To do your best work, you need to have access to the right tools. They say a bad workman blames his tools, but when you’re a designer there is no way you can work as efficiently as possible (and produce the best results) if you can’t use the best tools available to you. We would say that these should include the following.
Step 1: Hardware
Many designers have traditionally used Macs for creative work, but Microsoft has been working hard to catch up and offer a suitable alternative. The end result is that now, it doesn’t really matter which operating system you use. A more important factor is the form of the device that it runs on.
Touchscreens are ideal for drawing and designing, but of course you will normally need the advanced functions and applications that come with a full computer. The answer may be to use a 2-in-1 device, which have rapidly increased in popularity over the past couple of years, since they now offer a great balance of performance, portability and cost.
A Microsoft Surface Book may be an ideal choice, or even the upcoming Surface Studio with an enormous 28-inch touchscreen. Although no Macbooks feature touchscreens, Apple’s current Macbook Pro does come with a dedicated Touch Bar which supports touch input for certain controls, mostly aimed at designers.
Step 2: Software
The most popular creative suite for designers is Adobe’s newest version of Creative Cloud, which covers all their key programs including Photoshop and Illustrator. You do have to pay a monthly subscription to access all of the tools you need from Adobe, which can really add up, but for a professional designer this can be well worth it.
There are also some slightly cheaper options around if you really need to cut down on costs or you prefer to use different tools. Serif’s Affinity suite is also very powerful and each program is available for an affordable, one-off price. There are even a few free alternatives on the market, although these will be more limited.
Step 3: Accessories
A few peripheral tools could really come in handy if you’re a full-time designer. Here are just a few ideas of products you might consider investing in.
- As an alternative to having a computer with dedicated touch input, you can use an external drawing pad to aid your design work. The best examples come with pressure sensitivity and other features to make drawing much easier.
- A great external monitor is usually essential, unless you exclusively work on your laptop, which is only really possible with the very best devices. Designers today really need to be working on at least one 4K screen, if not two side-by-side.
- A healthy and ergonomic desk and chair setup will also be important for you if you spend long periods of time working. The best products don’t come cheap, but they may be worth your investment if they can protect you from future back pain or other problems.
- A smartphone with a great screen and support for a wide range of apps can actually be extremely handy for a designer. Having access to your past or current work anywhere through cloud storage is invaluable, as is having a great camera in your pocket at all times. You can even use basic versions of some Adobe Creative Suite apps on your phone.