Five Free Creative Tools We Can’t Live Without

As a small agency, we’re always on the lookout for tools that extend our creative capacities and make our work faster, easier and better. Through much experimentation—and occasional keyboard bashing—we’ve found a handful that we can’t live without. Here are five of our favorite creative tools. The best part: they’re all free!

The Power of Brand ExperienceCanva for Graphic Design

Canva’s slogan is “empowering the world to design,” and with over four million users, they’re well on their way. Canva makes graphic design a breeze. The interface stores all your designs and allows you to clone them for consistency. Get started using one of their templates then add built-in graphics, images, shapes and design elements to customize your design.

We especially love that Canva offers templates that meet the pixel specifications of where they’ll be used—on social media, as a digital ad, or in print. Bonus: Canva remembers your approved fonts and colors! Designs are easily downloadable in a variety of file formats.

Animoto for Video Production

Video content reaps more online engagement than any other content type. Enter Animoto. Animoto enables users to create video with ease. Users can drag and drop images or videos into a sequence of frames then overlay text, add music and produce videos at multiple resolutions.

It’s free to get started using Animoto. A paid version with more features is also available. The investment has been well-worth it for us. Animoto has helped us share trends for the upcoming year, celebrate what we’re thankful for, and more.

Pexels for Stock Photography

Anyone who has ever sourced photos for creative work likely believes two things about free stock photography: 1) the shots look fake to the point of being unusable and 2) it’s never actually free. In the case of Pexels, we’ve found the opposite to be true. Pexels offers 30,000 beautiful stock images. They’re absolutely free, easily searchable and updated regularly.

Hemingway Editor for Copywriting

Whether or not you enjoyed The Sun Also Rises, Hemingway was a master of packing meaning into simple sentences. An aptly named text editor helps us do the same. The Hemingway Editor calls out complex sentences, flags passive speech and suggests accessible word choices. Trying to work within a certain word count? The app keeps track. It will also tell you the grade level of your writing. For the record, this paragraph has two hard-to-read sentences and Grade 6 readability.

Emojipedia for Emojis

We use emojis to express how we feel, share our activities and create a sense of urgency. It’s no surprise that the majority of daily text conversations include at least one. Emojis have also caught on in social media messages and email subject lines. The right emoji at the right time can be a game-changer. But what happens when you’re without your mobile device? Emojipedia serves up the right emoji for your message—graphic, code points and shortcode included—from a desktop interface.

If you’re looking to make your creative work faster and easier, be sure to give these tools a try. And of course, please let us know if you have any other creative resources you love!

Originally published July 5, 2017.