With Christmas just a stone’s thrown away, this month's round-up of the best new graphic design tools is inevitably dominated by seasonal resources and a host of bargains. We've already found some brilliant free Christmas vectors (opens in new tab) for your festive designs and now you can also boost your creative resources with the month’s most exciting new design books, brushes, textures, Photoshop plugins and more…
01. Paul Rand: A Designer's Art (opens in new tab)
It’s been out of print for 16 years – original copies cost hundreds of dollars – but at the end of this month, Princeton Architectural Press is set to revive leading graphic designer Paul Rand’s influential 1985 monograph, A Designer's Art.
A comprehensive collection of his most important and best-known designs, A Designer's Art was designed to be read, not thumbed through, and gives unique insight into Rand's design process and theory.
The new edition (£20/$50) features over 200 illustrations, 27 essays and a new afterword by Steven Heller – and makes a cracking resource for anyone interested in modern design.
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02. Christmas Garlands PS Brushes (opens in new tab)
Create seamless Christmas patterns with this new set of 23 high-res Photoshop brushes from artist and illustrator Kate Vigdis, aka Fluffy Unicorn. Including garlands, holly, snowfall, pine, mistletoe and more, this $6 bundle is just the ticket for cards, invitations or any design requiring an ornamental border.
03. KADi Port adapter (opens in new tab)
Our top new hardware this month is the KADi Port adapter, which turns the USB C-Port of a 12-inch MacBook into four ports. A user can charge their 12-inch MacBook while syncing the machine with their iPhone or iPad through an additional USB C port, connecting to an external hard drive or smartphone with the USB A port, and linking to a TV, desktop monitor or stereo with the HDMI port. Lightweight, super-portable and contoured to the shape of the MacBook body, it’s a handy accessory for any MacBook-wielding creative.
04. Concrete texture pack (opens in new tab)
Add urban grit to your designs with this new pack of 10 concrete textures. Created from photographs of old walls in downtown Portland, sidewalks in new developments and garage concrete, this pack of premium textures includes EPS, raster and bitmap formats of each texture, and will bring depth and character to your illustrations for the budget price of $9.
05. Sustainable Graphic Design (opens in new tab)
Peter Claver Fine’s powerful 256-page book reawakens the social and ecological role of graphic design, while demonstrating how designers can contribute solution-oriented responses to consumption using modern tools and technology.
Packed with cutting-edge insight and highly creative case studies, this resource from Bloomsbury Academic is an important read for students and designers who wish to positively impact the future.
06. Winter holiday Illustrator brushes (opens in new tab)
Another set of seasonal pattern brushes – this time for Illustrator – the Winter Holiday collection includes garlands, holy, Christmas trees and decorations, and more. There are 19 brushes, and it’s easy to change the stroke colour or weight to customise your designs and create unique, decorative frames and borders.
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07. AlphaPlugins Engraver III plugin (opens in new tab)
Transform any picture into an old-style engraving with just a few mouse clicks, using AlphaPlugins’ Engraver III plugin. Suitable for Photoshop CS2 through to CC2017, the $74.95 tool lets you experiment with a range of geometric patterns and line modifications, use multiple layers to create complex effects, change ink color and add noise to the image to make your engraving look as though it was made by hand.
08. Magic Christmas Lights (opens in new tab)
This large, abstract set of 70 vector brushes will sprinkle a magical glow across your designs – whether you’re creating a Christmas-focused illustration or non-seasonal cityscape.
There are pressure ensitive versions of the brushes inside the set, plus 186 transparent PNG files for anyone who doesn’t use Illustrator. According to maker Voysla’s Shop, the brushes glow best when their transparency mode is set to Color Dodge, Hard light or Overlay.
09. Metallic Letterer Procreate Brush (opens in new tab)
Add a metal sheen to your designs with PrintableHaevn’s Metallic Lettering Procreate brush for iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. Offering a variety of lettering styles, the tool also comes with an instructional PDF to help you get started.
10. Make you own Christmas gold! (opens in new tab)
’Tis the season for making Christmas cards, and as such no monthly round-up would be complete without a high-res “magic gold” PSD layer style to make your designs sparkle. At $3, it’s likely the most wallet-friendly gold you’ll find anywhere.
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