A guide to the tools you will need to get started

Welcome to the Australian Academy of Graphic Design! Inspiration is the first step to creativity but every designer needs a certain toolbox to allow their ideas to materialise. Before you dive into the world of graphic design, there are a few essential tools that you will need to get to know before you begin.

While there are endless choices of software, hardware and traditional materials, we have whittled it down to just the essentials you will need to get started. Whether you are thinking of enroling or you have already signed up, you are most certainly curious about what you will need. Fear not! This blog post will provide you with an introductory list of the required materials for our graphic design courses, allowing you to begin your journey with confidence.

A graphic designer designing a logo using a CAD software

Hardware and software for Graphic Design

Professional graphic designers have a variety of options when it comes to software and hardware. Investing in high-powered computers can be a costly endeavour that is not necessarily vital when starting out. There is a lot that can be done with just internet access and a camera phone so at this early stage in your learning journey, there is no need to break the bank on expensive hardware.

Depending on the type of graphic design you intend to pursue, there are various software options. Some software to familiarise yourself with include Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator and Canva which are ideal for drawing or illustrations. Canva enables clients to make minor copy changes themselves, allowing designers to spend more time designing and less time copy editing. It also comes with an online and collaborative platform so your clients can access and edit the design via their account or an editable link. If you are interested in video editing, you could investigate Adobe Premiere Pro or After Effects.

A graphic designer sketching a logo in a sketchbook

Traditional art materials for graphic designers


A sketchbook is an essential tool for idea generation, keeping track of progress and for practising techniques. We recommend a sketchbook made of high-quality paper that can withstand a marker pen and possibly paint or ink.

You will also need the following:

  • Drawing Pencils and Pens: A variety of drawing pencils (HB, 2B, 4B, and 6B) , a fine tip pen and a Sharpie or marker. This will allow you to experiment with techniques and styles.
  • Erasers and Sharpeners: A good eraser and sharpener are essential for maintaining clean and precise drawings.
  • Markers and Coloured Pencils: Use markers and coloured pencils to add colour and dimension to your sketches. To achieve the best results, use good quality pencils and markers..
  • Ruler and Compass: A ruler and compass will help you create accurate geometric shapes and keep your designs in proportion.

Additional Materials to note but are not required for the course:

External Hard Drive: An external hard drive is essential for backing up your work and keeping your computer running smoothly. We recommend a minimum of 1TB of storage.

Cloud Storage: Google Drive is free up to 15Gb. Dropbox is also recommended but there are many cloud storage options that allow you to access your work from anywhere while also protecting your files from computer failures. Do some research and see which option best suits your needs and budget.

Ergonomic Workspace: A comfortable chair, an adjustable desk, and adequate lighting will create a more comfortable and therefore a more healthy work environment.

With these essential materials in hand, you'll be well-prepared to enrol in our graphic design courses at the Australian Academy of Graphic Design. Investing in high-quality tools and supplies are not essential when starting out but over time, they can pay off in the long run. Allow your creativity to soar and embark on a journey to become a successful graphic designer!

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Written by: Fiona Byrne

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