My design journey: 40+ useful resources & tools that help me daily

I didn’t plan on being a graphics/motion designer but I loved telling stories.

Mirabelle Morah

When I look at my designs from the last quarter of 2021 till today, May 2022, I’ve considerably improved and I can tell you that consistency trumps motivation. My motion design (animation) skills in January 2022 very very eeek! I feel embarrassed, even my design skills from 2021 were very, uhm… I’m still embarrassed by them all but never despise your days of humble beginnings. I like to think that I only properly began illustrating and making animations in January 2022. 2021 was me testing the waters.

My design journey

2014 – 2015

2014-2015 or so: I was writing and collecting articles to design and print weekly bulletins for my fellowship (Federation of Colleges Ex-students Christian Association – FECA Calabar 1). I was the Publicity and Publications Co-leader along with Elizabeth Ita who is, by the way, now an extraordinary graphics designer! So we used to design the weekly bulletins with Corel Draw and Microsoft word. That was my introduction to design.

2016-2018: I wasn’t keen/didn’t plan on being a designer (na condition make crayfish bend). I loved to tell stories and I was studying English & Literature in school so I was already a skilled writer. But in between those years as an undergraduate, I learned about digital marketing (thanks to Anita Solomon), and later I learned how to design using Canva BECAUSE I could not afford to pay a designer to design things for me. I also started this award-winning platform called BlankPaperz Media and I built the website myself after watching several Youtube videos, reading a ton of things, having several frustrating nights (for months, my word!) failures, mistakenly deleting my website and begging my web host to restore it.

2019-2020: I graduated and got an internship with Salzburg Global Seminar in Austria, and I think I was the first Nigerian Communications Intern ever (I think!). Oh it was beautiful and I met the Nigerian Ambassador to Austria, and the Austrian Ambassador to Malta. I had really awesome supervisors and co-interns. It was at Salzburg that I first clicked the shutters. That’s, I became a professional photographer in 1 week! And I wrote so many articles and took a lot of photos at SGS. In 2020 I got selected to attend National Geographic’s Photocamp. After attending it, I got called back to be a teaching assistant in the next edition. Then I got invited again to attend another course by National Geographic (in partnership with Adobe I believe) and after completion, I got a full Adobe CC subscription for 2 years! (The real deal that led me to motion designing). 2019-2020 were the years I got gigs off Upwork and for 2 years was an Upwork freelancer.

2021-2022: I was getting well rounded, exploring different aspects of media and communications and choosing for myself what I enjoyed. My newsletter creation skills were put more to the task when I started creating monthly newsletters as Communications Manager for Social Enterprise World Forum (and people were saying how good I was). I’ve always been fascinated by stories, and because I had Adobe CC, I started to get interested in cute gifs I was seeing, nice animations, and visuals that touched my heart and carried messages. So I invested in a number of classes and in 2022, I got a scholarship by Panimation to study any course I wanted to from School of Motion, and I chose AfterEffects Kickstart (actually the course choosing came before the scholarship).

A ton of useful resources that have helped me

I’m quite a resourceful person, I know something about many things and when I don’t, I know someone else who might. So below are the resources I’ve used and you could also find useful.

General design resources

  1. A positive mindset because this design journey isn’t easy!
  2. There are certain designers and awesome people I stalk keep up with to get inspired.
  3. A folder on my laptop called “Inspiration” because I’m not motivated every day, but I need consistency.


  1. Idealist for checking out volunteer opportunities, jobs and more especially with non-profits
  2. Opportunity desk for global opportunities and funds for everyone
  3. Spotify for great playlists
  4. 103 bits of advice I wish I knew
  5. Upwork for work


  1. Blog idea generator
  2. Text compare
  3. HTML tutorials for tweaking 1-2-3 things on your website
  4. Unsplash for high-quality free images
  5. Envato elements subscription for everything templates
  6. Really good emails. I love this for all of my newsletter inspirations


  1. Method of action has a lot of cool games that teach you about using bezier handles, Adobe Illustrator etc.
  2. for some nice illustrations
  3. Adobe free video to gif converter
  4. Nigerians who design
  5. Mega-creator
  6. for free icons
  7. for templates, sound, video, audio, many cool stuff
  8. 5 TED Talks that will make you a better designer
  9. Flat Icons for finding icons of any kind
  10. Inflact for downloading Instagram images and analysing profiles
  11. Adobe Color for creating color scheme does what it says it will do and more. It’s one of my faves.
  12. Canva color palette generator: upload an image and Canva tells you the colors and recommends a palette
  13. Wicked backgrounds for literally WICKED backgrounds
  14. Adobe font
  15. Coolors for free color palettes
  16. Design Modo for abstract illustrations
  17. Free vector illustrations

Motion design

  1. School of motion is one of the best places on planet earth you can learn everything about motion design, even at the expert level. They also have scholarships available to take their courses and all you have to do is keep up to date with them on their website
  2. Jake in Motion. I learned a lot from his classes
  3. 30 Essential Keyboard Shortcuts in After Effects
  4. for manyyy resources for motion designers


  1. The Freelance Manifesto: A Field Guide for the Modern Motion Designer. I have actually read this book, cover to cover and Joey, the author (who also founded School of Motion by the awesome way!) wrote this. He demystifies a lot about earning power, how to get contracts and how to set your charge rate.

Other tools I use

  1. My head, my brain, my heart
  2. Mailchimp for newsletters
  3. Adobe Photoshop for designs
  4. Adobe Illustrator
  5. Adobe premiere pro
  6. My notepad for writing stuff down and pencils – I like taking pencils from hotels. Wait, is it wrong? I always thought they were free, nice souvenirs for leaving notes behind and… going away with them?
  7. Google Calendar to track my learning process and keep track of what I should be studying or practising at a time.

I hope all these have been helpful? Feel free to catch me on my personal Instagram page and design IG page where I post my design journey + my website and also my dribble account.


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