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5 Tools for helping with your design

Not everything you do is likely to be designed from scratch by your professional graphic designer. Sometimes you want to get the basic idea down and need it to look right, or you are going to create the design yourself for a designer to use as is or tidy up. Or perhaps you are going to print something yourself. Whatever the reason, there are tools out there that can help you end up with the best possible results.

Here are five tools we use to help with our designs that you can also use:


Kuler is a great way to explore and share colour combinations. You can get inspiration from other people’s colour themes and then use the colours in your own designs. Create your own colour combinations using a colour wheel and find matching colours using options like analogous, complimentary, triad or monochromatic.


Ever need to use a logo from someone else? Most people grab a logo from a website and then use it in print which means the logo looks low resolution and unclear. It is not always straightforward to get the logo you need, even when you have direct contact with the company. If it is a well-known organisation then you can often download the latest version in hi-resolution from


Seen a font you like but don’t what it’s called? Perhaps it is a free font or one you already have, or maybe one of your fonts is similar. How do you find out what the font is? We use WhatTheFont to identify the font. Either through the website or through a smartphone app you can scan or take a photo of the printed type and then WhatTheFont suggests fonts to use.


Using a google search to find images is quick and easy but not advised. Firstly any image you find and use are unlikely to be ‘free to use’ images but are copyrighted. Using on your own publications is likely to break copyright law. Secondly, the images are often not high enough resolution or the image quality is poor due to the compression used to make the files small and load quickly on websites. The result is a poor design that breaks the law.

Fortunately there are lots of good stock photo libraries where the cost of images is quite low. You get professional quality images that you can use legally for a small cost. And it’s easy to search for just the right thing. Of course it’s best if you can create your own images, especially where people are concerned – real images that show off you and your organisation are normally better than a stock shot.

iStockphoto has great options for searching including by colour, shape, subject or keyword. Images are bought using credits that cost around £1 each and the cheaper images are 1-5 credits depending on the size of image you need. Don’t buy an image at too smaller pixel size, as it will affect what size you can use it at and the final image quality. Some images are more expensive but you can filter by price when you search.

Shutterstock works in a similar way to iStockphoto but they offer an ‘image on demand’ option that costs £29 for 5 images. You get the images at a very high resolution so they are very flexible and work well for your marquee images. You can also get 12 smaller resolution images for the £29. When looking for an image of people you can even search based on age, gender, ethnicity and the number of people in the shot.

Using the above sites will improve your designs and help you make sure the final printed work is as good as you can make it – and if you work with a designer your better brief may mean the process is more efficient and even saves you money. #design #brands #advertising

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