It doesn’t take long to realize that working in creative departments involves not only having good ideas but also being able to manage your time effectively. A well-chosen set of tools can speed up and streamline the duties of anyone who struggles with content creation on a daily basis. In this article, we’ll outline some reliable solutions to take the stress out of routine tasks and make your daily design process easier. You can rest assured that future ASAPs actually will get done as quickly as possible.
‘Are such pictures suitable?’
Admittedly, when it comes to providing graphic materials, the creativity of clients knows no bounds. Images in various formats, with low resolution, inserted into Word documents or PowerPoint presentations, are a relatively common occurrence. This can create some challenges, especially for projects that are destined for print in the next stages. What to do when time is pressing or the client doesn’t have higher quality files? Try out Real-ESRGAN, a tool that uses artificial intelligence to enlarge raster graphics.
All you have to do is upload a file for processing, choose a scaling factor for the image, optionally use facial detail correction and wait for the results. I have tested a lot of similar sites and believe me, Real-ESRGAN works the best. Are there any downsides? Due to memory constraints, uploaded images cannot be too large, and you should also be careful with the face detail correction function. Sometimes it produces rather undesirable results.
What if our project requires color photos and we only have black and white ones? What you’re looking for is DeepAI Colorizer, which will colorize the file we upload in seconds. What’s more, although the resulting file we receive is at a fairly low resolution, the site also offers to enlarge it, similarly to what Real-ESRGAN discussed earlier does.
Graphic stock platforms undoubtedly make creative work easier. Especially the paid ones, which offer a huge database of photos and graphics. Fortunately, in the Internet we can also find many sites that make their graphic resources available for free. If only there was a way to avoid searching each site separately and seeing all the search results in one place? Oh wait, there is. Immerse Zone is a tool that allows you to search several of the most popular free stock sites simultaneously. In addition, the service offers reverse image search, which means that we can upload any image and the site will try to show the most similar results.
‘Drawing is not my forte’
And it doesn’t have to be. Let’s get real, we don’t always have enough time to create illustrations or icons from scratch. In such situations, the aforementioned stock sites offering ready-made content come in handy. However, if you don’t want to limit yourself to the resources available there, you should check out Recraft. It’s a tool based on artificial intelligence which allows us to generate both illustrations and icons based on the description entered by the user. The list of possibilities might not be endless, but it’s really wide – we can choose from different graphic styles, use the option of automatic background removal, and in the case of icons we have the possibility to export to SVG format, which is not often found in free services of this type.
Another useful tool that uses AI is ls.graphics, which enables us to generate many useful graphics that can be used, for example, as backgrounds for presentations or social media posts. The generation process is greatly simplified here: we choose from the available styles. You can also decide what colors to incorporate in the final composition and use additional modification options, such as using vivid or monochromatic colors.
If, for some reason, artificial intelligence doesn’t appeal to you, don’t fret. We tested out some more traditional solutions, such as: unDraw – a huge collection of vector illustrations with the ability to dynamically change color accents, fffuel.co – a collection of tools for generating decorative complementary elements and more, or TheNounProject – an extensive library of icons in a variety of graphic styles. Take your pick.
‘When it comes to fonts and colors, we rely on you’
Often when creating graphics, the colors and fonts we are to use are predetermined by the key visual sent by the client. For some, this might be an advantage, because they know exactly what the other party expects. Those who don’t like restrictions or can’t find their way around the received requirements might not be so happy. What if there are none guidelines and we can use our imagination? Or, going a step further, what if our task is to create just such a key visual?
Relying on a single typeface might not always work. In this case diversifying typography by selecting different styles for the headings and paragraph text of a project is a good idea. Tools such as FontJoy or Monotype can help allowing you to quickly generate pairs of matching fonts. Both apps work on a similar principle – the pages generate successive combinations, and if we like only one of the proposed typefaces, we have the option to lock it, so that the next pairs presented will be based on our choice. Fontjoy additionally allows you to specify the degree of similarity you want the two fonts to have.
A situation where customers come in with a graphic they found online, saying ‘I need a font in this style’ also is not unheard of. Manually searching the Internet for that particular or similar typeface would miss the point. Fortunately WhatTheFont will do it for you. All you have to do is upload an image, and the site will present a list of visually matching suggestions based on the given example.
And what about colors? Coolors, a powerful tool for generating color palettes, will help you with their selection. You can create schemes based on the graphics you upload or randomly, see how the generated palette performs on real-world examples, such as websites or illustrations, and check whether the two selected colors negatively affect readability. Khroma has a slightly different way of working. You choose from 10 to a maximum of 50 colors from the ones suggested. Based on these, the site generates an infinite number of color variations, along with a visualization of the use in typography and gradients.
What else is there?
In addition to the aforementioned tools, there are also browser add-ons that can prove useful to any creative specialist. Awesome Screenshot allows you to take screenshots of both the visible part of a page and its entire length, and allows you to edit the screenshots before exporting them. With Eye Dropper, you can retrieve a color from any element of a web page by automatically copying its hexadecimal code to the clipboard. FontsNinja, on the other hand, will help identify the fonts used on a website, along with a link to download or purchase them. The last but not least on our list is SVG Export, which makes it easy to download all SVG elements from the currently browsed website, which can be useful, among other things, when a client hasn’t provided us with their logo and it’s in vector form on their site.
We hope that the tools presented in this article will form a solid base for any creative industry employee, helping to get through the most routine tasks and making work more efficient. They will make future projects run even more smoothly, and allow you to focus strictly on the creative process itself.