Skip to main content

The essential guide to tools for designers

They say a bad workman blames his tools, and it's certainly the case that even having the best top-of-the-range kit won't make you a great designer. You need great ideas, and the skills to execute them.

Everyone's needs are different, and you need to tailor your investment accordingly – whether it's big-budget hardware, software or office equipment, or the simplest, single-purpose tool or plugin that can make your life easier.

Spending a small fortune on high-end digital hardware when all you need is a new sketchbook is a waste of your time and money. Likewise, if you're a freelancer who's constantly on the move, you want a lightweight laptop – not a heavyweight desktop machine.

Whether you're re-fitting your design studio, looking for ways to become more efficient and productive, or are just keen to make freelance life easier, we've compiled a handy resource to help you make those all-important decisions.

So read on for our essential guide to the very best tools for designers and illustrators, whatever your unique requirements may be. Make sure you also check out our guide to the productivity tools. you can't live without.

01. Essential tools for designers

02. Productivity tools for designers

03. Collaboration tools for designers

04. Creative tools for designers

Nick Carson

Nick is a content strategist and copywriter. He has worked with world-class agencies including Superunion, Wolff Olins and Vault49 on brand storytelling, tone of voice and verbal strategy for global brands such as Virgin, Pepsi and TikTok. Nick launched the Brand Impact Awards in 2013 while editor of Computer Arts, and remains chair of judges. He's written for Creative Bloq on design and branding matters since the site's launch.