a-glance:
In the following video, I'll give you a more hands-on explanation of the differences in the two programs.