When you go to university or college, there are a lot of books that might be required reading in order to graduate and earn your degree.
Though just because you graduate, it doesn’t mean that you should stop learning. The real learning begins once you leave school. This is especially true if you are thinking about starting your own graphic design business.
There are a lot of things that you don’t learn in design school and every helpful tip can help you on your journey to success.
With this said I wanted to share the top 8 books on the strategy and the business of design… some personal favourites and others suggested by the community.
Narrowing it down to eight books was an arduous task but these were the ones that bubbled to the top.
Have another suggestion? Let us know!
The Top 8 Books on Strategy and the Business of Design
For many of us, when we start our creative journey, we might have all the passion and imagination in the world, but one thing we may lack is the money to have the best technology to make our dreams a reality.
We started to reminisce about those early days and wanted to give you, our loyal reader some assistance in getting the best tech available for your budget and still keep your drive & business growing.
When we started building our list of the Best Budget Laptops for Designers and Creatives in 2019, we tried to consider the things that we would look for when buying a new laptop.
When you’re serious about your craft and want to make sure that the work you’re putting out there is the best that it can be, you want to make sure that the tech you’re using does what you need it to.
Without the right gear, your work can suffer. Now while we know you might be on a budget, there can be many things you need to know and look for when buying a laptop. If nothing else, we wanted to make sure you don’t go in uninformed.
Let’s dive right in.
1. Set A Budget
We’ve all been there. You head to the store, see the newest and brightest tech available and get excited. Then reality sets back in and you realize that you have a budget, but can you get a good laptop on a tight budget? Let’s break it down a little bit.
$150 to $350
While these are the least expensive laptops out there, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t quality options out there for you to choose from. Chromebooks run the Google Operating system, might not have all the bells and whistles of some more expensive options, but can still be a quality choice when you’re first starting out.
$350 to $600
You can buy a quality laptop with an Intel Core i5 or even an AMD A8 CPU plus 4 to 8GB of RAM, and a 500GB hard drive for less than $600 these days. While these specs are impressive, for the price, they can come with some exclusions such as an SSD, FullHD display or long battery life. There are exceptions to this though such as the Acer Aspire E 15 or the Asus Vivobook which can be upgraded to an SSD.
$600 to $900
At this point, many manufacturers will start to put features on the laptop that won’t appear on those with lower price points such as a metal finish, SSDs or even high-resolution displays. Finding a quality laptop with the features you need without breaking the bank is very doable in this price range.
Other than price, many people will end up choosing a laptop because of the operating system that the laptop runs on. Whether its personal preference because of familiarity or recommendations from a colleague, laptops are generally available with three different OS:
The laptops that Apple manufacturers are packaged with MacOS. While functionally similar to Windows 10, there are subtle differences such as an Apps dock instead of a Start menu. Mac users also have Siri instead of Cortana for voice assistance. While many people tout the ease of use that comes with Apple’s operating system, the biggest downside is that the laptops that have this OS can be quite expensive. An entry point for a cheap Mac would be considering a renewed older model.
With its appearance on many more laptops than both MacOS and ChromeOS, Windows is considered to be the most flexible operating system out there. Appearing on a wide range of laptops from those costing $150 to thousands of dollars, the variety of features that Windows offers can make it an enticing choice. Since its release in July 2015, the improvements that have been added to Windows have made it a very popular choice for designers and creatives.
A simple and secure operating system, the ChromeOS from Google is found on Chromebooks. While the interface is reminiscent of Windows with an app menu, desktop, and ability to drag windows around, the main browser is Google’s own Chrome browser. A downside to using the ChromeOS is that some web applications don’t work all that well offline. That is changing however as newer, high-end versions of the Chromebook are now able to run Android applications.
3. Traditional laptop or 2-in-1
These days, laptops will fall into two main categories: standard notebook style and 2-in-1 hybrids that come in two different variations. A hinged version that allows you to put the device in many different configurations and a detachable that come off the keyboard entirely.
Many of these tend to provide a better experience one way instead of the other with bend-back laptops being a laptop first while detachable offers a superior tablet experience. If you don’t see having a tablet in any form as a necessity, stick with a traditional laptop as you’ll usually get better performance for the money you will spend.
4. Screen Size & Weight
While all the power under the hood is great to have, if all that power causes you to lug around a huge laptop, it might not be worth the money. Laptops are generally categorized by the size of their display:
11 to 12 inches
These will generally be the thinnest and lightest laptop that you can find. The screen is between 11 and 12 inches and only weighs around 2.5 to 3.5 pounds.
13 to 14 inches
Laptops of this size will provide the best combination of portability and usability. This is especially true if you find a laptop that weighs less than 4 pounds.
Usually weighing around 4.5 to 6.5 pounds, 15-inch laptops are the most popular choice for those who want a laptop with a larger screen but isn’t so heavy to be a burden when carrying it around
17 to 18 inches
If you have a laptop that stays primarily on your desk and isn’t carried around much, a laptop with a 17 or 18-inch screen can provide you with the processing power you need to do high-quality work without needing a desktop computer.
5. Keyboard & Touchpad
Having the best laptop in the world, no matter how much it costs, can mean absolutely nothing if the keyboard doesn’t fit your hands the right way. A good laptop keyboard should offer tactile feedback, enough space between the keys and when you press a key, it should move vertically enough to make it feel satisfying.
The touchpad shouldn’t give you a jumpy cursor and also responds well to your movements as well as multitouch gestures like pinch and zoom. Some manufacturers still provide a pointing stick between the G and H keys. This can be helpful as it will allow you to navigate your laptop’s screen while keeping your fingers on the home row of the keyboard.
6. Specifications (What’s Inside)
When you look at the specs that a laptop has, it can be a little daunting at first. There are a lot of letters on display and it can be tough to know what each one of them means and what you should pick. While there can be some debate over the screen size you should choose, for designers and creatives, focusing more on three areas will help you choose a quality laptop in your price range.
Laptops will either come with an HDD (hard disk drive) or an SSD (solid state drive). You want to try and buy a laptop with the highest amount of storage that you can afford and should aim for at least 256GB to start. If you have many files and projects that you can’t keep saved on your laptop, you may want to also look at an external hard drive.
While there are some budget-friendly laptops that come with 2GB of RAM, you should strive for a laptop that starts with at least 8GB. 16GB would obviously be better if you can afford it, and anything higher might break your budget altogether.
The CPU is essentially your laptop’s brain and giving your laptop a strong brain can make doing your job much easier. The CPU can affect the performance of the laptop in both good and bad ways. In our opinion, if you don’t have any extra money to spend on other areas of the laptop, make sure you are getting a good processor for the money.
7. Battery Life
Some people who buy a laptop will only look at the specs that it may come with and overlook a very important factor: battery life. If you’re not going to be leaving your laptop on a desk, plugged in all day, you want to shoot for at least 7 hours of battery life, more is obviously better. Just because the manual says that it lasts for 10 hours isn’t always correct. Do your research and read third-party reviews of the laptops you are interested in to get an accurate idea of the battery life.
Top 10 Best Budget Laptops for Designers and Creatives in 2019
While it is true that there are many laptops available for you to purchase, finding the best budget laptops, especially for those who may be a designer or work in another creative field can be a bit tough. There are so many options out there for you to choose from.
What we decided to do was take our criteria of what to consider when buying a laptop and select those that most closely matched. This means that to us, the list below has the Best Budget Laptops for Designers and Creatives in 2019.
If you want to know more about any on our list, click a link below to get more information. However, if you want to know why we picked the ones we did, keep reading below.
Artificial Intelligence is one of the dominant technologies in many fields and industries these days, and it is often associated with the future of the world.
Many scientists and intellectuals put their hopes in AI, while there are others who consider that AI is a dangerous technology that can be a major harm to humans in the future. Artificial Intelligence has either been presented as a hope or a threat to humankind in many movies and artworks.
Works of Sci-Fi, opinions of brilliant scientists, and debates of futurists, both terrify us and give us hope. On the one hand, AI has been shown as a technique that can transform the world into a better place to live by making the lives of humans much easier. Yet on the other hand, the view is that AI is a technology that can overrule human beings by making machines too powerful.
However, both the concepts have one point in common, and that is the acceptance of the fact that AI has so much potential.
Is AI an Ally or Enemy of the Design Industry?
However, the current scenario depicts that AI is a controversial topic for debate. The two perspectives that people have about AI are both complete opposites. Researchers and scientists are consistently working on the technology in their attempt to find out how it is going to affect the future of the world. Industries that are largely influenced by the development of Artificial Intelligence include engineering, sports, medical, entertainment, and design industry. With an impact on these many industries, AI has already started to affect our lives.
Nevertheless, this is not something that many people consider horrifying. What horrifies many futurists and especially designers, is the fact that AI is manipulating industries that were originally thought to be incomprehensible for Machine Intelligence. Al has started to show that it cannot only perform tasks at a better speed than humans can but it can also ‘think’ creatively. AI is having a powerful influence on the design industry. Futurists think that AI will become capable of critical thinking and will be performing highly productive and complex jobs in the near future. So will this technology surpass human intelligence?
Let’s explore the two in detail to find out what sort of relationship these two subjects have with each other.
AI and the Design Industry
If we talk about the design industry, we will come to know that it also has two extreme, yet opposing perspectives about the subject. For some, AI is the future of design industry that will allow human designers to design with better facilities. While for others, AI is a threat for designers and it is going to replace human designers. The concepts of Virtual Reality (VR), Mixed Reality (MR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Machine Learning are anticipated to play a significant role in the development of AI for replacing human designers.
In this article, we are attempting to clarify the confusion regarding AI and the future of the design industry and to come up with an unambiguous viewpoint. Let’s explore the factors that are in action and evaluate if the designers are actually at risk.
Invention of Machines vs Invention of AI
Let us begin the discussion with the example of the invention of the machine. When the machines were invented, people thought that machines would replace human employees and jobs will be scarce, leading to an increase in poverty ratio in the world. Indeed, machines have replaced human workers in many industries, yet human beings have not run out of options and machines have also helped humankind in developing a new world and accomplish goals that were not possible to be achieved by humans without machines.
Similar is the case with AI in the design industry. AI is not going to overcome the need for a human designer completely, yet it will make designing much more manageable and allow the designers to achieve higher goals. The effects that AI might have on the design industry can be estimated by having a look at the features that the AI technology has acquired by now.
Features of AI and the Future of Design
Let us have a look at how the features of AI allow machines to design and think. Besides that, let’s evaluate the skills of AI design systems and see where they stand when compared to human designing skills.
Artificial Cognitive Abilities
One aspect that dreads futurists the most is the demonstration of cognitive abilities by AI. AI has been integrated with the abilities that are human-like, and they allow machines to imitate human beings’ ability to think. For instance, AI devices are capable of receiving input in visual, sensual, and auditory formats and they can also store it in their memory for as long as demanded. That is, AI systems can see, hear, and feel everything that happens in their surroundings. Here are a few tasks that AI systems can perform by using their artificial cognitive abilities:
They can identify different shapes, colors, text codes, design patterns, and other features of the objects that are presented to them.
Moreover, they can categorize different input data and use a certain piece of data when needed in the future.
Their memories are even better than human memory, and they can remember the data for longer.
These cognitive abilities function with the help of IoT and the sensors that are attached to the AI systems. These abilities become highly beneficial for AI if it designs a certain website or a product logo. That is because these abilities allow AI systems to check the relevancy of different objects and voices to a certain task and perform with more accuracy.
Ability to Apprehend the Context
Conventionally, machines functioned in a particular sequence and followed steps. They could not judge the context for performing a task, which means that they cannot ‘think’ on their own. They only do what they are directed to do. For instance, a printer is supposed to scan a specific image, note the details of the data, then print it on the paper, and finally release the paper.
The printer does not know if it should change a specific color that does not go with the context, or if a spelling needs to be corrected before printing because the document it printed yesterday and a document that it printed last year had a different spelling for the same word. It can only do what it is told to do. Now this is where AI comes as it helps machines overcome their lack of context understanding.
AI Algorithms Power Machines to Make Decisions on Their Own
AI allows machines to apprehend the context by programming it with a complex and intelligent algorithms. It incorporates a vast memory and makes sure the machine utilizes it according to the needs of the task by identifying the context. An AI-based web designing application is an excellent example of how AI makes a machine capable of making decisions based on the context. An AI-based web designing system can design a layout for a website based on the information provided. It can categorize the website into a specific category and choose the suitable color combination, background, font style, and the overall layout of the site.
Identification of Personalized Content
AI can power a machine with the ability to identify any content that is presented to it and respond suitably to it. Take the example of free online logo design maker tools. An online logo maker takes the information from the user and shows related templates for logo designs. They can show different template images to different users by identifying the content that they provide. Similarly, social sites are based on an algorithm that can identify the interests and likes of a particular user and present them with related content and ads.
How identification of Personalized Content is Influencing the User-Experience
This makes the user’s experience much better and adds a lot of value to it. Imagine if the social media sites could not know what we wanted to see and threw every type of information on the internet on our newsfeeds. The whole experience of social media would have felt like a terrible waste of time where we would have hardly found anything interesting. Social media users find the sites interesting because their newsfeeds are filled with only those posts and statuses that they are interesting for a particular user. Moreover, this particular attribute improves the digital marketing results largely as the audience are always presented with only those ads that are relevant for them.
AI-based systems are capable of identifying structures of different objects. This feature of AI systems is what is used in the machines that recognize thumb impressions and facial features of different people. So a huge technological development has stemmed from structure identification that makes machines capable of recognizing structures, memorizing them, and detect them whenever they are presented.
AI systems are highly efficient in this regard, and they can easily detect the tiniest difference in the structure of an object or image. They register every object or image into a certain category, and this classification let AI perform many complex tasks including designing in less time. However, this technology needs some improvement as sometimes they can make minor mistakes in recognition that can lead to a huge problem.
Recognition and Categorization of Input and the Future of Design
If we talk about the future of design in this feature’s regard, we will come to realize that this can evolve designing entirely. AI designing systems are capable of judging what type of layout or design will be liked by a certain user-group and what type of design will not attract the majority users of a product or site. Moreover, this feature will allow the websites to redesign itself when it detects a shift in the interests and likings of the users.
This attribute is a bit similar to the critical thinking and research that the designers do before designing and AI has become capable of doing.
Voice Recognition and Voice Search Optimization in AI
Almost all of us know who Siri is, right? Our familiarity with the mentioned AI assistant shows how fast the digital world is adopting the voice search optimization feature of AI. AI systems are capable of learning, understanding, and responding to many different languages, and it makes the technology significant for all cultures and countries. The shift of desktop computers to smartphones and laptops is also having a positive impact on the popularity of voice recognition and voice engine optimization feature.
Voice Search Optimization can Revolutionize Designer’s Jobs
Voice search optimization and voice recognition are the features that can boost up the usability of AI systems significantly, making it much easier for the designers to work with an AI design system. This feature will put a lot of burden off the designers’ shoulders. They will be free from the need to keep clicking and moving the cursor here and there in order to design.
Many futurists think that voice search optimization is going to be the most used input format in the future as it adds a lot of value to the whole experience of using a smart machine for design, and in general. That is because if the users become capable of commanding machines just by using their voices, performing different jobs will become too easy and our reliance over machines will grow further. The little effort that we put in while using a smart machine by pressing buttons, typing, or clicking will no longer be needed. One of the most significant benefits of this feature would be that much time would be saved. Moreover, the technology will make it possible for a lot of disabled users to use AI systems with ease.
Need for Development
However, both of these features of AI systems need improvement, as they are not developed enough to overrule typing and clicking. The main problem with these features is that AI only recognizes clear voices and it can be difficult for an AI system to process noises and to recognize sounds that are not clear enough. However, these features have improved a lot in the past few years and they are still improving further.
All of the above features of AI clarify one point, and that is, AI is going to transform the design industry, but the features do not seem to be endorsing the assumption that these technological advancements will replace human designers. Even if these machines start to work on their own without needing any human assistance, they will still lack one thing, and that is the goal. There has to be a human being to order a machine to design something and then approve or disapprove the design later. And that human beings must understand designing.
Machines are incapable of competing with humans because even though they can function more efficiently than humans at some projects can, they cannot have any personal desires or aims. A designer has to be there to make an AI-based system know what type of design is suitable and what is not because after all, a machine will always be working for fulfilling humankind’s aims and not their own.
Guest writer: Jessica Ervin is a professional UI UX designer & passionate tech blogger. You can follow her on twitter@ jessikaervin
When you shoot video, whether it is home movies, a social media post or a documentary you’ve been wanting to make for forever, being able to edit that footage quickly and easily can make all of the difference.
These days, technology has reached a point where you can edit your videos on your laptop right after you shot it making the turnaround time astronomical. We wondered though, what is the best laptop out there for editing video because even the best laptop might not be the best for editing your important videos.
Before you hand over your cash though, you should know what to look for so you have a good place to start from. Let’s start there shall we?
What to Consider When Buying A Laptop for Video Editing
When you go shopping for a laptop to edit videos on, a basic laptop will struggle to get the job done efficiently, because many base laptops just do not have the processing power, storage space or graphics card to handle editing high-quality video and if they do, the results may not be what you were hoping for, especially if video editing is part of your livelihood.
That’s why we feel that when you start looking around at a new laptop for video editing, you should consider the following factors:
We don’t really have to tell you how important a screen on a laptop is but for editing video, choosing a laptop with a 4K screen is the best option to go with if you can afford it. A good screen should be sharp enough to handle jobs like shading as well as color corrections.
There are typically two names in the graphics card world that are primarily available and that is NVIDIA and AMD Graphics. Both companies offer high-quality products and have become household names in this market.
Instead of suggesting which is better, which can come down to the laptop or your personal preference, what you want to pay attention to is the recommended system setting of the editing software that you intend to use so that you know you are meeting at least those requirements.
When you edit video, you may not just edit one video straight through and have multiple clips that you may need later saved on your laptop. Without a laptop that has enough RAM in it, those video snippets might not get saved and you may start to run into issues with storage or the speed of the laptop.
With the advent of 4K resolution though, it should be a primary aspect you look at when considering a laptop. You should never look at those that start with less than 8GB of memory. While there are many choices where you can upgrade the memory later on, if spending more on a quality laptop isn’t a concern, you may want to focus on those that start with at least 16GB of RAM.
Just like memory, storage is a very real thing to consider when shopping for a laptop to edit videos. A good rule of thumb is that the more storage, the better. Like memory, there is a level that you shouldn’t consider anything below. In this case, any laptop with less than 256GB shouldn’t be considered, unless that’s what you can afford with your budget. If you can only afford a smaller amount of storage, you can always use an external hard drive for additional storage of your videos
The old saying more is better definitely applies to the processor in your laptop in many cases these days. Many CPU cores are designed to use less power, like the Core U-series from Intel but still comes with four cores in it.
If you’re concerned that your processor isn’t fast enough, you can test it using Cinebench benchmark test which shows how fast your laptop is when you are rendering a 3D image. While a higher score is better, results over 700 don’t necessarily mean that your laptop can handle video-editing jobs.
Doing any kind of video editing is going to consume a lot of your battery’s juice. Having a laptop with long battery life is a good option to have. Although you will likely keep it plugged in most of the time, it is good to consider the life of the battery so you aren’t caught off guard in those moments it isn’t plugged in.
Portability was the number one reason why laptops were created in the first place. A laptop gives you the option to work just about anywhere you want and not stay tied to a desktop PC. Being portable, you don’t want your laptop to feel so heavy that it feels as though your carrying around a brick. Keep in mind though that a laptop that weighs less than three pounds will not have a display larger than 14 inches and won’t have a discrete GPU in it.
The Best Laptops for Video Editing, Motion Graphics & Animation In 2019
We have to be completely honest, there are a lot of laptops out there for a consumer to choose from. This can make choosing the best laptop for video editing a very confusing process and we are all about making it easy for you to choose the best option for you to get started right away.
Below is our list of The Best Laptops for Video Editing in 2019. Each link below will take you where you can get more information on the laptop, but if you want to know more about each one, we cordially invite you to keep reading below.
When someone starts the process of buying tech to fill their office and help their business grow, the most likely piece that is forgotten about is the keyboard. Honestly, when you buy a desktop computer, are you really buying it for the keyboard or for the specs in the computer tower?
Along with the mouse, the keyboard is easily the most important piece of tech you can own as you use it the most, so why not get the best one that you can?
With that in mind, we wanted to help you get the best keyboard to make that PC hum and that’s just what we’re going to do with our Best Keyboards for Designers in 2019 post.
What should you look for in an awesome keyboard? There is surprisingly more than you might think, so let’s start there.
If we asked you what you look for in a keyboard, many people would more than likely say that they didn’t know. It’s a keyboard after all.
If it were 1996, those people would be right.
But in 2019, keyboards, like many other pieces of technology, these days multitask and are used for more than just using it to type on a screen. This means making sure you consider certain things first will help you find the best keyboard for your work. Remember a good craftsman never blames his tools, so here is what you should consider before buying a keyboard.
Type of Work Being Done
Keyboards designed today are much different than the ones that came with computers years ago. Keyboards, like many other pieces of tech, are tailored to fit into a specific niche. Many of these specialized keyboards have special keys that can be programmed to accomplish things that might be part of your work. Picking a keyboard that is designed to help you with the work you are doing is very important.
When you buy a keyboard, making sure that the keystrokes feel comfortable and not too much like tapping away on a typewriter, which was notoriously tough to type on. If you can, try the keys out beforehand to see how it feels to type on it. Does it have a soft touch that is responsive or does it require you to use a little more force to press the key down. Everyone has a different preference. The type of switch that the keyboard uses, which is the mechanism that responds when you press down on a key can make all the difference when it comes to the comforts, sensitivity and amount of noise created when you type.
When PC’s first starting appearing in homes, keyboards plugged in using a PS/2 connector and are thankfully obsolete. These days, many keyboards connect in one of two ways. Most, especially those that come prepackaged with a computer connect through USB ports and these can be the chosen connection method for many keyboard manufacturers today. However, many consumers have grown tired of all of the wires that get in the way and manufacturers listened created wireless keyboards that typically via Bluetooth and can make using the keyboard a much easier experience depending on the situation.
Long gone are the days of the bleach white block-style keyboards that would change to a yellow hue the longer you used it. With the needs of users being so different these days, keyboard manufacturers have had to get creative to meet those needs. Whether it is an ergonomic keyboard, a foldable one for easy transport or one that you can use with a tablet. The old days are long gone and the options range far and wide.
As previously mentioned, any keyboard makers design their products to fit certain niches in order to serve them better. One of these changes in design includes adding extra function keys that can help you connect to the internet, change the volume easier, and if the keyboard works well with a program, you can program hotkeys for repetitive tasks.
If you’ve read any of our other guides, you know that it always comes down to the price as the thing to consider when buying the best piece of tech. This is no different from a keyboard. While we think spending crazy amounts of money on a keyboard may be ok with some, for many, the best keyboard won’t necessarily break the bank.
The Best Keyboards for Designers in 2019
Choosing the best keyboard for the work that you do is a lot like finding the best pair of sneakers. When you have them on, you want to feel comfortable and supported every time you put them on. The wrong keyboard can affect how you do your work or even keep you from wanting to use it, which in the long run will hurt your work.
Throughout your career as a graphic designer, illustrator or any other creative role you may have, there are generally three mile markers during your career.
When you’re just starting out when you’re most likely right out of college.
The mid-point in your career where you’ve had some success and have some great clients, but you haven’t reached the level of a seasoned pro.
When you’re a seasoned pro, you’ve been working in the field for a good amount of years, have a Rolodex that is bursting at the seams and loving life.
But at each of the three points, we started to wonder what the best gear for each stop along the way would be. What tools would not only help you succeed at that point but help you move to the next one as well? With that in mind, we crafted a list of the Best Tools for Graphic Designers including the best software, hardware and equipment and broke it down by each point in your career. That way, you can be at the top of your game no matter where you are in the game.
Before buying anything, there are three major points to consider before you buy anything so let’s start there shall we?
Things to Consider When Buying Graphic Design TechCost
Depending on your situation, considering the cost of the gear that you use on a day to day basis could be very important. If you’re just starting out running your own business, funds may be at a minimum so the cost that the gear you use may come into play much more than if you have been running a successful business for several years.
With cost, comes quality. For many products, the higher the price, the better the quality the item has. This can also pertain to the way an item feels in your hands or when you are using it. Regardless of the price, a piece of tech that feels cheaply made when you use it will probably not last very long and you’ll be forced to replace it much sooner than you may have anticipated.
We all love to feel comfortable right? Whether it is our favorite pair of jeans, chair or piece of gear, being comfortable while using it is perhaps the most important thing to consider. The gear you choose will be used repeatedly in your line of work. Choosing something that makes you uncomfortable will just make your work suffer over time.
The Best Gear for Graphic Designers in 2019
We know that when you’re in the market for new gear or simply window shopping for your next upgrade, going through list after list just to find the one product that you are interested in can become mind-numbingly painful.
Because the adage, “time is money” can ring truer for some people more now than ever, we wanted to provide you dear reader with a handy, clickable guide broken down into the different stages in your career to make finding the best gear as easy as possible.
Check below to see a full listing the Best Tools for Graphic Designers in 2019, for both beginners and professionals. Feel free to click the link for any product on the list to be taken right to it.
If you’re interested in the full detailed list, please keep reading.
The Best Gear for Graphic Designers in 2019
While we all wish that we could be at a point in our careers where the clients keep coming, the money keeps coming and life is good, on Day 1, the reality is, we all start somewhere. Everyone has their own journey to success and the right tools can help you move down the career path and closer to that end goal.
With our focus on the three different points in your career, recommending a high-priced tablet when you’re just starting out might not be the best idea. Honestly, if you’re just starting out and can afford the best gear out there, go for it. It can only help you progress faster.
As Paul Arden, creative director at Saatchi & Saatchi put it:
“If you get stuck, draw with a different pen. Change your tools; it may free your thinking.”
Let’s get started!
The Essentials For All Levels
No matter where you are in your career, regardless of the creative industry that you work in, every role has those tools that when you start they should hand you in a welcome package. We call these The Essentials For All Levels. If you look over our list and aren’t interested in anything that you see, you should make special considerations for the items below.
If you’ve ever been in an office supply store, you have some idea what these very popular notebooks are. To many, Moleskine Notebooks are the Apple of notebooks, signified by the quality time and materials that go into each notebook.
With a variety of styles, including colored notebooks, smart notebooks, Moleskine offers notebooks that will satisfy just about any creative professional and can easily be a go-to choice for years to come.
In the movie, The Wolf of Wall Street, the main character asks people at a conference to “sell me this pen.” While for many, this can be seen as just a way to sell someone, to us, it shows the importance of a good pen. If you’re an illustrator in any way, you cannot go wrong with the Multiliner Pen Set from Copic. A quality pen in every respect, it will create crisp lines and hold well on paper.
Comfort can be a big issue for creatives with the tools they use, and many have stated that the Multiliner, which is available in different thicknesses, is comfortable to use and isn’t scratchy. For the price and the ability to refill the pen, the Multiliner pen is an essential everyone should have.
All of the talent in the world is an amazing thing to have. When you start a career, however, having the right software so you can take your ideas and make them digital reality requires a piece of software that can help you from start to finish.
The Adobe Creative Cloud is without a doubt, the most essential piece of software you should own if you work in a creative field. With so many different platforms from Photoshop, Lightroom, and Illustrator, you have all the tools you would need. Adobe offers a subscription service broken down into individual, business and other options. If you’re serious about working in a creative field, you need this immediately.
The Best Graphic Design Tools for Beginners
Congratulations! If you’re at this point, maybe you just made a career change or just graduated from college. Even if you had an internship with an agency during school, you may need some tools to perfect your skills and attract new clients or even a spot at your dream job. If you’re in this part of your career, here are the recommendations that we’d make to put you on the path to success:
Laptops from Lenovo are experts in combining remarkable quality with an affordable price. The 15.6-inch touch screen is perfect for any graphic designer just starting out and your project will pop on screen thanks to the 8th Gen Intel Core i5 processor as well as 8GB of RAM and an upgradable 256GB of space. The Lenovo Yoga 730 laptop may not run as smooth as some other laptops out there, but for graphic designers, the performance and price point shouldn’t be ignored.
While it’s classified as a gaming computer, the HP Pavilion Power Gaming Desktop Computer has the tech inside its metal casing to make it a great desktop computer if you are just starting out. With an 8th generation Intel Core i5-8400 processor, as well as an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 CPU, tucked inside along with 3GB GDDR5 that is dedicated and 8GB of RAM will help programs load faster and make your projects look amazing. An SSD with 256GB of storage is large enough for just about any project and with a collection of ports on the front, connecting any device is easy. Pair it up with the monitor below and you’re set.
With one of the lowest response times of 1 millisecond, the LU28E570DS/ZA 28″ UHD 4K Led-Lit Monitor from Samsung is a great monitor to use when you’re first getting started. A 4K resolution and support for 8.3 billion pixels, as well as a static contrast ratio of 1,000:1, make this monitor stand out. While it does come with two HDMI ports and a DisplayPort 1.2, the monitor is missing DVI or USB 3.0 ports, which could be a deal breaker for some.
For many graphic designers and other illustrators, holding a tablet isn’t how they do their best work and laying it flat on a table just hurts their viewing angle. The Parblo Coast10 10.1″Digital Pen Tablet Display Drawing Monitor allows you to position the tablet at an angle that gives you the best angle to complete your project. Using a Windows operating system and compatible with any between XP and Vista (and Mac), a major benefit comes with the compatibility with so many other programs it has including many of the Adobe platforms. Packaged with a multi-plugin USB cable and artist’s glove, using the tablet is as easy as taking it out of the box.
Designed to be a suitable mouse for working on the road or even at your home office, the Bluetooth Mobile Mouse 3600 from Microsoft offers a great ambidextrous design that anyone can use. It is an easy choice for a first mouse and as you progress through your career, it will become a perfect back up mouse for many years to come. For those with larger hands, the Anker Vertical Ergonomic Optical Mouse will be a better choice.
With built-in Bluetooth, faster print speeds as well as improved Wi-Fi connectivity, the Envy 5055 from HP is a great, inexpensive option for a graphic designer just starting out. While it does have a slower print speed that a laser printer might, the inkjet printer can provide you with rich graphics and beautiful colors to wow your prospective clients.
Nikon is one of the best-known camera manufacturers in the world and is trusted by amateurs and professionals alike. With the D3500, Nikon has crafted an excellent entry-level DSLR camera that isn’t built like a camera for a beginner. With the traditional DSLR controls and styling, long-lasting battery and simple ease of use, you can take large amounts of photos and videos and with the use of..
Despite what we may think, for someone who works in a creative space, no piece of tech will replace a quality notebook for quick notes or sketches of ideas and projects when you’re on the go.
The problem is, like many other product landscapes, the options that are available when it comes to a good pen or good notebook are almost endless and can cause headaches and confusion trying to find the best one for your type of work.
With that in mind, we wanted to build a guide to best notebooks for artists, designers and illustrators. But before you can start sketching your next big idea that will change the world, knowing what to look for and things to consider for each product is important.
If you’ve ever stopped by your local office supply store and strolled down either the notebook or pen aisles, the number of choices available to you is staggering. It is no wonder that many creatives will go through notebook after notebook until they find the best one for them.
But what should you look for in each? Let’s take a look.
A good notebook should be made of better quality materials than the notebooks that you had in college. You’re a professional now, you should own something with substance.
Let’s take a look at what you should consider when buying a notebook.
This factor will be different for everyone. A lot of the decision in regards to the size of the notebook you’re using comes from what you’re using it for. If you are typically going to do more writing in your notebook, you may be ok with a book-size notebook. On the other hand, if you are primarily going to be sketching and drawing, a larger notebook could be more accommodating.
The paper that you use in your notebook of choice will typically be influenced by three major areas. These include:
Specifically speaking, what type of writing or drawing utensil do you plan on using most often with your notebook. If sketching is the primary focus of your notebook, finding one with sketching paper will likely work best for you. Many notebook manufacturers will make notebooks that work well with many types of media including markers, ink, fountain pens or even watercolor.
If you’ve never gone paper shopping, it can be eye-opening to learn that paper is offered in different weights. The higher the weight of the paper will be relative to the thickness of the paper. A thicker paper can resist getting wet without rippling or buckling. Some weight is better suited for using with certain pens so that the ink doesn’t smudge or even bleed through.
When it comes to the finish of the paper, the term refers to the texture of the paper, For many illustrators, having a paper with good texture can add a sense of realism to what they are drawing, giving it a feel of being real and coming right off the page for some.
For many creatives who may use a notebook for sketching, the cover can become a makeshift hard surface to draw on. Choosing a notebook with a flimsy cover may not be the best choice. Coincidentally, for writers, having a book-type can be more beneficial so you don’t have to flip back and forth continuously.
It always boils down to this. You may have found the perfect notebook for your needs. It does everything you need it to short of making a good cup of coffee. Then you see the price and almost fall over. A good, high-quality notebook shouldn’t cost more than your rent but at the same time, shouldn’t cost so little that you can find it at the dollar store either. Finding a good middle ground is your best option here.
The Best Notebooks for Creatives in 2019
When we started to look around and gather information for our list, we realized that there are a lot of options out there and we needed some help. For our recommendations for the best notebooks in 2019, we actually reached out to our Facebook group for suggestions and what our readers use.
Click on any of the links below to get more information on a certain product, or if you’re feeling a bit adventurous, keep reading for more information.
Having a cell phone these days has become so important to the everyday lives of people that it feels like college should hand you one along with your diploma when you graduate.
For people who work in creative fields, a smartphone is more than just a way to check Facebook or play the latest version of Angry Birds on. The right smartphone can be an important tool if used correctly and can help you establish your brand and grow your business.
With smartphones being so prevalent, and a seemingly endless list of options for you to choose from, we wanted to clear out some of the clutter and put a focus on those smartphones that help you do what you do better and easier.
We hope that our list of the Best Smart Phones for Creatives in 2019 can help you find the perfect smartphone for you and your work. First though, with all of the options out there, we should start with what you should look for in a smartphone before you spend any money.
It can get very confusing when you start to go shopping for a smartphone, especially if you need one to help you in your career. Like many other things that you will go shopping to help your business grow, there are certain details that you need to look for before handing over your credit card.
To help, we wanted to point out a few key things you should consider when you start to consider which smart phone to buy.
iOS vs Android
To the unfamiliar, when you buy a smartphone, it will use one of two operating systems, iOS or Android. While there are people out there who like one over the other for various reasons, having an idea of which one will help you choose the one that works best for you.
The Android operating system easily dominates the number of smartphones in the world and it is a no-brainer why. There are many more phone options with Android on them than iOS and it can also provide more options for users when it comes to the display, design, price, and capabilities. Being an open OS, Android users have a much easier time customizing their phone with available launchers and widgets.
To some, a major downside of using an Android OS can be the time it takes between updates to the operating system. There are a couple of exceptions to this however as phones offered by Google get updates directly from Google. Before buying an Android phone, it’s a good idea to learn when or if the next update is coming.
While Android is on the most phones around the world, the iOS platform appears on the world’s most popular phones – the iPhone. Every Apple device, from the iPad to the latest iPhone release runs on this operating system. Many people will choose these phones because of their simplicity to use as Apple products tend to be very user-friendly. Apple does a very good job notifying users of updates to their OS but unlike Android, it is a closed OS and doesn’t allow for too much customization but is also more secure than Android because of this.
If you’re looking for a phone to use as part of your creative field, choosing a screen size can either hinder or help your work flourish. Typically, you will want to stay away from phones will smaller screens, anything 5 inches or smaller won’t give you the area you’ll need to do the kind of work you need to.
Screens that measure anywhere from five to five and a half inches like the Samsung Galaxy S7 are good if you want to view playback of any video that you may have shot, but don’t allow for a lot of freedom when it comes to editing or sketching on the phone. The screen size here is too small to be an adequate option if that’s what you’re looking to do.
Any screen that is 5.5 inches or larger such as the iPhone 8 Plus has been given the nickname of phablets. This is because the size of their screen makes them almost a small tablet. Phones with this screen size are best suited for sketching, drawing, jotting down notes, and many other functions you may need to do. While the screen size is useful, the price of these phones will be on the higher side.
Camera & Video
It is becoming more and more common to see people use the cameras on their phone as their primary camera than owning a DSLR or other type of camera. This is because, in the time since smartphones were first released, the camera now matters more than the processor inside of the phone.
While many smartphone cameras will tout that the camera will take pictures with a 12-megapixel camera, you should pay more attention to other factors such as the features on the camera, its speed, aperture and most importantly, image quality.
If you shoot a lot of videos, you not only want to pay attention to the resolution but also the frame rate. With the tech available now, a camera that shoots video at 60 fps with a 4K resolution is considered to be cutting edge technology. But if that footage is shaky, it doesn’t matter how good it looks. Look for a lens that offers optical stabilization and not digital.
When you buy a phone to work on your career, many of the business apps that you are likely going to need will be pretty big in size. If you don’t have a phone with enough internal storage you could be keeping your work from growing. Many phones that are released today start with a storage capacity of 32GB and can go all the way to 128GB, If you work in a creative field, picking a phone with a higher amount can help you keep all of those apps running and make it easy to save your videos and photos.
Not every phone battery is created equal. There can be many factors that can affect your phone’s battery life – screen size, processor, and even the operating system. A good judge of a phone with a good battery life will last more than ten hours while on 4G LTE surfing. That will give you a good judge of the quality of the battery.
Pro tip: When you first get your phone, don’t charge it until it fully dies after turning it on. While it might not be confirmed, many believe doing so will help the battery once you charge it to 100% from a dead battery
This is everyone’s lowest common denominator when it comes to buying any piece of technology. People want to be sure that if they are spending a lot of money that they are getting a quality piece of tech. With a smartphone, we would advise not to go cheap. While the price may cause you to do a double take, picking a cheaper phone could affect your productivity down the road.
The Best Smartphones for Creatives in 2019
Finding the best smartphone that allows you to accomplish a lot of projects while on the go is a dream for many people who work in creative fields. The problem is that there are so many choices out there, finding the best one is as easy as finding a needle in a haystack.
To help, we went shopping on our own and found phones that we would recommend to any of our colleagues. Each link below will take you to more information on the selected phone.
If you’d like to know more about our choices, please continue reading below
If you look around at your favorite coffee shop or one of the many college campuses around the world, you are pretty likely to see one piece of technology all over the place: an Apple Macbook. Apple’s brand name and focus on quality products have made their Macbook the go-to option for creatives, students, and people in business alike.
A MacBook is very user-friendly but like many other products that Apple puts out, they give their consumer options and that leaves you lost if you don’t research what you want before going in.
Luckily, we’re here to help and with our list of The Best Apple Laptops in 2019, you’ll know what to look for before heading out to buy one. In fact, let’s start there shall we?
What to look for when buying an Apple MacbookPerformance
While a dual-core processor is pretty standard for basic uses like surfing the internet, if you do video editing or coding that can put some pressure on your laptop’s processor, buying a MacBook that comes with a four or six-core processor is needed. Every MacBook released by Apple comes with at least 8GB of RAM and is enough again for basic, everyday tasks. If you’re using your MacBook as part of your design career, aim for something in the 16 GB or 32GB range.
MacBooks are equipped with their proprietary retina displays making everything look sharp and color accurate. These screens can display almost 100 percent of the sRGB color gamut. While some offerings will support the much larger DCI-PS color gamut, this just means that the amount of color shades that it can display is more than sRGB. While for your average consumer, it is not a necessary feature, it can be a nice one to have.
Just about every laptop that Apple releases now uses one of two port options. USB-C or Thunderbolt 3. These are used exclusively for anything from data, to charging the laptop or even video. While many other laptop offerings may come with more ports, when it comes to the MacBook, you will want one with at least two ports. This is so you can charge the laptop while you have a peripheral plugged into the other port.
Weight and size
For some, a big reason they don’t like carrying around a laptop is the size and the weigh make it more of an annoyance than anything. Fortunately, Apple laptops are designed with these people in mind. Designed to be quite thin and lightweight compared to other laptops, they are easily carried around easily in laptop bags without becoming a nuisance.
Like many other laptops, the battery on a laptop from Apple should be able to get you through an eight-hour day of normal use. This can obviously be affected by doing work that uses a lot of battery life such as editing videos or using processor heavy programs like the apps from Adobe Creative Cloud.
If you’re looking for a laptop within the $200 to $500 range, you’re not going to want to buy a MacBook, while they do cost a lot of money, the quality of the product that is offered by Apple makes the money worth it. The best judge to determine whether or not to buy on a MacBook is one that offers you a balance between performance, storage, and price. This way you get your money’s worth. You should think of a MacBook as not just a purchase but as an investment.
The Best Apple Macbooks for Creatives in 2019
If you’re considering an Apple MacBook, you should know that from the moment you get it home or back to your office, you’re getting one of the best designed, user-friendly laptops on the planet. Apple takes a lot of pride in the quality of their products and their cheerleaders will tout their products all day.
But if you’ve never owned a MacBook, you will learn pretty quickly that there can be many different options out there, so we wanted to build a list so you could see each one on its own.
If you click each link, you can get more information on each laptop or you can continue reading for an overview of each one.
Despite what we may think, for someone who works in a creative space, no piece of tech will replace a quality pen for quick sketches of ideas and projects.
The problem is, like many other product landscapes, the options that are available when it comes to a good pen are almost endless and can cause headaches and confusion trying to find the best one for your type of work.
With that in mind, we wanted to build a guide for designers, artists & illustrators to the best pens available, including the best pens for drawing, writing, calligraphy and more.
But before you can start sketching your next big idea that will change the world, knowing what to look for and things to consider for each product is important.
If you’ve ever stopped by your local office supply store and strolled down either the pen aisle, the number of choices available to you is staggering. It is no wonder that many creatives will go through pen after pen until they find the best one for them. So…
What’s the best pen for a designer?
Below we list the best pens for drawing and also the best pen for writing, the best pen for sketching, the best pen for calligraphy, as well as the best pencil overall, with advice on how the choose the write (pun) pen for you.
How to choose the right pen for you
In 1621, English author Edward Rober Burton coined the famous phrase;
“The pen is mightier than the sword.”
While Edward was talking about how the written word can be more powerful than direct violence, for some creatives, the right pen can be like having Excalibur in their hand. But before you start trying to remove a pen from a stone, consider these qualities to look for first.
Finding a pen labeled as an archival pen are pens that contain links which aren’t going to fade or lighten over time. These can be the best choice for artists who want their work to last as long as possible, especially if you’re selling your drawings.
The worst thing that can happen to any piece of work, whether it’s a work of art or just a simple sketch of a groundbreaking idea is to have it fade over time. A faded image could affect the readability of it and can cause unneeded headaches or stress if your big idea can’t be discerned anymore.
While for some creatives, smudging a sketch can give it detail and a better overall look, for many who are looking to record information from phone numbers to contract details, pens with inks that smudge can possibly make a big impact on your life. What if you started a contract with a new client but can’t call them because the ink in the pen you used smudged before you let it dry?
As a species, we humans are a clumsy bunch. Even if you think that you aren’t, you’ve had a moment where you’ve accidentally knocked over your drink or dropped something in a puddle. Owning a pen that is waterproof will keep the ink from running if you happen to spill your drink during a meeting or if your cat just “happens” to jump up on the table and knocks a glass over.
Inks that bleed through the paper that you are using can come off as unprofessional and if it bleeds through badly enough, can make your work look sloppy. Buying a pen that doesn’t use inks which will bleed through will help keep your work neat and contained to the paper you’ve put it on.
If you’re looking for a drawing pen, it will typically either come with pigment ink or dye ink. Pigment ink will last longer as well as retain colors better than dye ink will.
The Best Pens for Designers, Artists & Creatives in 2019
When we started to look around and gather information for our list, we realized that there are a lot of options out there and we needed some help. For our recommendations for the best pens in 2019, we actually reached out to the JUST Creative Facebook group to see what actual pens artists use.
Click on any of the links below to get more information on a certain product, or if you’re feeling a bit adventurous, keep reading for more information.
To some, a pen and notebook go together like peanut butter and jelly or ketchup and french fries. Essentially made for one another. The best pens feel like an extension of your hand and the perfect writing surface for all of your ideas.
We wanted to shine a light on those that even in their simplicity, a pen can make a world of difference for someone who works in a creative field.
The best overall pen for designers & creatives (especially for sketching, line art & lettering)
To some, Graphic 1 from Sakura is the best sketching pen available on the market today. Combining water-based and pigment-based inks, the Pigma effortlessly delivers bold, consistent lines as well as the excellent transferral of colors.
With a pen tip that glides smoothly and a consistent stream of ink allows any artist to create both expressive lines and marks with ease. The affordable price makes it an easy choice to add to any kit without busting a budget.
The most comfortable & durable pen for everyday use
The preferred choice of Jacob Cass, the owner of this blog, the Stablio 0.3mm.Stabilo’s Fine Liner helps those who spend a lot of time writing freehand by featuring a micro-cushioning “sensor” tech to improve the comfort of using the pen for extended periods of time. A durable fine liner pen, the tip is encased in metal which improves the durability and also makes it a good choice to use with a ruler.
While the pen uses non-archival inks, which may detract some, the affordable price and ink that won’t bleed will keep those working in creative fields coming back to this pen each and every time.
Blackwing’s quality make this the best pencil for sketching and drawing
When you mention a pencil to an average person, they might think you’re about to take a final exam but for those who may be an illustrator or graphic artist, the right pencil can not only feel perfect in your hand but create perfect lines from light to dark.
The Blackwing 602 is one of these pencils. With its strong core, a designer can get many different tones out of the pencil from dark, crisp lines with normal pressure to seriously darker lines with more pressure applied to the pencil tip. If you’ve never used a Blackwing pencil before, it could become the last one you ever own. That’s how loyal some proponents of this pencil brand are.
PENCILS WITH HERITAGE - First created in the 1930's, Blackwing built a cult following that included John Steinbeck and Chuck Jones, who proudly used Blackwings to create Bugs Bunny and many other...
PERFECT FOR WRITERS AND EVERYDAY USE - With our firm and smooth Japanese graphite core, Blackwing 602 pencils are perfect for writers, musicians, and everyday users. Use when you want a steady, clear...
UNIQUE ICONIC DESIGN - Blackwing's unique and iconic rectangular erasers are synonymous with quality. Each of our pencils features a specially designed ferrule, allowing you to extend or replace the...
COMMITMENT TO QUALITY - Blackwing 602 pencils are made with the finest materials in the world, including Genuine Incense-cedar from California and premium Japanese graphite.
HOW WE GIVE BACK - A portion of the sales from all Blackwing products benefit the Blackwing Foundation, which funds and develops arts and music education at the K-12 level. Your purchase helps...
Recommended by one of the members in our Facebook group, the Art Grip Aquarelle Pencils from Faber-Castell come with a unique, triangular barrel which helps anyone using them grip them better. With an oil core, they have great intensity control and can be a really good option to use in intricate areas.
Like many other colored pencils, the Aquarelle pencils can take a bit of work to get on the paper but once they are, will provide a lot of color for their size.
The best pen for fine details, cartoons, calligraphy and oriental artwork
While the XGFKP/FP10-A Brush Pen from Pentel is designed specifically for use with cartoons, calligraphy, and oriental artwork, the light pen can be a great option for fine detail as well as graceful lines with its soft, flexible nib.
While more of a niche pen due to its brushed nature, graphic designers or even illustrators may find good uses for the pen to add a finishing touch to some of their work or to even add more black to areas where the color depth isn’t what they were trying to achieve.