Here’s the thing: Getting someone to create graphics and edit photos can be expensive and stop a project in its tracks if you have a small budget or no budget. So how about doing some of the work on your own? Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator are the industry-standard graphic design tools, but they are quite expensive to have and time-intensive to learn. However, there’s a crop of new graphic design and photo editing tools out there that have much a lower entry point: free. And they are much quicker to learn than the industry-standard tools. Of course, each of these tools has paid features and non-paid features and they can’t do everything that Photoshop and Illustrator can do, but when you’re in a pinch, they can save the day until you can afford to pay someone to help with your graphics and photos.
I’m going to compare three graphic design tools today that have free features and paid features. I’ll point out what I think you’ll use the most and why.
The three graphic design tools we’ll be looking at today are:
Free Graphic Design Tools? Yes!
The Most Valuable Free Features
Image resizing and templates are the features I see my clients making use of the most.
Image resizing can be interpreted two ways. The first way is when you have an image that you took on your phone, it is probably an enormous file size and needs to be taken down from megabytes to kilobytes before using on your website so your website doesn’t get bogged down with enormous files. The second way refers to the dimensions of an image; most of the time you’ll want your web images to be less than 1,000 pixels wide or tall.
Templates are super useful because not only do they typically lay out a design for you to give your idea a kickstart, but they will also start with the proper dimensions for your target platform. For instance, Pinterest uses different dimensions than Instagram and Facebook. If you’re going to create a business card, flyer, or postcard you will want to start with the proper dimensions. Templates take care of that for you.
How to Get Started
All three of the tools we’re looking at today have free options and paid options. To use PicMonkey or BeFunky’s free options, you just go to their website and select from their graphic design and photo editing tools, which are located at the top of the website. Canva also has some options available without signing in, but it isn’t quite as obvious. To find the free tools, look in the top menu for a “tools” button and from there you can use some of the free features.
If you create a free account with Canva, you’ll have access to free storage, folders to organize your images and 8,000 templates.
The Most Useful Graphic Design Features that Cost Money
Canva’s $12.95 a month account will give you access to 300,000 free photos, illustrations, and templates. This can save you tons of money and time because getting stock photos is expensive. Getting free stock photos is possible, but you have to do a lot of hunting online and you have to double check what each free service wants you to do in order to use the image for free, so Canva takes away those time-consuming headaches. Also, even if you are just using the free account, Canva has “millions” of photos that they only charge $1.00 per photo to use; this is also extremely valuable when comparing other stock photo services that start at $5.00 per photo.
Now, here’s the thing, Canva is the most expensive paid graphic design tool of the three tools I’ve talked about here. Their expansive collection of free photos and templates is far larger than the other two tools, so I lean towards them as the tool I’d refer to my clients first. And, please note that all three tools have many, many more options than what I am pointing out in this section, but I am focusing this article on what my clients need most when they are creating graphics on their own for their business’ needs.
BeFunky is a lot less expensive at $2.95/month if you pay for a year at a time and has additional graphics and templates for their paid account. Graphics and templates are the things that I see my clients needing the most, as I mentioned earlier, so this makes me lean towards them as the second choice tool I’d refer to clients.
PicMonkey claims you can design a logo with their tool and they have seasonal photo effects, like for Halloween and Christmas, which I could see clients using, but not as much as the templates and stock images. However, PicMonkey seems focused heavily on the side of photo editing tools, so this is where I’d send someone if they were mostly interested in a smaller learning curve and less expense for a photo editing tool than what one would experience using Photoshop.