What tools do I need for the course? Is there anything I can do to prep in advance?


Designlab courses revolve around project-based learning, more than most courses you might have taken in the past. You can use Figma on any computer to complete the coursework in Design 101, as long as you have a graphic design program of your choice to execute on the course projects. 

You can use any software you’d like for the projects, including free tools, but we strongly recommend an industry-standard design tool like Photoshop, Illustrator, or Sketch. When you enroll in a Designlab course, you get access to our student perks which include 50% off a license to Sketch. Alternatively, you can use Photoshop & Illustrator for <$20/month with their Creative Cloud subscriptions.


Here are some intro tutorials that cover the basics of those industry-standard tools:

We'd recommend going through these tutorials before the course begins. Knowing the basics of a tool will help you get up and running with the project work as soon as the course starts. Other than that, you should be all set!

Alternative Software

As mentioned above, we recommend starting with Sketch, Photoshop, or Illustrator. At this point, those are the most commonly-used programs for graphic and interface design, so if you're looking to work as a visual designer (or work with designers), having basic knowledge of standard industry tools is extremely helpful. 

That said, here are some other tools we've heard good things about:

  • Figma (available on Mac, Windows, and web; free with Designlab student perks)
  • Affinity Designer (available on Mac and Windows; paid)
  • Gimp (available on Mac, Windows, Linux; open-source and free)