Adobe Creative Suite certainly works for designing home screen, toolbar and tab bar icons, but it's a little like going squirrel hunting with an elephant gun; it's overkill from the standpoint of features and price. Especially if you're a new iPhone developer and don't want to break the bank, you should consider some of the following lower-cost options:
- OmniGraffle by Omnifocus ($99 Standard edition) - OmniGraffle is a stencil-based drawing program that is capable of all sorts of sophisticated diagramming and flow-charting. However, it has two great applications for iPhone developers. First, there are great stencil sets available here and here that allow you to rapidly prototype your next app. Check out Steve Marmon's (@marmon) Stanford lecture for more. Second, Steve Weller has a great post on his blog describing how to use a stencil he designed to create tab bar and tool bar icons.
- LineForm (Freeverse $69) - LineForm is a great vector illustration application. With a clean, simple interface and even tablet support, you can go a long way creating artwork for your next app without Adobe Illustrator.
UPDATE (11/04/09): Two additional applications you might want to consider for iPhone icon design as alternatives to Photoshop:
- Inkscape (Free) - Inkscape is a free open source application that has a lot to offer. Check out this post on Cocoa with Love for a tutorial on how to use Inkscape to design iPhone icons.
- DrawIt (Bohemian Coding $38) - Another interesting choice that combines vector editing with the added benefit of bitmap-like filters.