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Illustration And Design Resources

Art materials, essential software to must-have books

Below shows Haydn’s tools used to create his illustrations, artworks and designs. Firstly, these tools help Haydn create his landscape illustrations. Others help market his illustration shop. Finally, most of these resources help Haydn build his illustration, design and fine art portfolio.

Some items Haydn uses daily, whilst others are less frequent (weekly / monthly). Haydn only recommends tools that he’s used himself. Equally, he only recommends items that can benefit you. These resources can help your art, improve your portfolio to your side hustle.

These resources below aren’t all art related. Haydn has included non-artistic books and pieces of marketing software. As a final note, some of these resources are affiliate links. This means Haydn will receive a small commission if you buy from these links. This will be at no extra cost to you. Hope you enjoy these resources below!

Illustration And Design Resources & Tools

Hardware & Software

Adobe Creative Suite

Adobe formed in 1982, and has gone from strength to strength. The Adobe Creative Suite is a powerful piece of kit. Software in the package include Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, to Adobe InDesign. Maximise your creativity with this Suite. The Suite is expensive per month, as there are other, cheaper alternatives. You don’t need the Adobe Suit to be successful. Tools like Affinity Designer are good alternatives. Haydn hasn’t used Affinity before, but has heard good things. I recommend Adobe to anyone in the creative industry.

Find out more – Adobe Creative Suite

Sketch App Logo

Sketch App

The Sketch app is a web designer’s dream, as it’s such a powerful piece of software. Haydn uses Sketch on a daily to form his digital designs, making up a large portion of his design portfolio. If you work on digital and website design often, Haydn recommends Sketch app. Built by Bohemian Coding, it’s got everything you need to be successful. It’s easy to use, equipped with prototyping, and features effective symbols.

Visit Sketch

Figma Logo Graphic


Another great UX / UI designers dream is Figma. Similar to Sketch, this programme has prototyping, easy dashboards and effective workspaces. If you regularly produce digital designs, then Figma is the software for you. At the time of writing, (September 2022), Figma is now owned by Adobe. Haydn still recommends Figma, but it will be an interesting to see what happens next.

Visit Figma

Apple Laptop

Apple iMac

Haydn uses an Apple iMac everyday, from running Adobe Photoshop, sending emails to writing. This piece of hardware isn’t required, but it’s a great piece of kit. Having said this, most of the creative industry use Apple. So if you can gather some sort of understanding of how to use an Apple iMac, that can help. Like most of Apple’s products, they aren’t cheap! There are cheaper alternatives, like Windows products for example.

Discover the Apple iMac

Wordpress Logo Graphic


WordPress powers Haydn’s illustration portfolio website. It’s a brilliant content management system, which has been around since 2003. Like a lot of CMS products, it’s easy to use and to get started. WordPress has improved a lot in recent years. Making it easy for everyone to build a WordPress website. You don’t need any knowledge of coding, which makes it so powerful. You can select themes that you like from their shop, and start building your website today! Furthermore, whatever theme you select, the code in the back-end is good. Unlike a lot of other CMS or ‘build your own website’ companies.

Power your website with WordPress

Mailchimp Logo


Send newsletters, direct mail, and automated emails to your audience’s inbox with Mailchimp. Haydn sends regular email newsletters to his email list with Mailchimp’s free account. It’s an easy-to-use platform, which you can design your newsletters the way you want them. From it’s design, content, to pre-formed templates, they are the main say in email marketing. You can also set up different audiences, and schedule when you want your emails to send.

Find out all about Mailchimp


Painting Woman

Colour and Light by James Gurney

If you want to improve your light and colour, this book is for you. Written by James Gurney, illustrator of Dinotopia, it’s published by Andrews McMeel Publishing. If you want to read a detailed review of this book, check out Haydn’s Colour and Light Review over on his blog. The book discusses the colour wheel, colour history to gamuts, and much more. Not only is it for realist painters, but any artist or illustrator can benefit. It’s a brilliant book that Haydn loves referring back to. It’s one of the best books within this illustration and design resources.

Read Colour and Light by James Gurney


Thinking With Type by Ellen Lupton

You need to know how to use typography if you want to make it as a designer. Furthermore, if you want to be a great designer… This book really does help you think with type. Written by Ellen Lupton, and published by Princeton Architectural Press, this book discusses how to use type. From mistakes to avoid, looking at how to use the baseline grid, to exercises, it’s one of Haydn’s favourites.

Discover Thinking With Type by Ellen Lupton

Drawing on the right side of the brain by Betty Edwards

Drawing A Bear

Aimed at drawing beginners, this was one of Haydn’s first drawing books that he read. Written by Betty Edwards and published by Harper Collins Publishing, it consists of 320 pages. This book goes beyond the repetitive drawing books you see today. It goes way further… Betty explains how your brain can impact your drawing, good or bad. It what it says on the cover – you want to draw with the right side of your brain. This is often referred to as your brain’s creative side. Furthermore, the book offers exercises, techniques, and ways to help your drawing confidence. If you want to improve your childlike drawings but don’t know how, this is the book for you.

Read Drawing on the right side of the brain

Alternative recommended non-fiction books

Here’s a few more non-fiction books that Haydn has read and recommends. These aren’t art books per se, but can still help you. And yes, many of these are ‘self-help’ books;

  • Secrets of a Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker – A brilliant book to help you build your own wealth
  • Atomic Habits by James Clear – How are habits formed, and how can we create good habits? This book reveals habit cues, cravings, and responses. Haydn talks about building habits referencing Clear’s ideas throughout. It’s one of Haydn’s favourite books, and he still actions his words today!
  • Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki – tells the story of Kiyosaki’s relationship his rich dad and poor dad. One of whom is friend’s Dad, and genetic Dad. It’s a great book with insightful to get you out of the ‘rat race’. Building your assets, in contrast to your liabilities.
  • Bigger Leaner Stronger by Mike Matthews – The title is exactly what it says on the tin. Get stronger, leaner and build more muscle with this great book.
  • Sleep Smarter by Shawn Steveson – Haydn listens to many podcasts, and the ‘Model Health Show’ is high on his list. From here, Steveson released ‘Sleep Smarter’ from the popular podcast. Get your sleep into shape with Sleep Smarter. Sharing actionable tips to help you get the best sleep ever.
  • Limitless by Jim Kwik – Unlock your leaning potential with legendary author Jim Kwik.
  • On Writing Well by William Zinsser – If you write non-fiction then this book will help you write better. One of my key takeaways was removing the ‘clutter’ from your writing.

Alternative recommended fiction books

  • Maus by Art Spiegelman – Like Watchmen below, this is a legendary graphic novel. Instead of humans, the characters are animal based; mice, the Jews, and cats, the Nazis. It tells Spiegelman’s fathers story, and how he survived the Holocaust.
  • Watchmen by Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons and John Higgins – if you’re new to comics, start with this one! Fantastic colour, expert compositions and a fascinating story, you can’t go wrong.
  • The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini – A somber tale about Amar in 1970’s Afghanistan. He desires to win the kite flying tournament, however one day this dream is all shattered…
  • 1984 by George Orwell – Orwell was ahead of his time with this book. Winston Smith lives under Big Brother rule. He doesn’t agree with this surveillance society, do others agree?
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – in Nazi Germany, a girl picks up ‘The Gravediggers Handbook’ and is the most important thing in her life.
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – in a world where society burns books, what is there to do? Guy Montag is a fireman, who’s job is to not put out fires, but to start them. Burning books that is.
  • Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón – A completely unexpected book this one. Haydn took it on holiday and loved it! Completely unexpected for such an impulse grab at the local library. Like Fahrenheit, the story follows Daniel, a bookshop keeper who owns a book by Julian Carax. He discovers someone is trying to destroy every edition of Carax’s book. Why is this happening?

Painting Materials

Paint Tube

Winsor & Newton Gouache Paints

Haydn’s creates most of his illustrations with gouache and digital. With these Winsor & Newton paints being a main stable. Must say that these are pretty damn good. Winsor & Newton sell premium, durable, and dependable art products. They are one of the best products on the market, you can’t go wrong. By using the best tools, they can help improve your gouache paintings.

Paint with Winsor & Newton Gouache Paints

Gouache Paintbrushes

Royal and Langnickel Brush Set

Even though Haydn bought this gouache brush set years ago, and is still going strong today. Haydn uses this brush set with gouache and watercolour. However, you can use this set with acrylic too – perfect for any artist. He uses this set forming all of his fine art portfolio, including portraits to landscapes.

Find out – Royal and Langnickel Brush Set

Blogs and helpful content

The Portrait Guru YouTube Channel

The Portrait Guru

Haydn shares regular new videos helping you create portrait art. Within his YouTube channel of The Portrait Guru. Follow Haydn’s go-to portrait drawing process, just like this five minute portrait drawing challenge. Or follow how you can create head looking up. Subscribe today and follow Haydn’s portrait journey!

Watch –The Portrait Guru

Drawing A Head

The Drawing Database

The Drawing Database is a fantastic YouTube channel hosted by Marc Leone. His videos offers countless drawing, painting, and art tips. The channel is ideal for beginners, however Marc’s videos can help any artist. One of my favourite videos discusses ellipses, and vertical and horizontal lines.

Watch – The Drawing Database

Drawing And Painting


If you want to improve your general artistic game, a great place to start would be Proko. Stan Prokopenko is a popular artist and teacher, and his videos are insightful. He also has his own podcast with Marshall Vandruff, which is also helpful. check out Proko’s YouTube channel to propel your art to the next level.

Watch – Proko

Draw A Box

Draw a box.com

Drawabox.com is a fantastic resource. The website is the perfect ingredient if you’re new to the world of drawing. It has a very practical, step-by-step exercise approach, which makes it unique. Haydn went through their lessons, and learnt a lot of new drawing skills even after years of drawing. There’s homework exercises for you to complete and publish to their forum (if you want to). This allows teachers to grade and comment on your work. This is all free too! However you can pay to get extra benefits, or as a way to pay your gratitude. One of Haydn’s favourite exercises was the 250 box challenge.

Go through their lessons – Drawabox.com

Drawing In A Sketchbook

The Creative Edge Podcast

From freelancing, creative hustles to art tips and tricks, check out Haydn’s The Creative Edge podcast. Hosted by Haydn, improve your artistic pursuit with this regularly updated podcast. Often aimed at creating bitesize episodes, subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

Listen – The Creative Edge Podcast

Learning on a blog

Illustration, Design & Freelancing blog

Well Haydn had to get his own blog in this list somehow! 😉 Haydn publishes helpful content to help you improve your artistic game. Publishing illustration, design, to freelancing and business tips. Learn the rule of thirds, read up on complimentary colours, or discover some underrated Adobe Illustrator tools. There’s lots of blog posts for you to to get your teeth into!