Six graphic design tools to help you set up your project environment

If you really want to send a graphic designer into a boiling rage, send them an artwork created with the wrong software, or in tiny resolution. Better: promise them artwork and send a picture attached on a spreadsheet instead. You’ll feel the rage from a distance!. 

Jokes aside, if you’re a graphic design pro or even if you’re just dabbling, you’ll know there’s a wider world outside the Adobe Creative Suite bubble. But you might be dazzled by the dozens of paid, free and freemium options out there. If you’re not sure of your best options, let our Design team recommend some essential tools they’ve used to turn Matrix projects into winners. 


  • Adobe Photoshop: no graphic designer in the world would leave Photoshop out of this list — and it’s an essential tool for every one of our designers. First created in 1988, Photoshop is much more than an editing image software. Become an expert and you’ll be able to create banners, graphics, combine different photos and use its selection of patterns and effects to boost your social media templates and posts – and that’s just for starters. Millions of daily users can’t be wrong.

  • Figma: Digital design and prototyping tool Figma is a favourite among the Matrix Design team. Figma includes UI and UX-friendly resources, to create websites, apps, social media posts, wireframes and a wide range of graphic designs. Our UI/UX Designer Welinton Fernandes loves its interactive aspect, which allows teams to log in and review designs, by leaving comments and even editing the piece.
    “Figma makes collaboration easy and allows me to import and export files, get suggestions from the team and share content in an organised way,” he says.

  • Adobe Illustrator: a vector-based drawing program, Illustrator is the industry standard software for creating logos and illustrations. If you’re creating a graphic that will be rescaled for printing, it’s your most powerful tool. Our Senior Graphic Designer Tom Chwiszczuk also uses Illustrator to deal with SVG files, saying: “It offers a straightforward way to create and save SVG files, and it’s my tool of choice to deal with them.”Must read UX Books

  • Colour Contrast Checker: To make sure your website is readable, you must verify not only its typeface and font size, but also its colour contrast. This tool is an amazing time-saver, assessing colour contrast in line with strict Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Checking the contrast ratio between two colours, you can save colour combinations and copy hex code values of colours you’re working with to your clipboard. It’s available from monsido.com, and also available as a handy Chrome extension.
  • Adobe InDesign: Posters, flyers, newspapers, brochures, magazines, books and e-books and more — all imaginable printed and digital artwork can be created with InDesign. This graphic design software offers a range of tools to lay out and create material with a common theme running through different pages. InDesign revolutionised the graphic design industry by offering integration between printed and online materials. It developed an exclusive approach to collecting all links and fonts from a document, and creating a different folder with these after the artwork is finalised (Package). This is particularly useful when sending files to be printed. InDesign offers file management options, user identification, lock and unlock permissions and collaboration features, among others. If you combine visuals from Photoshop and Illustrator into InDesign, you can build an editorial flow in a much simpler format. By “packaging” (or embedding) all these materials in an InDesign file, it’s sent to printers in a cleaner way.
  • Wave Accessibility Checker: This is an essential suite of evaluation tools for ensuring web content is more accessible. Our UI/UX Designer Jade Yeates reckons Wave Accessibility Checker streamlines her workflow because it’s integrated with her browser. “Preparing a UX audit gets way faster with this tool, that helps me identify standard UX and UI issues on a website,” she says. 


Even the most powerful software is no substitute for creativity – but if you’re flowing with ideas, these tools will help them burst onto the screen. And if you still need a professional guiding hand in design, we could be the answer — check out our range of services, or contact us to see what we can do for you.

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