11 Graphic Design Tools to Create Stunning Visuals
These days, it seems that people want it all when it comes to their social media marketing. That means that you can be a brilliant strategist and a great writer, but if you don’t have the ability to make good graphics, you can’t deliver on the type of content people want to see. In the past, this meant hiring a graphic designer, thus cutting into your budget and potentially slowing up the process. Today, there are plenty graphic design tools that will help you make graphics that will wow your social media audience.
In compiling this list, we factored out online tools and websites that were niche-specific in terms of output – meaning we did not include font tools, screenshot tools, color tools or any other services that only deliver one aspect of a design. With any of the graphic design tools listed below, you can make an image to share on social media, add to a blog post, and more.
Canva may be the most popular of the free graphic design tools out there. They have a database of over a million images. Some are free, others cost $1. Many Canva users stick with the free options and are plenty successful. And, at $1 per image, you would pay way less than you would if you worked with a stock photography website like Shutterstock or Dreamstime. Canva provides templates for many different types of social posts. From email headers to Facebook covers, infographics to Pinterest images, Canva has you covered so you don’t have to resize images on your own.
The drag-and-drop functionality that Canva offers makes it easy for even the most unartistic marketer to create graphics online. You can insert text, change fonts, add logos, tweak the color palate – anything a graphic designer would do – all in an easy-to-navigate UI. You can download your image to share on social networks, or you can share to Facebook, Twitter, or email right from the tool. You can also email the image as an editable design, if you’re working in collaboration with other people.
illustrio is a tool that brands itself as a “customizable image library for non-designers.” It isn’t free, but the pricing is very reasonable with the following plans:
- 5 downloads for $5
- 20 downloads for $10
- 100 downloads for $25
- 5000 downloads for $500
You can see a free preview of your graphic before you download it. illustrio offers graphics that were created by designers from all around the world, and they are customizable in terms of color scheme, text and more. Choose your color scheme and then choose a graphic to customize.
With PicMonkey, you can design your own graphics, or choose from a an image that already exists in their library. The free version offers many backgrounds, images and options, and the Royale upgrade costs between $3.33 and $4.99 per month, starting with a 7-day free trial. When it comes to using your own photos, you can edit them to fix flaws like red eye or overexposure, and you can even remove wrinkles, whiten teeth and airbrush photos for a great finish. You can add a filter, similar to Instagram. Or, you can put several photos together in an eye-catching collage. PicMonkey is one of the more popular graphic design tools because it is user-friendly and many people really like the ability to touch up photos of people.
PromoRepublic is an online graphic design tool that provides next-level functionality and integration. Meaning, you can create images with PromoRepulbic, but you can also post them to a number of social media channels right in the same tool. Our team offers a packed editorial calendar with holiday, trend and event-themed posts preloaded and created by professional graphic designers. You can modify their template to add your logo, your own text, or your own images, or you can start from scratch.
Because of the auto-post and auto-scheduler options available with PromoRepublic, many users are creating all their social content with the tool. The intuitive UI makes it easy to load up your social calendars, eliminating the need to use multiple tools – one to create graphics online, and another to post. With PromoRepublic, it’s all there. In terms of Context Marketing, this is the graphic design tool of choice for many social media marketing professionals.
GIMP, or GNU Image Manipulation Program, was one of the first Photoshop imitators, designed to be the graphic design tool for people who didn’t want to pay for the Adobe suite. It is free software that you download onto your computer. It’s easier to use if you have some Photoshop experience, but the website provides lots of tutorials for newbies. While GIMP allows you all the photo manipulation, original art creation and graphics elements that Photoshop does, it is highly technical and doesn’t have the drag-and-drop features of other tools on this list.
People who have had a hard time using GIMP found Pixlr easier to use, though it is also a Photoshop-like graphic design tool. You can download the app to desktop or mobile, and you can choose from Pixlr Editor or Pixlr Express. The editor allows you to work in a Photoshop-like environment where you work with layers. The Express option allows a quicker photo personalization option where you can add filters, borders and other creative effects. Again, you don’t have the drag-and-drop functionality of other tools, but it is a bit easier to use than Photoshop or GIMP.
This free option for graphics design tools allows you to share or recreate images made by other users. Or, you can create an image yourself, add some text, and then choose from LiveLuvCreate’s selection of filters, effects and borders. Use a free image from the tool, or upload your own from either your Facebook photos or your computer. And, for super fans, the interface offers a selection of FanFiction for you to read, or you can create your own. This might not be the right tool for everyone, but it is definitely fun to go in and see what other users have created.
This is a downloadable app (available on Android and Apple platforms), that lets you create graphics online right from your cell phone. They have an ever-growing library of templates, over 80 backgrounds you can use and over 1500 stickers you can add to your photos for personalization. You can choose images from an album on Facebook to create a collage, edit them as you wish, and then share them out on Facebook, all from the PicCollage app. This is a great quick, easy tool to make beautiful images, but for branded, call-to-action type materials, you might want to go with a more robust tool.
Believe it or not, you can make your own images in this Microsoft Office tool. This is a great option for people who already know how to use PowerPoint and don’t want to learn a new online graphic design tool. Making shareable images in PowerPoint isn’t as straightforward as a lot of options on this list. You have to use your own images, and you’ll have to create a blank presentation set to your pixel specifications for the type of post you want to create. Then, you can add your photo, add text, download and post to your blog or to social media.
Over is a mobile app – available for Android and Apple products, that costs anywhere between $1.99 and $4.99, depending on how many features you want to use. The app is useful, but somewhat limited in that you don’t have a library of photos to choose from. You can take a new photo or use a photo from one of the albums on your mobile device. It’s pretty easy to add text to your image, and the art overlays create truly stunning images.
BeFunky allows you to add textures, frames and filters to your images with the Photo Editor, group your photos together with the Collage Maker, or create custom images with the Designer. The graphic design tool has a wonderfully simple UI, and BeFunky supplies you with templates that you can drag-and-drop elements into. It is one of the easiest to use graphic design tools that can make you look like a design professional. Once you learn a little more, you can create projects from scratch in an interface that’s super intuitive and pleasant to use.
As you can see, there are lots of tools out there that allow you to design graphics online. Depending on the ease of use and functionality of one or more of the tools we’ve outlined above, you could choose one, two or more to build up your design arsenal and create stunning visuals. The only thing that can limit you is your own imagination, so start digging around to find the right program. In today’s fast-paced marketing world, you have to offer a little bit of everything. We just try to make it easier for you.
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