Graphic designFeature

5 tools every graphic designer should have

If you're starting out in the world of graphic design, here are five 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 five 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 £46.88 per month.

With the latter you'll be able to download not only Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign but also every single one of Adobe's creative tools. For everything you need to know about the Creative Cloud, head here.

03. DSLR

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 1100D – which at only £279 including a 18-55mm lens won't break the bank but will deliver 12.2MP 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.

Of course, other cool notebook brands exist as well - we review some of the best here.

05. Computer Arts subscription

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. In fact, you can get an iPad issue FREE via these links to iTunes USA and iTunes UK, while if you're after the print version, head here.

Words: Rob Carney

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