Four Free Graphics Editors—Which One Is Right For You?

Adding visuals to your online content does two things: it increases engagement (we do live in the visual age, after all) and it helps build brand recognition by presenting your message with your unique look and feel. With the right app and 5 to 10 minutes, you can start creating social media graphics like a boss!

But with so many tools available, how do you pick the right one? In this article I’ll tell you what I like best about four graphics editors—and I’ll tell you who I think they are best suited for. In case you’re wondering, I’m not affiliated with any of them. What you’re about to read are my opinions as a regular user.

So, in no particular order…

Canva – The Graphic Design Platform For Everyone

• Recommended for anyone who wants to try their hand at designing graphics from scratch.

Instant layouts on canva-com make graphic design easy

I’m going to jump right in and say what I love most about Canva: being able to upload my own logos and photos. Brilliant! Once you upload your logo it’s always available for inclusion in your graphics. Even logos with a transparent background function perfectly. Want to use your logo as a watermark? Simply add it to your graphic from your uploads folder and adjust the transparency.

Beginners will love the preformatted layouts. They’re gorgeous. You can use them right out of the box or change them up to match your brand’s palette. In just 5 minutes you can create a fully customized, professional image. And speaking of professional results, Canva publishes some of the best graphics mini courses I’ve seen. Check out these course titles from Canva’s Design School:

  • 10 Tips to Teach Yourself Design & Boost Your Design Skills
  • 20 Minimalist Flyers That Make a Statement
  • Social Media Marketing on Mobile

What I don’t like about Canva is having to commit to the graphic’s exact size before starting. You can’t adjust the dimensions once you start. Also, you can’t resize finished graphics unless you purchase Canva for Work. At $10-$13 per month, it’s reasonable but I haven’t opted for a paid plan—yet. Canva for Work offers other cool features as well, like the ability to upload custom fonts and set colour palettes for your brand.

Wish you could make your own graphics? See how @Canva helps.
CLICK TO TWEET

Picmonkey – Easy Photo Editing

• Recommended for anyone who needs an easy-to-use photo cropping or resizing tool.

PicMonkey start screen
Choose “edit” when you want to resize or crop a photo on PicMonkey.com.

When I need to crop or resize a picture I turn to PicMonkey every time. Using PicMonkey from my browser saves me from having to fire up one of my more robust programs. I also use it to make minor brightness adjustments. Just tap the auto adjust button at the top of the editing menu. Use the undo key if you don’t like it.

Here’s a big tip: I use PicMonkey to reduce the file size of blog images. Simply open the image, make any size or  exposure adjustments you want, then save the photo using the lowest quality. They have three qualities: Sean (highest), Pierce (middle) and Roger (lowest quality). If you’re working online, no one will see the reduction in quality but your blog page will load more quickly. Also, you won’t eat up as much cloud storage space.

PicMonkey recently added layers. If you don’t know what that means you probably don’t need layers. For those of us who use Photoshop or GIMP, this is a real boon.

There isn’t anything I don’t like about PicMonkey. I’ve used it for a couple of years and find it to be reliable and fun to use. You can get a paid plan for $4.99 per month (I use the free plan so everything I mentioned is available to you at no cost). The paid plan offers an ad-free screen and many filters and touch up tools that we freebie users can’t have.

What’s to love about @PicMonkey’s graphics utilities? See it here.
CLICK TO TWEET

Adobe Spark: Simple Or Robust—Have It Your Way

• Recommended for anyone making branded graphics for multiple social media platforms.

Sample image from Adobe Spark
I made this image in 9 seconds in Adobe Spark.

Wow – this one is a powerhouse. Adobe Spark allows you to create a post, a page, or a video. For the purposes of this article I’ll stick to the ‘post’ function—which is the one you want when making graphics or images for social media. Once your account is set up (it’s free to join) click on the yellow circle with the plus sign in the middle, then click on post. Write a few words then select the image size and you’re done. Or spend a little time to make it your own. Change the background, the text, it’s almost limitless.

Here’s a huge advantage: Adobe Spark lets you change your graphic size anytime you want. This means once you’ve finished your gorgeous Twitter-sized image you can then turn it into a Facebook page cover or an Instagram post with very little effort. You may have to move the elements around a bit but there’s no reinventing the wheel when you want to use the same graphic on multiple social sites. Winner!

What I don’t like about Adobe Spark posts is there is no custom size and the preformatted templates don’t tell you what the pixel dimensions are but that might not bother you. Also worth noting is Adobe will begin adding its watermark in the future. Paid accounts will be able to remove Adobe branding.

I just learned a thing or two about @AdobeSpark #graphics
CLICK TO TWEET

As an aside, I used PicMonkey to resize the Adobe graphic to fit this blog post as Adobe doesn’t let users specify pixel dimensions. 🙂

Pikiz – Web-based Image App with Analytics

• Recommended for analytics lovers.

Pikiz review on Plugged In WorkHow cool would it be to have analytics attached to your social media images? That’s exactly what Pikiz is all about.

They have a decent editor that will serve up hundreds of attractive photos to serve as a background to your message. Instead of using the supplied photos, you can upload your own images. Switching from one size or shape to another is a breeze and changing the font face is super easy. Simply highlight the text and hover over the available fonts. Your text will change instantly into whichever font your cursor is on. You can cycle through the entire list quickly, picking the one that looks best. There’s a plugin available for WordPress sites but I haven’t tried it (let me know in the comments if you have).

What I don’t like about Pikiz is the editor can be a little slow on certain functions such as applying filters. And by a little slow I mean snail’s pace slow.

Did you know? Your @getpikiz #graphics come WITH analytics!
CLICK TO TWEET

So that’s it—four graphics editors that I like. I barely touched on the capabilities of each one so I hope you’ll be tempted to check them out further. Let me know if I helped you find a new tool!

 

Advertisements

Comments are always welcome.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s