My Favorite Creative Tools That I Use Every Day

My Favorite Creative Tools | ColleenHartleyCreative.com

If you’re anything like me, you’re always on the lookout for tools that will make your life a little easier (or a little bit more fun!)

In my day-to-day, a lot of the life-changing tools I use pertain to my work as a brand designer, but many of them can be helpful no matter what work you do! All of us have a creative spark in us, so some of the creative tools I use just may catch your eye!

Here are some of my favorite digital and physical tools I use on a daily basis to make my life a little easier:

Sketchbook

Specifically, this one. Logistically, I love this sketchbook because I can take it anywhere and always have a hard surface to draw or take notes on. Because it’s wirebound, I can flip the pages back and don’t have to always be holding them down. I also like to pop a pen or pencil with a clip into the spiral so I always have one on hand too! I mean, what’s a sketchbook without something to write with?!

All of my sketches begin in my sketchbook with a pen or pencil. I love always using a sketchbook because then everything — drawings, notes, ideas, etc. — is in one place and I can always find what I need. I also love having a physical recollection of projects, ideas, work, passion projects, etc. Being able to see a representation of my work is so inspiring!

Tip: A blank sketchbook can be very intimidating, I know! Try taking it on vacation with you and writing or drawing what you see to create a memory. Or creating a drawing with your child. Or take some time to test out different writing utensils so you learn what works best for you AND you don’t have so many blank pages anymore.

Grid Paper Notebook

I love this one and have been using this style of notebook for over 10 years! Some of my favorite colleagues at my corporate job recommended it and the rest is history.

I love this notebook because it has instant check boxes for my to-do lists (who doesn’t love checking off a box?), there’s a bookmark included, and the elastic fastener keeps it neat while I’m transporting it.

I use this notebook for more than to-do lists, though. I also use it to map out my creative processes, break down larger projects into small steps, and to take quick notes while on client calls.

You could use this for just about anything! Organize your thoughts and to-dos, write a journal entry, sketch in the margins, play hangman with your child while you wait for your food at a restaurant, anything! Physically writing things down can be extremely helpful when trying to remember something.

Faber Castell PITT Artist Pens

These are my favorite. I love to use these pens to trace over pencil sketches to get them ready for scanning into the computer. The solid black makes it easy to scan and vectorize in Adobe Illustrator. It really helps to get a hand-drawn look in a logo across. These pens don’t bleed and don’t skip (like some ball-point pens).

You don’t have to be an artist or designer to use and love these, though! They are easy to travel with and to use. They are a great tool to use when you’re just getting started with sketching and creating.

iPad Pro + Apple Pencil + Procreate

I don’t know what I would do without this trio! They allow me to draw quickly and use many different textures like pencil, pen, paint, etc. Creating color palettes is a breeze! You can record while you create so you can watch the process back when you’re done or share it with others. Learning this tool has been FUN and it has helped me to streamline my drawing and vectorizing process.

You can have fun with this as a non-designer too! It doesn’t feel as permanent as pen and paper, so that might make it easier for you to just start. Replaying back your work as a video can be really empowering and satisfying and may push you forward to continue working.

Tip: You can use this tool for handwritten quotes or hand-drawn graphics for your social feeds to add a bit of your personality to your grid!


Just because you don’t label yourself as an artist doesn’t mean that you’re not creative!

Try one or two of these suggestions and see where they take you. You might be surprised!