Graphic design is a high-demand career, and it will only get hotter as companies and individuals continually strive to use images, logos, and websites to brand themselves. There are numerous paths a graphic designer can take, but they all have several essential tools in common. From graphic design software to a high-end computer, there are certain things all graphic designers must have to be successful in their careers.
Laptop or Computer
Don’t skimp on the computer you get for your graphic design career. This is probably the most critical piece of equipment you can have when designing for clients. Make sure you choose a computer or laptop (ideally both) that offers a powerful computing chip so that you don’t have any lag during your design sessions. Websites need to load quickly, design changes need to be reflected immediately, and you should have plenty of space to store all your files.
A high-end computer or laptop isn’t going to come cheap, but it will pay for itself through efficiency and quality. Plus, if you invest in a computer with the highest specifications possible now, you won’t have to replace it for years. You’ll need a computer no matter what type of graphic design you’re doing, so get one that meets your needs both now and in the future.
Software is another critical tool for graphic designers. Because there are so many products available, you will need to research your options and try them out before you make a decision. Even free graphic design products are available, but these are extremely limited and probably won’t do everything you need them to, so be prepared to spend some money on a full-featured product.
Adobe CC is the gold standard software for graphic design, but it’s costly and may have more tools than you need. Still, if you want to be ready for any graphic design project that comes your way, Adobe is the way to go. But if you don’t have the funds yet for this software, plenty of others on the market will serve you well. Just be sure to try them before you buy.
It goes without saying that because graphic design is visual in nature, a hi-res monitor is a necessity. Color accuracy and color space coverage are vital for digital design, and the last thing you want is for a client’s colors to look one way on your monitor and entirely different on theirs. A 27” monitor will ensure you can see your projects as you design without having to squint, and 4K resolution will provide superior color quality for both design and presentation purposes.
If you intend to draw your own graphics, a graphics tablet like an iPad or similar device, is a must-have tool. These tablets allow you to draw with an electronic pencil or stylus in a manner that simulates actual drawing. You can upload your images to your graphic design software for additional tweaking. Depending on the type of graphic design work you do, you may not need a graphics tablet, but if you’re drawing your own art, you won’t be able to live without it.
External Hard Drive
You are going to generate a lot of files as a graphic designer. While you’ll want a lot of space on your computer, you’ll also need an external hard drive to store excess files or back up the files on your computer’s drive. Backing up your files regularly to an external hard drive will prevent disaster if your computer stops working. While you can also store files in the cloud if you have such an account, having a hard drive allows you to keep a copy of your files even if something happens to the Internet.
Whether you create your images from scratch or draw from a photograph, a quality digital camera is vital to a graphic artist. You never know what types of projects you’re going to work on, and having a way to take crisp, clear photographs and upload them to your software can save you a lot of time and work. A top-end smartphone might suffice if you don’t intend to use actual photographs in your work very often, but it never hurts to have a camera available.
Pantone Swatch Book
Yes, you can find plenty of color samples online, but having a physical swatch book is still invaluable for graphic designers. This tool allows you to see colors as they are in the real world. You might be surprised at how different the blue Walmart uses in its logo is from the blue Lowe’s uses in its logo. They may appear very similar, but with a Pantone Swatch Book, you can get the exact shade for any color you can imagine to make your projects stand out.
We’ve already discussed why you need storage on your computer and an external hard drive, but you also need cloud storage. This is because you need a backup to backup for your files. It is really necessary to keep your files in at least two locations in case something happens to one of those locations. If your hard drive or computer is stolen, your work is gone. But, if you have it backed up in the cloud, you’ll still have it, saving you a ton of headaches. Plus, you can access files in the cloud from any computer or device that has access to the Internet and a program to run them. Work anywhere in the world as long as you have WiFi.
Tools for Graphic Designers – Conclusion
Getting into graphic design isn’t cheap, and if you try to start your career on a tight budget, it might backfire on you with the inability to do the work you need to do. Just be sure to do your research before making any purchase to ensure the money you spend is going toward a tool that will help you succeed in your career.