Gorgeous Gorgeous Girls Have Gorgeous Gorgeous Graphics
How To Create Killer Graphics For Free
The number one question I get from other bloggers, outside of how the heck do I produce some much content, is how the heck do I create my graphics. So this month on The Bonus Blog I'm breaking down the basics of how to create killer graphics for your website or social media -- and how to do it for free!
In this article we are going to discuss my favorite graphic design tools, the basics of editing and animations. So let's get to it!
1. Must Have Graphic Design Tools
If you've browsed around The Bonus Blog then you know that I am obsessed about finding efficient ways to explore the various elements of blogging without breaking the bank. So that same focus drove me to find the best and most versatile tools for graphic design.
Hands down the Graphic Design Tool Titan is Canva. You can literally do absolutely anything using this tool. Now while Canva does offer a paid version (Canva Pro), it does also offer a free version which will provide you with more than enough tools and graphic design ideas to make your blog or social media look well designed and professional.
The biggest difference between free Canva and Canva Pro is that the Canva Pro paid version gives you access to a background remover tool (which I use constantly on all of my graphics) and it unlocks additional graphic design templates, a wider variety of photos, videos and graphic elements.
One thing that most Canva users don't realize, is that this tool allows to to add animations to your designs and it has an extensive photo and video library. As a blogger or content creator, you will spend quite a bit of time trying to create interesting graphics to attract people to your site via Pinterest, Instagram and your overall site's design.
If you are determined to only use one tool, Canva or Canva Pro is it.
In order to add a more custom feel to my Instagram Stories & Videos as well as to my Pinterest Profile, I also use Mojo Video. Any animation or motion elements which I cannot create for my designs in Canva, I can make happen in Mojo Video.
This tool also comes in a free and paid version. And while experimenting with my brand and design aesthetic, I used the free version of this tool for well over 6 months. I only upgraded to the paid version once I was convinced that I loved blogging and would continue.
To see some of the fun animated graphics that I create using only the free versions of Canva and Mojo Video, please go to my Instagram profile and click on my oldest highlight entitled "LC TV." When I first started creating the L&C brand, I create a series of 80's inspired dog mom music videos which I still house because they are simply adorable.
This last tool always gets a huge raised eyebrow when I mention it because it's often overlooked by Apple Users as it comes preloaded, for free, on all Apple devices.
However, I use this free tool constantly on my long and short form videos (yes everything from reels to IG Stories and fully edited tutorials for The Pet Summit) for splicing, transitions, changing video play speeds, and audio augmentations.
For example, in last week's Dog Mom Life Red Flags Tuesday Game, I added all the sounds on the introductory slide (i.e. the pencil scratching sound, the neon sign and the typewriter sound) using iMovie.
One of the features that I use the most in this tool is the Sound Detachment option. Using this feature, you can detach the sound from any video, replace it or move it to a different portion of the video.
Yep! That's it! This are the primary 3 editing tools that I use to create 99% of my graphics. Everyone once in a while I may also add one of the free Instagram Story filters or GIFs to my reels or stories, but that's it!
2. How To Edit Graphics
Choosing Your Design Concepts
Now when it comes to graphic design, the key is to have a visual concept or theme first. And if you are looking for a consistent feel or look for your graphics (think Pinterest Profile or website branding), you need to figure out your brand feel first.
So are you looking to create a sleek or light & airy look? Do you want an edgy feel or something more classic?
A great way to figure out your overall desired branding concept is to create a Pinterest Board and save all of the pin designs and graphics which speak to you. Most of the major print branding companies (think car brands, magazines, jewelry and clothing brands, etc) are all on Pinterest. So you will have a pretty extensive range of designs to choose from.
Once you can identify themes in the designs you've saved, now is the time to break out the graphic tools above.
Creating Your Graphics
Step One: Choose your design layout. For this you can select either a Canva Template or start with your own image.
Step Two: Augment your basic photo colors using the free filters provided in Canva, laptop/phone free filters or via another editing application like Lightroom.
*Pro Tip: Use the same filter on all of your photos or graphics will help to give your images a more branded look. So for example, I run all my graphics on Pinterest, Instagram and on the blog group through the same filter so they all visually within the same color family.
Step Three: Add graphic texts or design elements to your photos to create your design. This is the part where most bloggers and content creators get a little lost because they want to instantly create amazing graphic designs. But the key is to play around with design building.
Try adding different shapes. Make use of the Transparency Adjuster in Canva to layer photos in order to create completely new images. Browse through the design elements within the application to see how you can add surprising features like glitter, ripped paper, letter shading, animations and etc.
The more you play around within Canva especially, the more amazing graphics you'll be able to create. Practice. Practice. Practice.
Below I've included some examples of the steps I completed to create some of my favorite graphics.
3. Animations Made Easy
The last element of creating eye-catching graphics is including surprising animations. And while adding the motion elements to your graphics is a guaranteed way to dazzle your audiences, it's actually the easiest part of graphic design when you use the 3 tools I outlined above.
As I mentioned previously, Canva and Canva Pro both have video libraries you can choose from. Need a video of sunset? A dog running? Someone pouring a cup of coffee? Start with the video library housed here.
Recently, I've started adding collage-like graphics to my aesthetic. For this design I use the Scrapbook Animation tool within Canva to individually animate select photos or elements within my graphics.
And for overall video designs like camcorder effects, photo zooming, pre-made photo and text designs, I just use the ready made templates found within the Mojo Video app.
As you practice and play around with this process, you (like me) will suddenly find that you have dozens of ready made template designs for your brand which only take a few minutes to edit. And you'll also be able to make more complex and interactive designs like my Test Your Dog Mom IQ trivia games housed under the Trivia Highlight on my Instagram.