Not all of us are born talented artists or with a knack for design. I, for one, struggle to color inside the lines and tend to draw stick figures with disproportionate limbs.
Thankfully, if you’re like me, there are alternatives that enable almost anyone to create quality visual content.
So whether the problem is you don't have Photoshop on your computer, you’ve got no idea what “masking” is, or you find yourself struggling to keep up with an increasing demand for visual content, then this is the perfect toolbox for you.
From one non-artist to another, here are some ways for you to get by when your graphic designers aren’t around.
Pixlr is one of the best free web-based alternatives to Photoshop. You don't need to pay or download anything in order to create or alter graphics and photos.
You can apply filters, crop images, add text, transform objects, and do a lot of the things that you might generally use Photoshop for.
Recommended for: Folks who know how to use Photoshop but find themselves using a computer that doesn't have it installed.
“I never knew you were a graphic designer”, someone once said to me about a Facebook cover photo that I created. I wasn't in a hurry to tell them that I actually threw it together in 30 seconds using Canva. That’s how good Canva is.
Canva is great for making infographics, business cards, eBook covers, posters, blog graphics, social media cover photos, presentations and more. Canva offers a variety of templates and a plethora of images and objects for you to create clean and professional-looking visuals.
Its drag-and-drop interface and basic editing tools give a decent amount of control over what you create despite working within templates.
Canva has a library of over a thousand free objects and images for you to use and only makes you pay $1 for each premium object when you publish your design. That’s a pretty good deal.
Recommended for: Non-designers who want to create quick and low-cost designs, and people who still believe Photoshop is a place where you buy photos. Yes, it's that easy to use.
Placeit is a nifty tool for superimposing a visual of your website or software on a variety of devices. You can do this with a standard screenshot or interactive site that you either upload yourself or pull from a URL.
You can even create an interactive video or workflow GIF to demonstrate a particular aspect of your software or product. Best of all, there are a variety of smartphones, tablets and backgrounds to choose from which Placeit refers to as “stages”. These provide a smart context that’s often missing from regular screenshots of your product or software.
Recommended for: Anyone who believes “showing” customers is almost always better than telling. Especially handy if you're on the content marketing team for a software company.
Infographics are great for, well, representing information in a graphic. Piktochart is a well-known tool for representing facts, charts and research in one vibrant visual. With a ton of icons and photos organized under different categories, there’s a lot of room to get creative with the templates that Piktochart provides.
The ability to embed videos and create map visualizations should make Piktochart something you consider next time you want to create an infographic.
Recommended for: Non-designers who want to represent facts and research in a visual manner.
While Pixabay isn’t a “tool”, I had to include it here because it’s often hard to navigate the tangle of red tape that surrounds image attribution, and knowing a good free image vault will let you use photos for free with a clear conscience.
Pixabay is better, in my opinion, than a lot of the other stock photo libraries out there, because it has a wide range of free photos, illustrations and vector graphics. This resource is bound to make your blogging easier, especially since it’s rich in quality business-related images perfect for content marketing topics.
Recommended for: Bloggers who stay awake at night wondering if the image they used in their last blog post might get them into trouble.
These are just some of the most indispensable resources that I’ve come across in my quest to overcome my lack of artistic talent. Feel free to share your own in the comments.
While these tools may not put us non-artists on par with Van Gogh (or the graphic designers on our team), at the very least we can outshine that smug 4-year-old finger painter in our lives. Am I right?