Today we’re covering a frequently asked question of mine. That is, what tools or apps I use when it comes to blogging. Particularly when it comes to my graphic designing! It’s time to UPGRADE those boring ol’ flyers and photos. Let me “introduce you to some new thangs”…
Photoshop and Pixlr
Photoshop. Most people hear the word and immediately become intimidated by it. The technology AND the price. I understand being apprehensive to something you don’t know. When you first open the application, most of the tools would be foreign to you especially if you didn’t play with Microsoft Paint as a kid. But all it takes is a quick YouTube or Google search to learn all you need to create amazing edits to your photos.
Try thinking of Photoshop as just a pro-Paint. Like a Microsoft Paint for adults lol.
Now, you didn’t hear this from me, but if you’re really interested in playing with Photoshop/making creative edits without spending any coins, I have 2 solutions for you.
(1) Work around the system…if you catch my drift
I’m broke. My school loan covers most of my blogging expenses and invests in my blogging dreams. So no, I do not have the money to spend on a monthly Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. I can’t even believe I owned a year subscription at one point in my life. [In undergrad, I ran my own apparel business and designing that apparel required me to learn a bit of Photoshop and Illustrator. That $25 a month really hurt my pockets. Even if it was a student discount.]
So if you’re broke like me, try getting Photoshop for free.99 if you’re catching my drift. *Cough* torrent it *cough*. Consider searching how to torrent or enlist your internet-savvy friend to do it for you. I find that most men in my life already know how to do this. So my boyfriend was clutch for this step. He taught me how and now I know how to do it for every tool that I need.
Again, you did not hear this from me. And I will strongly deny all such accusations.
(2) Use Pixlr instead.
Pixlr is a FREE online application. I can’t remember who first recommended this website to me, but I used it for about 3-4 months to make my graphic edits before asking my boyfriend to just go ahead and torrent Photoshop for me.
Pixlr is essentially a Photoshop Intro. It has most of the tools you’d find in Photoshop and works just as well! Well almost as well. The difference in quality is so minor that barely I can tell. And just as you will find Photoshop tutorials online, you’ll find Pixlr tutorials online as well.
So there’s 2 essentially free* options for your BIG editing projects.
If you’d like to see Photoshop tutorials from me, let me know in the comment section! I’m just going to shamelessly plug some of my favorite edits below and throughout this post!
Canva is already well known in the blogging world. And for good reason. It’s full of templates, layouts, grids, shapes, texts, fonts, everything you need to easily create beautiful graphics. It’s amazing truly. But most of the times, it’s easy to spot a Canva graphic. Most people pick a template and hardly bother to customize it and make it their own. That’s where your graphic designing takes a sharp left.
It’s important to customize a template and really make it your own! Try combining 2 templates into one – click and drag elements from one free template and move it into another! Change the fonts around, search for new FREE images, change template colors and fonts. Just really get into customizing your template.
Pixlr + Canva
And if you really want to up your game, don’t use a pre-made template at all! Create what you want! Tap into those inner Microsoft Paint days. When there was just you and a blank white canvas. That’s what I do. And that’s why I get so many questions on how I created such and such image. Because I switch back and forth between Photoshop and Canva, it’s hard to tell what app I used to create what. That’s the goal.
Photoshop + Canva
P.S. Canva’s mobile app is trash. I would not recommend downloading it AT ALL. Just get on your laptop and customize!
Another SUPER popular app for creatives and non-creatives alike! Even though I know my way around Photoshop, I find it even easier to use Facetune to do some pretty advance editing. Facetune does it all! Whitens, smooths, details (sharpening), patches, reshapes, crops, brightens, filters. I’d be surprised if you don’t already own this app on your phone. It’s worth the money. $4 is WORTH it.
I use Facetune for EVERY single picture I edit BEFORE I even go into Photoshop and play with different effects. I’ll whiten my teeth and background, detail/sharpen my jewelry, smooth the pores on my face, reshape my tummy if I forget to suck it in for the picture, and brighten the picture overall. Facetune’s just a lifesaver.
There is now a Facetune 2 available for purchase. I don’t recall what the new features of 2 are, but I remember thinking that it was a waste of money if you already know how to finesse the original Facetune. It’s up to you which one you want to buy.
I’m still a little pissed with VSCO Cam. Before VSCO Cam decided to fuck around and update their system, everyone used the app for it’s grid feature! A way to plan and curate your beautiful Instagram feed into something you’re proud of before actually posting it to Instagram. It also helped that the filters they offered were amazing! So you could play with filters and organize your feed at the same time. Dammit, I used VSCO Cam even BEFORE I started blogging just to have a beautiful feed on my normie-account.
Now I guess VSCO Cam is only great for its filters and editing software. Just another editing app.
I don’t reach for VSCO Cam too often now because my Instagram feed isn’t filter-ized. I like to stick to my picture’s true colors as I often pick wild, colorful backgrounds. BUT if you’re into creating a feed with certain colors and shades, then you already know VSCO Cam is clutch.
Canva + VSCO Cam C1 Filter
I tend to use VSCO only when I notice that the colors of a photo look a bit too dull, plain Jane if you will. I’ll reach for C1-C3 to increase my vibrancy and then play around with temperatures and saturation if need be.
My ol’ faithful. This app right here? So underrated. It was my first EVER photo editing app and let me tell you this baby right here just gets better with age. You wouldn’t believe all the effects, editing capabilities, and filters it contains until you download it for yourself. There’s so many cool edits to make. Of course, it has the features you’d find in every editing software, but just to go over a couple that I find REALLY cool and unique:
How to Find It? Under Effects > Pop Art
Create color gradients, holographic effects, grid tiles, and more!
How to Find It? Under Effects > Colors > Color Splash
Isolating one color and fading out the rest of the photo.
Color Splash (Before)
Color Splash (After)
How To Find It? Under Magic > Rainbow/Pow/Neo Pop
Make your images into cartoons and comic book graphics! My favorites are Rainbow, Pow, and Neo Pop.
Rainbow + Photoshop (After)
*And by the way, new magic effects get added all the time!
How to Find It? Under Tools > Dispersion
Distributing elements of a photo.
Photo Courtesy of PicsArt
This is a relatively new feature so I haven’t had the chance to put it to good use yet, but there is so much potential in it! It creates a triangle-erasing effect of your body in just one swipe. It’s hard for me to explain, but the above picture shows you what I mean. You can change the stretch, size and direction of the triangles too!
PicsArt is truly a graphic designer’s (both amateur and professional) dream! So damn good and easy to use! Check out this FREE app for yourself! And tag me in your creations if you use it on Instagram! I’d loveeee to see it honestly.
Similar to “Color Splash” in PicsArt, Color Pop, a mobile app, casts a gray filter upon any photo you upload and allows you to recolor whatever portion of the photograph that you like. The erase feature lets you easily go over any mistakes you make recoloring and it even shows you a zoomed thumbnail version of the area for a cleaner fix.
The downside? Any photo you save from this app will have a “Color Pop” watermark on the right hand bottom corner. The solution? Make your photo as large as possible and just screenshot your finished photo. You can then crop the edges with your phone’s editing software. And voila no watermark. Super easy.
Another annoying thing about Color Pop? It’s full of ads! I mean there’s a damn pop-up every time you open the app. So if you don’t mind the interruptions, Color Pop still gets the job done.
There’s probably a better app out there, but I haven’t done an extensive search. I just don’t reach for this effect often. BUT I just wanted to present this to you since I’ve now noticed popular style bloggers using this effect on their Instagram feed.
I used this mobile app a bit in the beginning of my blogging career. Not so much now. But I still want to present it to you as a graphic designing tool. There is value in it.
Studio Design allows you to add cool text edits, shapes, mantras, doodles, and more to any picture you like.
It’s definitely similar to Canva’s special text features, but A LOT MORE mobile friendly than Canva. So if you ever need to make a last minute flyer or promotional photo for Instagram, this app is necessary! The drag and drop feature actuallyyy works! Here’s some examples of the graphics you’ll find:
P.S If you’re into posting inspirational/motivational quotes, this app is just for you! I was able to create this easy image with 1 click. Palm trees courtesy of my trip to the Bronx Zoo lol.
My go-to app for planning my Instagram feed since VSCO Cam decided to fuck up a good thing. UNUM was one of the first Instagram scheduling apps I learned about after VSCO Cam played so many of us. Thank God for Twitter! Coming through with a good recommendation!
UNUM was and is still my everything when it comes to planning my Instagram feed. I love that you can swap and exchange different photos. You can write your captions ahead of time. If you’re into scheduling your posts out for certain times, you’re capable of doing that. And I just prefer its overall simplicity compared to other Instagram schedulers, like Latergramme.
Something unique to UNUM is their “hide” feature. Using the “hide” eyeball icon, you can temporarily hide photos you’ve already posted on Instagram in case you wanted to see what your feed looked like if you deleted a photo or two. That way you can still maintain the cohesiveness of your Instagram feed.
*As of May 22nd, Instagram’s new “archive” feature allows you to hide photos already posted!
You can even edit your photos within the app if you’d like, but that’s never a feature I touch. I do all my editing before entering UNUM.
And by the way, if you’re still not into planning your Instagram feed, get on it! I don’t see how planning your Instagram feed in your head would ever work. I need to see how my pictures look in relation to pictures that will surround it, not just next to the picture I last posted. And why exert more brain power than needed when you can just easily upload the pics into a grid and drag your pictures into a pretty puzzle?
Now there is a downside to UNUM. UNUM used to be free before its designers got hip to the subscription feature of other Instagram planners and apps. UNUM is free for 18 empty grids. This is usually more than enough grids for me, but since I have about 2 months of content to organize at the moment, 18 slots are just not enough. If you’re into planning far in advance, you may have the problem I’m facing now. You can either pay $5/mth for 36 total grids or $7/mth for 54 total grids.
Orrrrrr if you’re cheap like me, use Canva! Look for the 3×3 grid inside “Grids” and paste that baby onto a page! It won’t have those swapping capabilities that makes UNUM so clutch, but you can drag and drop pictures into the slots and make it work! It’ll just take a little bit more time.
Okay you probably weren’t expecting to see Pinterest on this list. How the hell do I use Pinterest to help with my graphic designing? Pinterest is a search engine! And an even better one than Google because users have searched through all the garbage and found all the cool stuff online.
I love using Pinterest to search for backgrounds. Wallpapers that I use whenever I wanna change the background of a photo. I’ll search retro backgrounds, 90s backgrounds and dive deeper and deeper into the pits of Pinterest.
Search whatever you want + “wallpaper” or “background” into the search bar and watch what pops up! For example, “flower background”.
Combining Two Pinterest Wallpapers + Photoshop
Pinterest (3 Backgrounds) + Photoshop
And we’re done! Everything I use to create my graphics. If you’ve made it through this entire post, you’re the BEST! I appreciate you for hanging in there and hopefully it was helpful! I just don’t like to leave my readers with fluff. I want you to have ALL THE TEA.
If you liked this post, share it on twitter to help your fellow bloggers upgrade their graphics! Don’t be stingy; Share the wealth!Tired of using the same ol' Canva template? Here's 9 Must Have Tools To UPGRADE Ya Graphics! Click To Tweet
Yup, a gif of Beyonce’s proteges…Keeping up with that “Upgrade U” theme.
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And that’s all folks. Thanks!
Until next time!