As a graphic designer, you should always be on the lookout for the latest tools to help broaden your skills. While some of the items I’m listing here are available for free, most come with a price tag. However, using state-of-the-art tools can help you secure more design work by enhancing your creativity and productivity. You’ll need to invest carefully and understand your market if you want to succeed as a graphic design professional. With that said, let’s take a look at 5 more of my favorite design tools.
Adobe Creative Cloud
Adobe Creative Cloud is one of the finest tools to have as a graphic designer. It’s also what the majority of designers use. In addition to the “big three” (Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign), the Creative Cloud contains all the premium tools Adobe offers, including:
- After Effects, a compositing application that allows you to add digital visual effects and motion graphics to projects
- Lightroom, an image organization and manipulation tool
- Animate, a computer animation program
- Dreamweaver, a web development tool available for both macOS and Windows OS.
Mastering these programs enables you to complete a very wide range of design projects. Helpfully, you can sync your photos, files, fonts, settings, design assets, metadata, etc. automatically among all of the applications. You can also access any other tool from within each of the design platforms. While it is possible to purchase the applications individually, the Creative Cloud package can save you a lot in the long run and increase your overall productivity. To sum it up, it’s very affordable and definitely worth the money!
Pixlr is a photo editor that is very similar to the more well-known Adobe Photoshop. However, it not only allows you to work with photo extensions such as .JPEG and .PNG, but also works with Photoshop files that use the .PSD extension. It keeps the source format, so you don’t face any issues saving files. If you only need a tool to do simple edits, then Pixlr is a great choice. Think of it as Photoshop’s little brother.
Wacom Tablet & Stylus
If you’re an artist who works better with a pen or pencil in hand, Wacom‘s drawing tools bring perfection to your digital creations. They offer a wide selection of products including the MobileStudio Pro pen computer, Cintiq Pro pen displays, Intuos pen tablets, and Bamboo smart pads and styluses, Making the transition to digital drawing can take a little practice, but once you master the technique your projects will get a whole new look!
While these tools are on the higher end of the price scale, many come in a range of sizes, shapes, and platforms. You can start with a smaller, less expensive device to get a feel for it, and then upgrade at a later date. Depending on the product you choose, you may even be able to use a payment plan to purchase your dream tool.
While you can create your own, Iconfinder allows graphic designers to easily search for high-quality icons. Depending on your project, this tool can end up saving you quite an amount of time. The site offers a free version with a library of over 100,000 unique icons. If you want more, they also provide a Pro version that offers at least over 570,000 icons. Once you subscribe, you can also access commercial project icons available in .AI and .CSH formats. The creators of icons also get a huge cut of the subscription fees, so it’s a great way to give back to the design community!
Pantone Color Guides
As a graphic designer, you’ll face a lot of issues during your career. One of the most frustrating ones I’ve dealt with is screen color versus print color. There are a couple of ways to resolve this issue, but many designers (me included) consider using Pantone Color Guides as one of the best solutions. Pantone offers two Color Systems, each designed for different uses such as graphics, textiles, and coatings and pigments. Although this product has a pretty high price tag; if you’re someone who deals with constant printing, you better believe it’s going to be worth every penny!
I hope these suggestions inspire you to try some new tools to enhance your graphic design projects. Happy creating!