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5 Free Tools for Beginners to Improve Your Designs

Hello, everyone! My name is Alec Martin, and I am a digital design and media arts (DDMA) major with a cognate minor in marketing. I have had the benefit of being a DDMA Scholar at the Allan P Kirby Center since the fall semester of 2021. Around campus, I am also a member of the graphic design club, Studio 20, as well as being a part of the Wilkes University team that won the 2021 National DEIC competition.

You do not have to be a DDMA major or even artistically inclined to make strong visuals for your club, event, or personal endeavors. All you need is to have some of the right tools, an understanding of what looks good, and a little bit of inspiration. Here I will be giving you some of the resources that you can use for free to create and improve your own designs.


If you are a complete beginner or just want to create a design quickly, Canva might be where you want to start. This web-based program provides you with a range of useful templates that can be utilized for materials such as posters, social media posts, and even your next presentation. Canva is super easy to use and collaborative, making it great for beginners who may not know graphic design all that well.


For some more control outside of the basics, Photopea serves as an equivalent to Adobe Photoshop (which can be rather expensive to someone who is not using it daily.) With Photopea, you can create your layouts and designs, as well as edit your photos.


A great way to improve the designs that you create is to look at and gain inspiration from others' work. Behance is an online platform made to show off designers’ projects and one of my favorite places to browse through. Viewing the work of others can have a huge impact on the quality of your designs because it builds your eye for design and can inspire ideas and solutions that you may have never thought of before.


Coolors can be the driving force of a great design, but finding colors that work well together can be harder than you may think. Of course, following color theory is always good, but this tool can make finding the right colors easier. Coolors randomly generate fun and interesting color palettes for you. It allows you to enter and/or lock in the colors you like to keep generating colors to pair with them. This tool has become one that I use in just about every design I create and has had a significant impact on my work.


Many times the work you are creating may require a photo that you may not have. If you are creating a design for a business or organization, it might not be as simple as pulling a photo off of Google because of copyrights. Unsplash is there to make your life easier, as it provides you with royalty-free images that you can use anywhere that you would like. Even if copyright is not a worry for what you are doing, the photos provided by Unsplash are beautiful and worth taking a look at and can even serve as another place of inspiration for those who may dabble in photography.

Having a good design can do numbers for your marketing and can be enjoyable overall.

Although this list was created for beginners, I still utilize most of these tools and I encourage you to use them as well!

Thanks for reading!

- Alec

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