Tools I use for Graphic Design

Most of my workflow is focused around using Photoshop, but I will also include some other alternative programs I use (or would like to use eventually).

Free Tools


This is a free-to-use program but offers a “premium” subscription version. The free version of this web application is still very useful, though. It provides a Google Chrome extension, and if enabled, allows you to preview and compare inputted text with all of the installed fonts on your computer. This is a very nice tool to use, especially if you’re like me and have hundreds of fonts installed. You can click on and “select” fonts you find to be a considerable match, and then compare them later with the other fonts you’ve selected to find the best font to use.


PureRef is a free to use “reference board”-like software. You can copy and paste images into a resizable window and make small adjustments like rotations, flipping horizontally, etc. I use this program throughout my workflow to get inspiration on how I want to move forward with a design. This program can help a lot if you have more than one monitor since it can get really clunky to fit everything on one screen. (unless you have a large enough screen to do that)

Paid Tools

Photoshop CC 2018

I’m a bit stubborn to upgrade out of CC 2018. I’ve tried both CC 2019 and CC 2020, but I’ve just had bad experiences happen with both versions. It’s not really that much of an upgrade for me anyway, since most of the features I use in Photoshop remained barely or not changed at all. Ultimately though, 95% of my workflow is based in Photoshop. I’ve tried using Illustrator many times before, but I personally find Photoshop more comforting to use with my work. When it comes to vectors, I always resort to using Photoshop’s pen tool since at least for me, it has far more intuitive controls than Illustrator, despite being a program primarily focused on using the pen tool. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Officially, you cannot obtain older versions of Photoshop from Adobe’s website. I’ve always used this download link to obtain the CC 2018 versions of Adobe products.

Affinity Photo/Design

I’ve used and own both Affinity Photo and Affinity Design, and honestly, they are wonderful Photoshop/Illustrator replacements. One thing I especially love about the software is that much of the UI and features strike a lot of similarities to Photoshop/Illustrator, however, it’s a one-time pay. No subscriptions needed! I really miss the times when more products were like this and not that $10/month/annual BS. Though, I 100% respect why businesses choose this marketing strategy, since it is a significant way to receive revenue. I got Affinity Photo & Design when it was on sale for 50% off during early COVID-19 pandemic. As someone who has been using Photoshop for more than 5 years now, I really hope that I can eventually migrate out of a Adobe workflow and settle with an Affinity workflow instead.


Ah yes, Filterforge, my old friend. It’s a very fascinating Photoshop plugin to say the least. You can use this tool to procedurally generate textures, patterns, and photo filters to use. There is an unlimited amount of combinations and ways you can use this plugin.

Photoshop Scripts

These scripts are 100% free to use.

This first one includes one of my most used scripts, which is the “Unsmart” script. Essentially, it converts a smart object, which is similar to an “encapsulated project file”, into a group with all it’s contents in the parent project file – instead of just being a smart object layer.

This is also a very brilliant script. When I work with palettized textures, this essentially acts like a “de-palettizer” tool and extracts the individual graphics with strong accuracy.

Custom 3D Lookup Tables (3DLUTs)

3DLUTs do WONDERS in post-processing and one of the most underrated features.

Erica Miller
Student, Freelancer

I’m me.