Graphic design is a large and expansive field. It can be difficult as a graphic designer to know where to start. Of course, the answer is different for everyone. There are plenty of tools used by different graphic designers that achieve awesome results.
This list focuses on 10 tools that are very helpful to almost any graphic designer. You should at least be familiar with these tools so that you can identify what works best for the work you are trying to complete.
Photoshop is perhaps the most famous of all graphic designer programs. Even if you aren’t a graphic designer, you have surely heard of this graphics editing tool.
Photoshop is the industry standard for editing photos and creating digital art. Photoshop offers countless tools and applications to allow photo manipulation and the creation of whole new images. If you are a graphic designer and you are looking for a place to start, then Photoshop is the obvious place to start. While perhaps not the favorite of every graphic designer out there, it can’t hurt to learn the most popular program.
Illustrator is the appropriate next step to Photoshop. Illustrator is a vector graphics editing program and, together with Photoshop, it covers all of the design tools that many graphic designers will ever need.
Illustrator is more adept at creating images of your own. The vast amount of image creation tools and sophisticated layering techniques allow graphic designers the opportunity to create images no matter how complicated. Illustrator is simple enough for beginners to learn yet offers tools and techniques that are sophisticated enough for the most experienced graphic designers. It is no wonder it has remained the industry standard for graphics and logo design.
Procreate is a raster graphics editor that was released in 2011. It is relatively new and has taken the graphic design industry by storm, even challenging Photoshop and Illustrator in many circles. The goal of Procreate was to replicate the natural feel of drawing with a pen (or paintbrush) and paper. It is designed to be used with a stylus for the true drawing experience. From there, choose several brushes, blend modes, masks, filters, and many other tools. It is easy to see why the intuitive experience of Procreate has challenged the Adobe Creative Suite for the graphic design software throne.
Canva is a great tool designed with simplicity in mind. If you are a beginning graphic designer or even if you aren’t a graphic designer at all, Canva is an option that is simple enough for you. It uses basic pre-made templates and simple design elements along with multiple creation tools to modify and edit your work, creating a sophisticated graphic design experience that is simple enough for beginners to use.
Probably the main tool in your graphic design arsenal is your computer. Most graphic designers can’t do anything without a good computer. Even the best software is useless without one. The most popular choice seems to be the MacBook Pro but it really comes down to what you are comfortable with, not brand identity. Most types of Macs or PCs can run the major graphic design software so it is really personal preference.
The Wacom Bamboo is a tablet designed to replicate the experience of physically drawing with a pencil and paper on your computer. The tablet attaches to your computer and allows you to draw with the stylus, transferring the results right to your design software of choice. It takes some getting used to but the textured surface of a Wacom tablet does its best to replicate the feeling of creating a sketch with a real pen and paper.
One thing you will quickly learn about graphic design is that image and design files are huge! A good external hard drive is a must so that your computer doesn’t fill up with files in a matter of weeks. Space is more affordable than ever these days and you can get a massive sized external hard drive for cheap.
Designers have been using iPads for years now and the Apple Pencil has further revolutionized this process. The Apple Pencil is one of the most intuitive, best-reviewed styluses out there for drawing your own designs and creating visual content. It is much more responsive than almost any stylus on the market and simplifies the process of drawing your designs on a tablet in a way that no other stylus can. The lag is almost zero and the precision is extremely accurate.
If you are interested in photography and photo manipulation in your designs, then a good camera is a must. DSLR cameras take high-quality photos and are relatively affordable. When taking pictures for graphic design, the last thing you want to worry about is the quality of the photo itself. So, if you are looking to add photos to your designs, take images for websites, or even share photos on social media, a good DSLR camera supplements all these needs.
Of course, the most basic design tool of all, the old fashioned pen and paper. A pen (or crayon) and paper is probably the first drawing tool you ever used. Graphic designers still find it useful for anything from drawing out initial sketches to creating high-quality mock-ups or even full designs. Even with all the sophisticated steps forward that graphic design has taken, the power of the pen and paper will never be lost.
So there you have it! The 10 tools that graphic designers everywhere use to achieve unique and amazing results. Of course, the nature of design is that it is all different so your needs will, of course, differ from the next designer; however, we think that the tools on this list are a great addition to any designer’s arsenal. Have fun designing!