Stepping back into the school routine after a summer of endless squirt gun fights, milk chugging competitions, and road trips to obscure Route 66 destinations can be hard…we’ve been there. Or perhaps you’re not a student but the first sight of a big yellow school bus and lunch box displays at your local Whole Foods in September make you feel like you’re in school again. Fear not earthlings! Autumn (like Spring) is the season of new beginnings for everybody and we’ve rounded up a collection of a few or our favorite free resources to help with the Autumn ‘refresh’ season. We’ve included resources that include everything from industrial design sketching to taking better photographs and building a website for your portfolio to tips for networking better with other designers. So go tell Grandma Betty you’re busy and can’t mow the lawn this afternoon, grab yourself a plate of Bagel Bites, and prepare the bookmark tab on your favorite web browser.

1) Building an Industrial Design Portfolio

The UCID class of 2012 took the lack of portfolio-building resources into their own hands and crafted what is quite possibly one of the top three most vital books for any industrial design student. Featuring everything from tips on page layout and identity design to presentation methods and printing, we’ve seen a fair share of professionals who could even benefit from the info in this great free eBook. (Portfolio Handbook)

2) Industrial Design Sketching

Industrial designer Spencer Nugent has long been regarded as one of the best visual communicators in the business. With his clean textbook methods for design sketching and versatile approach for multiple mediums, there are few out there who can top his abilities. Lucky for us, he’s provided a few videos of his methods through his site (IDSketching Toolbox)

3) 3D Modeling Tutorials

Adam O’Hern (aka the Cadjunkie) straps industrial design-based CAD users into his carseat and takes them on a ride through various CAD packages ranging from SolidWorks to modo and Rhino to some Adobe applications in a clear and easy-to-understand manner. While a premium membership offers more in-depth tutorials such as setting up a digital photography studio in modo or creating a 3D printable robot in SolidWorks, there are still enough free tutorials here to get your CAD bum a-shakin’. (Cadjunkie)

4) Photography

Whether taking pictures for inspiration, design research, or images of your foam models, knowing your way around a camera is a necessary skill for industrial designers…be it a DSLR or an iPhone. This collection of tutorials will provide the foundation for knowing the basic principles of lighting, camera settings, and getting that ideal shot of Grandma Betty testing your SmartCurb Walker prototype. (PSDTuts Photography Tutorials)

5) 3D Printing

While 3D printing is still just a tool in the pipeline despite recent press buzz in the past few years, knowing your way confidently around one has become a great skill to have. Hey, pretty soon your Grandma Betty will ask you to come over for cookies and fix hers. This free guide from MakerBot provides a great overview of the basics—MakerBot user or not.
(MakerBot 3D Printing Guide)

6) Creating an Identity for a Product Concept

Perhaps you’re already blessed with being a full-stack designer. However, there’s a reason why companies have different designers for different jobs. In the case of a concept, it never hurts to throw your own thoughts for an identity out there to make it seem more real—but doing so can potentially make or break a great idea. If you feel like skating that line, consider checking out this guide for creating an icon-based identity for your product and it’s accessories.
(Creative Bloq: Create an Icon-Based Identity)

7) Creating Presentations

Crafting a beautiful presentation is no easy task—yet recent developments in presentation tools have made the process a heck-of-a-lot easier. While subject material and public speaking are important to consider, starting with amazing slides will help guide you through the process of not only what to say, but keeping your audience from getting bored. Newer slide sharing sites like SlideShare are invaluable tools for finding layout inspiration, but we’ve found that Note and Point is just as relevant and slightly easier to navigate for finding inspiration in designing compelling slides or presentation boards that keep the viewer engaged. (Note and Point)

8) Seeking Crowdfunding

The common dream of most product designers is to see their design idea launched into the masses and for the world to know their name (or at least Grandma Betty). Since it’s launch a few years ago, Kickstarter has been the go-to source for Designers attempting to make that dream a reality. Despite all the success stories however, there are quite a few stories of failure and dissapointment. Prepare yourself ahead of time and know what you’re getting yourself into with this handy crowdfunding guide from Kickstarter that can also translate to other crowdfunding sites like Indiegogo as well. (Kickstarter School)

9) Building a Website for Self-Promotion

As mentioned earlier, you may be a full-stack designer and have zero problem coding your own website. If you’re short on time or a budget however, just getting your presence out there is more important than saying you coded the website yourself. This is 2013 people…even Grandma Betty has moved her scrapbooks online. If nothing else, use a portfolio-based website as a confidence-booster when meeting potential bosses and as a motivational tool for keeping your content fresh. While not necessary, consider getting your own domain name in case somebody forgets your business card. (Creative Bloq: Website Builders)

10) Networking with Other Designers

Living in a cave might be comfortable but if you don’t go out to plant the seeds, then nothing will grow. Networking with like-minded individuals is one of the most important skills one can have for getting that dream job down the road. Not feeling confident? Get a haircut, a new outfit, and polish up that website before heading out with a fresh deck of business cards. Just remember: same rules for first dates apply to networking events too—don’t talk too much about yourself and don’t drink more sparkling wine coolers than Grandma Betty would. (Creative Bloq: Networking Tips)


Simon is a Brooklyn-based industrial designer and Managing Editor of EVD Media. When he finds the time to design, his focus is on helping startups develop branding and design solutions to realize their product design vision. In addition to his work at Nike and various other clients, he is the main reason anything gets done at EvD Media. He once wrestled an Alaskan alligator buzzard to the ground with his bare hands… to rescue Josh.