Basic Tools & Equipment for illustrators

Basic Tools & Equipment for illustrators

Have you written off pen and paper? Then these tools will help you make the most of your creative digital potential.

Creating illustrations requires different resources when compared to traditional drawing. It includes sketching, coloring, modeling, and many other techniques that take your designs to the next level. To help you get started, we’ve put together a comprehensive toolbox. Let’s go!

Tools for illustrations

Basic graphics software

A good and powerful graphics program is indispensable for graphic artists and designers.  In our articles on Photoshop alternatives and vector programs, we have already introduced you to software solutions beyond the market leaders Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. The important thing is that you can use the programs well and that they fit your requirements and workflow:

Additional design software

You can get a lot done with the powerful software packages from Adobe, Corel, or Affinity. But when it comes to a particular drawing style or an easy workflow, other programs are better suited with a cleaner, clutter-free focus on the essentials. Later you can export your designs and illustrations from these tools to your basic graphics software to add the finishing touches:

  • Canva – a simple drag-and-drop illustration and design tool. Illustration skills are not required. Canva also runs on various devices.
  • Rebelle – provides hyper-realistic art styles, but only digitally. This software emulates the physical effects of real analog art techniques such as watercolor, oil or acrylic painting like color gradient paint on different textures to form new effects.
  • Artrage – specializes in drawing illustrations and artwork in the style of various art techniques.
  • Artwaver – another tool that specializes in drawing illustrations. There is a large set of predefined brushes. Artwaver also allows you to work on a project in teams.
  • Procreate – a special design and illustration tool only for iPad users. It’s simple, creative and very powerful.

Tools for managing creative resources & media

In addition to drawing and graphics programs, the following tools are very useful when it comes to creating, collecting and organizing brushes, fonts, colors, image elements and other media.

  • Adobe Bridge – the market leader’s software makes various file formats easily accessible, creates thumbnails and allows you to organize all data and media in a meaningful and clear way.
  • Eagle – is very similar to Adobe Bridge in terms of features and functionality – just that it ain’t Adobe. So if you are looking for an alternative, you should try Eagle.
  • MyFonts & WhatTheFont? – MyFonts is a website where you can find many free and paid fonts for your project. The tool WhatTheFont lets you upload a photo of a font and see what font it is. This way you can easily recreate the style.
  • Fonts Ninja – is a Chrome extension that allows you to specify a font, its size, spacing and even the color code of the text you see in the browser.
  • Fontself – with this extension for Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop you can create your own fonts.
  • Color Tools – manage your color palettes, create brand identities and find additional colors that complement your base color. There are several color tools for all these fields. You can find some of them here in our blogpost.

Tools for projects & creative workflows

Now that you have a handle on managing your creative tools and content, it’s time to get organized. Plan processes and create routines that keep your creative flow going. You’ll find the best support here:

  • Trello – allows you to track and visualize the progress of your work and projects. It uses a notecard-based layout that is easy to drag and drop.
  • Evernote – capture your ideas digitally and do away with paper notebooks. This way you collect everything in one place and can quickly find your notes again.
  • Pocket – want to save an inspiring article you just read? Or store a URL with exciting content? Use Pocket for all your digital discoveries.
  • Toggl – this time tracking app is cloud-based and helps you analyze your productivity. See how much time you need for different tasks or projects, so you can optimize your processes and can reasonably classify the value of your work.
  • Todoist – provides better concentration, organization and more balance. Create to-do lists, add tasks and work through them step by step. If you didn’t finish something – no problem, just carry it over to the next day. This way nothing will get lost.

Perfect hardware equipment

Laptops & Notebooks

Let’s face it – a laptop or notebook is pretty much the only thing a creative person really needs in digital wonderland. Smartphones can do quite a lot these days, and your desktop PC at work may be more powerful. But the flexibility of a notebook with its processing power makes things easier. Which laptop to get? It all depends on your personal needs. Need a large screen for presentations with precise color reproduction? Or rather a light notebook that keeps you company wherever you go? A dedicated graphics card and lots of RAM (16GB will go a long way) make it faster when rendering images and media. Compatibility with external devices also plays a big role. Number of ports? Mac or Windows? Answer these questions to find the right notebook.

A good monitor

A color-calibrated monitor is a real asset. Next to getting those colors right, it helps keeping your focus up during longer work sessions. Run your tools, files, etc. on the smaller display of the notebook, and create your illustration or work on details on a large external screen. The monitor becomes a digital canvas for your creations.

Graphics tablets

A graphics tablet isn’t super necessary for your work, but it can be a great help. Drawings look more realistic, which in turn leads to better results. It’s also a lot more fun – and that alone is worth it. After all, the desire to work creatively is what drives you on. What’s more, a graphics tablet also makes for a good gift idea. Some well-known suppliers are:

You are now well equipped to get going with your next illustrations. All that’s missing is the right inspiration: e.g. the timeless style of the 1970s.

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