Top 20 new creative tools of 2017 so far

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Wouldn’t it be nicer to spend a little less time working and a little more relaxing and enjoying with yourself? Software creators are constantly striving to help you do just that, constantly coming up with new and improved tools to speed up your creative process. 

In this post, we bring you 20 new and newly updated creative tools for 2017, their main headline features, and where you can go to find more about them. 

01. Affinity Photo for iPad

The iPad version of Affinity Photo lets you use all the features of a full image editing program on the move

First launched in 2014, image editing software Affinity Photo has won itself a big fanbase by being both cheaper than its rival Photoshop, and in many ways more powerful (with features such as multi-million per cent zoom). 

This June the tool took another big step forward, launching as a full version on iPad. That’s right, this is no stripped-down version, but a full-featured photo editing tool on Apple’s tablet, and that’s something Adobe is unable to offer at the moment.

02. Google Material Design Colour Tool

Google’s free tool lets you create and share colour palettes then try them out on sample UIs

New for 2017, this free tool from Google helps you to pick the right colours for your apps, in accordance with its Material Design principles. Essentially, it makes it easy to create and share colour palettes, as well as apply them to a sample user interface. Most intriguingly, it assesses how legible your text will be within your colour scheme, according to accessibility guidelines. Learn more about the tool in this blog post

03. Calligraphr

Launched this February, Calligraphr is a new tool that lets you make fonts from your own handwriting. You start by downloading a template as a PNG or PDF. Fill it with your handwriting, scan it, and the tool then translates your scrawl into usable fonts. If you’re not happy with them, you can edit them digitally. See it in action in the video above.

04. Sketch 46.2

You can now save Sketch files in a way that anyone can work on them

Sketch has seen many updates since its original launch in 2010. But its big new release in April was a true game-changer. That’s because there’s a new way to save files, with a ‘.sketch’ extension at the end. And that means anybody can now create and modify sketch files, whether they have Sketch or not. You can even open them in a text editor. Learn more about the new file format in this blog post.

05. CorelDraw Graphics Suite 2017

CorelDRAW’s LiveSketch tool uses AI to make your hand-drawn strokes smoother

Released this April, the latest version of CorelDRAW, the illustration and graphics tool for the Windows platform, has brought AI to vector drawing. That’s in the form of the new LiveSketch tool, which interprets your hand-drawn strokes and combines them with existing vector curves, making it easier to produce smooth lines by drawing directly on a tablet. You can read our full review of the software here.

06. Adobe Illustrator 2017.1

In the latest version of Adobe Illustrator, you can now crop an image within the software

The latest version of Adobe’s vector graphics software, released in April, includes the ability to crop an image directly within the software. That means you no longer need to need to switch to Photoshop to crop your images. There’s also a new Colour Themes Panel, which lets you create, save and retrieve colour themes across the different Adobe apps, and some cool new typography tools. Read our Illustrator CC review here

07. Autodesk Graphic for iPad Pro

Autodesk’s vector editor is now available for the iPad Pro

Autodesk is best known for its 3D tools, but its vector software, Graphic for iPad, is pretty decent too, and this year it launched a new version for the iPad Pro. Compatible with the Apple Pencil, you can use it to create vector illustrations, graphic designs, technical diagrams or digital art. Features include keyboard shortcuts, quick switch tools and vector clipping paths.

08. Tilt Brush 12

The latest version of Tilt Brush gives you greater customisation options

Google's virtual reality painting app Tilt Brush, which works with the HTC Vive headset, has been around for a while now. But this April saw a significant update which includes a new web gallery for sharing your VR sketches and more powerful customisation options, such as being able to control the colour, intensity, and direction of one shadow-casting and one non shadow-casting light. You can find details of all the new features here.

09. Google Blocks

Google Blocks lets you create art you can walk around in using a VR headset

A free tool for owners of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive headsets, Google Blocks lets you create low-poly art within a virtual reality environment. Designed to complement Tilt Brush (above) rather than replace it, Google Blocks lets you export your low-poly artwork to games software such as Unity as an .obj file, or download it as an animated GIF.

10. Gravity Sketch VR

3D drawing software Gravity Sketch has launched a VR app

We’re big fans of 3D drawing software Gravity Sketch, so it’s great news that’s its just launched a spin-off virtual reality tool. Now available on Steam for the Vive headset, and coming to the Oculus Rift soon, it lets you pick and choose between freehand drawing and control-point editing, and once you’re happy with your models you can transfer them to CAD software to refine them.

Next page: 10 more new or updated tools for 2017