12 of the Most Essential Tools Every Graphic Designer Should Have

Among the most important lessons I’ve learned is that you can’t compete in the graphic design realm if you don’t own the right tools.

You can be a very talented graphic designer or digital artist, but there are specific tools that you can’t live without as a professional. By using the right tools, you will multiply your talent and your productivity exponentially.

How to Choose the Best Tools for graphic designers

Here is a list of the best software and hardware tools and equipment you can buy. These tools can help you impress your clients by showing your most exceptional graphic design works.

This list of hardware and software products brings you the essential graphic design tools you need to work smarter and more creatively.

Related article:

Top Essential Tools for Graphic Designers

Here’s my review of the top graphic design tools to meet all your creative needs!

HARDWARE

Essential Tools Every Graphic Designer

01. Laptop

Laptops are very convenient in terms of portability due to their compact size. For a graphic designer, the opportunity to travel or to present his project in an event is very crucial.

New Apple MacBook Pro

New Apple MacBook Pro - graphic design equipment and tools

(Image credit: Apple)

  • Beautiful, high-resolution Retina Display with True Tone technology
  • Sleek, lightweight aluminum case.
  • Powerful speakers.
  • Solid battery life up to 10 hours of battery life
  • 4 Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports

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ASUS ROG Zephyrus S Ultra Slim

(Image credit: Asus)

  • Powerful performance and graphics
  • 15.6” Full HD 144Hz IPS Type Display
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 8GB GDDR5
  • Sexy light and thin design
  • Boost: 1265MHz, TDP: 90W
  • 8Th generation Intel Core i7 8750H processor

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Dell Inspiron 15 5000

Dell Inspiron 15 5000 - graphic design equipment

(Image credit: Dell)

  • 8th Generation Intel Core i7-8550U Quad-Core Processor
  • A strong performance with a robust soft-touch design
  • Sleek, lightweight aluminum case.
  • Good battery life

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02. Desktop

Microsoft Surface Studio 2

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Desktops are an optimal choice for the use of CAD applications and 3d render, like After Effect, or 3ds Max. They are also ideal for you if you only need email and Internet access.

  • Intel Core i5-6440HQ 2.6GHz; 1064GB SATA; 8GB DDR4
  • 28in PixelSense Display; 4500 x 3000; NVIDIA GeForce GTX 965M Graphics
  • 802.11AC; Bluetooth 4.0 + HS
  • All-in-One; No Optical Drive; Microsoft Windows 10 Professional

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03. Monitor calibrator

Datacolor SpyderX Pro

Datacolor SpyderX Pro - best tools for graphic designers

(Image credit: Datacolor)

When you are a graphic designer, an illustrator, a photographer or a digital visual artist, it’s imperative to calibrate the colors of your monitor to get an optimal result, and for your printed works and the web.

The Datacolor Spyder is a range of monitor calibration tools that calibrate the colors and shades of your screen so that they are as close as possible to their exact color.

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04. Reliable hard drive

LaCie Porsche Design External Hard Drive

LaCie Porsche Design External Hard Drive - tools for graphic designer

(Image credit: LaCie)

Lacie external hard drive can provide you a large amount of storage for your projects and library, whenever and wherever you need it. An external hard drive gives you also peace of mind by storing your data in a safe place.

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05. Graphics tablet and stylus

Wacom Intuos Pro Digital Graphic Drawing Tablet

Wacom Intuos Pro Digital Graphic Drawing Tablet

(Image credit: Wacom)

Using a graphics tablet can be very useful for a graphic designer or illustrator. A good tablet allows you to draw on the computer naturally and intuitively as on paper.

Wacom Intuos Pro Digital Graphic Drawing Tablet is available in small, medium, and large sizes.

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06. Studio camera

Nikon D3500 24.2MP DSLR Camera

Nikon D3500 24.2MP DSLR Camera - graphic design equipment

(Image credit: Nikon)

As a graphic designer, the use of images and photos besides text is one of the essential elements of your work. It’s better to invest in the highest quality cameras.

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07. High-res monitor

LG UltraWide 5K2K Nano IPS LED Monitor

LG 34WK95U-W 34 - graphic design equipment

(Image credit: LG)

A high-definition PC monitor makes your images sharper on the screen. It will also provide your project with correct colors and calibrated hues.

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SOFTWARES

8. Productivity Softwares

Adobe’s Creative Cloud

Adobe Creative Cloud seems like a costly investment in the beginning. But when you think about it, it’s worth it.

Adobe’s Creative Cloud

(Image credit: Adobe)

With Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, After Effects, Adobe’s Creative Cloud is the gold standard for professional designers. The range of tools is comparable by no other company. If you want to live up to the graphic design market, Adobe Creative Cloud is for you.

Affinity Designer

Affinity Designer

(Image credit: Affinity)

Serif has developed Affinity Designer alongside with Affinity Photo and Affinity Publisher. Affinity Designer is one of the less expensive alternatives to Adobe Illustrator.

Corel Painter

(Image credit: Corel)

Corel is also an excellent alternative to Adobe cc. The investment is worthwhile for graphic designers looking for better quality graphic work.

Google Docs

Google Docs(Image credit: Google)

Since 2019, Google Docs become much more than a web-based version of classic productivity suites like Microsoft Office.

MANAGEMENT TOOLS

essential tools for graphic designers

9. Planning & Organization

Trello

Trello is perfect for creative people. You can create boards with lists, and then drag items between them to display the progressing of your projects. For example, I use it to plan the writing of Proactive Creative articles.

Essential tools for graphic designers Trello

(Image credit: Trello)

CREATIVE TOOLS

Essential tools for grapgic designers - note book

10. Sketchbook & notebook

Moleskine Ruled Cahier notebook

Moleskine Ruled Cahier notebook - graphic design equipment

(Image credit: Moleskine)

Even in our digital age, nothing can replace the traditional method of noting and sketching. I can’t imagine spending a day without recording or drawing something in my notebook.

The Moleskine Cahiers are journals with a flexible heavy-duty cardboard cover in red with visible stitching on the spine.

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11. Pantone swatch book

PANTONE GP1605M Plus Series

PANTONE GP1605M Plus Series - graphic design equipment

(Image credit: Pantone)

If you are a graphic designer specialized in printing, you know the difficulties encountered during the color calibration phases. The Pantone color charts will solve this problem.

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12. Media resources

Stock Libraries

  1. Shutterstock
  2. Getty Images
  3. iStock
  4. Creative Commons Search
  5. Burst by Shopify

What graphic design tools you think are the most important for your creative career?

I’d love to hear what you think about this post in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, Proactive Creative may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.

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My name is Outmane Amahou, 2D / 3D graphic designer and artist.
I am an avid reader of nonfiction books. I have a deep appreciation for minimalism in design, art, and life. I'm always looking for effective and original ways to boost my creativity. I love To share ideas and resources.

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