This article is aimed at helping out 2/3 different sets of folks: Those that can’t afford a designer to create custom artwork for them and designers that are just starting out and maybe cannot afford the latest adobe suite. I’m sure that there will be many others who find this interesting (and, yes… there will be some that would rather watch paint dry), as it gives you a look into the world of design and the many different ways there are to achieve it.
I will start off though by saying that these are what they are… TOOLS. Having access to the right tools for the job does not qualify you as a designer. There are so many elements that make up the whole in design that even with over a decade of experience in the field myself… I’m still learning. These tools are amazing, but they will never replace the consultative approach of a well experienced and well-rounded designer.
So in no particular order of preference let’s begin!
Canva is possibly the most well-known of the tools that feature in this list. For an online tool, it really does do an awesome job. Just with the free account you can utilise 100’s of templates and also create from scratch. Canva isn’t just for web stuff it can publish your designs into press ready hi-res pdf’s. Loads of tools, loads of templates, great font collection and a good place to do yourself a quick and easy design.
Befunky essentially picks up where Canva drops off. That’s in no way belittling Canva as there is functionality in there that Befunky just doesn’t have. What Befunky brings to the table is a suite of online tools: a photo editor, collage maker and designer. It’s actually a huge bonus for quick, easy design and photo editing. Loads of tools and templates are at your disposal in here.
If you use Instagram, then you’ll already probably know about Pixlr. This is a great tool for photo editing, which is predominately used in an app form across IOS and Android. It has a great set of functionality from blemish removal through to easily being able to create double exposures, from vignettes to overlays – there is something for any look or feel you want to achieve.
Typegenius (Now owned by Canva) and renamed Font Combinations is brilliant for any editorial design that you are doing. The way in which this one works is that you select (from a predetermined list) a font that you will be using within your design, then Typegenius selects other fonts that will work with it. Where this excels is that it doesn’t just show you the fonts, but gives you a visual example as well.
Placeit.net is a quick and convenient way of mocking up your designs in images and videos. For experienced Photoshop and After Effects users, you’ll know how these can be in the appropriate programs, but for those occasions where you don’t have the knowledge or the time, this is a great place to bookmark. There are quite a few free templates and also paid ones.
Effectively, this a free version of stockphoto and the like. However unlike other sites that make the same claims, Pixabay has an absolutely huge collection of imagery from all over the world. All free to use for commercial purposes and super easy to search. They don’t have just photos, they also have illustrations, vector graphics and a few videos to boot.
Don’t you just hate it when you are asked by a client to create an image rich document that has a pretty huge file size, for them then to say “can I email that to people or display it on my website?’ or, even worse, “I’ve just uploaded that .pdf to my site but it says it’s too large?” (particularly when it was never in the brief that was an intended use for it!). Smallpdf could just make life a lot easier for you. Simply drag and drop (or select from file) the .pdf file and Smallpdf will compress the hell out of it. For example, a 20mb file can be reduced down to as little as 800kb (that’s one we recently did).
This is, in effect, a colour palette helper. One of the most tedious things with design can sometimes be colour selection and making sure that the colours you choose for the design, work with the images included etc.… for the more experienced this can be second nature. For the less experienced it is a minefield and takes time. With Pictaculous.com, you upload your image and once it has been analysed it will suggest colour palettes that will work alongside it.
These really are just a snapshot of what’s available out there. There is a huge amount of choice out there of tools that can help the experienced designer just as much as the novice. Either way, check them out and have play… you never know you may well be surprised!