Top 20 new creative tools of 2017 so far

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11. Project Felix 0.3

Adobe’s tool for compositing 2D and 3D has had an AI-powered boost this year

Project Felix is a tool from Adobe aimed at making it easier to composite 2D and 3D shots. Released this January, the latest update to Project Felix includes an AI-powered feature that will help you realistically recreate lighting inside a 3D drawing. Read our review of Project Felix here.

12. Adobe InDesign 2017.1

InDesign has been rejigged to make it easier to combine with other Adobe apps

The latest version of InDesign has a smart new interface, with updated icons that match those in Photoshop and Illustrator, making it much easier to work across the Creative Cloud tools seamlessly. Or, if you want to knock something up quickly with little effort, the New Documents panel has been rejigged to work more intuitively with Adobe Stock templates. Read our review of InDesign 2017 here.

13. Google Data GIF maker

Google’s tool lets you make animated GIFs comparing two things over time

The Google Data GIF maker is a free tool that does exactly what it says on the tin: let’s you make animated GIFs from raw data. Aimed at journalists rather than creative pros, it’s not especially sophisticated yet; you can essentially only use it to compare two sets of statistics over time (e.g. Mac vs Windows). But what it does, it does well; and this being Google, we’re expecting this might become a more powerful tool over time. Read more about it in this blog post

14. Corel Painter 2018

Corel’s used AI to let you apply digital paint in a way that closely mirrors traditional methods

Getting a little ahead of itself, Corel launched the 2018 version of its art software, Painter, this July. And the standout feature is a Thick Paint feature that lets you apply digital paint to your canvas in layers. This new innovation is aimed squarely at artists from a traditional painting background, who want to pull, push, scrape and build up their pixelated paint in a way that’s very close to the real thing. Learn more about the new version of Corel Painter here.

15. Guetzli

Google’s tool helps you condense your web image size quickly and easily

We’ve all tutted and drummed our fingers when a web page has taken ages to load. Often, that’s a problem primarily caused by large images, and Google has found a way to help out web designers struggling with that issue. 

Essentially, Guetzli makes JPGs smaller, without affecting compatibility. In fact, promises to reduce the size of JPGs by a whopping 35 per cent more than other methods. This clever little encoder is both free and open source, and you can learn more about Guetzli in this blog post.

16. CodePen Projects

Coding environment CodePen now lets you build websites within it

Most web designers will know CodePen as a way to test, showcase and critique each others’ code snippets. This year, though, it’s expanded its appeal by launching its own IDE (Integrated Development Environment). 

CodePen Projects lets you build websites within your browser and preview them while you’re building them. You can start from scratch or use templates, and there are some pretty smart debugging tools too. Read more about CodePen Projects in this blog post.

17. Adobe After Effects CC 2017

After Effects now lets teams collaborate on projects in real time

Released in April, the latest version of Adobe’s motion graphics, animation, compositing and video editing tool brings a lot of new features to the table. These include powerful new tools allowing team members to work on projects together in real-time, the ability to create motion templates to hand over to colleagues, and the Cinema 4D Composition Renderer, which gives you more control and enhanced speed when creating 3D objects. Read our full After Effects review here.  

18. Google AutoDraw

Google AutoDraw is an intuitive art tool that uses machine learning and AI software to work out what it is you’re trying to draw, and then creates a more professional looking version. It works by taking your rough doodles, matching them with images in its database, then combining the two to create slick-looking graphics. It’s free to download to your phone or desktop. See it at work in the video above.

19. Style Guide Guide

Style Guide Guide is a boilerplate template for building web style guides

Brad Frost is a well known voice in the web community, not least for his advocacy of what he calls Atomic Design, a methodology that involves breaking a website down into basic components that are then reused throughout the site. This May, Frost took that concept a step further by releasing The Style Guide Guide, a boilerplate template for building style guides for design systems. 

It imports HTML from a pattern library, and you can enter your documentation, usage guidelines, and design principles in Markdown to share among your team. Read more about the tool in this blog post

20. Animista

Speed up the creation of your CSS animation with Animista

Starting as a side project of UX developer Ana Travas, Animista is a collection of premade CSS animations that you can customise for your own purposes. Offering a sophisticated dashboard of options, this will save you reinventing the wheel every time you need a web animation.