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April 03, 2011

Tools of the Trade

This little post by The Decorista inspired me to do a roundup of helpful online tools for creative pros. It really doesn't matter if you're a wedding planner, graphic designer, fashion designer, interior designer or stylist - you need some method of brainstorming ideas and relaying them to clients or employees. With today's global workplace, the need to translate those images and notes into a workable digital format is even more essential.

Fortunately we have options - and plenty of them. This week alone my inbox was flooded with a handful of new digital versions of design project classics. While this list is in no way complete (have you seen how big the interwebs are?) I thought I'd at least share the new stars on the scene and share a few of my longtime faves with you. I would absolutely love to hear your favorites as well - as I'm always pruning my list of tools.

Mood Boards/Inspiration Boards
There are many ways to make these. Admittedly I still prefer to use Adobe Illustrator then convert to PDF for easy sharing/archiving. If oyu don't have that luxury, these online tools are terrific options.

  • Sampleboard - The newest on the scene, created by an innovative interior designer to fill a void in the market. Import your own images or use photos already in the system. Very cool 30-day free trial to test out the pro-version.
  • MyDeco Moodboard - I've been a longtime fan of this UK site. They now have US retailers in their inventory and have many free tools for use online. 
  • Build-a-Board - designed for the weeding industry by Style Me Pretty. A great tool. Don't miss the tiny launch button on the left of the page or you'll miss it! 
  • Polyvore - perennial favorite of mine. It's been around for quite a while but suddenly became popular last year. Mostly used for fashion, but in truth this is a useful tool for any industry.
  • The Knot - Again, this is flavored for bridal events - but the ability to upload any image you like overrides that perceived limitation. Reviews are mixed, but it seemed intuitive and was beautifully presented. 

Room & Space Planners
Ahhh.... the bane of an interior designer's existence if done improperly. Proper space planning is absolutely essential to the success of any design plan - so you'd better master this skill. Thankfully we no longer need a semester of AutoCAD to render fabulous floorplans. Here's a roundup of helpful online tools. Oh, and did I mention free?

  • AutoDesk Homestyler - the real deal. If you're looking for a quality tool, look no further. Choose 2D and 3D options. Plenty of prebuilt options require less thinking (whew!) and less calculating.
  • MyDeco 3D Planner - Have I shared how much I love MyDeco? I hope their recent US popularity doesn't kill the cool factor. Those saucy Brits have been guarding this secret as closely as the details for the Royal Wedding. Excellent tool. Excellent site. Lots of prebuilt options. Ability to upload your own images. MyDeco also integrates social and shopping tools into the interface. ** Franki's top pick **
  • FloorPlanner - as the name implies, this is all this site does. It is excellent and 2.5 million users can't be wrong. One free plan at a time... otherwise you pay to play. If you design for a living, it's worth the cost of membership. 

Color Palette Tools & Fan Decks
Color. The foundation of design. This is an area for which I prefer physical hold-em-in-my-hand fan decks... but if you're a digital diva, there are many innovative tools at your disposal.

  • Kravet/Benjamin Moore Virtual Fan Deck - Impossible to go wrong with this collaborative creation. If you're in the business of interiors, bookmark this and visit often. 
  • Benjamin Moore Personal Color Viewer - answer the dreaded "how will it look?" question without ever leaving your desk
  • Benjamin Moore Color Capture (iPhone app) - snap it. match it. save it. share it. Color matching at its easiest. 
  • ColorSchemer by Colourlovers - a longtime success in the online color palette world. Still relevant, useful and excellent. 
  • ColorSchemer - terrific tool for rule followers amongst us. Offers Momochromatic, complementary, traid, tetrad, analogic and accented analogic options. Bonus? They offer a color blind tool as well.
  • myPantone & myPantone x-ref - both are terrific tools for iPhone & iPad. Colors for fashion, home, design - you name it. Impossible to find fault with any of Pantone's products. MyPantone allows oyu to build & share palettes on the go. x-Ref is a handy color matching tool allowing you to find closest Pantone color matching a particular shade.

This list is far from exhaustive. If you have tried some of these or have others you'd like to share, please do!

What the beautiful people are saying...

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