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.

Here is a list of the best software and hardware tools 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.



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.

Dell Inspiron 15 5000

  • 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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New Apple MacBook Pro


  • 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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Related: The 11 Best Tablets For Drawing And Note Taking


ASUS ROG Zephyrus S Ultra Slim

  • 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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02. Desktop


Microsoft Surface Studio 2

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

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 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

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


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 34WK95U-W 34″ Class 21:9 UltraWide 5K2K Nano IPS LED Monitor

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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Related: How to Become A Creative Director And What To Expect – 7 Simple Tips



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

With Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, After Effects, Adobe’s Creative Cloud is the gold standard for professional designers. The range of tools is incomparable 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

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


Affinity Designer

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

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


essential tools for graphic designers

9. Planning & Organization



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

Essential tools for graphic designers Trello




Essential tools for grapgic designers - note book


10. Sketchbook & notebook


Moleskine Ruled Cahier notebook


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

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. Please read our disclosure for more info.

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My name is Outmane, 2D / 3D graphic designer and artist from France.
I am an avid reader of books on creativity and innovation. I have a great appreciation for minimalism in art and design. I’m always looking for effective ways to boost creativity.

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