Everybody wants to make the best use of their time, and if you’re a busy graphic designer, your situation is undoubtedly no different! But design takes time, and when you’re working with tools that aren’t exactly intuitive, it can get frustrating.
The good news? There are more graphic design tools out there now than ever before. That means that you don’t have to settle for an interface that doesn’t work with you.
With the tools listed here, you can boost your productivity, cut down on lag time, and make the most of your creativity.
Graphic Design Tools For Beginners
We all have to start somewhere. If you’re just getting started on your journey as a graphic designer, these tools are intuitive, uncomplicated, and effective. And no matter what point you’re at in your skillset, these can be great options for your productivity.
- Adobe Illustrator. This is the granddaddy of graphic design tools, cited on almost every list of the best design tools since its creation. It is simple to use, even if you don’t have much experience with the interface, and provides a host of fantastic features to make sure you get the job done. This powerful software can cut your processing time down significantly.
- Adobe Photoshop. Another often-recommended software from Adobe, Photoshop is ideal for photo-based design, allowing for editing and manipulation far beyond many other options.
- GNU Image Manipulation Program. If you’re not quite at the point of wanting to pay for expensive options like the Adobe Creative Suite, however, Gimp is a good free alternative that is frequently compared to Photoshop.
- This is an Apple product and so is only available to designers who use Macs, but its increase in popularity. This is due in part to its more manageable price range and the fact that it’s comparable to Illustrator and Photoshop. This software is focused on vector editing and is frequently recommended to web designers and graphic designers who also work with UI.
Logo Design Tools
Logos are some of the most important pieces of branding design, so if you’re a designer who focuses on branding, you’ll undoubtedly have worked on many of these little squares. Logo design often appears deceptively simple, but anyone who puts hours of time and effort into them knows that, if there’s a hangup in the design process, these small pieces can throw a wrench in productivity.
Luckily, there are tools to help with that. Whether you decide to use these tools as launching points for your own original design, or whether you use them as true assistant designers, is up to you and your project.
- This free web-based tool offers a quick, easy way to get a customizable logo in a matter of minutes. It offers a variety of designs, for everything from a full business logo to a simplified, stripped-down app logo and beyond.
- Logo Of The Day. If you’re looking for inspiration, but you need to streamline your process (all of us have spent hours looking through options, right?), this site showcases some of the best logo designs, worldwide, each and every day.
- Also a great resource for design of all kinds, Behance offers curated logo design inspiration.
Color palettes are an integral part of graphic design. But for many of us, making a choice can be an agonizing process. Here are some great tools that help to streamline those issues, allowing you to get recommended palettes in seconds, as well as understand the reasoning behind those options.
- This generator bills itself as a “super fast color schemes generator” and provides you with personalized palettes, as well as information on trending color schemes.
- A popular, often-recommended design tool to help you create a scheme that works for your project.
- Smashing Magazine’s Color Theory For Designers. If you’re looking for ways to increase your understanding of the psychology of color, and how it impacts how your designs are viewed, this is a great free resource to turn to. Continuing education in design may take a little extra time at the outset, but it always turns into a streamlined process afterward, allowing you to boost your knowledge and your productivity at the same time.
Free Graphic Design Tools
Many of the tools listed above are also free, or at least have a free level for you to try out. But here are some more, for the budget-minded graphic designers among us — which is everyone, right?
Inkscape. This is a very popular open-source vector design tool. It’s a great free alternative to Adobe Illustrator. A powerful piece of downloadable software, it includes drawing and shape tools, layers, and the ability to convert photos to simplified, layered vector images.
Blender (https://www.blender.org/). Depending on the sort of graphic design you work in, this may be one of your top choices. Blender is known for helping independent video game designers and animation artists to create professional-looking end results. It may not be the best choice for a brand new designer, as the interface can be complicated to get the hang of, but frequent users say that it gets easier as you work with it.
Gravit Designer. Right along the same lines as Gimp and Inkscape, Gravit Designer is a great open-source software that gives you a plethora of design features, allowing you to create vectors from inspiration to finished product in a reduced amount of time.
FontForge. If you’re creating pieces of design that are heavily based on typefaces, this may be the ideal free design tool for your work process. It is a lightweight, easy-to-use font editing tool, designed to help you smooth out the font-based design process.
Meet Dan Jenkins, a freelance blogger with a penchant for video streaming and all things electronics. He likes to dig deep into topics he writes about whether it is graphic design or gadget reviews. He likes collecting CDs and music records.