A guide to the tools you will need to get started

Welcome to the Graphic Design Academy of Ireland! Inspiration is the first step to creativity but every designer needs a certain toolbox to allow their ideas to materialise. Before you dive into the world of graphic design, there are a few essential tools that you will need to get to know before you begin.

While there are endless choices of software, hardware and traditional materials, we have whittled it down to just the essentials you will need to get started. Whether you are thinking of enroling or you have already signed up, you are most certainly curious about what you will need. Fear not! This blog post will provide you with an introductory list of the required materials for our graphic design courses, allowing you to begin your journey with confidence.

A graphic designer designing a logo using a CAD software

Hardware and software for Graphic Design

Professional graphic designers have a variety of options when it comes to software and hardware. Investing in high-powered computers can be a costly endeavour that is not necessarily vital when starting out. There is a lot that can be done with just internet access and a camera phone so at this early stage in your learning journey, there is no need to break the bank on expensive hardware.

Depending on the type of graphic design you intend to pursue, there are various software options. Some software to familiarise yourself with include Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator (€19.99/month - Adobe Creative Cloud for students) and Canva (Free version available) which are ideal for drawing or illustrations. Canva enables clients to make minor copy changes themselves, allowing designers to spend more time designing and less time copy editing. It also comes with an online and collaborative platform so your clients can access and edit the design via their account or an editable link. If you are interested in video editing, you could investigate Adobe Premiere Pro or After Effects (€19.99/month - Adobe Creative Cloud for students).

A graphic designer sketching a logo in a sketchbook

Traditional art materials for graphic designers


A sketchbook is an essential tool for idea generation, keeping track of progress and for practising techniques. We recommend a sketchbook made of high-quality paper that can withstand a marker pen and possibly paint or ink.

You will also need the following:

  • Drawing Pencils and Pens: A variety of drawing pencils (HB, 2B, 4B, and 6B - €2 each) , a fine tip pen (€9.99) and a Sharpie or marker (€3.95). This will allow you to experiment with techniques and styles.
  • Erasers and Sharpeners: A good eraser (€2.25) and sharpener (€5.99) are essential for maintaining clean and precise drawings.
  • Markers and Coloured Pencils: Use markers and coloured pencils (set for €25) to add colour and dimension to your sketches. To achieve the best results, use good quality pencils and markers..
  • Ruler and Compass: A ruler (€5.75) and compass (€5.95) will help you create accurate geometric shapes and keep your designs in proportion.

Additional Materials to note but are not required for the course:

External Hard Drive: An external hard drive is essential for backing up your work and keeping your computer running smoothly. We recommend a minimum of 1TB of storage (From €60).

Cloud Storage: Google Drive is free up to 15Gb. Dropbox is also recommended but there are many cloud storage options that allow you to access your work from anywhere while also protecting your files from computer failures. Do some research and see which option best suits your needs and budget.

Ergonomic Workspace: A comfortable chair, an adjustable desk, and adequate lighting will create a more comfortable and therefore a more healthy work environment.

With these essential materials in hand, you'll be well-prepared to enrol in our graphic design courses at the Graphic Design Academy of Ireland. Investing in high-quality tools and supplies are not essential when starting out but over time, they can pay off in the long run. Allow your creativity to soar and embark on a journey to become a successful graphic designer!


To effectively participate in our online learning programs, it's essential for students to have access to a personal computer with high-speed internet connectivity. Students should also possess basic computer literacy skills including web browsing, email communication, document management (uploading/downloading), document creation and presentation skills. These skills are necessary for utilising our Online Learning Centre, where all course materials are accessed.

While these fundamental skills are a necessity, there is a dedicated support network on hand to guide students experiencing any technical difficulties. For example, students who opt for Live Online classes will be required to participate in lessons through a designated online meeting platform. But should students encounter any issues while navigating our website or accessing the Online Learning Centre, we encourage them to reach out to our Student Services team who will promptly escalate any difficulties for quick resolution. 


These prices are from Amazon and Art&Hobby (prices correct as of 05th May 2023).

The links included here are provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only. We bear no responsibility for the accuracy, legality or content of any external site or for any content on subsequent websites, nor does the inclusion of these links constitute our endorsement or an approval of any products, services or opinions stated.


gideon boadu
at 2024-01-16 07:30

I'm a graphic designer from Ghana but a beginner and i want this company to groom me so well i have problems in creating a logo and how to work with colors and I'm used to only photoshop but not familiar with all the tools i see there. Our system here in Ghana is very low when studding graphic design because they only teach you the surface and that's all

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Written by: Fiona Byrne

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