Inspired by a post I came across on DesignDisease, I decided to do one of my own post on some of the essential gadgets, and supplies used by Graphic Designers.
The world of design is constantly on the rise with the latest gadgets, and gear. It’s hard to summarize, or decide on a product when you have so many options. I have put together this list of supplies I see as essential, in no particular order, for Graphic Designers, or for any artists for that matter. Hopefully, this will give you an idea of where to start, or help you choose what works best for you.
Graphic Designers use a wide range of applications for their projects, and need to work quickly. Apple MacBook, Pro, Air and iMac have been the go-to tools for a serious Graphic Designer.
Apple Macs are a great choice for those who need an overall high-performance, spectacular graphics, spacious storage, and high-quality color accuracy. These products are versatile and perfect for any design work.
2. Wacom Tablet
Pen tablets, or Graphic Design tablets are input devices which can be used to substitute a mouse. They are easily connected to your computer via Bluetooth/USB. One of the popular brands of Graphic Design tablets is Wacom. Wacom’s Graphic Design tablets range in a variety of shapes, sizes, and the choices are based on your creative interests. These tablets are considered an inseparable tool for any creative professional artist.
3. Adobe Creative Cloud Software
The Adobe Creative Cloud provides creative apps at an affordable price with different plans to choose from. One of Adobe’s most popular plans are the All Apps for Individuals for $49.99/mo. This plan includes the entire collection of 20+ creative desktop, and mobile apps, including Photoshop CC, and Illustrator CC. You can also own your own portfolio website, premium fonts, and 20GB of cloud storage.
Adobe offers a variety of tutorial videos on their website that can help beginners master the program’s functions, and improve their design skills.
4. Graphic Design Education or Training
Learning is an important asset in any creative work, and even more so in the world of Graphic Design. For designers, education doesn’t mean the structured learning you get in a classroom setting, but rather the everyday education. A key element to becoming a successful designer is to stay sharp and up-to-date. Many Graphic Designers who are passionate about how, and what they do refer to textbooks, online resources, and successful designers for inspiration, and higher education.
A few good reads, and online resources of mine, and my favorite Graphic Designers include:
• Adobe Creative Suite 6 Design & Web Premium Digital Classroom (Classroom-in-a-Book series) by Jennifer Smith, Jeremy Osborn, and the AGI Creative Team
• Creative Workshop: 80 Challenges to Sharpen Your Design Skills by David Sherwin
• Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon
• Burn Your Portfolio: Stuff they don’t teach you in design school but should by Michael Janda
• Pretty Much Everything by Aaron James Draplin
• The Graphic Design Idea Book: Inspiration from 50 Masters by Steven Heller and Gail Anderson
• A Visual Guide to the Language, Applications, and History of Graphic Design by Bryony Comez-Palacio and Armin Vit
• Graphic Design Thinking: Beyond Brainstorming by Ellen Lupton
• Just My Type: A Book About Fonts by Simon Garfield
• Art Direction Explained, At Last! By Steven Heller and Veronique Vienne
• Layers: The Complete Guide to Photoshop’s Most Powerful Feature by Matt Kloskowski
• Book of Ideas: A Journal of Creative Direction and Graphic Design by Radim Malinic
• The Graphic Designer’s Guide to Portfolio Design by Debbie Rose Myers
• Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
• The Design of Everyday Things: Revised and Expanded Edition by Don Norman
• You Can Draw in 30 Days: The Fun, Easy Way to Learn to Draw in One Month or Less by Mark Kistler
5. Drawing and Sketching
Graphic Designers will be using a computer to complete their design work, but it is highly encouraged to start the design process using a sketchbook or sketchpad. It is a great way to start brainstorming ideas, and to get more creative.
The other tools used by graphic designers in this process include:
a. Tracing Paper
b. Light Box (useful for Logo Design)
c. Mechanical Pencil
d. Sketch Pad or Sketchbook
e. Field Notes (Pocket Notebook)
6. Calibrated Monitor
If you ever found your photos to look different depending on which screen you view them on, or you printed them and they come out too dark, it is a definite clue that your monitor is not calibrated properly.
Calibrating your monitor ensures a consistent and accurate display of colors across the monitor, and even when printed. For an accurate calibration, you must use a dedicated tool, such as The Datacolor Spyder 5 Pro
Datacolor Spyder 5 Pro hangs on your monitor, and it creates a unique color profile. It can adjust the monitor’s brightness level based on your room lighting to help you get true colors on screen, and in print.
7. Creative Color Wheel
A color wheel, also referred to as a color circle, is an illustrative organization of color hues around a circle. It shows the relationships between primary colors, secondary colors, and tertiary colors.
The primary colors are red, yellow, and blue. The secondary colors are orange, green, and violet. Tertiary colors include yellow green, blue violet, red violet, red orange, and yellow orange.
A color wheel tool helps to relate the colors to each other, and choose which colors will look good together. Designers usually begin a project for their clients by developing a color scheme to see which colors will work well together for the project. This may be accomplished with one to two base colors, and work around with other colors. Sometimes designers may work from scratch. Anyhow, this is a very useful tool to have in hand to begin any design project.
8. Pantone Color Bridge Set
Pantone is known as a standardized color matching system, in which it utilizes a Pantone numbering system for easy identification of the colors. Pantone has many types of palettes, and they include The Solid Palette, The Process Palette, The Textile Palette, The Plastics Palette, and The Goe Palette.
The Process Palette has more than 3,000 color variations, and is created with CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black) process printing. All the colors in this palette start with DS, and has hyphenated numbers from DS-1-1 to DS-334-9, and may be followed by a C (coated) or U (uncoated).
Pantone Color Bridge can be used to convert Solid Colors into CMYK percentages. It makes it easy to visualize what Pantone solid colors will look like when you print using CMYK inks.
9. DSLR Camera
Graphic Designers don’t exactly require a camera, but zealous designers always carry one. They won’t lose a chance of capturing a visual inspiration.
If you do design work for a magazine or newspaper, you may find photography an important part of your work. Part of your Graphic Design work involves photographing your subjects or products.
10. Office Chair
Let’s face it! You will be spending immeasurable hours at your desk working on your design projects. Having a comfortable, and appropriate seating is as crucial as having a well-lit workspace.
To prevent backaches, and Repetitive Strain Injury, it is a good decision to invest in an Ergonomic chair.
11. Time Tracking Applications
Time waits for no one!
When you realize you will not be able to get back the seconds, the minutes, or even the hours of a day, suddenly time becomes very precious to you. Imagine all the things you could accomplish if you were able to manage your time.
“A time well spent is a time well rewarded”
Tracking time, and staying on top of things is crucial. This can be easily attained through time tracking applications. Among the numerous types, here are a few of the popular applications used by designers: Toggl, Tick, Harvest, and Freshbooks. Stay Focused, and Be Productive!
The iPhone has been by far the most popular choice among designers for a long time.
You will not need a top-end smartphone for your design projects, but it would be great to have a good smartphone when managing clients. You will be able to view images, send emails or multi-task on-the-go.