Just when you were starting to think February might be a slow month, along comes a slew of innovative new tools for graphic designers to crank things up a gear. From Rick Banks’ exciting new type foundry to the announcement of a potentially game-changing new budget design option – plus a selection of new actions, Photoshop brushes (opens in new tab), books and more to speed up the creative process. Read on for February’s best new graphic design tools…
01. F37 Foundry (opens in new tab)
Launched this month, F37 Foundry is the cool new kid on the type foundry block, and comes courtesy of London design studio Face37. Built to replicate Adobe Illustrator’s tools, it enables designers to test out typefaces within a web browser. You can move, resize and rotate text, while also adapting leading, kerning, tracking and colour before purchasing a font.
- 100 best free fonts for designers (opens in new tab)
Available only on desktop so far, the innovative new in-browser foundry was created over the course of seven months by Face37 founder Rick Banks with digital designer Francis Smith and developer Tom Duncalf. And Banks has marked the launch with a new typeface, F37 Jagger (opens in new tab).
02. Adobe’s creative apps for Chromebooks
Graphic designers, illustrators and photographers will have a handful of new tools available to them when Adobe releases six new Android apps for Chromebooks. Announced at the end of January (as we reported earlier (opens in new tab)), the apps will start to roll out shortly for free download as part of a beta for Chrome OS devices – potentially transforming the ultra-portable, more affordable Chromebook into a genuine budget design option.
The apps include Photoshop Mix, Lightroom Mobile, Illustrator draw, Photoshop Sketch, Adobe Comp CC and Creative Cloud Mobile. They’re mobile versions, but Adobe has been steadily developing the software with some powerful new features. (An option to stream Photoshop from the cloud for Chromebooks (opens in new tab) has been in beta since 2014, so watch this space.)
03. AD stippling brushes for Photoshop (opens in new tab)
Illustrator and Photoshop brush wizard Alex Dukal has created a new set of stippling brushes to help you quickly create authentic-looking shaded illustrations, tactile textures and warm patterns.
Stippling – if you’re not sure – is the creation of a pattern using different densities and sizes of dots (like a halftone). This pack is perfect for vintage sci-fi or technical illustrations that need a hand-drawn feel.
04. Lance Wyman: The Visual Diaries 1973-1982 (opens in new tab)
Indy publisher Unit Editions has a limited number of copies of Lance Wyman: The Visual Diaries 1973-1982 for sale. The stunning 872-page collection of the respected designer’s visual diaries includes working drawings for logos, detailed specifications for urban wayfinding systems, sketches for typefaces and more.
Unit Editions’ Tony Brook and Adrian Shaughnessy discovered the diaries while working on Lance Wyman: The Monograph, and have painstakingly photographed the pages from Wyman’s ‘designlogs’. With two jackets, two paper stocks and thread-sewn binding, it’s a real beauty.
05. Psycho Illustrator action (opens in new tab)
Josh O’s new Illustrator action lets you recreate the famous credit sequence from Psycho in seconds. Ideal for vintage posters, social media graphics, banners and so on, the action also works with other effects so you can create unique designs.
06. Fuel Station: Vector grime brushes (opens in new tab)
You can instantly add “inky, drippy, rough” lines to your work with this set of 20 grime-packed brushes for Illustrator, which aim to help you lose the super-sanitised look that comes with vector artwork. As the RetroSupply team explains, sometimes you need your work to “look like it was created with a cheap ink pen that's been melted with a lighter and run over by a steamroller”. Quite.
07. House Industries: The Process is the Inspiration (opens in new tab)
Here’s one to look forward to: revered type foundry and design studio House Industries has announced the release of a new, 400-page book dedicated to answering the question: where do you find inspiration?
Packed with stories, case studies and handy advice – and with topics ranging from fonts and fashion to space technology, plus a foreword from JJ Abrams – it promises a fascinating dive into the minds of co-founders Andy Cruz and Rich Roat, and type designer Ken Barber.
08. Sloppy Press Inc. (opens in new tab)
There are 33 typographic layer styles for Photoshop, plus 20 bonus high-res textures, 44 Photoshop brushes, three actions and four PSD files in this whopping pack of tools for creating handprinted typography effects.
09. Wood burn Photoshop effects (opens in new tab)
For a rustic woodburn vibe, try this pack of five high-res effects. All you have to do is double-click on the layer's thumbnail to open a new Photoshop document, place your artwork in the file, hit save and you have an instant burnt wood effect.
10. Glass layer style for Photoshop (opens in new tab)
This Photoshop layer style balances transparency with light reflection to create a realistic glass effect in one click. It comes with one ASL file, four PSD templates and a showcase of the layer style used at different scales, plus a handy video tutorial to help you get started.
Bonus: Brand New website (opens in new tab)
Logo review and inspiration website Brand New beefed up its online presence with a new website design this month, and threw in a new logo and monogram for good measure. The new homepage is designed with a clear hierarchy – so it’s easier to use – but it also features a new section, Spotted, which means founder Armin Vit can include far more logo redesigns than was previously possible.
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