Hardware:

1. Pencil and paper – No joke. Sketching layouts by hand will save you a lot of time playing around on the computer. Doing some rough sketches on paper will make it easier for you to jot down any ideas and notes that pop up in the midst of your creative toiling and boiling. Once you’ve got your sketches down and polished, transferring them over digitally will be a cinch. For those who prefer drafting their thoughts using a graphic tablet, feel free to do that, too.

Software:

2. Adobe Photoshop – Still, hands down, one of the most important graphics editing software for graphic and web designers.  There is also Corel PaintShop Pro, but I personally have never tried it after Corel purchased Jasc Software back in 2004. However, in the graphic and web industry, you’ll find that most companies and agencies use Adobe Creative Suite.

3. Adobe Illustrator – Creating logos? Custom typography? Illustrator is your best friend when it comes to making vector graphics. Not only that, but using Illustrator for creating website wireframes is easy since there are plenty of symbols and shapes you can download. Drag-and-drop anywhere on the artboard as you deem fit.

Color Themes:

4. Adobe Kuler – Finding just the right color for a design seems like such a challenging task, but what’s even more daunting is finding the right color scheme. Adobe Kuler showcases hundreds of color combinations created by its users, as well as color schemes created by you. Kuler is also integrated with Adobe CS5, where Kuler panels are built right into Photoshop, Illustrator, and other Adobe creative software. You can even download the Adobe Kuler desktop software available here.

5. Piknik – Another nifty color picker is Piknik. Move your mouse around to pick a color or scroll up or down to change the luminosity. Click to lock your color and you can click on the color values to copy the codes instantly. Or you can rapidly move your cursor around to give yourself a seizure, but I would strongly advise against doing that.

6. ColorSuckr.com – Have an awesome picture (black and white photos do not work, unless you have a photo like this) you’d like to quickly get color values from? ColorSuckr is just the right tool. Under each extracted color is a link to show different color schemes based on that specific color.

Images:

7. iStockphoto.com – What’s a design without images? iStockphoto is here to help. Search their collection to find the perfect image for any project. Videos, vector images, and audio files are also available for purchase.

8. Iconfinder – If you’re looking for social networking icons, icons to complement a specific section of your work, or to simply add pizzazz to your call-to-actions, Iconfinder has it all.

9. Brands of the World – The ultimate source for freely downloadable vector logos. Just make sure you have permission to use them commercially.

Inspiration:

10. Creattica – Feeling uninspired and lacking creativity? Creattica showcases some of the best designs in any category you can think of. Whether you’re looking for a boost in motivation for your logo project or website design, Creattica has plenty of examples to spark your imagination.

11. logofaves.com – For strictly logo inspiration, logofaves.com features top-notch logo designs from designers all over the world. You can also submit your own designs to be critiqued, praised, or flaunt your talent.

12. Dribbble – Flaunt your talent, you say? Dribbble is where you want to be to show off a preview of what you are currently working on and have the community talk about it. According to their site, “Dribbble is show and tell for creatives. Designers, developers and other creatives share shots – small screenshots of the designs and applications they are working on.” However, not everyone can upload shots. “Spectators” can participate by following other users, save favorites, and sign up as “Prospects” to be drafted as “Players.” It’s a fun, social way to get everyone talking about a favorite design and to get your creative juices flowing.

Typography:

13. WhatTheFont – If you see a particular font being used that tickles your fancy but don’t know its name, upload an image, and WhatTheFont will find all possible matches in their database.

14. Font SquirrelFont Squirrel is a great source for free commercial-use fonts. They even have a free @font-face generator which can convert any font with a web-based license to use for your websites.

15. Wordmark.it – Peruse hundreds, even thousands, of fonts on your computer to find that one perfect typeface, and sometimes you still come up empty-handed. With Wordmark.it, simply type in a word or phrase of your choice and almost instantly you can easily scan through the text previews with the fonts installed on your computer.

16. Lorem Ipsum – A dummy text generator. Generate paragraphs, words, bytes, and lists. Oh, my.


Firefox Extensions:

17. MeasureIt – Simply install this on Firefox and you can use this add-on to measure any element on a website.
 

18. ColorZilla – Quickly pick a color from a website, copy the values, and even save it in the ColorZilla Favorites folder.

19. Awesome Screenshot– Capture a full page or the visible portion of a website with this handy screenshot add-on. It also allows you to annotate on the capture directly on the browser. Also compatible with Chrome and Safari.

  
Blogs and Tutorials:

20. Smashing MagazineSmashing Magazine provides valuable information for aspiring and long-time professionals in the creative and coding industry. Not only is Smashing Magazine teeming with useful articles, their network members also produce helpful design blogs, tutorials, and endless inspiration.

21. .net Magazine – A part of the Smashing Magazine network, .net Magazine is another must-read magazine for designers and developers alike. Stay current with daily-updated design and tech articles. There are also a plethora of helpful tutorials and interviews with the Web’s “Who’s Who.” They also have a subscription offer for print and digital editions.
 

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