6 Design Tools That Prove You Don't Need To Drop All Your Money On Photoshop

by Anna Johansson
Studio Firma

We all love to design things. Whether it's putting a trendy filter on an Instagram shot or creating a visual presentation for class, there's something intrinsically gratifying about making something beautiful. However, when it comes to designing things on a computer, it can seem like you're out of luck if you don't have access to Photoshop.

Well, think again. There are a number of free and cheap design tools available, so it's time to let your creativity run wild.

There are thousands of variables you cannot control on a daily basis. In fact, there's very little you can control about your life. This is both freeing and constricting. But don't get caught up in the lack of control you have. Instead, choose to focus on the things you can influence. One such thing is your creativity. Unfortunately, a lot of people let their creativity go by the wayside.

There's a famous quote from Pablo Picasso that reads, “Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up.” As kids, we grow up with coloring books, crafts and imaginary friends. Then for some reason, life teaches us creativity is foolish. This leads to a life of monotony and standard procedures.

Enter Photoshop. This platform is the adult version of an art table or craft room. It's a resource filled with features that can be used – whether personally or professionally – to produce incredibly creative pieces of artwork. The only trouble is Photoshop is expensive, advanced and can take years to learn.

With so much time and money required to use Photoshop, many people subdue their creative side and write it off as something that can't be brought to light. Don't follow the fate that Picasso frequently observed. Instead, find other ways to unleash your creativity.

One of the greatest things about the internet is that you can find a reasonable solution to virtually any desire or problem. Want to unleash your creativity, but don't have the means to invest in Photoshop? Give these free and cheap design tools a try:

1. HubSpot Infographic Templates

Raise your hand if you like infographics. Everyone likes infographics, right? They make statistics and data much easier to view and digest. And whether it's for professional or personal use, being able to design compelling infographics allows you to explore creativity in new ways.

This resource from HubSpot provides you with 15 free infographic templates that can be edited directly in PowerPoint. And that's pretty cool.

2. Shopify Logo Maker

If you're artistically inclined, but don't necessarily want to go the route of becoming a painter, sculptor or traditional artist, then marketing or branding may be an alternative. In these fields, you get to spend a lot of time working with graphic design, logos, colors, layouts and more.

For right now, you can play around with a free logo builder like this one from Shopify. Maybe your future career involves branding?

3. Pictaculous Color Palette Generator

When designing a graphic, website or image, you want the color scheme to be cohesive and complimentary. However, this is sometimes hard to do when combining different images and elements. That's where Pictaculous comes into play. This color palette generator from MailChimp lets you upload an image, and then provides instant recommendations for the best colors to use.


Looking for a free alternative to Photoshop? Well, GIMP is as close as you're going to get. This free, open-source solution is available for Linux, Windows and Mac, and offers a toolset that's comparable to Photoshop in a number of ways. The interface differs and you won't get every feature, but you can't beat the price tag.

5. Affinity

Willing to spend some money on a Photoshop alternative, but don't want a hefty price tag or monthly subscription fee? With a $49.99 one-time price tag, Affinity Photo is arguably the best alternative.

In fact, some say it has faster speed and better features than Photoshop. It's a budget-friendly photo editing software that won't break the bank.

6. SketchUp

SketchUp is hands down one of the coolest design tools on the market. It's billed as a 3D modeling software that can be used to design everything from entire homes, to small handheld objects.

While the Pro version costs nearly $700, there's a free version that is extremely comprehensive and easy to use. Start exploring your creative side with the free version and you'll find out there's really no need to upgrade.

Don't let money stifle your creativity. Just because you don't have the funds to pay a monthly subscription fee for Photoshop, doesn't mean you have to forget about your creative side. Leverage some of these tools and keep your eyes open for the hundreds of others circulating around the internet. You don't need expensive products to design awesome things. Now get creating.