No matter if you’re a designer by profession or just enjoy making designs for your posts and presentations, today we have a handful of amazing tools and helpful materials that will make your work much easier, inspire you, and even help you learn something new. This is not a list of software tools for graphic designers and illustrators, such as Sketch, the Adobe Creative Cloud software or Procreate, as you probably already made your choice. Rather, you’ll see recommendations for some really useful graphic design assets such as Google Chrome extensions, online desktop tools, AI tools, mobile apps, and even free ebooks and podcasts to take full advantage of.
Now, let’s jump into the top assets that every graphic designer needs (or never knew they needed).
Graphic Design Assets: What You’ll Find in this Article?
- Google Chrome Extensions
- Mobile Apps (Android and iOS)
- Desktop Tools
- Free eBooks for Graphic Designers
- 4 Podcasts you Should Definitely Check
Google Chrome Extensions
We start with the browser-based free tools that are one click away from you to test. The tools have various purposes from extracting color palettes from websites you like to taking screenshots, and testing your designs in terms of resolution and how pixel-perfect they are.
This browser extension allows you to grab colors from any website you visit. It offers free color scheme extraction and sharable links. In terms of support, the tool auto-generates Sketch templates, supports Adobe Swatch, Google Art Palette and you can even play around with your palettes at coolors.co.
Another pretty neat and convenient tool for graphic designers and front-end developers. PixelParallel by htmlBurger is all about HTML vs Design to serve as a comparison tool and help code pixel-perfect websites. The tool is easy to use, very intuitive, and features a bootstrap grid with customizable width, number of columns, gutter, and opacity.
This extension is too important not to be included. There are online tools such as WhatTheFont where you can drop an image to identify what font was used. However, when it comes to web fonts in a copy, you will have to take a screenshot for that. WhatFont helps you inspect web fonts just by hovering on them, which is quite convenient and quick.
For fellow procrastinators or people who genuinely struggle with time management or get distracted easily, this little tool comes in handy. It tracks your time spent in Chrome and helps you get a clear picture of what you’re actually doing all day. So, instead of wondering where did your entire day go, you can see which sites you “only just check for a couple of minutes a few times a day” and see how they add up. In addition, there’s also a scoring system that scales websites from Very Productive to Very Distracting.
Mulzli replaces your default tab so you won’t miss what’s hot about design and interaction from all around the web. One of the most recommended chrome extensions for graphic designers for the pure purpose to inspire.
This is a cross-platform screen-capturing tool that allows you to take a screenshot of the visible screen or have multiple captures of an entire page into one single lightweight document. Everything is stored on your tray for later editing. In addition, you can also add line note boxes and callouts and share your image documentation.
ResolutionTest is a tool for designers and web developers to test web pages in different resolutions with the additional option to define their own resolutions. It works by changing the size of the window of your browser so you can preview the website in that particular resolution.
Some cool tools to try out when you’re away from your desktop. Mostly available for android and iOS, the tools can help you discover new color palettes, access your home computer, and even scan and store your documents in one place.
This app may become one of your best buddies if you’re a graphic designer or simply a color lover. Its concept is so simple and this is what makes it so perfect. The tool offers inspiration for your designs by helping you discover new color schemes. You can browse colors with names (RGB, HEX, and HSL), create and save colors and palettes, and pick colors from images. The best part is, it allows you to check harmonic and complementary colors to a color you absolutely want in your design but you aren’t sure how to complete the palette.
- Available for: Android
- Price: Free
Accessing your Windows/Mac apps and files remotely can be crucial and Parallel Access got you covered. The app can help you access files you forgot on your computer at home and even do complex editing, straight through your iPhone or Android mobile device. It’s good to have a little less anxiety knowing that you can have access to important files in urgent situations, last-minute changes, and other unpredictable cases.
In any field, especially in the creative sector, your presence in Social Networks is an inevitable part of your work process. It requires almost as much effort as your projects. To do this easily, Instasize is a toolkit for creatives that serves the purpose of a photo editor and packs a handful of features such as photo filters, borders, collage maker, and colors retouch.
This open-source application takes your documents from your scanner. It recognizes the text, and extracts the metadata so it can give you the tools to manage your important documents digitally and stay organized. All you need to do is scan your documents. From there, they are securely stored on a Paperless server for you to access whenever you need them.
Let’s have a look at some less-used AI-based tools that you never knew you needed.
The whole idea of this website is to help you practice your design skills, from logo design to UX and illustrations. When you press Start, you will receive a random design brief so you can work on it and fill your portfolio while working for a fake business. A fun little concept with a wide variety of challenges.
This one is very simple, it’s actually brilliant. It’s basically a single list that can contain infinite lists. You can replace your notebooks, sticky papers, and multiple organizing apps and simply put everything in there.
Another fun free online tool you can take advantage of for your blog posts, marketing materials, and presentations. What it does is turn boring screenshots into much more interesting quality graphics. You can rotate, adjust angles, blur or sharpen areas to set focus. When you’re done, you can export your screenshots SD for free usage.
Probably one of the best AI out there that removes backgrounds. It instantly recognizes the distinctive elements and deletes the background so you can have a good transparent PNG. The tool works in 90% of the cases, as, of course, if parts of your main image merge with the background, the AI will remove them as well. It’s worth trying it out, though, you’ll be surprised.
More care for the color lovers we are. The whole concept is for you to design the colors you love and the AI does that by asking you to select 50 colors you like most. Once you’re done, it generates an endless scroll of limitless color pairs for you to discover, enjoy and save for reference. You also get the color names, hex codes, RGB values, CSS codes, and the WCAG accessibility rating of each combo.
A useful database of fonts used in different brands, products, and materials. It’s basically an archive with more than 18K documented examples of fonts in use. Whether you need it for research or inspiration, it’s a cool thing to know you can access it anytime.
You can discover new fonts and get inspiration just by typing something random and letting the tool generate a font for you. If the font isn’t exactly your cup of tea, you can click to generate a new one. Every font comes with a name of the typeface, its weight, and a link to where you can obtain it.
The Most Useful Free eBooks for Graphic Designers
We’ll refer to an entire collection of the best free ebooks for graphic designers in another article. However, these four are some pretty valuable must-reads for everyone in the creative field and cover important topics such as developing design thinking, preventing awkward situations with non-paying clients, and actual design case studies.
The book starts with explaining you can never know enough about Design, as with technology constantly evolving and new trends emerging, the exciting world of Graphic Design is picking up speed. As there’s never a limit to how much you can progress and learn, you can learn a lot from other designers like you.
It’s small 18 pages ebook with 50 tips that gather advice from experts in all parts of the graphic design field from project management to brand identity and typography. The tips are practical, insightful, and inspirational. A very good read to have near at hand.
Now that’s a terrible and awkward situation to get into and unfortunately, it’s more common than we wish to admit. But how can we end up in such a situation? What is the client thinking and how to make sure it won’t happen again? All good questions worth spending some time reflecting on. This free eBook by Lior Frenkel gathers the essentials and what we need to know when we have to deal with a non-paying client in 70 pages.
More than a methodology or framework, design thinking combines the problem-solving roots of design
with deep empathy for the user. This free 124 guide aims to teach you how to implement design thinking into practice and introduces the best practices, stories, and insights from the world’s top design leaders.
The author Tom Kenny creates the Learn from Great Design series not only to show amazing designs from the web but to show what makes them better than the rest. The books dive deep into the design decisions and analysis in the form of case studies. You can check this out and get 3 free case studies (around 50 pages).
Awesome Podcasts for Designers
You have the software, the extensions, the tools, and some great reference materials for reading. Now, how about enjoying some recreational time and insights, through four of the most recommended podcasts for creatives. These four podcasts grant you interviews with experts that share insights and experience on design, marketing, and business. Worth giving it a try even if it’s just half an hour of listening in the car to your way to work.
Known as the world’s first podcast specifically about design, Design Matters with an American writer, educator, artist, and designer Debbie Millman. The host has interviewed over 250 industry-leading experts in in-depth conversational interviews.
If you’re a freelancer, you’re not alone as you have an entire community behind your back and so many opportunities for valuable friendships. Hosted by video and audio creator Steve Folland, the podcast kicked off in 2015 and grew to become the third ‘Best Business Podcast’ at the British Podcast Awards 5 years later. You can vibe and get inspired by the stories of successful freelancers that share their journeys with the host in hour-long conversations.
If you just decided it is high time to get into listening to podcasts, this is probably the first one to try out. The host, also CEO of the online educational platform The Futur, Chris Do explores the interesting overlap between design, marketing, and business through candid conversations with inspirational people from the worlds of design, technology, marketing, business, philosophy, and personal development.
A non-traditional podcast that explores the unexpected, slightly odd, and strangely wonderful in art history. What better way to get inspired than listening to curious cases?
We hope you will enjoy using those free tools for graphic designers and find them pretty convenient for your workflow while listening to some cool podcasts. In the meantime, you can check out the 80 sources where you can get design resources, or get inspired by this year’s trends for graphic design and social media so you can always be sure you stay ahead: