Although Photoshop and other designer programs in the Adobe Creative Suite are incredibly powerufl tools, they're not so easy to use, they're expensive, and they take a long time to learn. Luckily, there's a way to do everything from choosing a colour palette to editing photos to annotating screenshots using the following assortment of tools.
Tools for Choosing Colours and Fonts
If you don't know much about web colour, you might want to spend some time exploring Web-Colours-Explained – a handy website we found that will teach you the difference between the RGB and CMYK colour systems. You might also want to brush up on your basic HTML skills so you can learn how to use a HEX code (a 6-character alpha-numerical code that represents a colour such as #FF0000). These HEX codes come in handy whether you're working on a website, designing an ebook or manipulating an image in photo editing software.
With the basics of colour and HEX codes covered, you can now begin exploring some tools that help you pick the right ones to incorporate into your designs.
Peruse DesignSeeds for bold and seasonally relevant colour palettes inspired by photos.
Use Colour Scheme Designer to pick one key colour, and view various schemes of your choosing – monochromatic, triad, analogous, complementary and more.
Check out Google Web Fonts, a directory of almost 600 fonts that are ready to use on your website.
Tools for Creating or Editing Your Own Visual Content
Sometimes design involves editing photos and images. Sometimes you just need a high quality screen-shot to include in your PowerPoint presentation. Sometimes you need a good photo editor on your smartphone to improve your Instagram uploads. This is where you'll find the tools that do all of the above.
To save yourself a lot of frustration, make sure you know the image sizing and resolution requirements for the desired publishing channel. For example, you may need to resize an image you first used on your blog to include in a Facebook post.
Create, edit or manipulate an image using Photoshop-like-editors like Pixlr or Sumopaint.
Take a screenshot of something on your computer screen, and annotate it with text, shapes, and objects using Jing or Evernote's Skitch.
Modify photos or create memes with the Google+ Photo Editor (you have to have a Google+ account to do this).
Create a reusable PowerPoint template with several simple backgrounds that you can easily layer text on top of, then same as a JPEG.