Ever feel like it would be nice to design something that looks beautiful, but you just don’t have the tools or the know-how to make it happen?
I felt the exact same way in year 9 art class. I wanted to create a beautiful painting of a glorious sunset, and instead, I found some watercolour pencils and scribbled out a quick sketch of one, then painted some water over the top to make it look like a painting. Essentially it was a painting, and it did look like a sunset, but even my teacher said, ‘I think you can do better than this’. Now, I am no artist by any means, but I knew that if I’d bothered to choose the right tool (oil paints) for the job, I wouldn’t have failed my own vision so dismally.
Attempting great feats of graphic design can land us all in the same hot water. Especially when we take into account our beginner skill set and a limited budget. If you want to use professional tools and are willing to learn to use them, check out the Adobe Suite.
However, if you want free tools that will help you achieve some graphic design projects quickly and beautifully, I’ve listed the cream-of-the-crop below. Check them out and let me know what you think!
1 | Canva
Canva, in my opinion, is the be-all and end-all of graphic design tools for beginners. You can easily create a free account, or get a hold of Canva’s premium account for free by proving your not-for-profit status. Canva provides beautiful pre-made templates for everything from letterheads to Youtube thumbnails. To keep your brand consistent, you can input your brand colours and fonts so that you are keeping-to-the-code. With the premium version, you can share your designs with team members so that you’re all on the same page. I simply can’t recommend it enough.
Sign up for Canva here
2 | Adobe Color CC
Adobe Color CC is going to help you a lot if you’re trying to put together a brand colour palette. You can pick out a colour you want from the colour wheel, then immediately you’ll have access to the colour codes, and all sorts of different colour palettes that work with that colour. So, if you’re thinking orange for your kids ministry, find an orange you like in Adobe Color CC, and then use the tools to create a palette from that colour. PS. It’s totally free, and you don’t have to sign up to anything!
Use Adobe Color CC here
3 | Pinterest
I love using Pinterest as an online mood-board. It gives me great inspiration for colour palettes, design ideas and even quotes or Bible verses to pepper through some of my designs. You can find inspiration for basically anything on Pinterest - so be warned - it is VERY addictive. I’ve curated some church inspiration over on my account so make sure you check that out here.
You can also check out my post on creating a brand mood board using Pinterest here.
Sign up for Pinterest for free here.
4 | The Stocks
In this day and age, it is NOT acceptable to use Google images for your work. These images are generally someone else’s property, and therefore you could be prosecuted if someone discovered you were using Google images - eek!
Thankfully, there are plenty of great stock images out there that are free for you to use! The Stocks is a brilliant website as it acts as a hub for a bunch of different stock photo websites. So by heading to The Stocks you'll have access to a huge range of stock photos that you can use guilt free.
Check out The Stocks here.
5 | Pixlr
If you haven't got access to Photoshop, Pixlr is an excellent replacement. It'll allow you to remove that awkward power line from a photo, or touch up your photos to add more colour and contrast. Pixlr is great as it's free and has a browser version that you can save your work into.
Check out Pixlr here.
6 | Creative Market
Creative Market is an online marketplace that is contributed to by thousands of graphic designers. The designers add all sorts of creative elements that you can buy for a reasonable price and use in your designs. The best part about it though, is that if you sign up for their email list, Creative Market will send you 6 design freebies every Monday! These are always such a great way to start the work week, and generally include a variety of editable illustrations, stock photos and custom fonts.
You can check out the free goods at Creative Market here.
7 | LightStock
If you're looking for more Christian-based images, Lightstock is a great go-to. You can purchase images you like the look of, or receive a free image and vector in your inbox once a week. There is also a free monthly stock video that you can get your hands on. This is such a great site for images of people praying or worshipping, that I struggle to find on other stock websites!
Check out Lightstock here.
8 | FlatIcon
FlatIcon is my favourite little internet hub for icons! You can create collections and change the colours of thousands of icons and when you're done, you can download them for free. Just make sure you follow their recommendations on how to credit the owners correctly in your work.
Check out FlatIcon here.
So that’s it! The only other thing I’d suggest [which is a completely shameless plug], is to check out my free church brand kit template! It’ll help you collate all of your church brand elements into one place, and show other members of your team exactly how to use each element. The template is also on my #1 for today, Canva, so you'll be in safe hands ;)
If you found this post valuable, click share below to get it out into the world, or leave me a comment on Twitter @salt_society and let me know if there are any awesome tools that I’ve missed!