5 Tools That Make My Job Much Easier (Designer/Artist Edition)

Every artist has tools that they would preferably never be separated from – tools that make our lives SO much easier and save as tons of time that we can now productively use to watch cat memes on the Internet. I searched for some of these far and wide, and decided to share my list – with a hope that it may come in use to at least of one you. Let’s start!

1. Eagle

Website: eagle.cool
Price: $30, with free updates

Eagle is the type of a program that I’ve been looking for for a really long time – namely, it’s a tool that allows you to create a single directory with all your stock photos, divide them into folders, tag them and then use those tags to search for what you need.

If you’re an unapologetic stock hoarder like me, then you probably have an enormous “RESOURCES” folder somewhere on your harddrive (…or an external drive, because it gets really big really quickly). You put stuff in there all the time, and even if you DO make new folders and subfolders for everything, you quickly start forgetting what you actually have (…and, for example, end up buying a stock pack twice, because you have the memory of a goldfish).

Tagging everything does take a while, but afterwards, you can have the comfort of actually using what you downloaded. The program also allows you to add comments to photos and folders, rate them and suggests useful tags.

2. PureRef

Website: pureref.com
Price: pay what you want!

If you ever painted something digitally while using a reference, you have known the pain of “where the hell do I put this thing without covering my canvas” and “no, don’t disappear on me, silly window!”. PureRef is a program that solves all these problems – basically, it opens a resizable window that always stays on top of whatever you already have open. It also allows you to put multiple pictures inside that window, arrange them to your liking, and, if needed, flip them, rotate them, increase and decrease opacity or saturation, see them in grayscale, crop, zoom in, and a myriad of other things.

Screenshot of a website of a reference program, PureRef

3. DeskPins

Website: https://efotinis.neocities.org/deskpins/
Price: free!

DeskPins is a ridiculously simple tool, which has one main purpose: it keeps whatever window you’d like to be on top, on top. So if for some reason you don’t want to use PureRef, but would like an image to be pinned, or you want to watch a silly show in a very small window in the top right corner of your screen while painting, this is the tool for you.

Screenshot of a program, DeskPins

4. Invoicely

Website: invoicely.com
Price: free / $10 / $20 / $30

Time for something more serious – meaning, a tool to manage all your invoices. I’ve tried many services like this, but all of them were in some way lacking – some didn’t have the features I wanted, like multiple currencies, and others were too big or too expensive. Invoicely turned out to be perfect – on the free plan, you can send unlimited invoices in various currencies, integrate them with Paypal, and paste your logo on the document. If you need more, then with the $10 plan you can also send estimates to your clients, track time, expenses & mileage, accept online payments in more forms and remove Invoicely’s branding.

Screenshot of an invoicing website, Invoicely

5. Notion

Website: notion.so
Price: free!

Notion is my recent discovery, but it is already a tool that I use daily. It can be described as an all-in-one organization app (this blog post was originally written in it, too). You can use it online, or download a desktop app, and the possibilities are endless. Every Notion page can be turned into a calendar, a Kanban board, a list, a table filterable by customizable tags, or basically anything else you can wish for. I use it to organize my MA thesis, keep track of my freelance clients, plan and organize blog posts, save recipes I like to cook often, and the like. The app also offers you a whole library of pre-formatted templates for both work, learning and personal stuff.

Screenshot of a Notion program