As the need for smart, computer-aided visuals grows, so does the field of graphic design and the competition for graphic design jobs of all shapes and sizes. The Princeton Review estimates nearly 25,000 people try to enter the graphic design field each year and only about 60 percent of that number last in the field for at least two years.
To set themselves apart from the rest of the crowd, good graphic designers need to be innovative, efficient, and effective. In order to accomplish all of that, graphic designers should be well-versed in a variety of different design tools that are widely used in by all types of graphic designers. Here are some of the most important tools graphic designers should consider using.
The Creative Suite is really multiple tools wrapped into one package, but all of them are created to help make the design process easier. The Adobe products are an industry standard, used across design disciplines because of their slick and versatile features. Each product serves its own crucial purpose. Photoshop allows the user to edit and alter photos using a litany of tools and a smooth interface. Illustrator is a graphics editor that focuses on typesetting and logo graphic areas. InDesign is desktop publishing software that gives designers control over everything from pixels to typography so designers can create elegant pages. And even the PDF writer, Acrobat, can assist any type of designer in creating hassle-free PDF documents. Expertise in using the products in the Adobe Creative Suite should be a no-brainer for any aspiring or current graphic designer.
Typography is one of the most underrated aspects of design as excellent and well-chosen fonts help make a website more aesthetically-pleasing and readable. Google Web Fonts is an open source font directory where designers pick from any number of fonts to use for their projects.
The recently launched directory allows users to choose the font and embed the HTML or CSS in their website. The directory is already a huge hit as well, serving roughly 50 million requests per day across an estimated 800,000 websites, according to Google’s Webmaster Central Blog.
Like Google Web Fonts, Font Squirrel is an open source directory that specifically selects hundreds typefaces and fonts, presents in an easily navigable format, and allows users to easily download their favorite fonts for free.
In many ways, Google Web Fonts and Font Squirrel provide the user with the same service and deciding which service to use can come down to a matter of personal preference, but Font Squirrel does have a larger selection of free fonts and its kits – which include multiple font formats and code – can also be used without being connected to the Internet.
Good designers understand that meticulous and detailed note-taking is the backbone of any good design. Evernote’s collection of apps and products make it easy for designers to stay on track and organized.
Aside from using the actual Evernote product for note-taking or to help remind them of something important about their project, designers might use the company’s newly-acquired digital handwriting application Penultimate, or they might use Skitch, markup software that allows designers to make annotations to photos and screenshots. The strength and versatility of its products make Evernote among the most popular digital note-taking software for designers.
For designers, when it comes to file hosting and storage, Dropbox may seem second to none. The service uses cloud storage to allow designers to bring files with them anywhere and share said files easily. Well, Layervault is like a simpler version of Dropbox but with features that exclusively cater to designers, which is helping it emerge as a popular cloud storage app for designers.
The app offers unlimited storage and also offers the opportunity for designers to track designs as they go through revisions or share their progress with clients or team members. Revision management is crucial for designers who often create dozens of versions of a project, making the knowledge of how to use Layervault very convenient for graphic designers.
MyFonts is yet another enormous font database in the same vein as Google Web Fonts and Font Squirrel but perhaps their coolest tool is WhatTheFont, which makes finding fonts even easier for designers. For example, if a designer falls in love with a particular font but can’t find its name, they can just upload an image of that font, and WhatTheFont will find its closest match in their database.
The process drastically reduces a designer’s workload because it simplifies the font-finding process. WhatTheFont is a simple tool that anyone can use, but typography is very important to design, and WhatTheFont makes it easier for designers to create more compelling typography.
TextMate was the pioneer in code editors and instantly endeared itself to developers and designers looking to reduce their workload. TextMate is still a great code editor and may still be the most-used code editor amongst designers, but Sublime Text 2, a similar text editor with additional features, is growing more popular amongst designers.
The product’s latest update means designers can have a hassle-free process when it comes to editing their code. Its fluid user interface, cross-platform functionality, and easy-to-use features make code editing less of a headache, and it can even use most TextMate bundles, just in case old habits die hard.
The charting and visualization software OmniGraffle is only for Mac computers and yet is still one of the most popular wireframing software’s amongst designers, which should say something about its capability.
Designers use diagrams, and page-layouts, and multiple wireframes if they are designing a website. OmniGraffle makes creating those layouts or diagrams quick and painless. Few visualization softwares can match their speedy layout engine, dynamic graphing tools, expansive style sheet, and easy-to-use automatic layout inspector.
xScope isn’t just one tool, it is really an eight-tool set that helps make measuring and testing on-screen graphics and layouts easier for designers. This app lets designers easily find dimensions of an image and display guides and marker boxes that float on top of the screen.
It also lets designers precisely measure pixels and view the design on iOS while they work on a Mac. The app was created by designers and understands the needs and desires of its core audience, saving time while working on screen.
These aren’t the only tools that should be in most graphic designers’ arsenals. Some of these tools are the most-widely used in this space by all types of graphic designers, while the others are rapidly growing in popularity. Remember, it isn’t the tools that make a good graphic designer, but the knowledge of finding his way around the tools regularly used in the industry.
This article is brought to you by The Art Career Project, an authoritative website on art careers, art schools, and artistic professional growth.
– “Beyond Times and Arial – The New Web Safe Fonts” by David Wurtz, GoogleWebmasterCentral.Blogspot.com
– “Career: Graphic Designer”, PrincetonReview.com
– “Infographic of the Day: The Best Design Tools On The Market” by Cliff Kuang on FastCoDesign.com
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