Misc shark

Published on March 20th, 2014 | by charliesaidthat


16 Super Helpful Graphic Design Tools You Probably Didn’t Know Existed

Let’s be honest – if you work in social media these days you are going to need to be able to make images quickly. From “photoshopping” images to editing text onto existing photographs, the importance of great reactive visuals shouldn’t be overlooked. Our creative studio works closely with our social media accounts to turn around images quickly.

If you’re not a full time graphic designer or can’t quite justify the Creative Cloud, here are some handy tools to source and create images quickly.

Free graphic design tools that you need to know about


An incredible library of creative commons images. This is one of my favourite libraries – an invaluable source.

Clipping magic

This is a brilliant tool that removes the backgrounds from images. Perfect for any quick photoshopping jobs where you want to move elements from an image. In fact, I’d suggest that this is better than the Photoshop ‘magic wand’ tool.

Pixlr editor

Essentially this is Photoshop lite online for those of us that can’t justify the full costs. I love the Pixlr Editor interface and ability to layer images and apply styles to those layers. You can even open images from their URL as well as upload from your own computer.

Awesome Screenshot

The perfect tool for taking quick screenshots of webpages. This is especially useful for any blog posts where you might want more than what is just currently on screen. The ability to annotate is really useful too.

Pictalicious  Editor

Upload any image and this tool picks out all the colours that are used in it. A useful, helpful tool for choosing colour schemes – or matching up additions to images.

Proportional Scale Calculator

When in a creative mood, it’s all too easy for your maths to suffer as your mind drifts for other purposes. This tool helps when resizing images that have to sit on websites and look good across a range of social networks.

Social media image size guide

This tool helps find the right sizes for images – although due to the frequently changing nature of the platforms resources like this can quickly go out of date. So in order to ensure that any image you are uploading to social media has the biggest impact we’ve pulled together some more tools below that will let you easily edit images into their optimal sizes for a range of networks.


This is another library of creative commons images that are perfect for blog posts.

Paid graphic design and planning tools


Wireframing has never been easier (or prettier). I love Balsamiq as it already has a plethora of pre-built elements that are ideal for proof of concepts and letting non designers become part of the design process.


Slickplan is a fantastic sitemapping tool. For anyone planning sitemaps and user flows of new apps, using this tool instantly makes your life feel simpler.

Other free graphic design tools


This is useful for anyone who takes screenshots and wants them to look perfect on a specific device. Placeit has a variety of stock images that can be used to make presentations and designs rock.


This is something I use much less frequently, but it is incredible. You can edit (and create) vector images in this web based image editor. Fantastic!


Powerpoint is a royal pain and to some people, Prezi is the answer. However, put the presentation together badly and your audience is in danger of feeling seasick and dizzy. When planned and pulled together correctly, Prezis can be amazing though. Be warned – more time consuming than you may think.

Google Fonts
For those times when IMPACT just won’t do, Google has a range of fantastic fonts that are websafe and free to use. Enjoy!

Infographic Design Tools:

For free infographic designs, here are some free resources. However, be warned… you really want a designer to create your infographic – editors can spot free and basic infographics a mile away.  I tend to use these free design sites to create proof of concepts in order to sell in a larger piece of work.

BONUS: Sites to source GIFs from

Here is a starter for 10 on where to start when looking for funny animations in response to any event, conversation or scenario:

Shark photo credit: Ѕolo

Written by Charlie Southwell – Head of Digital at Flagship Consulting

About the Author

Hi I’m Charlie, a digital strategist, I have an interest in social media, SEO, lead acquisition and understanding consumer behaviour to make a definitive difference to the businesses I work with. Find me on: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Linkedin | or just Email Me  

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