My favorite design tools and resources (most of which are free).

As a brand stylist and Squarespace website designer, I’m often asked what tools I work with that facilitate my design process.

There are many, and I’m happy to report that most are free.

Here are my favorite design tools and resources.

 My favorite design tools & resources | Bravebird Studio


Adobe Illustrator - I couldn’t do 75% of the things I regularly do in my business without this vital program. From designing mood boards, brand style guides, blog post images, and even web page mockups, I use Illustrator for almost everything. There's a reason it's the industry standard for designing vector graphics. You can try it for yourself with a free trial and students and teachers get a massive discount.

Adobe Lightroom - Because I am a photographer as well as a brand & web designer, I use Lightroom pretty regularly too. This program keeps all of my images organized and backed up and I can do most of my edits right in this program using the Develop module.

Adobe Photoshop - When I have more complicated edits and adjustments to make to photos, I use Photoshop. Or if I need to crop and resize an image I open it up in here and can quickly make my changes. Some people design their graphics in Photoshop, but my preference is Illustrator for graphic design work. To each our own. Experiment and see what you like best for specific tasks.



Adobe Color CC - I could waste a lot of time playing around with color palettes. It’s so fun! And it’s so easy using Adobe Color CC. Start with a color you like and then you can choose a color rule like analogous, monochromatic, triad, complementary and more. You can even save your color palettes in a library if you create an account and use them in Adobe programs like those mentioned above.

 My favorite design tools and resources | Bravebird Studio

Coolors - This is another great color scheme generator. You can start with a random color scheme generated by the website, or you can pick colors from an image you upload. When you’ve created something you love you can either export or save your color scheme. With tons of options and settings, the possibilities are endless with Coolors.



Google Fonts - Available since 2010 and offering over 800 font families, Google Fonts is one of my first stops for fabulous web fonts. All of the fonts are free and very easy to implement on your website.

 My favorite design tools and resources | Bravebird Studio

Adobe Typekit - According to its website, “Adobe Typekit brings thousands of fonts from foundry partners into one beautiful library for subscription or purchase.” Not all fonts are free, but they are all of high quality and they offer simple licensing that takes the guess work out of trying to figure out if you are clear to use a certain font for a specific use.

WhatFont - This one is not a place to find fonts to use, but rather a browser extension that will tell you what fonts are being used on a web page. So the next time you visit a website and love the look of the text on the page, you can use WhatFont to decipher what fonts were used.

Once the extension is installed (it works with Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Internet Explorer, and there's also an app for your phone), simply click the icon at top of your browser window and hover over the font you’re curious about. If you click it, you’ll get even more info about the text, like size, weight, color and more. Genius!



Unsplash - Thank goodness there are generous photographers out there providing completely free stock photos for our projects. Can I get an amen?! Unsplash is one of my faves. You can download, modify and use any image from this website for any purpose, without even attributing the photographer or Unsplash (although, it’s nice if you do because it gives the photographer some exposure).

Stocksy - This stock photography company offers a wide range of distinctive images starting at the $15 price point. It’s worth a look if you’re in the market for unique images for use on your website or project.

Bravebird Studio - Yup, this website right here. I offer a free stock photo bundle when you sign up for my mailing list. You can sign up at the end of this post or go here. Also, a Stock Shop is coming soon to the Bravebird Studio website...yay! All photos will be $7 a pop or 5 for $30. Sign up to be notified when it launches below:



Camera & Equipment

Nikon D750 - With all of this talk of photography, I thought you might be interested in some of my gear. First and foremost, my camera body is a Nikon D750 and I LOVE it! It’s an FX-format, full-frame system but it is relatively compact and lightweight and takes impeccable images.  

 My favorite design tools and resources | Bravebird Studio

Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G lens - This lens is often called the “Nifty Fifty” because it is a much beloved piece of equipment for many photographers. It is affordable, lightweight, and versatile and offers amazing, shallow depth-of-field with gorgeous bokeh. If you haven’t tried a prime lens yet, I highly recommend you try it out and see what all of the fuss is about.


Last but not least, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Pinterest. It is such a valuable resource for finding inspiration and helping my clients hone in on their style as well. You can see my boards and follow me on Pinterest here.

So there you have it, lots of tools and resources to help with any project. Happy designing!


Did I miss any tools or resources that you love and find essential? Please share them in the comments!



Join the Bravebird tribe and get access to the resource library. In it, you'll find stock photos, planners, custom Pin It buttons and more...all FREE.