Graphic designFeature

10 tools every graphic designer should have

If you're starting out in the world of graphic design, here are 10 things you need to get hold of.

If you're just getting into graphic design, or think you want to be a graphic designer, here's what you need to invest in. You may not need the latest hardware or software – ideas and execution are far more important than the latest equipment. But get the best kit you can afford!

While you're here, why not read our other articles aimed at the novice graphic designer? Here are three to get you started:

Now here are the 10 must-have tools…

01. iMac/MacBook

Apple has historically been the brand of choice for graphic designers

It goes without saying you need as fast a machine as you can afford if you're serious about getting into graphic design. Whilst it doesn't matter that much if you choose a PC or a Mac (most software is available on both platforms) the Apple Mac's history in graphic design along with excellent OS and built-in support for peripherals (along with the obvious good looks) makes it the general choice for creative professionals.

Whether you need a desktop machine (iMac) or a laptop (MacBook Pro/Air) depends on your needs – do you intend to travel a lot? Would you like the flexibility to work on the move? Or are you happy sitting in a home office/studio? Of course, the ideal is both.

02. Adobe Creative Cloud

Adobe's tools have eclipsed QuarkXpress as the go-to software for design professionals

Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign (the latter ousting QuarkXPress as the creative's layout tool of choice in the early 2000s) have always been the software applications graphic designers rely on to convert their ideas and concepts into projects for themselves or clients.

The latest versions of these apps can no longer be purchased in a box, you'll need to take out either a single software subscription (£17.58 per month per app) or (and this is much better value) a subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud costing £45.73 per month. There's also a new pricing plan that includes Adobe Stock Images – that'll cost you £69.72 pm.

With Creative Cloud you'll be able to download not only Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign but also every single one of Adobe's creative tools. Learn more and subscribe here.

03. DSLR camera

A good quality DSLR is a must-have for graphic designers

A good camera is essential for any graphic designer. It may not be that you're always using your own shots in your work, but for documenting ideas and gathering images for use as textures/backgrounds and so on, it's great to have a good quality DSLR at your disposal.

A good starter choice would be the Canon EOS 1200D (Canon EOS Rebel T5 in the US) – which at only £280/$400 including a 18-55mm lens won't break the bank but will deliver 18MP images.

04. Moleskine

Moleskine is the king of stylish designer notebooks

There is not a graphic designer in this world who doesn't still revert to good old fashioned pen and paper to brainstorm ideas and concepts. So treat yourself to a decent sketchbook from Moleskine – and you'll be able to quickly jot down ideas wherever you go.

There are many different colour options, including some lovely limited editions. Another popular notebook is Field Notes. Either way, keep one in your bag and sketch, jot down ideas and refer back when you're at your desk.

05. Computer Arts subscription

The graphic designer's favourite mag, and there are always great subscription offers to be had

Computer Arts has been the ultimate magazine for graphic designers since its debut in 1995. And recently it's got even better. Packed full of inspiration, opinion, advice and projects, it's an invaluable resource for anyone into graphic design.

If print is not your thing, there's a stunning, fully-interactive iPad edition, and whether you want the print, digital or bnoth versions of the mag there is always a subs offer on to save you cash.

Next page: five more essential graphic design tools

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