12 essential tools for graphic designers in 2018

Stunning Free files every week at istock.com

09. Top-end smartphone

Samsung Galaxy S8

The best value smartphone on the market

Release date: April 2017 | Weight: 155g | Dimensions: 148.9 x 68.1 x 8mm | OS: Android 7 | Screen size: 5.8-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 2960 | CPU: Exynos 8895 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB | Battery: 3000mAh | Rear camera: 12MP

Amazing camera
Great value
Biometric issues

A decent smartphone is essential for any professional creative, whether it's to use the latest creative or productivity tools, taking photos, or testing app or website designs.

For Android users, the Samsung Galaxy S8 is a cracking choice for creatives, thanks to its sharp, clear display with generous screen real estate (5.8 inches), and excellent camera. For an even bigger screen, try the most expensive Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus or the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 (6.2 and 6.3 inches respectively, both with a 1,440x2,960 Super AMOLED screen). 

And of course, Apple also introduced three new iPhones in September: the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and the astronomically priced iPhone X. The most affordable is the iPhone 8, which offers a small update on the iPhone 7 with an improved, sharper Retina display, some internal upgrades and improved external hardware. (Our advice if you're on a budget? Stick with the iPhone 7.) 

Also read: The best smartphones for designers

10. Studio camera

Nikon D3400

The best cheap DSLR camera

Sensor: APS-C CMOS | Resolution: 24.2MP | Lens: Nikon F mount (DX) | Viewfinder: Optical | Screen type: 3.0-inch screen, 921,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 5fps | Movies: 1080p | User level: Beginner

Good image quality
Comprehensive guide mode
No touchscreen

While most modern smartphones can capture some pretty decent shots for reference materials and moodboards, if you're shooting images for clients, or documenting physical work for your folio, it's worth investing in a quality camera.

If you're pitching for the high-end and have a few thousand to spend, nothing comes close to the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV's incredible 30.4MP sensor and 4K video capability. But a much more affordable entry-level DSLR is the Nikon D3400, which for less than £500 can still offer 24.2MP and HD video.

It doesn't need to be a D-SLR, though: compact system cameras (CSCs) are now almost on a par in terms of quality. For a similar price to the D3400, Panasonic's Lumix TZ100 provides 20.1MP and 4K video. Or there are plenty of retro CSC options on the market if you're looking for something a bit more stylish.

Fujifilm’s X-Pro2, for instance, is compact, beautiful, water-resistant and rugged… but also well-equipped for all your creative needs, with a 24.3MP sensor that beats the Nikon D3400. It costs around £1350, but is a great addition to the studio.

Also read: The best cameras for creatives

11. Variable desk

There's no two ways about it. However careful you are about the ergonomics of your workstation setup, sitting down for eight (or more) hours a day isn't great for your body – especially if you're hunched over your screen undertaking a painstaking creative task, or working into the night on a heavy deadline.

The solution is simple: a variable desk. Changing position between sitting and standing helps keep your body moving, and you'll feel and work better as a result. You can pick up a decent adjustable sit/stand desk for a few hundred pounds from IKEA, but if you're attached to your existing desk there is another option.

Varidesk offers a range of adjustable-height converters that quickly transform any surface into a sit/stand workstation. They can accommodate either a single or dual monitor setup, as well as your keyboard and mouse. At around 400 Euros they're not much cheaper than buying an entire sit/stand desk, but are versatile enough to cater to any number of studio situations.

12. Ergonomic chair

Herman Miller Sayl chair

Half the price of Herman Miller's iconic Aeron chair

Back support: 3D Intelligent Back tech, PostureFit sacral support, Dynamic support | Design: Responsible design

Improves posture
Stylish design
Less customisation features

Every bit as important as your desk - if not more so - is an ergonomic chair for your studio to help combat the back pain, RSI and other health issues that are all-too common for designers who spend long hours slaving over Creative Cloud.

Put simply, a good-quality office chair is an essential accessory for any creative professional who values their health. It's worth spending as much as you can afford: don't splash all your cash on top-of-the-range hardware only to slump over it in a rickety £50 chair.

If cash really is no object, Herman Miller's iconic Aeron chair is the gold standard when it comes to offering ergonomic comfort. It adapts naturally to your body and seating position, and the design is effortlessly stylish. But at £900+ for some models, the price will put off most.

Fortunately for your wallet, Herman Miller has also created a more 'budget' offering. Tasked with creating a highly affordable chair without compromising (too much) on style and comfort, designer Yves Béhar created the Sayl. It comes in several colours, and is less than half the price of the Aeron – although you do sacrifice many of the customisation features.

Related articles: