12 tools every graphic designer should have in 2017

07. Calibrated monitor 

The Datacolor Spyder 5 Pro hangs on your monitor and creates a unique colour profile

Following on from the Pantone Refence Library, it’s vital that your colour workflow is as accurate as possible. The last thing you want is for your hard work to look completely different at output than it did during the design process. Calibrating your monitor isn’t hard, but it does require a specialist tool.

One of the best is the Datacolor Spyder 5 Pro. This tool hangs on your monitor and creates a unique colour profile (or the profile your printers are using) adjusting the monitor’s brightness level based on your room lighting. Calibrating your monitor is the only way to guarantee complete accuracy when moving from print to screen – so you should invest as soon as possible. 

Also read: The best monitor calibrators for designers 2017

08. Variable desk 

Sitting down all day is just not good for you. In fact, it’s terrible for you. Whilst we’re not suggesting a Silicon Valley-esque treadmill desk or anything, using a desk that can raise up so you can stand or sit down depending on your preference is a no-brainer. 

Varidesk is the undisputed king of, er, variable desks, and offers a few different models depending on your equipment. Just stick the Varidesk on your own desk, pop your laptop and/or desktop on it and you can raise it or lower it with sublime ease. Expect to pay in the region of £400, but your back and health are worth far more than that, right? 

09. Ergonomic chair

Comfort is critical, so get hold of a decent chair

We all know designers work long hours – hands up if you've ever pulled an all-nighter to meet that deadline! With more and more cases of back pain and RSI occurring in office environments, it's hugely important to have the right chair. 

And the Herman Miller Aeron chair is pretty much the gold standard when it comes to offering ergonomic comfort (adapting naturally to your body and seating position) in a stylish design. The one drawback? Some models will cost you over £900.

10. Compact system camera

Compact, beautiful, water-resistant and rugged, this CSC will do you for all of your creative needs

There was a time where we’d say ‘go for a DSLR’ but the times they are a-changing, and compact system cameras are now almost on a par. Plus, there’s a raft of uber-stylish retro CSC cameras on the market from all the big players – and us designers love a bit of retro styling, right? 

Just take a look at Fujifilm’s X-Pro2, for instance. Compact, beautiful, water-resistant and rugged… and with a 24.3mp sensor it’ll do you for all of your creative needs, even if you need to take some pro shots for a client job. It’ll cost you around £1350, but it’s a great investment.

Also read: The best cameras for creatives

11. An (interactive) sketchpad 

With the Bamboo Slate you can move your handwritten notes into Photoshop or Illustrator

A sketchbook is the staple of every designer – whether it’s for creating quick wireframes, doodles or simply taking notes. You may want to opt for a Moleskine or product from Field Notes if you’re a traditionalist (and we wouldn’t blame you – they’re beautiful) but there’s another option – which combines the fluidity of a traditional sketchbook with the ease of getting your ideas into a digital format. 

And the option is Wacom’s range of smartpads. For instance, the Bamboo Slate is a sketchpad that enables you to move your handwritten notes to files that you can open in Photoshop or Illustrator with a touch of a button. The Bamboo Slate comes in A4 or A5 sizes and will only cost you around £100. For that kind of productivity, a ton is nothing! 

There are plenty of other innovative options, too. Take a look at our roundup of 5 alternatives to traditional sketchbooks for one that suits you.  

12. Reliable solid-state storage 

Get a reliable, fast hard drive that you can quickly back up to

Have you ever lost files due to a creaking hard drive or because your computer failed without you backing up? If so, you'll know how soul-destroying this can be. Our advice is to get a reliable, fast hard drive that you can quickly back up to – either manually or using automated systems such as Mac OS's Time Machine.

Solid state drives are still relatively expensive, but because there’s no moving parts they’re less likely to fail. And in the case of Samsung’s T3 range, they’re portable enough to take anywhere – kind of like a mahoosive thumb drive.

Related articles: