5 Handy Online Resources For Designers
We spend a considerable amount of time designing swish graphics here in the Designbysoap office, particularly data visualisations and infographics. As a result, we’re always on the look out for new and innovative online tools or resources to make our lives easier and improve our final products. Sometimes we use a site for a little while and then move on, others have become a consistently used part of our design arsenal.
I’m very much an advocate of sharing useful resources, so here’s a quick list of some of our most-used online tools and resources:
The Noun Project
The Noun Project is an icon search engine, which aims to present a definitive icon for every word or phrase in the dictionary. They’re missing quite a few words at the moment, but the number of icons is consistently growing and they’re all available for free download. Great for infographics, certain types of logos, web icons and a lot more.
Adobe Kuler is an online colour scheme reference tool that I use ALL the time, pretty much regardless of the type of design I’m doing. For those briefs where you have a style guide to follow colour schemes aren’t a problem, but when the choice is yours it can take up a lot of time playing with colours that suite the subject matter and complement each other in a satisfactory way. Adobe Kuler is fantastic for finding pre-made colour schemes, or for designing your own using their interactive colour wheel. Kuler provides you with all the hexadecimal codes, as well as codes for CYMK and RGB colour so you can get them exactly right in Photoshop and Illustrator. Hugely useful.
Shutterstock unfortunately isn’t a free resource (it’s actually quite expensive), but it’s amazingly useful if you do decide to cough up the membership fee. Probably the best directory I’ve found of high-resolution photographs, vector files and illustrations available for download and use. Their collection is huge and the majority of them are extremely impressive (in terms of quality). I’d certainly recommend it if you find yourself constantly spending chunks of design time searching Google Images for suitable icons, photos and illustrations.
If you don’t have the money for Shutterstock, then check out Creative Commons. It’s basically a vertical search engine for royalty-free images, illustrations, music and videos which can be used commercially without legal ramifications. It’s great for finding free images or videos for blog posts and is often useful when completing design briefs. The site allows you to search Google, Google Images, Flickr, Blip.tv, Jamendo, Spin Express and Wikipedia Commons simultaneously for royalty-free media, saving you considerable amounts of time and effort.
Font Squirrel is a hugely useful resource for any graphic designer, web designer, or anyone who has an unhealthy obsession with typography. All of the fonts collected on these site are high quality, available for free download (in OTF format) and licensed for commercial work.
Post by John Pring – Follow him on Twitter (@john_pring)