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Essential Graphic Design Tools

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There are several tools that are essential to graphic design. Below is a list of what is absolutely necessary to work in graphic design, as well as some things that are recommended.

A Computer

In today's design world, a computer is essential. It will be both your design tool and your business tool. Using graphics software (discussed next), you will create illustrations, work with type, touch-up photos and complete layouts. The major decision here is what computer to get, and this generally starts with deciding between a Mac and PC.

Software

Graphics and business-related software are also a key to your success. Some products, such as Photoshop and Illustrator, focus on the creative end of design. Other packages, such as project management or time tracking software, will help you stay organized and manage the business end of design.

Graphic Design Books

It's very helpful to build up your own small library of graphic design books. Some should be for inspiration, some for technical help, and others to assist you on the business side of design.

A Sketchpad

While you're most likely to use a computer to complete a design, you don't have to start with one. Sketching out ideas is a great way to begin a project and brainstorm, and can be much quicker than mocking something up on a computer. It's also important to always keep a small sketchpad or notepad handy, as you can forget a great idea as fast as you thought of it.

Other Creative Professionals

While you may not think of them as a "tool," knowing other designers, illustrators, web developers, photographers and other creatives is extremely important for three reasons:

  1. It's not easy to critique yourself. Get opinions on your work and encourage constructive criticism to push your work to a higher level.
  2. Having others around to brainstorm with can bring about the best ideas.
  3. As you get projects that are more involved, you will need people to collaborate with. Find a group of people you can trust with different skillsets than your own so you can work on projects together.

These essential tools will help you get started, and grow, in a career in graphic design. All you need to do now is combine them with your creativity!

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