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Essential Free Graphic Design Tools for Beginners

September 14, 2022 In Design

As a small business ourselves, we know solopreneurs and smaller teams must wear many hats. When you start to promote your business, one of those hats often becomes graphic designer. If your design knowledge is limited, it can be daunting to create even simple graphics, and you may be left feeling underwhelmed with the results.

The good news is there are now countless resources available now online that make it possible for graphic design beginners to produce eye-catching creations. Whatever your needs are, there is an easy-to-use (and free) site at your disposal. We’ve compiled some of the most valuable tools from our experience to help you get started.

Canva

Canva is one of the most popular graphic template sites on the web, and it’s easy to see why. There are thousands of free template options available for any kind of design material, including social media graphics, business cards, brochures, and much more. With the click of a button, you can swap in design elements, tweak the format, or update fonts to fit your needs. There are no confusing shortcuts to learn, though Canva does offer free tutorials and webinars that can educate you more on design best practices. However, it’s important to note that you’ll be limited to Canva’s list of pre-set templates, which can make it difficult to incorporate your own creative ideas. Once your design is finalized, it’s simple to export the file in the necessary format or add bleed and trim marks for print projects. If you’re looking for more advanced features, you can also upgrade to Canva Pro for a small monthly fee.

Unsplash

If you’re looking for high-quality photographs, but you’re not very skilled with a camera, let us introduce you to Unsplash. This site was formed by a large community of photographers who have uploaded more than three million of their own images, available for anyone to use for free. Because the images come directly from independent creators, they often feel much more authentic and organic than traditional stock photos. Even the most seasoned graphic designers can find images from Unsplash useful in adding beauty and life to their designs. The site is easily searchable by keyword, or you can scroll their “explore” page for the newest uploads. If you can’t quite find what you’re looking for on Unsplash, there are many similar sites available, including Pexels, FreeImages, and Nappy.

Inkscape

Inkscape is one of the only free vector graphic tools available online today, making it a great first step for beginners. Vectors are an important part of many designs because they can easily scale to different sizes without impacting the resolution. Given its more open-ended format, it can require a bit more artistic vision, as you’ll need to create your own design rather than simply plug text into a pre-set template. However, Inkscape also provides new designers a lot of flexibility. Its features allow you to input existing vectors, create your own drawings, and apply effects to achieve your desired result. These kinds of tools are essential if you’re looking to create your own logo, customized print materials, or other creative designs. If you need help getting started with Inkscape, check the platform for helpful videos and tutorials from experienced users. After spending a few hours playing with the site and watching videos, you may be surprised how quickly you master its features.

Adobe Express

If graphic design seems to be in your future long-term, it will be worthwhile to familiarize yourself with Adobe’s slate of products. As you get comfortable creating designs, you’ll be ready to utilize the more advanced features Adobe can provide. However, instead of jumping straight into the complicated (and expensive) world of Illustrator or Photoshop, we recommend starting with Adobe Express. This resource is user-friendly, and like Canva, offers a variety of free design templates as a starting block for beginning designers. Express includes the more basic features included in other Adobe products, which can provide users with important background knowledge before they jump into more complex platforms. Additionally, Express integrates with the other Adobe products, which makes it easy to transfer or edit existing designs in the future.

If you find yourself short on time to devote to graphic design, you can always reach out to a partner for help. A local printer may be able to handle some of your graphic design needs, or they can point you toward a trusted agency that can take graphic design off your plate. If you’re looking for printing or design help in the Indianapolis area, send us a message and one of our experts will contact you shortly.

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