8 Cool Free Online Design Resources for Creative School Projects

by | Dec 8, 2016

The free online design resources that are available today are versatile, simple, and powerful. They are user-friendly and social media-oriented in every way. They’re also free to use, which makes it easy to explore and experiment with them as much as you like. The tools listed in this post fit the bill nicely. Design a website, create vector graphics, edit photos, design icons, create a visual resume, and much more!

1. Canva

www.canva.com

For a free tool, Canva offers a whole lot of design power. What would you like to design—a keynote? How about a poster, or a Facebook or Instagram post? Maybe an infographic, business card, or other formal document? Canva can get you started with a whole slew of free templates, right on the homepage.

Canva’s design interface is simple and clean—no masses of tools and tricks that turn your designs into a life study of the software needed to create them. They are generous with their resources for use in projects, and you can even upload your own images and more to use in your work.

With Canva, you can design any of these projects for free using their customizable templates:

  • Social media posts
  • Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter posts
  • Presentations
  • Posters
  • Facebook and Twitter page header images
  • Infographics
  • Standard documents
  • Cards
  • Invitations
  • Business cards
  • Album/podcast covers
  • Flyers
  • Pinterest posts
  • eBook covers
  • Photo collages
  • Facebook ads and apps

Canva has also just recently upped their game in infographics, and now offer a visual design program on Canva Educational. Both of these just add to the awesomeness, so be sure to check them out!

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2. FlattyShadow

flattyshadow.com

For quite a while now, the famous drop shadow has been dying a slow death in the design world. “Flat” design is all the rage right now in all sorts of media. But that doesn’t mean designers aren’t making use of other dynamic ways to suggest dimension.

FlattyShadow is a great example of this. It’s a free online icon designer that features the “long shadow” technique you see so often these days. It’s fun to use, and you can choose from a wide range of over 1,000 icons to make simple and effective designs with.

Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 9.39.13 AM

FlattyShadow has a simple clickable interface that gives you all the tools you need to whip up cool design projects fast. Other features let you download the hi-res versions of your custom icons for design work, or embeddable source codes for web development. You can also scale the icons you build to be suitable for various screen resolutions.

FlattyShadow even encourages you to upload your own work in SVG, AI, EPS or Font Icon formats to add to their growing library.

3. PicMonkey

www.picmonkey.com

If you’re not rocking Photoshop, PicMonkey is the perfect alternative. This free online photo editor is an amazing free tool that lets you edit and enhance your photos using a very wide range of useful features. You’ll be amazed at all the things that PicMonkey lets you do with your photos. The left sidebar options menu took me a bit of time to explore, and they create wonderful effects!

Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 10.00.19 AM

With PicMonkey, just upload a photo you need to work on and you’re ready to go. Upload photos from your computer desktop, Dropbox, Facebook, OneDrive, and Flickr. You can even add text and insert other graphics as well.

You can quickly retouch and revise photos for presentations, docs and flyers—anything you want. PicMonkey also features an upgrade for as little as $2.75 a month that gives you even more tools such as fonts, overlays, and textures.

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4. Infogr.am

infogr.am

This is a tool for creating stunning interactive infographics that are easy on the eyes and even easier to share and use in your digital media projects. The basic version is free and gives you over 30 chart types. You can import XLS, XLSX, CSV files, and it lets you share your creations online.

Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 10.19.20 AM

This YouTube video gives you a rundown on how Infogr.am works:

You don’t need design skills to create infographics with this tool. The templates are gorgeous and offer lots of different looks for your projects. Upgrades are also available, but even the basic tool is quite a find in itself.

5. Homestyler Floorplan Designer

www.homestyler.com/designer

Are your students doing projects that require floorpan designs? Look no further than Homestyler, a free online tool for designing floorpans of all sorts. It uses a simple drag-and-drop interface and features dozens of illustration options for conceiving floorpan models.

Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 10.32.39 AM

6. Visualize

vizualize.me

If you haven’t explored the graphic resume possibilities of Visualize yet, check it out. Here’s the angle—everything is visual nowadays. Social media, blogs, web design, presentation formats, and basically any engaging graphics you see are all predominantly visual in nature; that’s because we are predominantly visual learners.

Visualize aims to bring this awareness to resume design, and it does it quite well. Visual or infographic resumes are becoming more and more popular, simply because they are both far more engaging than text, and also instantly shareable.

Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 10.41.34 AM

This YouTube video shows you what a Visualize product looks like:

7. Inkscape

inkscape.org

There aren’t many free open-source SVG (scaleable vector graphics) creators that are as powerful as Inkscape. When you don’t have Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop available, Inkscape will get the job done and more. Inkscape is downloadable for Mac, Windows, and Linux.

Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 10.55.56 AM

Inkscape’s features are far too numerous to mention in this post, so check out this link to their features list and see for yourself just what you can accomplish with this great free tool. Inkscape also offers onsite tutorials to help you learn how to use it properly.

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8. IM Creator

www.imcreator.com

Building websites is a snap with the dozens of free tools out there to choose from. IM Creator focuses on design simplicity for websites. It makes it fast, easy, and fun.

IM Creator is powered by Google and Amazon. The editor is a drag-and-drop interface, and you can either use one of the templates from IM Creator’s library or you can build your website from scratch. You can purchase your own domain name, use an existing one, or publish through IM Creator itself.  Their full section of tutorials and manuals is available here.

More Tools for Students (and You!)

These design tools for students are fantastic for making student projects come alive in fun and engaging ways. Why not use the Global Digital Citizen Foundation’s extensive resources page to help you find even more free tools and guides to supplement your work? You can find resources on media production, writing, design and colour theory, and much more. Check out what we’ve got right here!

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