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Design #101: the software to get you started

2 minute read

If you’ve heard episode #7 of season 1, you’ll know that Daniel, creative designer at TikTok, refers to a number of design software packages that he uses in his day to day, for a whole range of different creative tasks.

But what are these packages, what are they for, how much do they cost, and how can you start using them? Here’s our TIH breakdown of the basics.

Adobe Creative Cloud

This is the big one, featuring 20+ apps of the most commonly used apps for design, photography, video editing, illustration, web design, animation and more — with a hefty price tag to match.

In a wide-ranging role like Daniel’s, where you might be working on merch one day and visual effects the next, the bulk of the work would be done with these. The apps you’ve heard of are probably:

Photoshop: used to edit, create and bring together images, whether that’s photography, art or graphics.

Illustrator: best used for creating vector graphics, which in the simplest terms, are graphics that can size up or down more easily.

Premiere Pro: your go-to for editing video.

After Effects: designed to help you create motion graphics and other visual effects.

InDesign: most often used to create layouts for printed documents, but can also be used for digital layouts.

Where from? Head to adobe.com/uk to find out more, and to get your free trial downloads. 

How much? Adobe Creative Cloud apps work on a monthly licence basis, which for most people starts at £9.98 per month for Photoshop, rising to a hefty £49.94 to get the full suite.

If you’re a student however, there are options to get what you need through the educational institution for free, or at least for a reduced student fee.

Digital UI (and UX) apps 

Daniel mentions the popular Sketch, which is widely used, along with some others, to help mock up and prototype digital experiences on mobile, desktop or tablet before they get built in code.

Using tools like these, designers and other creatives can present and discuss their ideas more effectively with their teams, without all the effort of getting them completely made. A few of them are here:

Sketch is a widely used design and collaboration platform to bring your ideas to life. Its popularity lies in its simplicity — helping you design quickly and transfer designs across different devices (eg, from phone to desktop) but it only works with and for iOS.

Where from? Head to sketch.com

How much? You can download a trial for free, or stump up a one-off payment for £99 to make it yours forever. 

InVision is another very popular app because it helps you lay out your digital designs, fast. Probably the only big competitor to Sketch, it’s compatible with Sketch files and Windows, so if you’re working with a PC this might be the choice for you.

Where from? Visit invisionapp.com/studio

How much? It’s free!

Principle enables you to design animated, interactive interfaces — ideal if you’re creating an app, or working with the interface of an existing app.

Where from? Get it from principleformac.com

How much? It’s free!

Feeling inspired? Find out more about starting a career in Creative Design by listening to our THIS IS HOW podcast, where we chat to Daniel Obichukwu, Creative Designer at TikTok.