How to do basic graphic design when you can’t afford Photoshop

In our digital age, there’s no excuse for unpolished visual content. Regardless of your artistic ability, employers, professors, and Web users expect a basic understanding of graphic design. However, not everyone’s MacBook comes fully equipped with user-friendly programs like Photoshop. Furthermore, not everyone (especially college students) can afford to subscribe to Adobe’s new Creative Cloud, or buy an outdated version of Photoshop. Pirating is always an option, but it’s tough to navigate potentially virus-inducing links. How is one expected to produce beautiful visuals without such an essential program?!

One incredibly helpful alternative is Canva. The free, web-based program is easy to navigate and especially valuable for beginners. Users can choose from a wide selection of templates, which belong to categories like “social media posts”, “marketing materials”, and formal “documents”. From there, Canva provides a variety of polished layouts, or users can customize their own with shapes, text, images, and coloring tools.

Canva templates are great for small businesses, social media presence, professional documents, or just to play around with. Of course, with any free program, there are some drawbacks. Though its selection of layouts, backgrounds, shapes, and illustration elements is impressive, designers won’t have total artistic liberation. Canva’s color choices and fonts get the job done, but they’re limited. Users can get a lot for free, but extra features and services like Canva for Work cost money. Since Canva is a website, it won’t take up a ton of space on your drive—but this also requires an Internet connection – and that means lagging.

So, Canva is great for those of us who aren’t exactly graphic design wizards, but need an easy tool to enhance social media pages, websites, and other documents.

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