I’ve previously done a post recommending the apps I recommend to create blog graphics, but as I still get questions about how to make graphics – I thought I’ll make a more detailed post. I hope you’ll find this useful and go off to create your own work. I would also love for you to show me when you’re done :D!
Warning: Very Image Heavy!
Sorry mobile phone browsers!
By this I mean the fonts and images I use in my design. To be quite honest, I cannot draw to save my life, and the majority of my resources are from the following websites:
1. Freepik – Images here can be used free as long as you give attribution, or credit, to the website. The exception to this is if you pay a monthly or yearly subscription fee, then you can skip the attribution as long as the work is for your personal usage (e.g. designing your own blog or invitation card). I believe you still have to attribute if you use these resources in a commercial project (e.g. book cover design, Society6 or RedBubble designs). We’ll be looking at this one a lot today!
EDIT: I’ve had a couple of questions below on how/where to attribute the Freepik image. When you download the free option, the site will present you with a copy & paste link which directly links back to the IMAGE you used, not just the general web page. Use this link to credit Freepik, either by adding the link at the bottom of your post, captioning the picture, or even in the footer/sidebar of your webpage if you’ve used the design extensively throughout the site. Hope that makes it clearer!
2. Creative Market – This is an aggregate site featuring illustrations from numerous designers with some seriously high quality work. I mainly use this website for customised project such as blog designs. You can purchase a Simple License which is cheaper for personal usage or ONE commercial project (e.g. aforementioned blog design project) – but for more widespread commercial use you have to purchase the more costly Commercial License (usually 10x the price of the Simple License).
3. The Hungry Jpeg and Design Cuts – These are both websites that sells Design Bundles, meaning they take a lot of different products from Creative Market and combine them together, offering them at an amazing discounted price (usually $29) – the best part is that they include a FULL commercial license, so you can use them to do whatever you please. This is the site that most professional and amateur designers uses (including myself). Their bundles are offered on a limited time basis, so I suggest you sign up to their email newsletter to keep an eye out for ones that would suit you.
For the purpose of this tutorial, I will be using free stock images from Freepik to show you how to put together a ‘design’.
After I obtain the design elements from these sites, I put them together using Photoshop CS5 to create the numerous graphics you can see on my own site. To be frank with you, it’s not rocket science, it’s little more than glorified copy & paste or scrapbooking (these are words straight from my boyfriend’s mouth, he’s so supportive). In fact, if all you want is pretty image + writing, you don’t even need an expensive program like Photoshop or Illustrator. My examples below will be by using Canva – a free web-based app.
1. Download an image of your choice from Freepik. This time I searched: ‘watercolour flowers’, purely because both these things are trendy and pretty – so I know there will be lots of choices. I picked this gorgeous and bright flower arrangement because why the heck not. Remember to copy & paste the attribution link to include in your post if you’re not paying the subscription fee. Legal woes are the worst.
2. Load up Canva, you can sign up or log in using Google or FB. First choose the SIZE of your intended file. I chose SOCIAL MEDIA 800×800, because I find square format the easiest to work with (this is a call back from my Livejournal day where all the graphics were 100×100 icons).
3. Choose a BLANK canvas without any of the premade elements, we gotta start our collage fresh. Drag/Upload your Freepik image in the PNG/JPEG format into Canva and resize it by dragging the edges as seen below.
4. Now we have to get rid of the pesky pre-existing text on the picture. Do this by clicking on the tab ELEMENTS > SHAPES > then select one of the free shape options, I picked the square because it’s proven to be easy to work with.
Then we have to match the colours, do this by clicking on the square, then the (+) sign and drag that mouse around on the colour chart until you find your match – in this case it’s just plain old white.
In hindsight the circle would have worked better than the square, which did not cover up the entire body of the text. I added a second smaller square at the bottom to achieve the blank canvas.
5. We should have a nice bare canvas with pretty flowers now. All you need to do next is add text! So go ahead, select the TEXT tab. I chose to Add A Heading because I didn’t want anything too fancy, but you have a bundle of free choices on Canva to choose from.
For the purpose of this tutorial, I typed up the first bookish thing I thought of: ‘Professional Bookworm’ – but obviously you can write anything you want e.g. title of your blog post, some other cute quote.
I chose the font Amatic Small Caps because handwritten thing is just as cute & trendy as watercolour, but they have heaps of other options you can choose from (again, for free :D). Now all that’s left is to pick the colour as you did for the square, I chose something similar to the surrounding flowers in the name of uniformity and whatnot.
Resize and rearrange and bit. Voila, you’re all done. Click the DOWNLOAD button at the upper right corner & save as either JPEG or PNG depending on what you want to use it for.
Sometimes you get an image off Freepik that’s not easily ‘isolated’, i.e. it’s on a very busy background. If you had Photoshop, you can extract the image by using all the tools like pen-tool, vector mask, plain old magic wand etc… But what if you were stuck with Canva? Let me show you how.
6. I chose another popular topic with our part of the blogosphere: book photography. This time I searched’camera + watercolour’ and found an image of 4 different cameras. However, I only want to use one of those, and they’re stuck on a grayish polka dot background.
7. Place image on a blank canvas as above. DOUBLE CLICK the image to crop it, crop as close to your chosen camera as you can without losing any of the details.
8. Then go into BACKGROUND and select the most suitable background colour to blend in with the image. I picked the gray textured background on the third row – because it looks more interesting than regular old gray and because it’s free. I then go back to the camera image, click on FILTER and adjust the brightness/contrast until it blends into the background as much as possible.
9. Add text. I chose the premade layout called ‘You Are Simply The Best’ (you are!) & changed the colours and font around a little to make the final design.
10. Download and done! Yes, it does not blend in seamlessly, but unless you have either Photoshop/Illustrator or transparent PNGs of the elements you want to use – unfortunately this is the best you can do on Canva. I hope you found the tutorial helpful regardless.
Now go forth and experiment! There’s so much great resources on Freepik, you won’t ever have to spend on dime on your blog graphics unless you don’t want to credit the site & its creator.
I’m gonna anticipate some questions so I will pretend you have already asked them.
Q1. How is this all free and so awesome, what’s the catch?
The nature of the internet is that it’s filled with the free & the awesome! Just bear in mind that since everyone can use Freepik or purchase the graphics pack from Creative Market & The Hungry JPEG, you do run the risk of having blog designs that are similar to someone else’s – especially if you’re limited with what you can do on Canva. This was also a problem during my graphics making in my Livejournal days – where everyone basically made icons of using the same resources and images (I can perfectly recall all of CLAMP’s artwork, even to this day) – but don’t worry, with practice your own look with shine through. Keep experimenting & strive to be unique!
Q2. How do I use my downloaded fonts on Canva?
You will have to purchase a Canva for Work subscription, I believe it’s $12.95 a month. It might be worth it, since fonts are like eyebrows, they can make a huge difference to the look of your work.
Q3. Is there a point of purchasing Photoshop/Illustrator if Canva is free and awesome?
That depends on how much you want to do with your graphics. Photoshop allows you to add a lot of effects onto your text and your image, but it is also a steep learning curve – plus it’s really expensive. If you’re just wanting graphics for your blog design alone, I would say that it’s probably not worth the investment. But if you do photography or professional design on the side, of course (but then I guess you wouldn’t be reading this tutorial).
Q4. Can I sell the stuff I make on Canva?
Yup, as long as all the components have the correct license. E.g. purchase commercial licenses for the resources and the font, add the correct attribution, and you’re good to go. There are so many different ones, I would urge you to read the fine prints before committing to a purchase & ask the creator if you’re unsure.
EDIT: A little bit of an aside from Canva here – most graphic bundles, stock photo and freepik images cannot be sold on their own, you need to modify them before you can resell the design. For more details of the specifics, please check the fine prints of the license like I mentioned above.
Q5. The timing of this tutorial is awfully suspicious, does it have anything to do with the drama in the past weekend?
I’ve been meaning to work on this tutorial for a long while, but I’ve put it off because of laziness in screencapping. If you held a gun to my head, I will admit that I was partially spurred on by drama, mainly because graphics is something I am irrationally passionate about. However, I wanted to create something productive/beneficial for everyone instead of adding another 2 cents to it. If you don’t know what I’m talking about then just ignore me and enjoy the post ❤
That’s all, folks! Let me know if you would like to see more tutorials in the future or whether this was helpful for you. Feel free to shoot me any questions as well!