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James Osborne
Blog, Design Tips

The Design Tools I Use

Graphic design tools

From studying Macromedia’s Flash in college I had an understanding of layers, animations and media formats. As I started to do more websites for friends and family I wanted to do more to make these websites look good.

I ended up testing various tools and software available on PCs and ended up landing on Fireworks, another Macromedia product. It had a huge amount of similarities. It’s default image output was PNG, it could bulk process images, it was like a scaled down version of Photoshop which was aimed at web developers. I instantly loved it.

While Fireworks was eventually bought out by Adobe and then discontinued it’s still the graphics tool I use most these days. The below are other tools I can recommend if you’re looking to use an alternative to the Adobe suite of products.


Inkscape: I have many great things to say about Inkscape, an excellent graphics tool for novice graphic designs or advanced users alike. It’s a cross platform and open sourced product which is particular useful when working with PDFs, SVGs and Illustrator created graphics. You can import and export Photoshop and Illustrator graphics within Inkscape and the product boasts an active community, making it easy to find tutorials and tips to make the most of it’s many useful features.

Gravit: An online or downloadable tool that I find works great for all types of projects. It comes packaged with customizable panels, it’s easy to grasp and you can export images into various formats directly from your browser. I’ve never used the paid version and I find the browser based solution great. You don’t need to be a professional to start creating effective designs.

GIMP: Gimp is another open sourced advanced image editor which is available for almost all operating systems. While I’ve used it for some projects it does have a steeper learning curve. It’s very frequently updated and it’s been out for a long time. Gimp users are a passionate bunch, who swear by their product. If you dedicate time to learning the product it could be a viable solution as an Adobe alternative.


The above are all products I use, although Fireworks is still my go to graphics tool for everyday jobs. Funnily enough Adobe still do list it on their website although any click through links direct users elsewhere.


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