Tools to Better Your Design

How can you become a “good” designer? This is a question that probably haunts all of us from time to time. Am I considered “good,” and what can I do to become better?

As a creative, there are highs and lows - times where you feel on top of your craft, and other times when you feel like your work isn’t meeting your expectations.

While I would like to tell this negativity to kick rocks, I am not immune to these feelings either. However, I do have a few suggestions on what you can do to stay on top of your skills to continue learning and improving your technical abilities as a designer.


Introducing Our Ever-Growing Tool Box

We are going to cover some of the resources we’ve used over time. If you have had formal schooling for design, the quality and practicality of what you learned in school varies. For me (Kerry 👋), I loved my design classes, but they didn’t provide me with any real technical knowledge or saleable skills that an employer or client would be looking for.

For that reason, most of my technical skill is self-taught. Below I am highlighting different online resources that you can use to bring your work to the next level. I’ve included resources on everything from color choice to 3D modeling and creative coding.


Contents
  1. General Inspiration
  2. Color
  3. Typography
  4. 3D Modeling + Blender
  5. Web Design + Coding

Finding work that inspires you

This is one of the most important places to start. The internet provides you with so much access to great design. Instagram, Behance, Awwwards, and The FWA are key places that we find inspiration. Intentionally digesting the best work out there will help you hold yourself to a higher standard when creating. With technology, we have access to a world’s worth of information so let’s use it!

Sometimes familiarity and comfort can be our biggest barriers to personal growth. Living in Southeastern WI, the perceived importance of art, design, and culture on business success is not the same as it might be in New York or LA. So should you design for your region, or should you design like you are competing with the top designers in NY and LA?

I urge you to push yourself as far as you can. In the same way that we can easily find great work to inspire us, our employers and clients have that same accessibility to finding great talent. Because the reality is that the world is becoming more connected, making the job pool more competitive. By looking for inspiration that may seem far out of reach, you will help challenge your skill level and increase your saleability.

Instagram

We are probably all familiar with Instagram, but it holds a lot of value beyond its dank memes. You can follow along with the world’s best designers, agencies, and companies. If you mix a few of these posts into your feed, it’ll keep you engaged and knowledgeable of the world of design around you.

Instagram

Behance

If you don’t already use Behance… For one, you should, and secondly - it is like Pinterest for designers. You can discover different projects that focus on Graphic Design, Illustration, Motion, etc.

Behance

Awwwards

They describe themselves as “The awards of design, creativity, and innovation on the internet.” This is a great place to find inspiration for all things, digital and web-centric. You can sift through collections that include Menu Inspiration, E-Commerce, CSS + JS Animations, and so much more! We ❤️ Awwwards.

Awwwards

The FWA

The FWA is similar to Awwwards, and serves a similar purpose. We ❤️ The FWA too.

The FWA


Selecting Color

Some people are really gifted with color. If you aren’t, no one ever has to know! There are many color palette generators out there, and in my opinion, there is no shame in using one. Adobe Color Trends is one of our favorites. The Fashion section has some lovely palettes.

color.adobe.com/trends


Typography

Laying out and pairing type often can make or break a design. Typewolf is a great place to see how contemporary fonts are being used and get ideas for pairings or foundries to explore.

typewolf.com


3D Modeling + Blender

One word - YouTube! Andrew Price, the Blender Guru, seems to help just about everyone get started in Blender. If you’ve seen this donut before (👇), then you might know what I’m talking about. His tutorials are comprehensive and easy to follow. I’ve primarily used his videos to learn to model, but he has a ton of videos on his channel.

Donut built from Andrew Price's Blender Series

Another great YouTube resource is Ducky 3D. His videos are super helpful in creating different visual effects with shaders and nodes.


Web Design + Coding

As we mentioned, Awwwards is our go-to source of inspiration for web design. They feature some really innovative development techniques. To recreate the interactive effects that make these sites so interesting - Mike has spent a lot of time learning creative development.

He’s learned tools such as ThreeJS, GSAP, and SVG animation by referencing SuperHi, CodePen, YouTube, and Stack Overflow.


While it may seem like we’re suggesting you learn how to do everything, we’re not. That is how Mike spends his days, but a lot of us don’t have that focus. We just wanted to put together a quick resource for other digital designers who would like to expand on their existing skillset and better understand the behind-the-scenes of how our work has developed over time.

The most important takeaway would be that you have to have patience with yourself and do your best to continue learning. No matter how much talent you have, none of this comes overnight. Enjoy the journey, take time to learn, and be proud of what you make!

If you have any questions, responses, or thoughts, let us know! We love hearing from you! If you want any additional information on any of the topics of this article, you know where to find us!

Happy Reading! 🙃

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