Sep 12, 2013

100 Top Tools for Graphic Designers

While the Adobe Creative Suite of tools is pretty much the industry standard software for graphic designers, there are plenty of other tools available online, as web apps, mobile apps, or even desktop software, to meet the specific needs of artists and designers working in any niche. Typography is one of the most useful design elements on the web, and there many font builders, font compares, and font identification programs for designers seeking the perfect look and feel for the type on their online or printed product. Color comparison, stock imagery, textures, and Photoshop brushes are all assets that visual creatives use regularly, and there are many available online for cheap or free. One of the best parts about the online community of graphic designers is how willing they are to provide feedback and even build free tools for other designers to use.
The sites listed here aren’t ranked in order of quality, they are all amazing! They’re categorized and numbered for ease of use. Happy designing!

Graphic Design

Some of the most powerful tools at a graphic designer’s disposal are also the most basic. From stylistically matched icon sets to small code library to make it easier to design data-driven documents, even the smallest tools can make a job a thousand times easier. On the other end of the spectrum are the widely used, taken-for-granted, must have programs like PhotoShop, without which many designers would be out of a job.
  1. Adobe Creative Suite

    Adobe Creative Suite
    Adobe Creative Suite is one of the highest-regarded programs for designers, producers, and photographers. Adobe Creative Suite is an entire portfolio of programs, ranging from Photoshop and Dreamweaver to After Effects and Encore.
    Explore: FAQ
  2. Dribble

    Dribbbble is an online community where artists and designers of all stripes can get constructive feedback from other.
    Explore: Current Exhibition
  3. Forrst

    Forrst is a community of developers and designed who upload their designs for feedback to make improvements.
    Explore: Discover
  4. deviantART

    One of the largest online art communities, deviantART has over 200 million artist-uploaded pieces including fan art, skins, and other unique drawings and photos. Users can save, share, and shop for art as well as support other local and aspiring artists.
    Explore: Film and Animation
  5. Estetica Design Forum

    Estetica Design Forum
    A graphic design forum that allows for the collaboration and discussion between artists and graphic design professionals. Peoples can find information in programming, flash, and web design.
    Explore: A guide to help you choose the best logo color
  6. InDesign Secrets

    Indesign Secrets
    InDesign Secrets is the reference of note for designers who like to keep on the cutting edge of Adobe’s flagship layout editor, InDesign. The site features discussions of updates to the software, and pointers on how to get the most out of existing features.
    Explore: InDesign Templates
  7. FavIcon Generator

    Dynamic Drive Favicon Generator
    This tool creates a favorites icon for websites that appears in bookmarks and the browser be when a website is being used. This helps increase brand awareness for users and web designers.
    Explore: Online Tools
  8. PicMarkr

    PicMarkr allows you to easily add a watermark to any image. This is useful for copyrighting and protecting original and important work featured online.
    Explore: 12 Must Have Flickr Scripts
  9. Visual CSS Tools

    Visual CSS Tools
    Visual CSS Tools is a web-based visual CSS generator with features that many other web-based gradient generators do not have.
    Explore: Getting Started
  10. Designers Talk

    Designers Talk is a forum for designers to discuss a number of different topics, relevant to design, as well as more casual topics.
    Explore: Today’s Posts
  11. Design Forums Community

    designforums community
    Design Forums is a community of graphic designers, art directors, programmers, and more who discuss various topics concerning graphic design, website design, among other design-related topics.
    Explore: New Content
  12. Icon Finder

    Icon Finder is a resource allowing web designers and developers to find high quality icons in an easy and efficient way.
    Explore: Free Icons
  13. Lorem Ipsum Generator

    Designers Toolbox Lorem Ipsum Generator
    Lorem Ipsum Generator populates a field with a set number of words or characters in order to create meaningless paragraphs to fit into designs.
    Explore: What Lorem Ipsum Means
  14. DESIGN 21

    Design 21
    Design 21 highlights individuals who are using design to make a difference. From non-profits to social interest groups, it’s an organization that aims to empower designers in the world.
    Explore: FAQ
  15. PageCrush

    PageCrush is an aggregate of designs with a presentation focused around creative professionals showcasing their best work. The idea is to foster a stronger community of graphic designers.
    Explore: FAQ
  16. UCreative

    Ucreative is a social network designed specifically for creative professionals to share their works, get advice, and meet others. Additionally, they have a forum and a job board to help professionals find work.
    Explore: Designs
  17. Tableau Public

    Tableau Public
    Tableau Public is a tool for creating infographics and interactive data, along with publish it on the internet. There is a free version for desktops and is designed for optimal ease of use.
    Explore: FAQ
  18. Gliffy

    Gliffy is a program to create diagrams, flowcharts, floor plans, technical drawings and more.
    Explore: Examples
  19. Stat Silk

    Stat Silk
    Stat Silk is the company that produces the award-winning software, StatPlanet. StatPlanet is for visualization and mapping.
    Explore: Examples
  20. TimelineJS

    Timeline JS
    TimelineJS is an open-source tool for creating visually rich interactive timelines and is available in 40 languages.
    Explore: Examples
  21. D3.js

    D3JS Data Driven Documents
    D3.js is a JavaScript library for manipulating documents based on data. It gives users the ability to bind arbitrary data to a Document Object Model, then apply transformations to the document.
    Explore: Examples
  22. Scribus

    Sribus is an open source desktop publisher that provides professional page layout for a number of operating systems.
    Explore: FAQ
  23. DepthCore

    DepthCore services a variety of artists in the fields of digital art, illustration, photography, animation and audio. Select artists are invited to share and promote their pieces, celebrating the spirit, inspiration, and medium of digital art.
  24. CoSwap

    CoSwap allows students and graphic designers to buy, sell, or swap programming scripts and graphic design items. Offers a great way to re-purpose old designs and find new materials.
    Explore: Programming scripts and softwares
  25. ImageKind

    ImageKind is a digital marketplace for artists. Here you can buy or sell photography and other images for use in web design and other personal projects.
    Explore: Shop for Art
  26. Inkd

    Inkd is a full service resource for businesses and professional looking for quality design work. Customers can find professional logo design, business card templates, and even order custom printing.
    Explore: All Access subscription
  27. HOW Design

    HOW Design
    HOW Design offers resources such as books, blogs, and magazines that offer career tips and job listings for design professionals. They also offer online workshops and design programs.
    Explore: Graphic Job of the Day
  28. Bittbox

    Bittbox offers both graphic design instructions and tips, as well as quality freebie products, such as brushes, backgrounds, fonts, textures, and even web themes. Users have permission to use any products in all projects, for profit and otherwise.
    Explore: How to Make a Photoshop Brush
  29. Designer First

    Designer First is a collection of free design materials, including graphics, icons, templates and other web elements. Files can be downloaded and used in dozens of projects, including social media production, mobile applications, and business websites.
    Explore: Top Photography Websites
  30. Design Shock

    Design Shock offers free, high quality resources for design professionals and other creative careers. Downloadable items include icons, design sets, and full web themes.
    Explore: Free Vector Buttons
  31. Tutorial 9

    Tutorial 9
    Find all kinds of user-submitted tutorials for web design, Photoshop, photography, and illustrations. Along with these helpful how-tos are free design downloads, including font and icon packages, web themes, and other templates.
    Explore: How to Create a Blog Theme Concept in Photoshop
  32. Design Kindle

    Design Kindle
    Design Kindle is full of exclusive files ready for free download to the web design community. All resources, including graphics, icons, textures, patterns, and website themes, are contributed by professional designers and can be used in any projects across the web.
    Explore: Icons
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Though there are tens of thousands of typefaces to choose from in every style, it takes a special eye for type combinations to create a truly striking page using typography as the main visual medium. These tools help designers compare and contrast, and even build from scratch, new fonts for custom purposes.
  1. Typecast

    Typecast is a website with over 23,000 fonts that allows users to create better web typography in much more intuitive ways.
    Explore: Examples
  2. WebINK

    WebINK is a service that gets professional quality fonts on different websites.
    Explore: Tour
  3. Fontsquirrel – Webfont Generator

    Font Squirrel’s Webfont Generator is great for searching a database of different fonts to tailor something to the specific project on hand. Fonts are broken down by classification, but then also by keywords, all for free.
    Explore: FAQ
  4. Serif Font Identification Guide

    Bowfin Printworks Serif Font Identification
    The Serif Font Identification Guide is a tool for identifying different attributes of fonts, with analysis of stems, bars, bowls, and tails of different letters.
    Explore: Search Font
  5. WhatTheFont!

    What the Font by MyFont
    WhatTheFont! is an incredible online tool that allows text to be uploaded and analyzed to determine the font type. This is idea for those who see a particular font they are interested in, but don’t know what it is.
    Explore: Examples
  6. gbdfed Bitmap Font Editor

    gbdfed Bitmap Font Editor
    gbdfed Bitmap Font is free software that lets users interactively create new bitmap font files or modify existing fonts.
    Explore: Screenshots
  7. Typekit

    Typekit is a website that gives designers and developers a subscription-based library of hosts, high-quality fonts to use on their websites.
    Explore: Feature Tour
  8. BitFontMaker2

    Pentacom BitFontmaker2
    For those who are interested in bitmapping, pixels, and fonts, BitFontMaker2 allows users to create bitmap fonts themselves.
    Explore: Gallery
  9. Fonstruct

    Fonstruct allows users to create their own fonts from the ground up with pixels.
    Explore: Gallery
  10. Type light

    Cr8 Software Type Light
    Type Light is an OpenType font editor that is completely free for personal and limited commercial use.
    Explore: Tutorials
  11. Typetester

    Typetester allows for comparing screen type and different fonts in a fast, intuitive manner in order to determine the best font for a project.
    Explore: Step-By-Step
  12. Typographer’s Glossary

    Typographers Glossar
    A glossary of everything font, Font Shop serves as a typographer dictionary as well as font shop. Here designers can both find new fonts for projects and learn any bit of font related information relevant for any project.
    Explore: Font Lists
  13. Baseline Rhythm Calculator

    Baseline Rhythm Calculator
    Use this simple calculator to get font coding. Users can generate font CSS websites by inputting the base font size and base line height.
  14. Font Constructor

    Font constructor is a tool for students and designers experimenting with the design structure of the alphabet. It allows for users to create their own fonts and understand the relationships between letters and figures.
    Explore: Screen Movies
  15. FontForge

    Fontforge is an outline font editor that helps users create or edit font packages and types. Available as a free, open source download, it encourages graphic artists to collaborate, experiment and continue learning.
    Explore: Tutorial
  16. WhatFont Tool

    Whatfont Tool
    What Font is a simple tool that allows users to instantly identify font types and font families from websites. The tool can be downloaded from the Google Chrome or Safari extension page and used on any website.
  17. Font Burner

    Font Burner lets users easily install new website fonts. Through simple coding, any font can be changed or manipulated for free.
  18. Identifont

    Identifont lets users find and identify fonts using criteria like appearance, name, or similarity – one can even find a font by picture or symbol. Free font sets are also available for download and personal use.
    Explore: Alternatives to Helvetica
  19. FontCreator

    High Logic Font Creator
    FontCreator works with OpenType, TrueType and Web fonts, and helps in the creation and editing of any font. You can turn your handwriting into a font and test and preview any font creations before launching them on a website.
    Explore: Tutorials
  20. GNU Font Editor

    Gnu Font Editor
    Before FontForge emerged on the scene with advanced bitmap editing capabilities, GNU Font Editor helped users edit fonts based on the GIMP Toolkit. It was a straightforward, easy to use editor that supported BDF files that were easily converted to other formats.
  21. Typechart

    Typechart allows you to preview and compare web typography, as well as retrieve the CSS for each font. Includes a key for Mac and Window native fonts.
    Explore: Resources
  22. CSS Type Set

    Paste text from anywhere and modify it instantly with a few simple on site controls. Then copy the new CSS to your own web project or design.
    Explore: News

    CSS Type
    For designers looking for web safe typography, CSSTYPE is a great resource. This site easily generates CSS for users according to a few simple parameters.
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The use of color is so important in communication that NASA has a tool for choosing which colors to use adjacently, and for which types of information, and for exploring the “perceptual relationships” between different colors, hues, shades, and tones. If NASA is working this hard to use color right, every graphic designer should be as well.
  1. Color Tool

    Color Usage Research Lab
    Color Tool allows users to tweak color space visualization, color search, and display prototyping. It attempts to represent colors with uniform spacing dimensions.
    Explore: About the Color Tool
  2. Coloreminder

    Coloreminder helps web designers create color palettes with tiled color samples and hexadecimal values for generating CSS code with the chosen colors.
    Explore: FAQ
  3. Color Explorer

    Color Explorer
    Color Explorer is a toolbox for working with color palettes that is absolutely free. Color Explorer is a tool for creating, managing, and evaluating color palettes for use in graphic design and other mediums, all quickly and easily.
    Explore: Color Match
  4. ColoRotate

    Colorotate is a fast, easy-to-use color editing application for the iPad. It allows editing of scope, hue, tint, image, blend, and other features.
    Explore: Learn
  5. Accessibility Color Wheel

    Accessibility Color Wheel
    Accessibility Color Wheel shows people what different colors look like to those who have certain forms of color blindness.
    Explore: Home
  6. Color Scheme Designer 3

    Color Scheme Designer
    Color Scheme Designer 3 is a color wheel with changeable parameters to find shades of colors that mix well.
    Explore: Blog and News
  7. Color Matters

    Color Matters
    Color Matters is the place for color information, experimentation, and design. Learn the traditional “meanings” of colors, as well as information about color and branding, and basic color theory in design.
    Explore: Fun color facts
  8. BrandColors

    BrandColors is a collection of brand colors, coded for design inspiration and use. Find the exact color of popular brands such as Facebook, Groupon, and T-Mobile.
  9. Pictaculous

    Pictaculous allows artists to experiment with color and images. Users can upload an image and generate a color palette to use for editing and imaging enhancement.
    Explore: API
  10. ColourGrab

    ColourGrab is a great inspirational tool for graphic designers. Users can type in URL of any online image below and the system shares what colors were used for the website and images.
    Explore: Color Codes
  11. Color Hunter

    Color Hunter
    Color Hunter lets users find and make color palettes from uploaded images. Account members can save favorite color palettes for later use.
    Explore: FAQ
  12. Check My Colours

    Check My Colours checks the background and foreground colors of any website, testing for any failures or problems. Quickly scanning all color elements, the test can provide information on luminosity contrast, brightness, and color differences, allowing for users to make any color adjustments necessary for optimal viewing.
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Textures, Graphics, and Images

If you’re going to build a house, you don’t manufacture the bricks yourself. Graphic designers often turn to curated repositories of textures, graphics, images, and other visual resources to build web pages and designs. There’s no need to do everything from scratch when so many great building blocks are available.
  1. Shutterstock

    Shutterstock is a library of over 25 million stock photos, illustrations, vectors, and videos, all included in different plans and pricing.
    Explore: FAQ
  2. Texturemate

    Texturemate is a great resources for or students, graphic design artists, and photographers. Filled with free textures, brushes, and images, these can be downloaded and used for a number of projects and designs.
    Explore: Video Game Brick Pattern
  3. CGTextures

    CG Textures
    CG Textures offers a wide variety of categorized textures constructed from high quality graphics or photos These textures can be used as backgrounds for websites, digital art pieces or any other design project.
  4. Squidfingers / Patterns

    Squidfingers features new, free, and instantly downloadable patterns offered for use on any website – commercial or personal. There are over 150 patterns that users can browse and use in any project.
  5. Morguefile

    Morguefile is a free photo archive, offering hundreds of free, high quality images for illustrators, art directors, and instructors.
    Explore: 2 Ways to Backup Synchronize Your Windows Clipboard
  6. Patterrific

    Patterrific is run by an illustrator and surface pattern designer who launched the site to offer free patterns, along with links and books users will find interesting.
    Explore: Pattern Gallery
  7. Image*After

    Image*After is an online photo collection with a large catalog to select from. It’s a great source for stock photos and even gives people the option to upload their own content.
    Explore: Free Images
  8. Pattern Cooler

    Pattern Cooler is a catalog of designs for web and graphic design use, as well as commercial use. There are 100′s of free designs to look over, with a goal of getting higher quality free patterns online.
    Explore: Spread
  9. Seamless Textures

    Seamless Textures for Human Use
    Seamless Textures is a site with 115 free textures to pick from, the only thing required is a “like” on Facebook.
    Explore: For Human Use
  10. Minted

    Minted is a global community of independent graphic designers, as well as an online store that prints and sells the best designs in the form of paper goods.
    Explore: Design Challenge
  11. Design Tools

    Design Tools Monthly is a publication that focuses on all reaches of the graphic design industry, with contributors located all over the country. It has been published since 1992 and is regarded for the wealth of knowledge it provides.
    Explore: Free Sample
  12. Communication Arts

    Communication Arts
    Communication Arts is a magazine published since 1959 with original content online as well. It is a fantastic source for graphic designers, art directors, design firms, advertising agencies, among others.
    Explore: Design Competition
  13. Vandelay Premier

    Vandelay Premier
    Vandelay Premier is run by Vandelay Design and they sell memberships to their products ranging from Freeland Starter Kits to an expansion of textures and brushes for Photoshop.
    Explore: Take a Tour
  14. MediaLoot

    MediaLoot is an assortment of design resources to improve the appearance of apps, themes, and other designs.
    Explore: Browse the Collection
  15. Ava7 Patterns

    Ava7 Patterns
    Ava7 Patterns provides many different patterns, categorized by color and shape for users to browse through. Ava7 provides information on the most downloaded patterns, the most commented, along with top rated, designed for readily finding the best content.
    Explore: Most Downloaded
  16. InkyDeals

    InkyDeals offers a collection of exclusive quality design products at great rates. Products are often offered up to 50% off and include things like typography, vector design, and logo packages.
    Explore: Active Deals
  17. Designious

    Artists and designers can download over 5,000 quality products at fair prices. Choose from vector packs, brushes, graphic files, and even t-shirt designs.
    Explore: Bundles
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Vector & Photo Editing

The key difference between vector graphics and photos (also called raster images or bitmaps) is that vector graphics are constructed mathematically, using geometric rules, so that they can be scaled to any size without losing resolution. Non-vector images are based on pixels, and will distort and lose resolution if scaled too large. It is important to choose the proper vector graphic editor or photo editor for each particular job. A logo or icon design is better as a vector graphic, because it may need to be scaled up for T-Shirts, posters, or even the side of a building. Fortunately, there are plenty of great vector graphic editors and photo editors available to meet every design need.
  1. PhotoLesa

    photolesa com
    PhotoLesa is the home of Lesa Snider, a professional image editor. She gives free tutorials online on Photoshop, Photo Gift, and other photo-related programs.
    Explore: Tutorials
  2. GIMP

    GIMP is a free software for photo retouching, image composition, and image authoring, coming in many languages and operating systems.
    Explore: Screenshots
  3. Skencil

    Skencil is a free interactive vector drawing application. It is a powerful tool for designers and artists working with sketches, drawings, illustrations, diagrams and other design projects.
    Explore: News
  4. Genetica

    Genetica is a texture and effects editor for use in Windows. Users can create and edit graphics, apply filters to photos, and enhance all elements of design.
    Explore: Download the beta
  5. Photo! Editor

    Photo! Editor is an online photo retouching tool that makes basic functions like removing redeye and manipulating lighting effects easy.
    Explore: Tips
  6. Piktochart

    Piktochart creates interactive infographs for presentations and other information sharing events. Users can create and represent relevant information for their purposes.
    Explore: How To Make a Great Infographic Design Go Viral
  7. ComparePSD

    PixelNovel ComparePSD
    PixelNovel allows designers to compare different versions of Photoshop files. Designers can see any changes or differences in the files, including any layer or effect changes.
    Explore: About and Support
  8. Pixelmator

    For Mac users, Pixelmator is an easy-to-use image editing tool. Users get access to drawing tools, type tools, effects galleries and proofing tools.
    Explore: Hidden Treasures of OSX Color Picker

    Paint net offers free image and photography editing to Windows users, including special effects, layering and other tools. This growing online community also offers tutorials and plugins for further help with projects.
    Explore: Publishing Tutorials
  10. flauntR

    flauntR is a free photo and image editing tool that users can access directly from the internet. Features many of the same capabilities as Photoshop, but without the hefty price tag.
    Explore: Mobile Applications
  11. QBrushes

    Qbrushes has an extensive collection of quality brushes for use in Photoshop. New brushes and designs can added and downloaded by users, for use in design projects and websites.
    Explore: 10 Special Free Vectors
  12. Fatpaint

    Fatpaint is web-based graphic design software, image editor, and custom printed products webshop, all based on the cloud. Fatpaint has an interesting dynamic between all the services it provides, which has contributed to its international reknown.
    Explore: Design
  13. Artrage

    ArtRage 4
    Artrage is a painting package available for Windows, Mac, and iPad.
    Explore: Demo
  14. Autotracer

    Autotracer org
    Autotracer converts raster images, such as JPEGs and GIFs, into vector graphics.
    Explore: About
  15. Inkscape

    Inkscape is an open source drawing tool that uses a scalable vector graphics format.
    Explore: About Inkscape
  16. Sketch

    Sketch by bohemian coding
    Sketch is a professional vector graphics app with an easy-to-use interface and powerful tools. It’s designed from the ground up for graphic designers.
    Explore: Screenshots

  17. Honorable Mention

  18. Ad Image – Royalty Free Stock Photos

    Ad Image offers a wide selection of stock photos, all free for website use, with the option of purchasing high resolution photos starting at $4.The large inventory of well tagged photos makes Ad Image a great place to find pictures to add color to your personal website, or even stock imagery for business pages.
    Explore: Full Library
Article By Graphic Design Classes website


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