If you read my posts about Canva and Sway, you’ll know that I’m not afraid to admit that I need help when it comes to anything involving graphic design. As teachers, we need all the (free) help we can get. Fortunately, there are a ton of free tools out there to help us design beautiful posters, anchor charts, projects, newsletters, and crafty personal projects.
If you’d like more insight into the basics of graphic design, I highly recommend The Non-Designer’s Design Book by Robin Williams (no, not the comedian). It was recommended by one of my professors, and it’s one of the few books I actually kept when I was finished with school. It explains design concepts in very simple language and with lots of examples for people that aren’t experts.
Font is one of the most important choices you can make in anything you do, because it sets the tone of your design. Your fonts can be serious, playful, or make you look like a serial killer. Be sure to pay attention and make sure you’re conveying the right message to your students, colleagues, and parents.
Also. Please stop using Comic Sans. I know it looks cute and playful for kids, but it’s so overdone. In fact, most graphic designers (and even regular people) can’t stand it and don’t take it seriously. Try to branch out and find something new.
That’s where Google Fonts can help you. What I love about this website is that it lets you narrow down the type of font you’re looking for, and gives you sentence examples of what it looks like. In fact, you can even customize the sentences to make sure it works for your specific message.
Did you know you should be using a different font for headings and paragraph text? Not only will Google Fonts help you find a font that you like, but it will also show you which other fonts it pairs well with once you click on it.
Free Images and Icons
Finding free images to use can be challenging because of copyright issues. Yes, it’s easy to just go online and copy/paste an image…but it’s not necessarily LEGAL. These sites have images that you have permission to use, and are free.
The pictures on Pixabay are gorgeous. People take these amazing photos and put them online for others to use.
All you have to do is search for the picture you want, and then click the “Free Download” button. You’ll notice there’s a green button that says “Coffee” up by the contributor’s name. This is a way you can show your appreciation by making a small donation to the person that took the photo. You don’t have to, but it’s always a nice option, especially if you use a person’s pictures all the time.
If you’re using Canva, Canva has acquired Pixabay, so a lot of the pictures they have come directly from Pixabay. You can’t get some of them unless you have a Canva Pro account, though. If Canva doesn’t have it, Pixabay might.
Sometimes you need simple icons for anchor charts and instructional materials. Illustrio has what you need. Not only that, but you can customize the colors to fit your design.
All you have to do is search for the icon you want, and then start customizing.
First, you pick the two colors you want to work with at the top. Then, you choose the style you want from the menu row at the bottom. In this example, I wanted a computer mouse. I chose a circle icon, but there are 16 different options to choose from so you can get just what you need.
Ever needed to use a picture, but don’t want the background? Now, you can remove the background with the click of a button with remove.bg. Upload your picture, and it does the rest. I used a picture of myself to demonstrate.
Not only does the program remove the background, it also gives you the option to blur it or replace it with different ones. On this one, I just blurred the original brick wall.
On this one, I replaced by background with some snowy mountains, because I live in Texas and it’s the middle of October and I’m wearing shorts as I type this. There’s a whole gallery to pick from on the right side of the screen.
I’d love to see how you use these tools in your classroom. If you’ve got any other ones that I didn’t include that you think the world needs to know about, leave a comment or Tweet me @LauraBCarr,