10 of the best new graphic design tools for March

If logo design gets you going, we’ve got a number of top resources for you this month. Pentagram partner Michael Beirut discusses the “hyperbolic vitriol” increasingly surrounding logo redesigns – and how to deal with it as a designer – in an insightful podcast episode. Plus, the launch of a new website brings inspiration and eye candy to logo aficionados around the world.

Illustrator plugin ninja Astute Graphics has released a powerful new plugin this month. VectorFirstAid promises to dramatically slash the time it takes to import artwork into Illustrator, letting you clean up files in just one click.

That’s not all. As usual, we have all the best new books, Photoshop brushes and actions to speed up your workflow and boost creativity. Read on for 10 of the best new graphic design tools in March…  

 01. VectorFirstAid

From the makers of VectorScribe – the Swiss Army Knife of Illustrator plugins – comes a brand new tool this month: VectorFirstAid. Designed to take the headache out of importing artwork into Illustrator, it removes all unnecessary compound paths and clipping masks at the touch of a button – cleaning up your vector artwork with just one click.

Not only does this mean no more lost hours trying to fix the annoying technical niggles that appear after importing artwork into Illustrator, but by eliminating all unnecessary information, you end up with a much reduced file size, too.

With five-star reviews already, it’s one to look into if you spend a lot of time working with PDFs or designs from other programs or apps. Head over to the Astute Graphics website to find out more and download a 14-day trial.  

02. Logo Design with Michael Bierut

Episode 251 of Roman Mars’ weekly design and architecture podcast 99% Invisible sees Pentagram partner Michael Beirut discussing logo design and dealing with feedback. As Mars says, logo redesigns “attract a lot of hyperbolic vitriol”. How does it feel as the designer?

Beirut dissects some of his recent logos, discussing their “tangible shorthand” and sharing his thoughts on how to handle public opinion. It’s worth a listen for anyone interested in logos and branding.

03. Logobook

Logobooks is vast online archive of the world's finest logos

Speaking of logos, new website Logobook presents a vast online archive of the world’s finest logos, symbols and trademarks. Including examples of brilliant logo design dating back to the1950s, the collection – which was created by a group of Swiss designers – is intended as both a resource and inspiration for creatives. Importantly, it also aims to increase awareness of what’s been done before, and by whom, in an attempt to push identity design into new areas.

 04. 100 Illustrators

Discover 100 of the world's most important illustrators

Released on Amazon this month, 100 Illustrators is the latest book from celebrated design writer Steven Heller. Heller brings together 100 of the world’s most successful and important illustrators – including Christoph Niemann, Istvan Banyai and Anita Kunz – to introduce and explore their work. It’s a fascinating insight into the dynamic genre of illustration today. 

05. Curiosities Font Collection

Explore 40 20th century-style fonts

Designer Jeremy Vessey is offering 40 of his stunning early 20th century-inspired vintage fonts for $29 (down from the usual $39) until the end of March.

Including scripts, layered fonts, brush scripts, vintage fonts and hand-lettered fonts, the Curiosities Font Collection also comes with three free RetroSupply fonts – Palm Canyon Drive script, Authority and SOLID70. Bargain. 

06. Radiant Beauty

A stylist new font from Ian Barnard

Designer Ian Barnard’s new font Radiant Beauty balances a hand-drawn feel with clarity and readability. Included in this set – which you can currently save 25 per cent on – is the font itself (which was drawn with a chisel-tip marker, cleaned up in Illustrator and tweaked in Barnard’s font editor), 26 swashes to emphasise words and four Photoshop actions to give your lettering a vintage feel. It comes in OTF, TTF and web font versions, and there’s a sans-serif version too. 

07. 500 Designs that Matter

Dive into this 708-page book of iconic graphic designs

Publisher Phaidon has released a new book collating what it says are five hundred of the most iconic graphic designs of all time, from the beginnings of mechanical reproduction to the present. Including the first sample of movable type and the Nuremberg Chronicle of the fifteenth century, as well as cutting-edge magazines, posters and ephemera of today, the 708-page tome promises diversity and inspiration. 

08. Art Text

This Mac-only plugin lets you liven up your type

Quickly produce stylised lettering with this Mac-only plugin. Designed to bring beauty to everything from headers to banners, badges and even logos, Art Text comes with over 70 customisable templates, 100 gradient presets, 540 textures and 140 shading materials, plus 2D effects, 3D materials and more.

09. Retro clip art

This clip art will add an authentic retro touch to your designs

Clip art might have been abused in the past, but this collection of over 30 retro images has been painstakingly sourced from catalogues dating back to the 1940s and 1950s, and will add an authentic retro touch to your designs. It includes backpacks, flasks, hikers, campers, lanterns, dogs, fisherman, landscapes and more – perfect for a vintage T-shirt or poster design.

10. Colorwave Photoshop Action Set

This Photoshop action set will add some pop

If you’re looking to add a pop to your designs, illustrations or photos, try Matt Borchert’s Colorwave Photoshop Action Set. Each of the 40 actions takes one click to run, and many of them stack on top of each other – so you can create all kinds of unique and visually stunning effects.

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