Design Toolkit Top Picks

By November 15, 2013 Design Tools No Comments

A designer’s toolkit is much like a woman’s handbag – a personal collection of secret items concealed in some variation of a tardis, that are used to primp, enhance and conceal!

In handbag terms, I am the type who exists on the bare minimum of essentials (phone, keys, lipgloss, sunnies, wallet and kindle), all contained in a bag that is small and organised allowing me access to exactly what I want, when I want. When it comes to my designer toolkit however, I am the exact opposite. I have the tardis sized collection of items, plugins and tools, all wonderfully disorganised and impossible to find what i want, exactly when I want. Many of those I’ve collected over the years I’m sure I’ve never used but there are of course those that I simply cannot live without and use on a daily basis. Here is a list of my faves.

Sketchbooks – plenty of them and in all shapes and sizes

My sketchbooks almost command their own bookcase! I can’t contain myself to just one – like books I buy a new one and start it before I’ve finished the previous one. I have moleskines, stone art, ux pads, random but pretty books I’ve come across in art stores and stationery stores and more. It’s bordering on obsession now. I have some sketchbooks that I’ve treated with the utmost care – beautiful concept sketches for each page with carefully written notes and not a page wasted. Others are my scribble books – many of my notes are indecipherable and my scribbles look like they were done while travelling on a bumpy bus. These ones tend to recieve a ‘facelift’ later in life which involves reference materials being cut out and stuck over the offending scribbles in an attempt to make my pages more acceptable.

Ogami is my current fave for sketchbooks – the paper has a great texture and the colours are oh-so-pretty! These books are of course saved for my ‘pretty sketches’ as opposed to my everyday notes and scribbles.


¬†Decomposition Books are another fave I’ve found recently. These come in a large range of cover designs and featured lined or grid pages – whatever suits your needs best! These are my go-to for everyday notes, meetings and rough sketches.


Sketchbook images from

Teux Deux – a simple, designy to-do app!

A must have for anyone who loves to make lists, Teux Deux is a super simple calendar based to-do app that keeps track of all your important tasks. The app allows you to assign tasks to set days, set recurring to-dos, and create ongoing lists that aren’t assigned to a calendar date. Best of all, daily tasks that aren’t crossed off simply rollover to the next day until you do cross it off. You can easily add, edit and delete items and drag them around to set priorities or assign tasks to different days. So simple to use and yet so satisfying to finish a day’s task list this app keeps my daily working life in order and priorities with minimal fuss.

With both a desktop version and iPhone app you can access your lists anywhere you need to – find out more at


Subtle Patterns

This great little plugin for Photoshop offers a gallery of patterns you can apply to photoshop layers at a simple click. Perfect for your next web project this will save you much time creating your own seamless patterns or searching for stock images to apply an effect. And at only $12 it’s a steal!¬†Check it out here!


Perspective Mockups


Creative Market

A little something that found its way into my Facebook feed, Creative Market offers 6 weekly freebies for members along with items for purchase. These range from photoshop actions, logos, illustrations and icons through to fonts, patterns, wordpress themes, psd template mockups and more. Definitely worth a signup to bulk up the image/assets library.

Ipsum Options

Want to put a little more pizzaz in your ipsum text? Choose Your Ipsum has a theme to suit you. Batman, Busey, Borat or Bogan ipsum going to strike a chord with your client Рthese are all available along with a bunch of equally amusing others.