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10 Graphic Design Tools for Students

Graphic design has been a hobby of mine since I was a teenager. I’ve always loved the creativity of editing photos, designing graphics or creating GIFs. When I was a teen, I combined my love of graphic design and TV shows on my first website where I designed computer backgrounds. At that time, I believe I was using Paintshop Pro to design the graphics. It was a simple program but it started me down the rabbit hole of design.

Several years later, I started a blog on Tumblr under an alias (yep – I was one of those nerds!) where I edited photos, designed graphics and created GIF’s based on my favorite TV shows. Yes…I know. It’s extremely nerdy. But, I absolutely loved the creativity that it gave me. If you are interested in checking it out, the blog still exists but it is in a semi-permanent hiatus.

Over the last ten years or so, I have primarily used Adobe products for design – particularly Illustrator or Photoshop. At some point I would love to get back into designing for fun but “real life” has somewhat taken over the last five years, as well as the fact that I try to blog about education on a weekly basis. Nowadays, I use my graphic design skills within my current job, as well as side projects such as this blog and BoostEDU. I never thought I would be using these skills in my regular day-to-day job but it is interesting how a hobby has turned into something that I use in my career. I think my main takeaway from this experience is that you should never prevent students from exploring their hobbies and sharing their knowledge in ways that are meaningful to them. Their hobbies and passions are teaching them skills that could be useful in their future endeavors – so try to find ways to incorporate it into your classroom!

Anyways, now for the real reason that you are here and reading this blog! If you are interested in getting your students started in graphic design, here are 10 web-based applications that you and your students can use in the classroom:

General Graphic Design Tools

1.) Adobe Spark

Since the majority of Adobe products are only available on PC or Mac, students aren’t able to fully experience the power of their tools on Chromebooks. However, Adobe has released some great web-based tools, particularly Adobe Spark. Adobe Spark is a free online and mobile graphic design app. With this app, it’s easy for students to create images, videos and web pages with little previous design experience.

2.) Canva

Canva is one of my favorite web-based applications for graphic design. In fact, all of the graphics for my blog posts are made through Canva. Sometimes I just don’t have the time to pull everything into Illustrator to create a design. Canva offers an easy-to-use drag and drop feature to create designs for the web or print. In addition to this, they also have a ton of free templates, photos, and graphics to use within your designs.

Vector-Based Design Apps

Pixlr, Gravit Designer, Vectr, and Desigyner are web-based applications where students can edit photos and create designs. In a similar way to Photoshop or Illustrator, Pixlr utilizes layers which is a great concept to teach students interested in design.

3.) Pixlr

“With an impressive 2 million+ combinations of Free effects, filters and overlays to get creative, PIXLR turns every mobile device into a complete mobile photo editing tool that works best for simple tweaks right up to the more creative edits. Now you can edit your photos from wherever you are.”

4.) Gravit Designer

“Gravit Designer is a full-featured free vector design app right at your fingertip. It is available for different platforms including Mac, Windows, Linux, Chrome and the Web.”

5.) Vectr

“Vectr is a free graphics software used to create vector graphics easily and intuitively. It’s a simple yet powerful web and desktop cross-platform tool to bring your designs into reality.”

6.) Desygner

“Desygner is a free graphic design software with thousands of ready-made beautiful templates which can easily be tweaked, shared and printed in minutes.”

7.) YouiDraw

“Online create stunning vector Graphic design with YouiDraw Drawing, Logo Maker and Painter. It’s like Adobe Illustrator but it works on html5 canvas.”

Just For Fun Applications

8.) Piskel

Piskel is a web-based tool for creating pixel art. While this will not create the quality of graphics of the vector-based tools above, students absolutely love designing 8-bit looking images. By creating layers, students can even transform their pixel art into GIFs!

9.) Sumo Paint

Sumo Paint is a web-based tool where users can edit photos. It has a similar look to the vector-based tools above and offers filters, brushes, shape tools, image manipulators and more.

10.) FotoJet

Fotojet is a web-based tool for graphic design, photo collages and photo editing. It has a multitude of templates, resources and tools for students to create high quality images.

How do you use graphic design in your classroom? What tools have you used to bring out your student’s creativity? Share in the comments below!

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