Graphic Design Tips & Tricks

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Social media professionals everywhere, including those at FFW (Marsha, Claudia, Daniella, Adrienne and yours truly), need to know how to create graphics on the fly for our clients, whether they are Facebook posts, cropped photos for websites, or banners of all shapes and sizes. Sometimes those requests are accompanied by grainy cell phone pictures or an image that just doesn’t have the right dimension. So what do we do when we’re confronted with less than ideal photos? Here are a few tips when trying to create cool graphics for social media.

Problem: Grainy Cell Phone Picture
The cell phone shutterbug has shaky hands so the photo is too dark and blurry, but it’s the only picture they took for the entire event. Don’t pound your head against the desk just yet!

Solution 1: Stick a Quote Over It
Text looks better over blurry images, so take this opportunity to get a good quote about the event from your client and stick it over the image.


(via Palm Trees & Bare Feet)

Solution 2: Look for Other Images to Share
Someone else at the event must have had steady hands, right? Politely ask if you can share an attendee’s photos to your audience and give them a photo credit. Even better if the person follows you!


Problem: Photo / Graphic Won’t Fit
Facebook’s and Twitter’s ever-changing layouts keep graphic designers on their toes, for sure. Every time they change, clients and designers scramble to find a photo that will fit better or redesign the current cover image. What a hassle!

Solution 1: Put a Frame on It (For Photos)
This is my favorite go to, especially when it comes to promotional banners on social media. I did this for JuveRest’s June #BridalBesties campaign using Polaroids as “frames” for each image. It knocks out two problems in one: photo can’t fit post dimensions and clear backdrop for text.  For beginners or those without Photoshop, a great online tool to do all kinds of photo edits is PicMonkey.

Solution 2: Play with Emphasis (For Graphics)
We created a bunch of Facebook cover photos for clients when Facebook pulled the rug from under us changing its cover photo dimensions and adding text and buttons to the bottom. Ignore the bald spots on my head from pulling my hair out.

JuveRest Old FB Cover

Boo, hiss!

So instead of just moving everything above the weird grey gradient, try playing with emphasizing different parts of the image. Check out this blog post from Inside Facebook on the dimensions for the new Facebook Pages layout.


Problem: Can’t Afford to Buy Stock Photo
Stock photos are expensive. Social media posts are prolific. You’d have to spend thousands of dollars a month to put a fresh image with all the different posts you’d need to post.

Solution 1: Freebies
There are a host of free stock photo websites – some, like Death to Stock Photo, uploads dozens of photos a month with free alternatives to “happy woman eating salad alone” stuffy stock photography.

A little known trick is to use Google Images search tool. You can filter all the image results by license type. The one you’ll probably want to search for is “Labeled for reuse with modification” or “Labeled for noncommercial reuse with modification.”

happy woman eating salad   Google Search

Mmmm, taste the loneliness.

You can also search WikiCommons and Flickr for images that are labeled for reuse with modification.

Solution 2: Design a Go To Graphic

For our client, Piero’s Italian Cuisine, Claudia asked me to create a graphic for their weekly “guess the celebrity dinner contest” (you should enter, too!). Rather than paying through the nose to find photos of celebrities – which have very specific rules on how they can be used – I just created a graphic with an iconic image. Every time followers see the image, they’ll know it’s time to guess the celebrity.


Those are my tips! Share yours in the comments.

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