12 Essential Tools for Graphic Designers in 2021

Are you a graphic designer just starting in the business? If yes, it is crucial to have the right tools and equipment. You are entering a high-pressure job that works on timelines and high-quality work. You will quickly realize that you need so much more than just talent. The right tools will improve efficiency and productivity. Eventually, you can be sure of loyal clients.

So what are these 12 essential tools for graphic designers in 2021?

1. A Laptop or Desktop Computer

The type of laptop or desktop computer you choose will determine the efficiency. You have a wide range of options available. Look at the processor power, storage display, and how intuitive it is. You will find the task of design work so much easier with the right equipment. It can be challenging to know which one to buy.

The one thing you can be sure of is the tons of choices available. You can check reviews to know what kind of laptop will fit for you. Remember that a graphic design laptop that will fit for you, won’t be the best for designers. It will depend on your needs and the kind of software you will be using.

2. Pen and Paper

You may not always have the advantage of having your laptop with you. You may therefore need to resort to the more traditional methods. Always carry around a pen and paper where you can jot down ideas as they come to you.

The advantage is you can carry them anywhere without any kind of inconvenience. Quickly share your thoughts on the spur of the moment without making clients wait for your feedback.

3. Tablet

Tablets are small, making them very portable. You can use them anywhere without needing too much space. If your work requires you to travel a lot, they are very convenient. The types with two-in-one functionality give you a tabletop device and laptop, all in one neat package. All you need to do is add a keyboard, and you are good to go.

When choosing one, look at performance, storage, and durability. Also, check pen pressure sensitivity for more cursor control. Choose the active drawing area depending on your preference. Also, look for those with high-resolution displays for clarity.

Combine the tablet with the right stylus. You feel like you are drawing with an actual pen while enjoying the digital experience.

4. A Hard Drive or Cloud Storage

The files graphic designers have are quite heavy. You need a reliable hard drive for additional storage space. It is also an excellent back-up in case your laptop or computer crashes. Due to the small size, you can also travel around with it and access your files anywhere. You don't need to carry your laptop around everywhere.

Another fantastic option to consider is cloud storage. You get to keep your files safe and have easy access to them wherever you are. Cloud storage allows for easy collaboration and synchronization amongst team members. It also frees you from having to carry around devices anytime you need to move from location to location.

You have several options, including Onedrive, Dropbox, Google, and Adobe Document Cloud. Setting up an account is easy, and you often get free storage but with a limit. It's also worth exploring NAS security solutions to ensure that your software and files remain protected from unauthorized access and cyber threats. Not only is this beneficial for your clients, but it also protects your work and reputation.

5. Smartphone

A graphic designer must be able to communicate with other people. It could be clients or other team members. A smartphone offers this functionality and so much more.

You can send emails, take photos and even record conversations. Best of all, you can access your files anywhere if you are using Cloud storage. The graphic designer can even start basic projects and later transfer them to a laptop or desktop.


6. Camera

While graphic designers have the option of stock photos, the ability to take your pictures is a better option. Invest in a good camera that will give you high-resolution images. Nikon and Canon are some of the popular brands.

7. High-Resolution Monitor

Graphic designers depend on the clarity of images for the best work. Investing in a high-resolution monitor is, therefore, a good idea. It is not a must-have item if you choose a computer or laptop with a high-resolution display.

If you opt for a monitor, determine the best size for you. Different graphic designers have different preferences with regard to screen size. The workspace you have will also determine what size you buy. Screens within the range of 27 to 32 inches are the most popular. Also, look at the grayscale and color accuracy because it determines clarity.

When determining resolution, the higher the pixel, the better. The high-definition monitor is the best, but you also have the option of wide quad HD. Be ready to fork out a little more money when you go for the higher resolution.


8. Monitor Calibrator

Monitor calibration gives you more control over colors. Sometimes what you see on the screen is not what you will get when you do the final printout. It could impact the quality of work if you are designing for magazines, brochures, or posters.

The calibrator helps ensure that what you see on the screen is what you get in the final output.


9. Software

The right software is critical for graphic designers. You can access them on the cloud or download them onto your laptop or computer. Everything you do, including creation, editing, storage, and managing output, depends on the type. You have some excellent options available, including:

Photoshop, which is very popular amongst many graphic designers. It will work on both windows and mac, giving you more flexibility with devices. Some of the tasks you can achieve include correction and mixing. Others are cropping, size adjustment, and so much more. Photo editors depend on it quite a bit due to the flexibility it offers them in their jobs.

Pixlr is an excellent alternative if you are not a fan of Photoshop. It is pretty straight forward and gives a lot of functionalities for design work.

Sketch is specific to mac and is ideal for designers who create apps, websites, and interfaces. Do note; you will not be able to do photo editing like you would with Photoshop. However, with the right plugins, you can access functionalities like vector editing and designing digital icons.

Adobe Illustrator allows for the creation of icons, artwork, and posters. It is an essential tool for marketing graphic designers.

Affinity Designer is an alternative to Adobe Illustrator. It is ideal for beginners due to the cost, which in no way compromises the features you get.

CorelDraw graphics suite operates on both windows and mac. It allows for efficiency due to the terms of customization options.

Canva is an online service that allows for editing and image sharing. It is easy to use due to the drag-and-drop interface.

There are tons of other apps and software you can explore, depending on your preference. Such include affinity designer, GIMP, design wizard, and Visme, to name a few.


10. Portfolio Platforms

You cannot build your profile as a graphic designer if you do not showcase your work. Fortunately, there are tons of places you can do this in the digital space. Such include:

  • Behance is much like a virtual gallery. The app allows you to showcase your work, which can open up business avenues for you.
  • Dribble is a meeting ground for illustrators, photographers, and designers. Its main advantage is that you can showcase your work as you progress with it.
  • Portfolio allows for customization and easily integrates with other platforms like Behance
  • Coroflot attracts a lot of designers, artists, and photographers.
  • There are so many other platforms available. Such include Portfoliobox, Fabrik, and Carbonmade.


11. Planning Tools

There is a lot of collaboration and sharing that goes on in creative work. It can get tedious if you have to keep on calling or emailing your teammates for an update. Having the right planning and organization tools will significantly ease the process for you. Some to consider include:
  • Trello keeps team members updated on work progress through the task boards
  • Slack for easy group communication if working with big groups
  • Clockify that helps with time management
  • Infinity, MeisterTask, Freedcamp, and Bitrix24 are other tools available to graphic designers.


12. Stock Image Resources

It may not always be possible to take your images. Fortunately, the digital space is full of stock image resources graphic designers can utilize. You have the option of free and paid. The free ones include Pexels, Burst, New Old Stock, and Freephotos.

Paid options are Stock Unlimited, EpicPxls, and Pixelbuddah. Make sure you read the terms and conditions for use. For some, you do need permission from the owner before applying them to any graphic design work.
Final Thoughts
We have looked at 12 essential tools for graphic designers in 2021. Every graphic designer is unique in what they need. It is important to understand your needs well so that you buy what is suitable for you.

There are tons of resources that you can use in your research. If you are purchasing a particular product, make sure you read customer reviews. It could save you a lot of headache going forward if you know exactly what you're getting yourself into.

12 Essential Tools for Graphic Designers in 2021 12 Essential Tools for Graphic Designers in 2021 Reviewed by Opus Web Design on February 15, 2021 Rating: 5

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