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The 10 best new graphic design tools for April

April 2016 will go down in history as the month virtual reality hit the mainstream. The much-anticipated Oculus Rift headset is one of a slew of new products set to change the design landscape.

But fear not: if VR isn't your thing, we've got plenty of other new graphic design tools released this month that'll take your fancy.

From the ultra-portable 9.7-inch iPad Pro to handy new software, books and beyond, each of the products here has been hand-picked to help graphic designers better do their jobs. Read on for our 10 best new graphic design tools for April...

01. iPad Pro 9.7-inch

Best graphic design tools for April: iPad Pro 9.7-inch

Read an in-depth review of the iPad Pro 9.7-inch on our sister site, TechRadar

It might be the smaller sibling of the regular iPad Pro, but the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is still aimed at professional designers. With the same screen size as an iPad Air and all the features of the full-sized Pro version, it's perfect for busy creatives on the move.

For those interested in specs, the smaller iPad Pro is powered by an A9X processor and runs iOS 9.3. It can be attached to a new, smaller Smart Keyboard and is fully compatible with the Apple Pencil – read more about the ultra-portable 9.7-inch iPad Pro here.

02. Oculus Rift

Best graphic design tools for April: Oculus Rift

Read a review of Oculus Rift on our sister site, TechRadar

It's finally here: virtual reality is in our living rooms and Oculus Rift, as it starts to land on consumers' doorsteps, brings with it a wealth of new challenges and opportunities for graphic designers.

From gaming to training, sports broadcasting, cinema and beyond, we're entering a brave new 360-degree world of immersive content. At $1,449 it isn't cheap – but it's certainly exciting.

03. The Graphic Design Idea Book

Best graphic design tools for April: The Graphic Design Idea Book

Read up on the key elements of good design with The Graphic Design Idea Book

Ex-New York Times art director Steven Heller and designer Gail Anderson's introduction to the key elements of good design covers narrative, colour, illusion, ornament, simplicity, and wit and humour.

Pentagram designed the cover, and inside you'll find pearls of wisdom from luminary designers like Michael Bierut, Neville Brody, Paula Scher and Paul Rand. It's essential reading for new designers – and worth a read for established creatives, too.

04. CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X8

Best graphic design tools for April: CorelDraw Graphics Suite x8

Corel's flagship creative software is aimed at businesses, entrepreneurs, graphics pros and hobbyists

Aimed at PC users, Corel's flagship graphics solution makes professional design, web graphics and image-editing faster and simpler, and is cheaper than a Creative Cloud subscription.

Of all the updates and new features in the latest version, the new Corel Font Manager is a real gem in its own right – but you'll find a whole range of improvements that serve to save time and increase productivity.

05. Samsung 27-inch monitor

Best graphic design tools for April: Samsung 27-inch monitor

Get more screen real estate with the 27-inch Samsung CF591 monitor

After a new monitor? The 27-inch Samsung CF591 monitor is perfect for studios and freelancers who want generous screen real estate to keep an eye on both the big picture and the tiny details.

With its 1800R curvature, you get panoramic views and an immersive viewing experience. An impressive 3000:1 contrast ratio delivers deeper blacks and brighter whites, while five-watt stereo speakers offer full, rich sound – and if gaming's your thing, a 4ms response time lets you see the fastest on-screen motion clearly and smoothly.

06. Joy Factory Pinpoint Precision Stylus

Best graphic design tools for April: Joy Factory Pinpoint Precision Stylus

Joy Factory's new Pinpoint Precision stylus is cheaper than the Apple Pencil

If the Apple Pencil is too expensive, why not try Joy Factory's new Pinpoint Precision Stylus? Suitable for iPad Pro, iPad Air, iPad mini and iPhone – as well as most Android tablets and smartphones – the 1.2 ounce, 1.9mm Pinpoint claims to work with any app. And at $49.99, it's a fraction of the cost of the Apple Pencil.

07. Howkapow notepads and Bike Bookends

Best graphic design tools for April: Howkapow

Head over to Howkapow for all manner of crafted goodies to liven up your studio space

Howkapow has released an extensive range of beautiful notebooks by Bristol-based Ola Studio. With a variety of patterns and sizes available, each is designed to enable you to work across two pages simultaneously.

Maybe you need something to keep your bookshelf in order... If so, these laser-cut metal Bike Bookends – also on the Howkapow website – were created by husband-and-wife design duo, Lena & Dmitriy Ol'shevskiy, and will add a touch of character to your book collection.

08. InVision: Craft

Best graphic design tools for April: Craft

The Craft suite of plugins aim to let you design with real data in mind

Craft is a set of free plugins for Sketch and Photoshop that aims to bring real data and speed to your design workflow. With Craft, designers can automatically populate their work with contextually relevant content straight from their computer.

This lets you make better UI decisions, will speed up your workflow and best of all it's completely free. (Here's some information about the latest addition, Sketch prototyping plugin Silver Flows.)

09. Don't Get a Job... Make a Job: How to make it as a creative graduate

Best graphic design tools for April: Don't Get a Job

Gem Barton's new book is full of top advice on how to make it as a creative graduate

Written by design writer and academic Gem Barton, and published by Laurence King, this 144-page book is an excellent resource for students and graduates on how to make it as a creative in the competitive real world.

Packed with advice on how to successfully forge an entrepreneurial path – and get noticed while doing so – it's also worth a read by freelancers too. (Read our review of Don't Get a Job.)

10. Canon EOS 80D digital SLR camera

Best graphic design tools for April: Canon EOS 8D

The Canon EOS 80D is the perfect studio camera

Every studio needs a decent camera to photograph new work or capture video, and – boasting a superb performance and construction – the Canon EOS 80D is exactly that.

Improvements like a powerful 24.2 Megapixel (APS-C) CMOS sensor and Dual Pixel CMOS AF for Live View shooting get a thumbs up, while built-in wireless connectivity lets you easily transfer images and movies to compatible devices or share on social networking sites. If you can afford the outlay, your design portfolio will thank you.

Julia Sagar

Julia is editor-in-chief, retail at Future Ltd, where she works in e-commerce across a number of consumer lifestyle brands. A former editor of design website Creative Bloq, she’s also worked on a variety of print titles, and was part of the team that launched consumer tech website TechRadar. She's been writing about art, design and technology for over 15 years.