The best laptops for graphic design in 2019

If you're on the hunt for the best laptop for graphic design, you're in the right place. Whatever your budget and skill, our handy guide has an option to cover all your needs. So whether you need a powerhouse of a machine or one to handle simple tasks on the go, there's a laptop here for you. 

Taking into account its features and price, our overall pick for the best laptop for graphic design right now is the stunning Microsoft Surface Book 2, which, aside from being an excellent all-round laptop, also doubles up as a ridiculously good tablet. Plus, there are some good deals around on the lower specced versions.

There's also a notable addition at number two on our list: the Lenovo ThinkPad P1. This powerhouse costs as much as Apple’s excellent 2018 MacBook Pro, but offers a 100% AdobeRGB display, which delivers an amazing picture for all kinds of graphic design work.

There's also the Huawei Matebook X Pro (number six), which is a stunning laptop for graphic design that rivals the mighty MacBook Pro; as well as its smaller and more affordable sibling, the excellent MateBook 13.

Prefer working on a desktop PC or Mac? Then take a look at our pick of the best computers for graphic design.

Laptops for graphic design: What to look for

So how do you pick the best laptop for your graphic design work? Clearly you'll be guided by what you can afford, which is why we have the best options for all budgets here. But there are a few other things to consider too. 

One is power versus portability: you need something that’s thin and light enough to throw in your backpack, but also powerful enough to run your suite of creative tools. You also need to decide whether macOS or Windows is right for you. The former used to be the staple of creative professionals, but it really doesn’t matter what platform you use these days. 

Whatever your preferences, each of the machines …

5 top tips for speedy learning

The design world evolves super quickly, with new techniques and web design tools coming at you from every corner. One issue that bothers both beginners and experienced professionals is how to keep up with the fast pace.

The solution hinges on two skills: the ability to choose what to learn, and the ability to learn it quickly. In this article we'll focus on the latter, to show you a five-step plan for speeding up the learning process.

Once you're up to speed with the best ways to learn you can put it into practice with our list of the best web design tools, or get started on learning a new skill from one of our pick of amazing Illustrator tutorials.

01. Prepare for pain 

A hard truth we have to accept is that learning anything is difficult. Think about the time you tried to pick up the guitar or ride a bike. How long did you take? How many times did you fail? Did you give up?

Many people forget the path to learning is paved with confusion and pain. We want to believe we’re excellent humans with powerful cognitive skills. So if we fail to learn something quickly (like within a few hours), we give up and decide we’re not talented in this area.

Once you realise that learning is inherently difficult, you can adjust your expectations. Then you can create a game plan that will help you get even further than you can possibly imagine.

02. Make a game plan

person running with a laptop

Now it’s time for you to create a game plan to get you where you want to be. Your plan should answer these questions or points:

Why do you want to learn [insert thing here]? 

Because learning anything is inherently difficult, you need to know why you want to learn whatever it is you’re trying to learn. The reason you give yourself must be strong enough to tide you through the initial difficulty.

What’s the goal you’re aiming for (in this stage of learning)?

You want to create a …

Disrupt your design thinking

Remember when you decided you wanted to be a designer? It sounded like a dream job. You’d be able to express yourself. Originate new and exciting ideas. Craft bold, game-changing visions. How’s that working out for you? 

It’s all too easy to feel like your creativity is being stifled by clients, bosses, colleagues. But sometimes, that’s just an excuse. In fact, we often end up restricting ourselves by our own design conservatism. 

While by definition they’re in the minority, there are many designers who consistently defy convention… and still keep their clients happy

You find yourself drawing on the same visual elements that other designers are using everywhere you look without ever thinking about why you’re doing so. Sometimes you realise you’re subconsciously second-guessing what others want to see, rather than trying to push things forward. And while the results may be adequate and fulfil the brief, you know in your heart that they’re never going to win any awards.

If crafting safe and predictable work is threatening to become your default setting, maybe it’s time to change things up and dabble in a little experimental design. That can be a little scary, but you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised with the results; or if not, at least with the process itself. Most importantly, you will have reignited your original passion for design that’s been flickering on a low flame for far too long.

The good news is, you won’t be alone. While by definition they’re in the minority, there are many designers and studios who consistently and successfully defy convention, even occasionally breaking the rules of design. And despite this (or perhaps because of it), they still manage to keep their clients happy. 

Here we speak to six of them, to find out how breaking away from the norm, experimenting and daring to be different doesn’t necessarily mean compromising your business goals. You can, it seems, have your design cake and eat it. Here's how to disrupt your design thinking.


Amazon Prime Day 2019: everything you need to know

Prime Day is Amazon’s summertime Black Friday, but while Black Friday deals tend to be gifts for other people the Prime Day focus is on things you buy for yourself. That’s good news for designers, because it means discounts on things you actually want or need for your work. 

It's for Prime subscribers only – but fear not. If you don't want to sign up for membership, you can still take advantage of the Amazon Prime Day deals by signing up for a free 30-day trial. The good news is that you can cancel the trial at any time before the end of the 30-day period, so you're not tied in. 

But are the Prime Day bargains what they seem? Is Amazon Prime Day 2019 going to be a designer’s delight? Let’s find out.

Get a free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime: US | UK | Canada | Australia | India

When is Amazon Prime Day 2019?

Amazon hasn’t revealed the date for Prime Day 2019 just yet, but Prime Day has previously been on the second Tuesday in July, close to Amazon’s birthday (it was founded on 5 July 1994 and officially launched on 16 July 1995) – so that would mean Amazon Prime Day 2019 would run from Tuesday 9 July 2019 into Wednesday 10 July 2019. That’s because Prime Day is actually 36 hours, not 24.

There’s a possibility it might be a week later, though. Last year’s Prime Day was a week later on the 17th because of the World Cup, although it’s possible that Amazon might stick with the later slot. If so, Prime Day 2019 would fall on July 16 2019.

Will there be an Amazon Prime Day 2019 in Australia?

Yes. already has a holding page in place, and we’d expect Prime Day Australia to be a bigger deal in 2019 than its 2018 debut. Last year Australian shoppers were only offered 340 deals, compared to 2,800 in the US, and the focus was very much on smart home and gaming devices. In …

Simple & Boring

Simplicity is a funny adjective in web design and development. I’m sure it’s a quoted goal for just about every project ever done. Nobody walks into a kickoff meeting like, “Hey team, design something complicated for me. Oh, and make sure the implementation is convoluted as well. Over-engineer that sucker, would ya?”

Of course they want simple. Everybody wants simple. We want simple designs (because simple means our customers will understand it and like it). And we want simplicity in development. Nobody dreams of going to work to spend all day wrapping their head around a complex system to fix one bug.

Still, there is plenty to talk about when it comes to simplicity. It would be very hard to argue that web development has gotten simpler over the years. As such, the word has lately been on the tongues of many web designers and developers. Let’s take a meandering waltz through what other people have to say about simplicity.

Bridget Stewart recalls a frustrating battle against over-engineering in “A Simpler Web: I Concur.” After being hired as an expert in UI implementation and given the task of getting a video to play on a click…

I looked under the hood and got lost in all the looping functions and the variables and couldn’t figure out what the code was supposed to do. I couldn’t find any HTML <video> being referenced. I couldn’t see where a link or a button might be generated. I was lost.

I asked him to explain what the functions were doing so I could help figure out what could be the cause, because the browser can play video without much prodding. Instead of successfully getting me to understand what he had built, he argued with me about whether or not it was even possible to do. I tried, at first calmly, to explain to him I had done it many times before in my previous job, so I was absolutely certain it could be done. As he continued to refuse my explanation, things got heated.

Affinity Photo vs Photoshop: Should You Switch?

Affinity Photo has been receiving rave reviews from designers and photographers alike, looking for a photo editing software solution that’s not crazy-expensive but has in-demand features. But can it replace Photoshop?

While Affinity Photo isn’t super-cheap, you only have to buy the software (and any add-ons you like) just once, making it a somewhat viable option if you don’t like the monthly subscription fees that come with Adobe Photoshop.

Here’s a look at a few of the reasons you might switch from Adobe Photoshop to Affinity Photo (and a few reasons why it might not be the best fit for you!)

1. All the Photo Editing Capability You Need

Affinity Photo, which has desktop and tablet versions available, is a professional photo editing tool. It has all the features – from raw editing to digital painting to batch processing to multi-layered compositions – that you would expect. This is not some lame web app.

Affinity Photo is a robust photo tool.

affinity photo vs photoshop

It even does some things I didn’t know I needed, such as 360-degree photo editing and professional retouching. The retouching tools are especially nice with brushes such as clone, burn and dodge, but also an inpainting brush, frequency separation capability and liquefy features.

And you can add on all kinds of plugins to streamline workflows. (This is a newer feature that has been growing.)

It’s also pretty inexpensive. The desktop version is $49.99 one time. There’s no monthly fee. (But you do also have to pay for add-ons or plugins and the app version.)

2. Create Customizable Workspaces

Most of us probably think of our tools and desktop environments as workspaces; in Affinity Photo these are “personas.”

Each persona comes with a set of tools made for the task at hand – there are five to choose from – so you can flip from project to project.

You can also set the design of the workspace to fit your personal taste as well, with light and dark interfaces to choose from. There are also customizable toolbars and more …

17 standout Shillington student designs

Creating a memorable design that suits a client's wants and needs is no easy feat. In order to successfully promote a product or service, campaigns need to be both eye-catching and thought-provoking. But developing such design skills takes time and practise. This is why graphic design students at Shillington are regularly put through their paces with complex briefs, which, more often that not, involve creating concept designs for real-life brands in just three months (or nine months part-time). 

From billboards and display ads, to web concepts and poster designs, here are some of the best projects from Shillington students at six campuses around the world for you to enjoy and be inspired by. 

To view all 17 projects in full, visit the Shillington blog

01. Evena Wong

Based in Brisbane, graphic design student Evena Wong developed this identity for a Cuddly Sharks cafe, with the aim to change people's perceptions of sharks. “Sharks are constantly portrayed as monsters in the media,” she says. “This event aimed to encourage an appreciation for the overlooked charm of sharks.” 

02. Ray Wong

Working out of Shillington's London campus, Ray Wong created this concept for the Grub Festival, an event which asks why insects don't form staple part of our diets today. "The aim was to incite an environmental change by taking the focus away from the livestock industry, and to normalise the consumption of the creepy crawlies, in a fun and exciting way," Wong explains. 

03. Tom Shepherd

Tom Shepherd is a Shillington student based in Melbourne. Here he got under consumers skin with this body positive campaign for Dove, which encourages people to attend a 'Dove Yourself' event. Shepherd's sensitive illustrations and hand-drawn typography, carrying the message to 'love the skin you're in', result in beautiful poster design with serious impact.

To view all 17 projects in full, visit the Shillington blog. And if you want to see more, check out the complete Shillington Student Showreel and Showcase.

from Creative Bloq…

How to change the font in your Twitter bio

There are a lot of people on Twitter – 261 million Twitter accounts last time we checked. And that means it can be hard to make your account stand out. One way to be a bit different on Twitter is to change the font in your name and bio from the default. 

The good news is that changing the font on your Twitter bio is super-easy, and it's easy to play around with different fonts and change back to the default if you're not happy with what you've chosen. Below is the best way to get the font you want on Twitter. Note that this process is very similar to changing the font in your Instagram bio.

01. Choose your font

LingoJam Twitter fonts screenshot

LingoJam shows you all your font options. Some are nicer than others

There are a number of different text generators you can use to find your perfect Twitter font. These range from the very ugly and non-user friendly to the quite nice and easy-to-use. We like LingoJam the best (pictured above), although some might enjoy the stark simplicity of  Unicode Text Converter.  

You might also like to experiment with YayText, which shows you how your new font would look in an actual tweet (as opposed to just your bio). You'll have to copy and paste the text each time if you want to use a different font in all of your tweets though. But we're getting ahead of ourselves.

02. Paste your font into Twitter

Laura Jordan-Bambach Twitter profile

Laura Jordan-Bambach uses a different font in her Twitter bio

Once you've decided on your font, you just need to copy it, and then paste it into your Twitter bio – go to Edit Profile to do this. Make sure that you're changing your Twitter name as opposed to your username (e.g. Creative Bloq as opposed to @CreativeBloq), as Twitter won't allow you to change the font of your username. 

Your Twitter profile will then update and you can decide whether this is the right font for you. If …

30 top vector art tutorials

There's loads of stock vector art available on the web, but there are times when you need something a bit more special. If you want the perfect piece of art for your project then you can add a personal stamp by creating your own vector graphic.

We've selected the best vector art tutorials out there to help you create digital illustrations that are infinitely flexible. Whether you're a beginner looking to master the basics, or a seasoned pro wanting to sharpen your technique, we've got you covered.

Using vector software like Illustrator CC, Affinity Designer or Sketch, these tutorials will guide you through the process, giving you total control of your vector art design.

Once you've motored through these, why not add some more tools to your toolbox and try our Photoshop tutorials and Illustrator tutorials?

What is vector art?

Unlike pixel-based images made in tools like Photoshop CC, vectors are based on mathematically defined lines and points, which combine to form shapes. So however you scale your vector art up or down, it will never become blurry or lose clarity. 

For more on the difference between vector and raster images, plus more handy works and phrases you might be getting confused, take a look at our post on key terms every graphic designer should know

In an increasingly digital world, demand for vector art is rising. So let's get going with the best vector art tutorials around.

01. Start making artwork

Fox graphic

If you’re a total beginner at making vector art in Adobe Illustrator, here’s a great place to start. The software's makers explain how to easy build your artwork from simple vector shapes that you can adjust, combine, and colour to make eye-catching illustrations.

02. Create and edit shapes

Collection of shapes

Continuing on from the previous introduction, this tutorial from Adobe sets out the basics of creating and editing shapes in Adobe Illustrator CC, including how to draw combine, and trace shapes.

03. Vectors Explained! Affinity Designer Tutorial

20 Freshest Web Designs, March 2019

Welcome to our roundup of the best websites launched (or relaunched with major updates) in the last four weeks.

This month’s offering sees the end of Winter and the beginning of Spring, and many sites this month reflect that change with rich colors. To counter that, there’s some high-contrast black and white work on show. You’ll also find innovative uses of images and video. Enjoy!

Takahisa Mitsumori

A leading exponent of digital music, Takahisa Mitsumori is a Japanese musician now based in Berlin. His simple site blends minimalist Japanese graphic design, with a Swiss Design approach to create an intriguing visual interpretation of his sounds.

Rejina Pyo

A lot of designers acknowledge the merits of negative space, but how many truly embrace the concept? Rejina Pyo’s site is an exemplary example of how to use white space to frame images, giving the whole site a modern, sophisticated look.

The Nue Co.

With so much color on the web in recent months, its startling when you encounter a black and white, high-contrast approach. The Nue Co. uses a little subtle color in its product images, but the whole site is mostly black and white, and all the more impactful for it.

Zhee-Shee Production

Illustration is a huge trend for 2019, but so many designers are following the same patterns, resulting in derivative work. But not Zhee-Shee Production, whose charming, witty illustrations manage to straddle corporate interests, and pop culture.

Lune Croissanterie

Some people take themselves far too seriously, and Lune Croissanterie may fall into that trap. The Melbourne-based company isn’t a shop, or a factory, it’s an experience dedicated to the perfection of the croissant. It’s the most committed pastry site I’ve ever seen.

Bruegel: Once in a Lifetime

This magnificently animated site for an exhibition of works by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, takes enormous liberties with the Flemish master’s artwork, but wonderfully captures the spirit of his anarchic, surprising, and honest depictions of everyday life.


Uenoland is a design conference taking place in Brooklyn from the 2nd to …