What's in this session?

  • Canva (0:35)
  • Adobe Spark (1:59)
  • Dribbble (2:33)
  • Noun Project (4:00)
  • Coolors (5:03)
  • Unsplash (6:56)
  • Instagram Stories (8:29)

Show notes and resources

Free Bonus: Click here to download The Complete Sermon Series Graphics Bundle – this free bonus includes 24 total graphics – including title graphics AND blank graphics so you can add your own text

The Transcript

Alex Mills: Well, hey there and welcome to Pro Church Daily, the show where in 10 minutes or less you’ll get your daily dose of tips and tactics to help your church share the message of Jesus while we navigate the biggest communication shift that we’ve seen in the last 500 years. I’m your host, Alex Mills, joined as always by the hype man, it’s Brady Shearer. Today, we’re talking about seven free graphic design tools for churches.

Brady Shearer: If you want to create graphics quickly, easily and affordably, so affordably you won’t have to spend a dime, this episode of Pro Church Daily is for you. We’ve got seven free graphic design tools that we use, have used and recommend. Let’s dive right in. The very first tool, canva.com. Canva is an online graphics creation and editing interface that is 100% free to use. Like most products, they have an actual paid version as well. It’s called Canva for Work. It’s $10 a month. What’s amazing about Canva for Work is that it’s also free if you are a nonprofit, churches included. You can apply for that and you can get it absolutely free as well.

What’s great about Canva, especially with the Canva for Work edition, is that you can upload your brand colors and you can basically create this brand style guide within the interface, so if you have multiple different people that are using the platform, they can log in and choose from preselected colors that fit with the brand. Logos are already uploaded. That way, you can keep visual consistency across the board as much as possible even when you are using the platform with different people in the church, maybe people that aren’t even that skilled already with the graphic design. Canva is perfect for that. It’s really a graphic creation and editing interface for those that aren’t skilled with graphic design. Whereas a Photoshop might be more for an advanced user, Sketch definitely for a more pro user, Canva, anyone can use.

Alex Mills: It’s pretty ridiculous how powerful this tool is and how intuitive it is, like you said, for someone who maybe doesn’t even know where to begin. But for making graphics for social media posts, for Instagram, for Facebook, Canva is … Your church, if you’re not using it, you need to be using it. It’s great.

Brady Shearer: The second tool on our list, very similar to Canva, is Adobe Spark. Adobe Spark is essentially Adobe’s spin on Canva. They have a mobile app as does Canva. They have a tablet version and they also have an online version very similar to Canva and that you can create graphics, especially for social, digital delivery quickly, easily, without too much existing skill.

Alex Mills: Yeah. I haven’t had the chance to get my hands on this, but I’ve looked at a little bit. But being part of the Adobe suite, you can rest assured that this is going to be a really great product for you and, like you said, perfect for churches.

Brady Shearer: The third tool on the list is Dribbble and I used this tool just this week to get graphic design inspiration. We had a meeting with our product team the other day. Basically the action step they left me with was, Brady, we need to start creating a mood board for this new project. We need inspiration. What type of resources are inspiring you and what should influence the direction of this creative project? We need to know what you’re thinking. Get it outside of the abstract that’s in your head like here’s what I’m thinking. Well, it’s hard to explain it. Give us some examples of what you like and we can mix that all together, create a mood board and then use that to drive our decisions when we get into the design phase of this project.

I went to Dribbble, with three Bs, D-R-I-B-B-B-L-E dot com, and I started searching for designers that I already know and love, other examples of designers that have done creative projects like this one before, and I basically just started copying the links and pasting them into our Trello card where we have this mood board that was growing as I added resources and this is where I go again and again to get inspiration. The best designers in the world gather here. It’s completely free to see the portfolio and see what are others up to and it’s great for getting inspiration when you feel stuck or when you need to communicate these very difficult ideas to put into words. Really the best way to communicate them is through other visuals. This is my go-to resource.

Alex Mills: Awesome.

Brady Shearer: Number four, The Noun Project, a curious name. The Noun Project is an amazing free resource for iconography. For instance, if you are creating a social media post that was promoting your Twitter account and maybe you wanted to post it on Instagram because you wanted to cross-promote your platforms, a great way to grow, post on your Instagram account a link to your Twitter handle and say, “Follow us.” Something like that. You can go The Noun Project and you can search Twitter and you can download a Twitter icon directly,

Alex Mills: That’s sweet.

Brady Shearer: … From there and then you could put that into your post. Of course it’s not just logos. They have every type of icon that you could possibly want. Let’s say you wanted a church icon and you found one with a cool steeple outline, you download that and use that. Iconography is a great way to elevate your graphic design skill and polish really with custom illustration, but they’re not custom because you downloaded them for free on The Noun Project.

Alex Mills: Yeah, and they’re fun. You can use them as buttons on your website, too. You can use an icon, assign a link to it. Instead of using text as a hyperlink that says, “Click here,” all of a sudden, you’ve got an icon that you can take an action there and it’s fun.

Brady Shearer: Perfect. Number five, coolors.com.

Alex Mills: I love this one.

Brady Shearer: Basically the word “colors” with two Os with the first O so C-O-O-L-O-R-S dot co? I think it’s dot co.

Alex Mills: I think it might be dot io?

Brady Shearer: Dot io?

Alex Mills: Maybe.

Brady Shearer: I think you’re wrong.

Alex Mills: Okay.

Brady Shearer: I don’t think it’s dot com. Coolors, C-O-O-L-O-R-S in Google and that will direct you to the correct URL. I just looked right at you when I said, “I think you’re wrong.”

Alex Mills: Hey, I probably am.

Brady Shearer: Stone cold. What’s amazing about Coolors-

Alex Mills: Yes. Not the name.

Brady Shearer: There’s no way that’s how it’s pronounced. We’re surely butchering it. Maybe it’s colors but it’s just stylized differently but I like Coolors with that emphasis is that it’s a free tool to generate beautiful color palettes.

Alex Mills: Oh, I love this so much.

Brady Shearer: I’m just such a color theory nerd. What’s amazing about this is you can take a hex code, a six digit color code, #FFFFFF, which would be …

Alex Mills: White.

Brady Shearer: 000000, which would be …

Alex Mills: Black.

Brady Shearer: There you go. Then every single unique color has its own six digit code. What you can do is you can go into Coolors and put in the six digit hex code, click generate and it will create an entire color palette based on your original color. If you want to go completely free style, you can just generate without a preexisting color code and it will generate color palettes for you on the fly that are stunning.

Alex Mills: This was helpful for our church when we’re doing a bit of a rebrand, designing a new church website. We had one strong brand color. It’s like this teal color but I knew I needed some secondary colors to fill out our palette and so I went to Coolors, I put in our hex code for a strong brand color. It gave me a color palette. It generated this color palette that I fell in love with immediately, put that right into our style guide and now we have secondary colors and some text colors that I would have never known could have gone with this teal color but Coolors dit it for me and did it for free.

Brady Shearer: Free graphic design tool number six, everyone’s favorite, Unsplash.

Alex Mills: Yes.

Brady Shearer: Unsplash is the absolute best free resource that I know about when it comes to free stock photography. Now, it goes without saying, don’t go to Unsplash and then find a picture of someone’s face and then plaster it on your website. But if you want to find a beautiful photo of a goat standing in a green field, go for it. Or a beautiful photo of a urban landscape, kind of cityscape sort of look, go for that.

What’s amazing about Unsplash is that even though there are tens of thousands of photos and now they have a search feature which makes finding the perfect photo amazing, they do have a certain level of quality that you must reach to get your photo on that site. A lot of the time these free sites where anyone could submit a photo are not that helpful because most of the photos are trash whereas Unsplash, #Canadians who put the site together, make sure that if you’re going to get your photo posted on the site, it’s going to have to measure up to a certain level of quality so you know that any photo you find on this site will not only be free but high quality as well.

Alex Mills: Yeah, and we’ve talked about it before. Google Images is not a free stock photo site. You can’t search what you’re looking for in Google Images, right-click, save as and use that photo.

Brady Shearer: Don’t be a thief.

Alex Mills: But as a church who maybe can’t afford to hire a photographer or buy stock photo, you say, “Okay. If I can’t use Google Images, where can I get these photos?” Unsplash is the place. Like you said, their standard, their quality standard is very high and it’s all free. The photos are really good and really usable.

Brady Shearer: Final graphic design tool that is free, Instagram Stories. The Instagram Stories interface has so many features within it now that I often find myself going in there to edit a photo that I then post elsewhere, Facebook, Twitter. It’s just easier to jump into the Gram Stories interface. I made a list of all the things that you can do with the photo editor within the Stories interface. You can add text. You can add GIFs. You can make a poll. You can add graphics. You can add the temperature. You can add the time, the location. You can shoot a normal photo, a Boomerang photo, a focus photo which now allows you to blur out the background even without,

Alex Mills: That’s crazy. It’s crazy.

Brady Shearer: … Portrait mode and that’s brand new. They’re always adding new stuff. You can do a super zoom video, a rewind video, a hands-free video, a stop motion video. A lot of those are video/GIF capabilities but the number of pure photo and image editing that the Instagram Stories interface will allow you to use is one of the reasons I go to it again and again.

There you have it, seven free graphic design tools your church can leverage and use, icons, photos and everything in between. That will do it for today’s episode of Pro Church Daily. We’ll see you next time.



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