Tips for Designers: Tools for Freelance Artists

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Designing graphics or websites can be a lucrative freelance business. It may have started out as a hobby or creative outlet for you, but if you want to make money from it, you should consider arming yourself with the right tools.

Being a freelancer is rewarding, albeit tough, because of the thousands of artists you are competing with. This is why you need to invest in the right tools – hardware, software, Web and mobile applications – that will make you stand out from the rest.

These tools not only get things done, but they enable you to create wonders with a few clicks. These also make life easier! As a freelance designer, you want to focus more on creating flawless designs, but at the same time take care of the business and administrative aspects of work also. Timesaving, effective, and efficient tools and resources are what you need.

There is a whole new array of products and services that make life as a designer very exciting. With so many great choices, what are the ones you really need? We have listed our picks below:

Adobe Creative CloudPhotoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign are the main software tools designers use to whip up something great from scratch. These three have been the go-to of graphic designers for years. If you want to get them, you have to sign up for Creative Cloud, which is a monthly or annual subscription service that allows the apps to be updated and automatically installed via the Internet as long as you have a valid subscription.

New versions of the software are only updated via Creative Cloud as the Adobe Creative Suit (individual products with perpetual software license) has been discontinued. The subscription costs US$19.99 per month per app and US$49.99 per month for the complete app selection. You can browse through their plans here.

Sketch 3 - This is an app focused on user interface design. Designers who use Sketch 3 rave about how it's easy and fuss-free to use. The app comes with a library of fonts, icons, and symbols that you can readily pick, making designing faster and more efficient. It has a built-in iPhone previewing tool called Mirror and Artboards so you can see results faster. The catch? It's only available for OS X. Buy it on the Mac App Store for $99.

Firebug, Fireworks, and Dreamweaver – For the Web designer, these tools will take you to the finish line quickly and efficiently. Firebug is a free open-source Web browser extension of Mozilla Firefox that lets you debug, edit, and monitor any website’s CSS, HTML, DOM, and JavaScript.

Both from Adobe, Fireworks and Dreamweaver are the Web designers’ best friends. Fireworks is a raster and vector graphics editor that is essentially the Photoshop of web designers.  Dreamweaver on the other hand, is a Web development app that has a code editor with syntax highlighting, code completion, etc. Both come with tools and options that allow you to easily create full web layout prototypes.

Cinema 4D Prime and Maya – If you want to be different from the rest of graphic and Web design artists, you may want to further sharpen your craft by learning more about 3D art and animation. 3D graphics, animation, rendering, and modeling jobs have been steadily on the rise at and what better way to take on jobs in this area other than using the perfect set of tools.

Cinema 4D Prime is great for graphic artists who want to add 3D to their toolset. It’s the perfect tool to use for creating logos, illustrations, buildings, and other simulation/prototypes of products to be. Maya is a similar tool but it is focused on 3D animation, modeling, rendering, and compositing. These tools are very different from the usual arsenal of most designers but if you’re looking to expanding your craft, having these is a great start.

InVision and Mail’ette – These tools allow you to showcase your mockup or work in progress to the client as the project moves forward. Showcasing is necessary especially if your agreed payment term is similar to’s Milestone Payments. InDesign is great for showcasing Web and app design and development. Here, you can have prototypes created where clients can also leave feedback on every aspect of the design. Mail’ette, on the other hand, allows you to send snapshots, PDFs, and links of your mockups. It also has a feedback and approval service.

Taschen Books – If you’re running out of creative ideas and in need of inspiration, don’t hesitate to turn to Taschen, the best art and design publisher in the world. They have hundreds of books on graphic and Web design that will refill your creativity meter. The best bit about their books is its affordable prices. Starters who haven’t found their style yet can turn to these books to hone and shape their craft.

These are just some of the many tools that you can use to amp up your freelance designing business. If you’re looking for ways to perfectly manage the business bit, check out our article on streamlining your freelance business.

Ready to work? Sign-up now or bid on projects here.


Postat: 4 iunie, 2015

Nikki Hernandez

Wired and Inspired | Content Coordinator,

I'm the coordinator of Freelancer's Case Study Program. I write inspirational success stories of employers and freelancers. When not busy writing, I play video games.

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