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30 Free and Paid Resource for Beginner Graphic Designers
This is a resource guide for graphic designers, especially beginners. Here you will find out graphic design software alternatives, fonts, pictures, resources, computer recommendations. We cover both Free and Paid options, which help you with any graphic design jobs. LET START!
Illustrator Free Vectors
Make sure you check the licenses for each vector graphic. Vector graphics with a Creative Commons license are free to use for any project without having to give a credit or a reference.
Photoshop Free Resources
Make sure you check the licenses for each Photoshop resource. Resources with a Creative Commons license are free to use for any project without having to give a credit or a reference.
Make sure you check the licenses for each font. Most fonts you will find Online will tell you how you can use them. Some do not allow them to be used in logos, while others are open for commercial and personal use.
Font base is a great free font manager for Windows or Mac. Adobe creative cloud has some great font management features, but sometimes when you have 100’s of fonts installed, having a good way to manage all of those fonts is a great idea.
Have you ever seen an awesome font and wondered what it was? This is a great website to upload a snapshot of that font, and it will find the closest match in its database. A site I often use to find fonts for clients when they want to use a font they found.
Adobe Capture CC
This one is new and produced by Adobe and is free to use for Adobe CC subscribers. You can hold up your phone and scan anything that has a font/type on the screen or printed paper to locate a close match.
You can import a photo and create a color palette out of it. Or, just create a color palette using the color wheel options.
This one helps to automatically generate a color palette and show you popular color themes.
Make sure you check the licenses for each photo. Photos with a Creative Commons license are free to use for any project without having to give a credit or a reference to the photographer.
Design Book Recommendations
It is great to supplement any graphic design training with a few excellent books. Some books I have either read or have had strongly recommended by some of my favorite designers over the years.
This is THE website where all of the best creative minds gather. Wonderful portfolios of work, which inspired several of my design projects.
Need logo design inspiration? Look no further.
That is not a typo, the website name has 3 “B”s in the title. A great website for inspiration and one of the industry’s most popular websites.
My Favorite Design Instagram Accounts to Follow!
Sometimes purchasing a paid resource is necessary to achieve a certain look or find just the right photo for your project. Listed here are some paid resources I use frequently.
This is a great place for PAID photos. Paid stock photos have higher quality, so sometimes they are necessary to purchase. The lower tier photos start at around $12 per photo.
This website is full of wonderful paid resources that you can use with Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, or InDesign including Brushes, Icons, swatches, vector graphics, photos, and templates.
If I ever need to purchase a font for client work or personal work, this is a great website to purchase full usage rights on fonts.
Adobe Stock is $29,99 for a monthly subscription. You may only need a subscription if you plan to purchase over 10 stock photos per month.
Adobe Creative Cloud
The Adobe Creative Cloud is $52.99, but there are special discounts for students and teachers of some Universities and non-profits.
Subscribers to the Adobe Creative Cloud have access to an enormous library of fonts with free licenses! Most of these fonts are high quality paid fonts elsewhere. A GREAT value to anyone who already has a subscription!
An ultimate guide for your keyboard shortcuts in Adobe programs. I use many shortcuts to save time doing repetitive tasks, and it really speeds up my workflow. I suggest you learn one new shortcut each week and add it to your routine. Do not feel overwhelmed by having to memorize them all. Write your keyboard shortcut of the week down on a piece of paper or stick it to the top of your screen. Pick one you think you will use most frequently. Once memorized and incorporated into your routine, start the next shortcut. Rarely do I memorize over one at a time. There is so much to learn at this stage, the last thing you need is more homework, so take this slow and at your own pace!
Lower Cost Design Software Adobe Alternatives
There are cases where you find the Adobe Creative Suite subscription a bit too costly to maintain. If that is the case you should check out the one time purchase software from Serif called Affinity designer, photo and publisher.
Affinity design is a fantastic, cheaper alternative to Adobe Illustrator. Affinity Photo replaces Photoshop and Affinity Publisher replaces InDesign. All three can be used together to create similar projects that you see in this class. I have even had some students use this software and still could work through the lessons.
They are not an exact match and Affinity designer lacks a few tools, but none essential to completing basic graphic design tasks. I prefer to work with Adobe products because I use more than just the classic design software that comes with it, I also use video production software from Adobe, For those who need a cheaper option, look into these alternatives.
I even have a section in this course that walks through Affinity Designer as an alternative option. It may not be for everyone as Adobe’s tools are fantastic professional level tools, but not everyone can afford them each month.
Computer Recommendations For Graphic Designers
The most important factor in a great computer for a graphic designer is the amount of RAM it has, not whether it is a MAC or a WINDOWS computer. Running Photoshop and other Adobe programs are VERY Memory intensive. I once got a top of the line iMac and that included the lowest available RAM to keep costs down and got 8GB, which I thought would be fantastic. Photoshop can take up to 6GB by default (Although you can change this in the program settings), but it does not leave a ton of RAM for other programs to switch between. It was horribly slow when opening larger documents.
I recommend getting a laptop or desktop with at least 16GB of RAM to have a smooth experience (32GB would not be too much either for any intense video or photo editing projects).
I have done all my work in the last 4 years with an iMac pro-15-inch laptop. I used to have a 17-inch but found it to be too big to travel with, so the 15-inch worked out great. It is now 5 years old and holding up nicely, so never feel you have to have a brand new one. I enjoy macs because of the better color/resolution with screens but a windows laptop or desktop will suit you just fine since most modern screens come with fantastic color representation.
Mac or Windows?
With Macs costing 2x or sometimes even 3x, the price of a comparable Windows computer cost can be a factor in choosing which way to go. There is a reason macs are more costly, they use better materials for construction, have better support and an easier to use UI with less downtime due to viruses or “bugs”. Windows are very affordable though and run all other design programs with ease.
Retina display or not?
A retina display is a high-quality screen resolution that displays pixels on the screen at around a 300 PPI (pixels per square inch). Traditional monitors had a 72 PPI screen resolution. They increase the cost of a laptop/desktop computer, but it can be worth it being able to see that higher resolution. This can also help print designers as our goal with a print design is to keep our images crisp (not blurry) for printing, which is 300 (DPI), and to see how that resolution looks on screen is very helpful.
Laptop or Desktop?
I prefer a laptop because of the portability and being able to bring my laptop with me on trips and to the coffeehouse. I have a larger 30-inch iMac, but I still gravitate toward the laptop to keep work all in one place. This is totally a choice, but laptops have caught up with desktops in recent years in terms of ram and CPU power.
Popular places to find freelance design work
Locally sourced clients are the best. You can see them face to face (or at least via phone) and you know how to market to the local audience or know how to design for them at least. My first four clients were all local, and they referred me like crazy to clients further away, and the rest was history. I never had to seek work again, they found me!
I could build a portfolio from those first few clients to land larger, more regional clients. Then you get the attention of ad agencies and you can start doing consulting work or maybe even land a full-time agency job (if you are interested in a salaried position).
It can be a slow build of your client base and portfolio, but over the years it can really turn into a full-time career. And a very enjoyable one at that! It depends on how much you will practice. It also comes down to making clients HAPPY. I mean giving them what they want, but also providing them.
VALUE – I think a lot of designers think the trendy cool designs get them jobs, but it is the practical projects that pay the bills.
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