Best tools for creating graphics and editing photos
14 Jul 2020by Christine Chiu
We review the best free and paid for graphic design tools and editing software available to charities
Most people have stopped to admire the stunning images from National Geographic, the top non-profit Instagram account by followers. Using flawless graphics to tell compelling stories, the organisation uses its content to increase reach and engage audiences. With graphic and editing software, charity teams can also build a wealth of remarkable content at little to no cost.
Our top digital tools for creating and editing graphics includes:
- Canva – Available on Charity Digital Exchange, the creative graphic and editing software offers users templates to work from. Making it easy for people at all levels of experience, the ready-made templates can be a time saver for those who need to create content on the fly. For charities on a shoestring budget, the basic package is free. Using Canva, Jessie Mawson, Amnesty International’s social media specialist says: “Amnesty works in real time. We have to act fast. Graphic content often needs to be turned around in just minutes – so the templates available through Canva Pro are great for that.” The charity’s first experience in professional design software, Canva’s templates enabled the team to quickly react to news releases and tailor content accordingly. For Amnesty, Canva enabled them to customise templates for other users to then post onto their own profiles.
- Adobe – Perfect for charities looking at a multi-functional graphic editor, the Creative Cloud All Apps Plan includes Photoshop, Illustrator, and Premiere, giving charities the full suite of options to create and edit both graphics and video. For advanced and beginner users, images can be edited, touched up, layered upon and more.
- Publisher – By Microsoft, Publisher is best for simple but solid communication templates. Great for newsletters, posters, and other ready-made layouts, the editing software is user-friendly for those already familiar with other Microsoft products like PowerPoint. For charities looking to build more text-based graphics, Publisher is a good choice.
- GIMP – For more advanced users and graphic designers, GIMP is a free graphics manipulation package. The digital ‘canvas’ can be customised to suit user preferences. GIMP allows users to contribute to the platform, so charities familiar with programming languages can create their own workflows to automate graphic editing. For charity digital marketing and communications teams who are starting out, the GIMP website also has tutorials.
- Inkscape – An alternative to GIMP, Inkscape is an open source code, free to use graphic design and editing software. Similar to GIMP, Inkscape gives graphic designers and developers the option to contribute to the platform’s coding. For designing and editing graphics, the typical suite of tools is available, including layering, text additions, colour augmentation and more.
- Pablo – Free for charities, Pablo’s stock images, text boxes, and content sizing are perfect those looking to immediately upload to social media. By Buffer, Pablo has over 600,000 images to choose from, or charities can upload their own stock images. Once selected, images can be layered with text and customised by size for Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. However, for larger, more complicated projects other editing software might be more suitable as Pablo offers limited graphic creation and editing features.
- Pixlr – Another freebie for charities on a shoestring budget, Pixlr is an online graphics editor which can be accessed through an internet browser. At no cost, Pixlr can create layered images, apply colour filters and add text boxes to graphics. More sophisticated tools, like editing layers and cut out tools requires a premium or professional membership. Packages cost between $3.99 - $14.99 per month.
- Stencil – Loaded with over 2.2 million royalty free images, Stencil’s image library offers charities a wealth of choice to create digital content. Similar to Pixlr, Stencil is also an online graphic content editor and creator. Tailored specifically for social media content, Stencil has pre-set image dimensions for most platforms. Once created, Stencil can also link-up with the social media manager Buffer so projects are uploaded according to schedule. For charities, Stencil offers a 7-day free trial.
- Sketch – A downloadable application, Sketch offers charities a free 30-day trial for Apple Mac users. The graphic design and image editor specialises in creating digital content, and, for charities working in teams, projects can be shared internally. The software also offers templates and sizing formats suitable for social media platforms.
- CorelDRAW – Aimed at professional graphic designers and editors, the CorelDRAW suite is a powerful tool for charities with talented in-house graphic designers. Graphic designers and editors can create totally bespoke technical drawings and original content. Going beyond the capabilities of standard graphic design and editing tools, CorelDRAW’s complex vector and shaping tools can create eye-catching images. For charities looking to create unique content, CorelDRAW is best for those who want to save on digital agency costs but already have knowledge of graphic design and editing.