Graphic Design Tools for Dummies by Rebecca Heflin

Untitled design (11)HAPPY HALLOWEEN! Today, I have a few tricks and a few treats!

I bet you didn’t know when you became an author that you’d have to become a graphic designer too. Regardless of whether you’re indie-published, traditionally-published, or somewhere-in-between-published, gone are the days when authors could sit back and just write. Now we have to blog, maintain websites, manage social media accounts, place ads, etc. Unless you want to pay someone to do it, all this requires some level of graphic design skill.

I’m no expert, but I’ve taught myself a thing or two about graphic design, and found I actually enjoy it.

Even since my first book was published in 2011, there are so many more tools available (free, or at least economically-priced) for this task. Some designed just for authors! You no longer have to spend a year’s worth of royalties on Photoshop (not to mention hours of training) to create sharp, eye-catching designs.

Graphic Design and Photo Editing Websites

There are lots of options out there now, but two of my favorites are Canva and PicMonkey. Both have free and paid versions. Both offer templates for specific marketing tasks, like Facebook posts, Twitter posts, website banners, etc. There are free backgrounds, images, graphics, and shapes. I use the free version of Picmonkey when I want to quickly edit an existing photo, such as adding text.

I have the pro version of Canva ($12.95 a month), and it is so worth it! And definitely sign up for their newsletters. They are full of terrific ideas and hacks to make professional-looking graphics. Like my Halloween graphic at the top of this post? Made it with Canva. ::She modestly polishes her nails on her shirt sleeve.::

I even created my latest business cards using my brand colors and Canva printed them for less than any of the other print services I’ve found.

What you get with the paid version:

  • Set color palettes for your brand
  • Upload custom fonts for your brand
  • Resize designs (magically go from Facebook post size to Twitter post size)
  • Access to 400,000 free photos, illustrations and templates
  • And much more

The latest to join my toolbox is Book Brush. This handy tool is just for authors. Like theBookBrushImage634 others, they have both a free and paid version. Book Brush is super quick and easy. Using their pre-made mock-ups, you can have a fabulous professional-looking graphic in no time. They also have this handy “cover reveal” mock-up you can use to tease your fans with your latest soon-to-be-revealed cover.

Another fabulous tool is 3D Book Mock-Ups! This is totally free and totally awesome! Turn your book Composite 3Dcover image into a 3D paperback or eBook, or even both! I use this website for all my covers and upload the 3D mock-ups to my website.

Other Essential Tools

My latest find is Color Picker. Picture this: You’re creating a fabulous graphic for a BookBub ad, and you’d like the font color on the graphic you’re designing to match your book title’s font color, but you just can’t seem to get it right. That’s where Color Picker comes in. Upload the jpeg of your book cover, hover over the book’s title and Color Picker will give you three different color codes for the color: RGB, Hex, and HSL. Say the Hex color code for the title is #002E5D. In Canva, you can enter that code, and voila! Matching colors!

As with Color Picker, you can find out what font (or something similar) the cover artist used for your title. There are lots of font-finder websites out there. One in particular is My Fonts.

Upload the jpeg of your cover, click on the font you want to detect and the website will list the fonts closest to the font you’ve selected. Really like the font? You can purchase it for future use. If you have the paid version of Canva, you can upload it there for your graphic designs. This works especially well for your brand fonts.

So many tools, so little time! Do you have any go-to websites you use for graphic design you’d like to share with the class?

About Rebecca Heflin

I've dreamed of writing romantic fiction since I was fifteen and my older sister sneaked a copy of Kathleen Woodiwiss' Shanna to me and told me to read it. Now I write women's fiction and contemporary romance under the name Rebecca Heflin. In case you're wondering, Rebecca Heflin is an abbreviated version of my great-great grandmother's name: Sarah Anne Rebecca Heflin Apple Smith. Whew! And you wondered why I shortened it. When not passionately pursuing my dream, I am busy with my day-job at a large state university or running the non-profit cancer organization my husband and I founded. I'm a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA), Florida Romance Writers, RWA Contemporary Romance, Savvy Authors, and Florida Writers Association. My mountain-climbing husband and I live at sea level in sunny Florida.
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4 Responses to Graphic Design Tools for Dummies by Rebecca Heflin

  1. Cindy Tomamichel says:

    Stencil is quite good, I also use werble as a phone app for animations. Great blog – have shared!

  2. Thanks for sharing, Cindy!

  3. I mostly use paid plan Canva but I am very grateful for your suggestions. I have PicMonkey but haven’t played with it.
    Debbie Macomber’s booklaunch checklist
    I just made a website using wordpress/bluehost/bluesky/elementor. DONT DO IT
    Elementor is very quirky and the SEO is a nightmare.

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