Being a graphic designer takes a unique mix of creativity, skill, patience, excellent communication, and a touch of business savvy, all of which need constant nurturing to stay sharp. Whether you're checking out blogs for inspiration, watching tutorial videos to learn new shortcuts, or reading up on your favorite design movements, design resources are vital to a thriving career in the field.
Regardless of if you're about to go into college or if you've been running your own business for years, there are a few sites you should know about to ensure you're game is in check. Check out our list of 20 Online Resources Every Graphic Design Should Know. Your life is about to get a whole lot easier.
Kuler is the go-to source for all things color related. Whether you're trying to determine complimentary colors for an existing pallet or starting completely from scratch, Adobe's Kuler will be your saving grace. Just by moving the dots around the color wheel you're able to select a wide range of complimentary, analogous, triad, shades, or custom colors, and Kuler will give you the RGB and HEX codes so you can go back to creating your masterpiece.
Skillshare gets the masters, like Jessica Hische, Seth Godin, Brad Woodward, Jack Zerby, and Tal Safran, to teach everyday people like us about everything from calligraphy to coding (and then some). With classes running as cheaply as $20, there's no excuse for not knowing how to design your own website or create your own typeface.
Typefaces can be found almost anywhere. There are amateur typefaces you can download for free from Behance and ones created by the stars of typography like Hoefler and Frere-Jones. However, there aren't many resources that give you the accessibility and breadth of information that FontShop offers. Between the site's content tester, which allows you to see what your work is going to look like, and the related fonts tab that shows you other typefaces you might be interested in, FontShop has it all covered.
Information Aesthetics http://infosthetics.com/
Designed and maintained by Andrew Vande Moere, an Associate Professor at KU Leuven University in Belgium, Information Aesthetics is an information designer's fantasy. Vande Moere curates his site with the best infographics around, offering many sources of inspiration for your next data viz piece. In addition to the blog, Information Aesthetics also boasts a shop complete with necessary reading (think Tufte and DataFlow) for information designers.
Book Cover Archive http://bookcoverarchive.com/
For those of you interested in book design, whether for the first time or the hundredth, inspiration is necessary, and Book Cover Archive supplies just that. As a go-to source for new and historic book covers (easily sortable by photographer, art director, designer, title, author, and genre), the site will not only inspire you, it will also educate you. Check out Book Cover Archive's blog for insightful commentary on designs and styles.
The Noun Project https://thenounproject.com/
The Noun Project is an excellent resource for iconography. The creators position themselves as global translators, helping people from all over the world communicate with one another. Their site is extremely helpful for those designers looking for icon inspiration or for high quality stock icons. If you are an icon designer, you can also upload your own icons for sale.
Fonts in Use http://fontsinuse.com/
Known for its ability to identify almost any typeface, Fonts in Use is a great resource for type identification and research. The site takes images and identifies the typefaces used. The collection is both inspiring and helpful for typographers and designers alike.
Brain Pickings http://www.brainpickings.org/
Self-proclaimed, "a human-discovery engine for interestingness," Maria Popova's site Brain Pickings, is a go-to for any creative looking to expand his or her horizons. Although more of a resource for general creative news and inspiration than solely graphic design, Brain Pickings is still extremely relevant to any designer looking for inspiration and motivation.
Grain Edit http://grainedit.com/
Grain Edit has been a staple for almost 10 years. With its focus on 1950s to 1970s-inspired design, the site is a good tool for anyone looking for a vintage aesthetic. The site's editor, Dave Cuzner, conducts thoughtful interviews with designers, talks about new and traditional design pieces, and offers tips and product reviews.
There are many design awards, but there aren't many award sites. Almost like a "hot or not" for Web design, Awwwards lets users vote on designs and then crowns top designs of the day, month, and year. In addition to getting your work in front of thousands of people, you can also browse through a seemingly endless amount of sites for some awwwe-inspiring designs.
It's Nice That http://www.itsnicethat.com/
Founded in 2007, It's Nice That has become a resource for art and design news and projects. The site revolves around a central blog but also features events, printed publications, and designers' works. From highbrow to pop-culture, It's Nice That covers everything creative and has a little bit of something for everyone.
Digital Arts Tutorials http://www.digitalartsonline.co.uk/tutorials/
Digital Arts is a UK-based magazine with print and online channels. The magazine focuses on all things digital and creative, such as graphic design, 3D, animation, video, effects, Web design, and interactive design. Not only is the site a great source for news and articles, but it also has an excellent tutorial section that gives designers lessons on many topics like 3D printing, Illustrator, Photoshop, and After Effects, as well as many other kinds of software and useful techniques.
Dribble is another site that many people know about, but it offers much more than people might realize. The site lets you upload your work for other to see, but one of the best things about Dribble is their color selector. If you see a design on the site that you really like and want to explore more projects with similar colors, Dribble allows you to select that color and see all other projects on the site that use the same color. This tool is excellent for creating color pallets.
Flickr Creative Commons http://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/
We all know about Flickr; we use it to organize our photos, share images with others, or discover new photography. But, Flickr's Creative Commons is also a great place to explore inspirational imagery for everything from layouts to Photoshop textures.
Focusing on Web development, TutorialZine offers a wide range of tutorials and resources for developers and designers. Started by Martin Angelov in 2009, TutorialZine is dedicated to bringing the best in Web development to the masses that want to learn more. Angelov's tutorials are well thought-out and easy to understand. He also supplies a demo for each tutorial so you can see what the end product will look like before you even begin.
The Design Encyclopedia http://thedesignencyclopedia.org/
The Design Encyclopeida is an extensive online resource for reference material about design. Whether you're looking for modern inspiration, applications, or historical information on the people behind iconic designs, The Design Encyclopedia is your bible.
One of the best tutorial sites currently out there, Lynda can teach you anything you need to know about design, including, but not limited to, InDesign, Flash, coding, layout design, typography, printing techniques, project management, and business solutions. With all this knowledge at your fingertips, Lynda might be the best girlfriend you ever had.
Typeify is an extremely clever typography site. By allowing users to set geo-locations for their type findings, the site is creating a virtual map of typography, tracing uses and commonality all across the globe. Typography is heavily connected to culture and location, and with Typeify, users are able to see where certain type styles and typefaces are more popular, allowing them to make global connections.
RIT Design Archives http://library.rit.edu/gda/
Rochester Institute of Technology may not be one of the most well-know graphic design schools, but its archives are world-class. With work from 25 designers and typographers including Saul Bass, Lester Beall, Alexey Brodovitch, Will Burtin, Estelle Ellis, William Golden, Rob Roy Kelly, Leo Lionni, Alvin Lustig, Cipe Pineles, Paul Rand, Bradbury Thompson, and Massimo and Lella Vignelli, RIT's design archives are a must-see for any designer looking to expand their historic horizons.
Trying to name that typeface that looks absolutely perfect for your next piece?Typophile's Font Identification board has you covered. With a wide range of users and font experts out there to help you with whatever type-related crisis you might have, you'll be able to identify fonts and learn about new typefaces in no time.