The most common question I get asked is, “What are your favorite programs and tools to use in graphic design?” Well, isn’t that an open-ended question! I have used many programs and tools in the 20+ years I’ve been designing, but I’ll just list a few of my personal favorites.
There are so many programs out there that can get the job done, but where do you start? Back when I was taking an Advertising and Web Design course in High School, I was introduced to Adobe Photoshop (as it was -and still is- the number one go-to program for visual design). With technology advancing so rapidly over the years, many other programs and online tools have made their way into graphic design. Some of them can be a tad bit expensive, so I’ve listed a few programs in different price ranges to cover all budgets.
Adobe Photoshop is considered by many designers to be the ultimate graphic design software, and also my personal favorite. The newest version, Adobe Photoshop CC, is packed full of intuitive tools and templates. Its simplistic user interface allows for beginners to advanced artists the ability to turn something ordinary into extraordinary. This is the program I use most for my images since the majority of them will not be enlarged larger than the original size. I’m actually running on an older version of this software (Creative Suite 5), but will be upgrading soon!
Illustrator is by far the go-to program for vector design. While Photoshop is great for creating quick images that won’t be resized, Illustrator allows you to create graphics that can be resized easily. Vectors are images that can be enlarged without destroying the quality. This is extremely helpful when creating logos, icons, and illustrations for print and web. Illustrator is my go-to when creating logos and business cards.
Another low-cost alternative to creating social media graphics is PicMonkey. They offer some pretty unique features that simplify even the hardest tasks. Some of these features include photo editing, social media templates, and even collage templates in a variety of different styles to suit your business needs. The monthly subscription for this is about the same as one visit to Starbucks.
Similar to PicMonkey, Fotor offers photo editing, collage creation, and graphic design tools for social media graphics. One interesting feature about Fotor is that they also have an app (both iPhone and Android), so creating images on your phone became so much easier. You should also check out the preview feature, it lets you see what your image will look like in the selected social media format!
Fonts & Font Tools
Creative Market is my one-stop favorite shop. They offer a variety of fonts, graphics, and even WordPress themes! As an added bonus, they’ll send you free weekly graphics, fonts, and more directly to your inbox.
FontBundles.net ranks high on my list of places to gather fonts. To date, I currently have over 5,500 fonts on my computer! If you sign up for an account (just your email), they will send you a free font of the week directly to your inbox!
This has got to be one of the handiest tools when you have a ton of fonts (like me) or just looking for the perfect pairing. Wordmark.it will pull up all the fonts you have on your computer and display your chosen text in those fonts. This helps you visually narrow down what fonts you want to use in your design! Go ahead, check it out!
As I mentioned before, Creative Market isn’t just for fonts, it is also one of my favorite resources to gather graphics. They have a wide range of flat-lay images that are perfect for bloggers and social media marketing!
This wonderful image site is packed full of beautiful images that you can utilize for your social media graphics. Unsplash photos can be used for both personal and commercial use without getting permission to use the images first. Although it’s not required, the photographers do appreciate any credit given as this provides exposure and encourages them to continue sharing their pictures.
Did you really, honestly think I could make a post like this and not include my favorite drink? Creativity begins with coffee!
This is my favorite blend/brand of coffee to plop into my coffee maker first thing in the morning when my vision is still blurry and I’m trying to function on 4 hours of sleep. So far it has been the only blend that doesn’t give me migraines (and I’ve tried quite a few brands and blends).
What can I say? I love a little flavor in my coffee. While I can drink my coffee black with a little sugar, this creamer just gives me a warm cozy feeling inside. Occasionally I’ll opt for a different flavor (hello, pumpkin spice!), but for the most part I go for the french vanilla.
Music can be therapeutic and help us focus. It can also lift our spirits when we are down and motivate us to keep on going. What do you like to listen to? If you’d like to follow me on Spotify, just click the image below!
I really hope you enjoyed this list of my favorites, and that I was able to help guide you into starting your own graphic design journey. If you have any questions, reviews, or comments about these any of these programs or tools, let me know below! Which program will you start using today?