Graphic Design Tools

Most designers start with lo-tech tools even when designing graphics for the digital world. Pen & paper are vital tools for drawing and sketching your art and ideas.

Designer Lulu Kitololo shares her use of lo-tech and digital tools with The Kuyu Project. Lulu is Founder of Afri-love and Creative Director of Asilia.

Deb: So, when you started out, you mentioned you drew things, do you use still use pen & paper at the start of your designs? Or is everything digital in your work?
Lulu: Definitely. I need pen and paper to organise my thoughts. I didn’t start using computers regularly until I was in university so perhaps that has something to do with it. I also think that hand-crafted work has a quality that digital work can’t always capture. A human element and a uniqueness since, everybody’s hand creates a different touch.
Deb: I agree with that, that’s good to hear. So what types of digital tools did you first learn about and do you still use them today?
Lulu: The first digital tool I learned for artistic creations was Paint. That was ages ago and there wasn’t much that I could successfully do with it. I later learned how to use Adobe applications like Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign and I still use these pretty much daily. I try to create a lot of hand-crafted work because of the reasons above but, I usually put it into one of the aforementioned programs in order to hone and edit and prepare for presentation.
Deb: I see, I too like those programs. What about digital pens and such?
Lulu: The digital pen is something that I’ve been meaning to experiment with but have not gotten to yet. I think I will explore using it as an alternative to my pen on paper techniques however I foresee a bit of a learning curve in terms of dexterity and getting the outcome to look the way I envisage.
Deb: Yes, I have one, but I find that unless I use it often, I seem to have trouble with getting the look that I want.
Lulu: That’s really interesting – yes, all my expectations have been determined by feedback that other people who use them have given me.

Software
**Microsoft Paint** is a drawing tool that comes loaded on a Windows computer. If you are new to drawing with digital tools, it is a good place to start.

**Adobe Creative Suite** some of the graphic design tools that you will find in Adobe Creative Suite are:
Photoshop is used for editing digital images and photo retouching. It is used by photographers, graphic designers, and web designers as well.
Illustrator is used to create vector artwork and is used by design professionals for drawing and designing logos.
InDesign is used to for designing and publishing documents for print, online, now even for some mobile devices.

Open Source Graphic Design Tools
GIMPis the GNU Image Manipulation Program and can be compared with Adobe Photoshop. It is a freely distributed piece of software for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. It works on many operating systems, in many languages.

Inkscape is an Open Source vector graphics editor, with capabilities similar to Illustrator and uses the W3C standard Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) file format.

Cloud Graphics
Perhaps you want to make a quick sketch of something to share online via Twitter. Check out Drawtweet, it is a Bamboo Mini app that lets you make a quick doodle or sketch and share it through a social networking site.

Hardware
Digital pens and digital tablets are growing in popularity. If you're interested in how these work, check out the Bamboo and the Bamboo Mini for starters.