Resource List: 5 Online Tools by Greg Dubeau RGD
Free quick ’n dirty online resources to get the job done and keep your client happy.
As designers, we all want to support the products and services that help us do our jobs. Where would we be without platforms and services from Adobe, Google, Microsoft, Dropbox, MailChimp and Shutterstock? Probably still making cave paintings of buffaloes in the South of France.
Whether the reason is based on a client project or is self-imposed, sometimes we can’t rely on the pay-for-play tools that we’re all registered for with our personal information. Sometimes we need to fly under the radar and go around the paywall.
Here are some of my favourites work arounds.
We all try to play by the rules when it comes to image usage, but sometimes there isn’t a budget or time to source stock photography or coordinate a professional photo shoot. The Wikimedia Commons provides a free alternative to sourcing photography with little (or no) need for
“All images on Commons should be reusable, but each may have different requirements for crediting a photographer, linking a license, etc. The Wikimedia Foundation owns almost none of the content on Wikimedia sites — the content is owned, instead, by the individual creators of it. However, almost all content hosted on Wikimedia Commons may be freely reused subject to certain restrictions.” - Wikimedia Foundation
Sound design is becoming a more and more prevalent role for designers with the rise of social media, mobile video, podcasting and ephemeral content creation. Much like sourcing stock or coordinating original photography, sound design can be left outside of budgeted projects and it is
often up to the designer to find a solution. Free Music Archive is an incredible service that supplies free commercial-grade audio without rigid licensing. Licensing does apply to certain tracks; however, the site does provide the opportunity to receive consent from their authors.
“Every MP3 you discover on the Free Music Archive is pre-cleared for certain types of uses that would otherwise be prohibited by copyright laws that were not designed for the digital era.” - Free Music Archive
Unfortunately—some of the fonts and typefaces on our machines may not be properly purchased or licensed. Google Fonts helps us all become better professionals by providing us with free, licensed and hosted open source typefaces from their entire online catalogue of designer web fonts in over 135 languages.
“You can also create your own highly customized collections by filtering families, weights and scripts, plus test colour themes and review sample copy. Collections can be shared, making it easy to collaborate on projects and ensure typography is optimized and streamlined throughout
the design and engineering process.” - Google Fonts
File sharing services are an incredible tool for the creative industry. When the average PSD file is floating over 100 MB, we need that online resource to take the burden off of our email accounts. Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive and High Tail are all incredible programs, but sometimes when I’m not on my machine and I need to send a file without signing in or registering for a new account, I use free services like Sendspace. The process is literally drag—drop—insert address—send—then go about my business. Just make sure your files are less than 300 MB.
A photo is worth a thousand words. A GIF is worth a whole lot more. GIFMaker is a simple and dynamic site at the same time. The free service is a great resource to not only make and customize your standard animated GIF, but also create rough animatics, storyboard sequencing and tutorial animations. You’re able to upload as many as 300 images to be placed in sequence with or without music. As much as I use this service for professional concept work, I enjoy it most of all for making silly GIFS of my dog, Hank. :)