November 14th 2017

Tools of the Trade for Graphic Designers

Tools of the Trade for Graphic Designers


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From software and tools to design books and sketch pads, there is a plethora of invaluable tools that are available for graphic designers.

With so many tools available, how do designers know which ones they need? Which tools are they going to get the most benefit out of?

As luck would have it, we have had a look at the best tools on the market and listed them in this blog!

#1 Software

Software is a bit of generic term, however, what we are talking about is graphics and business-related software. Tools such as Photoshop, Gimp (this is free), Illustrator  and Corel Draw are great for the creative side of graphic design. However, there are other project management (such as Trello) or time tracking software (such as FunctionFox) which can help with staying organised during a project.

Did you know that each individual Pantone guide comes with a free download of Color Manager Software for importing the accurate Pantone colour data into your design programs?  Look out for the unique code which is either printed on the inside back cover of the guide or in larger books as a separate sheet near the index.

snapshot of someone using photoshop

#2 Graphic Design Books

Designers should consider building up their own small library of graphic design books, some books for inspiration, others for technical help. There are also books that can help with the business side of things. Some of our favourites are:

  1. Pantone Color: Messages & Meanings
  2. Pantone The 20th Century in Color
  3. How to be a Graphic Designer, Without Losing Your Soul
  4. 100 Ideas that Changed Graphic Design

At the end of the day, good design isn’t entirely subjective. A designer needs to be flexible; they need to channel their own creativity whilst channelling those colours that are psychologically effective.

stack of books for inspiration

#3 Sketch Pads

Whilst we understand that you’ll probably use your computer or laptop to complete your design, that doesn’t mean that the design process has to start with one. You never know when inspiration will strike. Whilst it may be hard to always carry around your laptop, having a sketch pad on hand to scribble down ideas when they pop into your head will come in handy. Also scribbling down on paper is much quicker then mocking a design up on a computer.

scribbling down ideas in a sketch pad

#4 Camera

Be a smart designer and get into the habit of carrying around a camera (you don’t have to invest in a high-end Nikon camera, your camera on your smartphone will do) as then when visual inspiration strikes you can capture it then and there.

someone taking a photo for inspiration

#5 Other Creative Professionals

Yes, we know, creative professionals can’t really be classed as a tool as they are human. However, being connecting with other creative professionals including other designers, illustrators, web developers or photographers is essential because of the following:

  • You can’t really critique your own work. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback from your connections. This will only improve your work.
  • Running ideas past other creatives is gold dust – they may give you an even better idea that you didn’t think of in the first place.
  • You may land yourself a big job that will require you to collaborate with others. Connecting with people as soon as possible is essential as you will get to know what their specific skill sets are and how you can take advantage.

group of creatives meeting

#6 A set of Pantone books

Pantone is the international language of colour; use Pantone references in your work and it can be reproduced globally either as spot colours or digitally in CMYK colour space.

The most comprehensive portable sets are reviewed below:

Pantone Portable Guide Set

The Pantone Portable Guide Studio Complete, contains the complete set of all nine Pantone Plus series guides in a handy carrying case with 1,867 solid colour choices including all of the new colours added since 2010 as well as 2,868 CMYK colour choices. This set gives designers the perfect way to access, travel with, store and protect the most market-relevant set of spot, spot-to process, process and visually eye-catching speciality colours available. Use the colours for inspiration when designing logos, branding and marketing materials, digital design and animation.

photo of Pantone Portable Guide Studio

 Pantone Essentials Complete

The Pantone Essentials Complete, with the new Artists Edition covers, includes the 112 new colours added in March 2016 into the Formula Guides and the ColorBridge Guides. Containing 6 Essential Pantone Guides all including the 786 new colours introduced since 2010. The set is presented in a convenient carrying case to help cover your essential printing needs for spot to process. Enjoy over 700 colours at your fingertips to use for inspiration when designing anything from marketing materials to animation.

picture of Pantone GPG301 Essentials

 Pantone Solid Guide Set

The Pantone Solid Guide Set, contains 5 Guides – Formula Guides coated & uncoated, Premium Metallic Guide, Metallic Guide and Pastels & Neons Guide with a total of 2572 Pantone spot colours essential for Graphic Designers and Printers on both coated and uncoated paper. This set is ideal for designers who do not require process colours and provides them with a large array of market-driven spot colours which can be used for branding, packaging, marketing materials, signage for whenever spot colour printing is essential.

picture of Pantone Solid Guide Set

If you would like to get in touch with one of the VeriVide team either call +44 (0)116 284 7790 or email

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