Design Resources

Design Resources for Photographers, Designers and Artists

Designers, whether online or not, need equipment, tools and supplies to bring their ideas and visions to life. Aside from having camera equipment and a computer, software is key for online designers especially.

Professional Software

Professional design software is not inexpensive. And much of it comes with a steep learning curve. And it gets updated about every 12-24 months! So why get it? Because it can do amazing things! And enables you to create amazing images and designs!

  • Adobe Photoshop – Available as regular or extended (includes 3D capabilities) Photoshop, this is the professional software that everyone recognizes and many, many people use. There are free alternatives, but I haven’t used any enough to recommend one. There really don’t seem to be any limits to what you can do in Photoshop. It’s not cheap by any means and there is a learning curve. It’s for serious designers and photographers. There’s a free 30 day trial to dip your feet into it and lots of tutorials all over the web as well as books as magazines and networked groups.
  • Adobe Photoshop Elements – This is the consumer version of Photoshop. Easier to use, fewer bells and whistles, so it’s easier to afford. You decide what’s going to work for you. Version 11 comes out in Autumn 2012.
  • Adobe Illustrator – The professional illustrating software. If you are creating vector graphics, logos and artwork, this might be the tool for you. Like Photoshop, there’s a significant learning curve and price tag. Are you a pro or can you get by with something else?
  • Adobe Creative Suite (Design Premium) – I’ve got version 5 of this: if you want more than one Adobe product, it will likely pay you to get one of the suites. It comes with Photoshop Extended, Illustrator, InDesign, Dreamweaver, Flash Professional, Flash Catalyst, Fireworks, Acrobat Pro, Bridge and Device Central. And all the pieces work together.
  • Adobe Photoshop Lightroom – the other Adobe product that I depend on. Lightroom will do a lot of what Photoshop does – adjust photograph white balance, exposure, vibrance; account for camera lens, heal spots and adjust colors and clarity. It will also do those in batches and allow you to easily sort and keyword your photos. It also makes all POD work easier with the fabulous print module.
  • Corel Painter – another professional software for that emulates painting with all different kinds of adjustable brushes and brushstrokes and papers and features. Another learning curve, but sweet results.


These are some favorite plug-ins that work with Photoshop and/or Lightroom and/or Aperture. The latest versions also function as stand-alone choices!

  • OnOne Software – offers a suite of really useful tools for photographers and designers. The tools work as plugins for Photoshop, Lightroom or Aperture or standalone applications. You can increase the sizes of your images beautifully, enhance portraits, easily mask out part of images and put sweet edge on your images, for starters.
  • Filter Forge – a really fascinating software where the user create the filters. If you’re really geeky (no offense, but it’s pretty much all over my head), you can create filters to make patterns, add effects, simulate drawings, painting and snow.