You’re not a designer, but you still want to have a go at creating your own professional graphics. Here’s a handy list of graphic design resources that you’ll want to bookmark!
Can you pass as a concert pianist if you’ve never learned how to play the piano? Probably not. Can you create graphics even if you’re not a trained graphic designer? Yes!
While you may not be a pro at a program like Photoshop or Sketch, there are numerous free graphic design resources that will allow you to make your own designs with little to no design knowledge.
Sure, the quality of DIY design is a major topic (more on that later). But some of the best graphic design resources listed below will help even those most inexperienced create graphics that can be used professionally.
But first, let’s take a closer look at some of the tools professionals use to create graphics.
What tools does a graphic designer need?
Before we get into all the free graphic design resources and tools, we need to discuss the work of a professional graphic designer in more detail.
To understand why not everyone can do this, even with amazing free resources, you need look no further than some basic graphic design tools that every professional has in their toolkit.
Reliable equipment like a laptop, hard drive, iPad, tablet, and studio camera is a must, but you’ll also need creative software to create art. Depending on their area of expertise, designers need different software that also differ in complexity and pricing. Here are just a few of the most popular graphic design programs:
- Adobe Photoshop: raster graphics software ideal for photo manipulation and artistic design.
- Adobe Illustrator: vector graphics software ideal for designing logos and illustrations.
- Sketch: web design software for MacOS
- Adobe InDesign: program for creating print and digital publications
- Xara Designer Pro X: an all-in one design solution that’s a cost effective alternative to purchasing the Adobe Suite.
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In addition to programs for creating design, a graphic designer also needs an array of other digital tools, such as:
- Creative software (Procreate)
- Cloud storage
- Editing program (Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator, for instance)
- Mockup tools
- Screenshot tools
- Pantone swatch book
If you’re looking to purchase a professional graphic design program, you should assess what types of graphic design you need to create and, of course, consider your budget.
However, it can be difficult to use even the best design program, if you don’t know where to begin. Luckily, there are also tons of free graphic design resources that you can use to create designs.
The best graphic design resources and tools you should know about
How to pick the best graphic design resources that will make the creative process easier? You’re in luck! Here’s a list of some of the best platforms with graphic design resources, with our tips on how to use them.
Image and video resources: Use them as basis for your design
Nothing grabs attention in digital design like a great visual, from stock images to vector arts. Visually appealing images bring texture and energy to the written word and bring it to life. Here are some of the most popular websites to find graphic design resources for low prices (or even free of charge).
Pexels is among the best free stock images and video websites you can find. With a large community of photographers and videographers who provide their work for free, you can download a wide range of high-quality images and videos according to your needs. Of course, don’t forget to modify these gorgeous visuals to fit your vision.
My favorite stand-out marketplace for high-resolution images is Unsplash, a website rich with stock photos you can download free of charge. It is very easy to use since it’s divided into clear categories like Architecture, Fashion, 3D Renders, Wallpapers, Films, nature, etc.
What differentiates this one from other graphic design resource websites is its diversity. First of all, it includes a wide range of necessary graphic design elements like icons, photos, illustrations, and music. The other thing is that it allows you to create your own unique image by combining different stock photos.
Use a simple drag-and-drop tool to combine objects, people, backgrounds and add filters to create an image that no one else has.
You can use their services for free or subscribe to their paid plans for premium features.
Illustration resources: Use them to create branded graphics
As you can see, finding quality images is not difficult. The tricky part is finding a way to make those images fit into your brand guidelines. The last thing you want is to just slap a stock photo on your promotional materials. People have done it before and it often turned out to be a disaster.
That’s where illustrations can be a lifesaver. You can find tons of awesome free graphic resources in styles to fit virtually any brand: from a cool tech startup to a bank!
Here are some of the best places to find them!
You can find everything you need on this excellent page, from minimalistic design illustrations to complex masterpieces. The website features a rich library full of customizable designs from all categories, mainly focusing on t-shirts, book covers, and PPT presentations.
Pricing is low, starting from $21.99 per month.
Drawkit offers you many paid and free illustrations to download that you can customize according to your design vision. They come in two styles, and they are best to be used for infographics or explainer videos.
You can even vote and request what illustrations you’d like created next. Drawkit is free for basic illustration packs and offers paid premium illustrations that start from $29.
Freepik is an excellent source for premium, high-quality graphics at a low cost. They have a comprehensive collection of work that includes some extraordinary free illustrations. If you need an infographic, a visiting card, a banner, or illustrations, you can find all of that here and modify them according to your needs.
Partner up with Freepik to create a lasting impression for your customers.
How do we know how to pick the best graphic design resources and where to find them? Incidentally, we also have a vast library of graphic design freebies in our illustrations gallery.
There are thousands of unique designs to choose from, with new ones added regularly. You can find illustrations in 5 different styles to match your brand image and need - from fun outline designs to artsy monochromatic ones.
Best of all, you can even change the color of the illustrations right on our website and download them in ready-to-use PNG format. On the other hand, if you want to have a go at modifying them in a design editing software, there’s also the option to get a SVG file.
Icon resources: Create a visual language for everyone
Icons are undoubtedly one of the crucial elements of every digital design, especially when web design becomes more compact, responsive, and mobile. Also, since data visualization is a huge trend now, you can use icons to simplify the content and create powerpoints that convey your message with ease.
However, creating an icon from scratch can be a daunting task, so why not simplify the process and check out these sources for free icon designs and use them instead?
Animaticons is a noteworthy source for anyone who needs high-resolution animated GIF icons that can be customized according to their preferences. These icons are high-quality, small in size, and compatible with all major platforms, browsers, emails, smartphones, etc.
We love this source because you don’t need any plugins or libraries; as soon as you download the GIF icon, you can put it to use immediately. Animated icons contribute more to the overall visual appeal of your brand than a simple image.
Where to buy graphic designs for icons? No need to worry, thanks to this massive collection with over 2 million curated available to download for free! The interface is simple and well organized, so you won’t have a hard time finding just what you need.
Pricing is free for basic icon downloads or a modest $39,99 per year for an unlimited individual subscription. Talk about affordability!
Flaticon features a beginner-friendly interface where you can find graphics, logos, and a wide variety of icon styles available in SVG, EPS, and PNG formats. If none of the available styles (flat, line, black, or color) suit your projects, Flaticon has a built-in editor where you can choose a shape, size, and color and save up time on adjustments later.
Flaticon is available for free if you download icons in PNG format, and for all other formats, you will need to acquire the premium version.
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Did we mention we have a lot of free resources for graphic designers? Apart from our illustration gallery, we also have a vast library of icons, ideal for your web and digital design products.
There are several variations of each icon, so there’s a good chance you’ll find something that’s ready for use straight away. We also have a list of ideas on how to use ManyPixels free icons to inspire you!
Typography resources: Find the right font for your message
Text is the primary source of information on your web page, so you should pay a lot of attention to the font that you will use. When creating an overall look for your product, you should balance the graphics and texts.
Here are some of the websites where you can find amazing free fonts to download and customize, but some sources will charge you a small fee for their services. Let’s take a quick look at your options:
This website is a marketplace where you can buy and sell your digital design, but this is not why it’s earned its place on this list. Creative Fabrica lets you download a bunch of fonts for a small monthly fee. Talk about cost reduction!
Are you searching for awesome-looking fonts? We’ve got the right resource for you. Not only does their web page look nice, but they also have an extensive collection of free fonts for commercial use. Here you can search fonts by classification, tags, family size, recently added, most popular, language, etc.
You can also use their Webfont generator to create or modify existing fonts to improve the rendering size of the file.
If you are up for browsing through a tremendous selection of fonts, you are at the right place. Their fonts are for free, and the navigation is super easy; fonts are categorized by alphabetical listing, style, author, and popularity.
Color palette resources: Choose colors with intention
There’s a lot to learn about colors: the principles of combining and pairing them, as well as psychological findings on the effects of color.
Don’t want to spend ages learning? Here are some terrific platforms to help you find the right color scheme for your designs.
This website started as a small personal project by Gal Shir. However, it quickly became a handy source of free color palettes for graphic designers worldwide. All you have to do is browse through the existing catalogs and find the color palette that will perfectly fit your brand’s image.
The color gradient is a trend that is very versatile, bold, and here to stay. You can use gradients to add depth to a flat design, create an interesting texture to a dull background, or improve the overall mood of your image by adding some colors.
You can find an extensive and free collection of 180 linear color gradients that you can use for any project. This website also features special packs for Sketch and Photoshop editing software.
If you have a specific taste for colors and you prefer to use a color scheme that you’ve seen on a masterpiece created by some of the world’s most famous artists, this tool is your go-to resource. This tool gathers all the colors from that particular piece in one place so that you can download it for free.
Mockup resources: Use them to show off your work
A mockup tool is a specially designed tool or application used to produce a design model that can be used for promotion, teaching, and evaluating an idea that is still in the creation process. This should be enough for you to understand why us mortals can’t handle that task on our own.
That is why every reputable graphic designer has an online portfolio that will convince potential clients why they should pick them among all others. If you’re a one-man agency looking to include graphic design services in your offer, this is a must. On the other hand, mockup tools can be useful for small businesses owners as well. You may want to share design ideas with your investors or partners, or use them to showcase your products more effectively.
Here is a list of free mockup tools that they use to present their work in the best light:
Promote your hard work by using free tools from Shotsnapp, and create your own device mockups in no time. The process is relatively simple: choose the desired device, add your design or screenshot, make a few changes if needed, and download your mockup image.
Pricing is free for basic functions, and for pro features, you will need to spend $36 per year.
Instantly turn a screenshot into a mockup without using any Photoshop templates by using a mockup generator. Mockup World is packed with free, fully layered, photorealistic mockups that are ready to use in your presentations.
Create mockups for books, t-shirts, mugs, hats, social media, devices, packaging, or anything else you have in mind for free.
Pixeden is your one-stop shop if you are looking for an extensive collection of high-quality mockup templates. You can choose between a free and premium account. Enhance your brand ideas with the fonts, backgrounds, textures, and objects provided here.
Graphic design inspiration resources: Get your daily dose of inspiration
Even professional graphic designers experience creative blocks. When those days come and they get stuck, they need a little push to spark their creativity.
The best way to achieve that is by browsing the web and letting other people’s work pump up the creative juices. You can browse online magazines, blogs, and social media, and what is most recommended is to take a long scroll through some of the web pages dedicated to promoting graphic designers and their work.
Owning an account on some of the following platforms is a must in the digital design world:
Behance is a part of the Adobe network. For a creative boost of all kinds, visit this online platform and spend some time scrolling through the latest design projects provided by design professionals from across the world.
You can narrow your research by color, location, or creative field and get exactly what you’ve been looking for. This platform is free to use, so don’t waste any more time and sign up immediately.
This online self-promotion community allows you to showcase your work and browse through competitor’s work to get inspired. It serves as a design portfolio platform and a job hunting and recruiting site for graphic designers. Gain inspiration, feedback, advice, and a community by creating an account now.
5 valid reasons why you shouldn’t DIY graphic design
Now you have a great list of useful and often free resources for graphic designers. Awesome! Are you a graphic designer yet? I’ll let you answer that one.
Although making your own graphics can seem like a breeze, especially if you rely on thousands of free designs you can grab online, there’s much going on underneath the surface, which you may be unaware of.
Graphic design is an integral part of branding and marketing, and therefore can make or break your business success. Here are just 5 reasons why DIY design isn’t a smart idea:
- Hurting your brand image: Imagine a blue McDonald’s ad. You’d probably assume it wasn’t McDonald’s with a glance. No matter how stunning they look, if your graphics don’t represent your brand adequately, they will hurt brand recognition and diminish your chances of building a lasting brand image.
- It looks unprofessional: There’s a difference between nice-looking and professional. And if your clients and customers see the difference, there’s no going back from it.
- A waste of time and money: Doing your own design may seem like a money-saving tactic, until you realize how much of your own time you’ve spent creating (even basic) designs.
- Redesign is costly: With haphazard design, there’s a good chance you’ll have to redo it. Spending even more time is bad enough, but in the meantime you could have done irreparable damage to your brand image and may need to rebrand completely.
- You’ll never have enough: Graphic design is a daily need for most businesses. Designing everything yourself, even if you find the time, means you’ll probably end up lacking a high-quality visual when you most need it - whether it’s a social media post you’ve forgotten about, or a different sized banner for your ad campaign.
Don’t try becoming a self-educated designer, hire the best!
Now you know where to buy graphic designs or, better yet, get them for free. However, we also hope you understand graphic design is much more than the sum of its parts. Those free designs can seem wonderful, but they will fall flat without a clear sense of purpose and target audience.
Moreover, as we’ve elaborated graphic designers also need professional design tools, so don’t forget to factor that into your budget, should you decide to take the DIY route. Take time to learn the ropes and at least some basic principles of graphic design, before you download a whole bunch of graphic design resources you don’t know how to use.
However, you feel that even with all the graphic design resources, professional design is too much for you to handle, don’t fret!
Our unlimited design service allows you to get all your design needs sorted for an affordable monthly fee. Save time and money, and get all the graphics you need - done by pros. Want to know more about it? Let’s chat!