When it comes to designing, the output you create is much more important than the tools you use to create it. But, it’s still interesting to highlight the tools each of us uses, to see what we can learn from others. Below is a list of the tools I currently use, as of June 28th, 2019.
Pen and Paper
One of the most important and often used tools for me is a pen and a notepad. The two together give a kind of freedom that just doesn’t exist in digital platforms, and they’re small enough to take everywhere with. I’ve also found that the act of sketching something is more freeing, and the action of writing down ideas and things to do helps keep them present in your mind when you need them.
When it comes to notebooks, I’ll often use a Field Notes Notebook or an Black and Red Notebook. They’re both great quality, with the Field Note being more pocketable and the Black and Red tending to give you more pages.
I use a very specific pen, the Fisher Space Pen. This is the legendary pen that NASA used when Russia supposedly used a pencil. It’s not that I need to write in zero-G or upside down or under water, but it’s a well-built pen with ink cartridges that last forever and a compact size when not being used.
I’ll often use A4 sketchbooks for sketching in. Art Gecko are great quality sketchbooks available in a range of sizes. I’ll use whatever pencil I can get my hands on, but normally a mechanical one for convenience.
My main computing device when working at the moment is the iPad Pro. Specifically, the 2018 12.9” iPad Pro with 256GB of storage, Apple Pencil 2, and the Apple Smart Keyboard Folio Case. Together, these create an incredibly capable and portable device. Mixed with the right apps (mentioned later), the iPad Pro is incredibly capable of most of the tasks I do everyday.
For those tasks that my iPad Pro can’t do, which is very rare nowadays, I have a MacBook Air. It’s the 13.3” version from 2013 (when I worked at Apple), so it’s a little long in the tooth, but macOS has features that don’t exist in iOS just yet, making it a useful companion tool.
I’m looking to replace this soon with a Mac Mini, so that I can have a dedicated device at home for certain jobs - such as learning Swift development with XCode.
My Desk Setup
My desk is pretty traditional. I bought it from IKEA a few years ago. It has a large white top and A-Frame adjustable height legs. On top is a black desk protector with built-in phone stand(s), which protects my desk from any marks.
An Ultrawide LG Display floats above the desk on a gas arm, so that it can be moved away when not needed (for example, when my mum is using the desk or when I’m painting Warhammer models). A Magic Keyboard, Magic Mouse, and Magic Trackpad are all available on the desk for when I’m using my MacBook, but I often use the Monitor with my iPad, especially when editing video.
Apps and Sites
The apps and sites I use are the main part of my toolkit. Here’s a list of the apps I use most often.
On the iPad:
- Affinity Designer, for vector-based visual design work
- Shapr3D, for 3D modelling
- Working Copy, for updating mine and other websites through Git
- LumaFusion, for editing up to 4K video on the iPad
- Trello, for project management with clients
- Zoom, for meetings
- Apple Music, for entertainment
- Notes, for note taking
On the Mac:
- Sketch, for vector-based visual design work (though, I am looking to move to Affinity on all platforms)
- Preview, for quick image edits and background removal
On the Web:
- Figma, for vector-based visual design work when working at Elite Gaming
- Dictionary.com/Thesaurus.com, for inspiration and definitions when working
- GitHub Pages, for hosting this website and others