5 Creative Graphic Design Apps for iPads

iPad Graphic Design Apps

Are you ready to harness your inner designer? Today it is easier than ever thanks to a variety of easy to use graphic design apps for the iPad. These “text on photos” apps are increasingly popular and many of them do a great job of simplifying the design process for non-designers. They could be a great platform for exploring visual literacy and visual design in the classroom, or simply to spice up your social media presence. I myself have quite a few of these kinds of apps on my iPad so I thought I would take some time to share five of my favorites together with some of the reasons I like them.

1. Canva (Free with in-app purchases)

If you’ve heard of any of these apps before, you probably heard of Canva. It is available on the web, and for the iPad, and is a great way to get started creating fun, fresh looking images. Canva has a number of templates you can use (some free, some paid) and bucket loads of inspiration. I particularly like the icon gallery and the free image search, although I will often use sites like Unsplash too and bring those into Canva. This app is perfect for social media graphics, posters, presentations, blog post images and even infographics. There are also some great lesson plans for teaching design in your classroom that were written by educators like Vicki Davis, Monica Burns, Steven Anderson and more. The only real downside to Canva is that you need an account to use the app and that it is designed to be a service for those 13 and older.

canva for ipad

2. Adobe Spark Post (Free)

Adobe Spark Post is a relatively new app for the iPad, but it has been available for iPhone users for a while now. In many ways it is quite comparable to Canva, but it has a few neat features that are well worth exploring. For instance, if you have a graphic you want to share on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, Adobe Spark Post can automatically adjust your design so that the image is optimally sized for each social network. It also lets you change themes and color palettes at the touch of a button or add life to your design by saving it as a stylish animated GIF. There is a library of public domain images that you can search through and use in your designs, but you can just as easily use photos from your Camera Roll too. It is a lot of fun to play with and can also be accessed on the web at spark.adobe.com. A free Adobe account is required to use any of the Adobe Spark apps.

Adobe Spark Post

3. Word Swag ($3.99 with in-app purchases)

I have been using Word Swag for a little while now, but I was hesitant to purchase it because it was $3.99 AND has in-app purchases. As it happens, there is a LOT you can do with just the initial purchase. You really don’t need to buy anything extra, and some of the in-app purchases are actually free right now and have been for a some time. Word Swag integrates with Pixabay so that you can search for Creative Commons Zero images that you want to use in your design, but you can also choose from a number of solid, textured and gradient images without any searching at all. There are a huge variety of font styles to choose from and a variety of filters and font color effects. However, there is no real way to crop or resize your image. There is a Twitter Preview Area, but that is about the only guidance you get before you share online. That said, it is still a great app that produces some stunning images, and if you like inspirational quotes, you will love the built-in quote generator. Word Swag is also available for Android.

Word Swag for iPad

4. Over (Free with in-app purchases)

If you are hesitant about paying the $3.99 for Word Swag, try Over. I know it has a lot of in-app purchases, but again you get a decent amount for free, and you can collect free artwork every day just by accessing the free artwork gallery in the app. Over has some pretty robust photo editing tools that can be used to tweak photos from Unsplash, Pixabay, or from your Camera Roll. It has filters, blurring tools, shapes, fonts, artwork and more. However, I think it was a paid app when I first downloaded it so I am not sure how many of the features I enjoy are now listed as in-app purchases. For instance, features like the crop tool that lets you size an image for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram & much more, is currently a 99c add-on, but I know I never paid for that. Still, there is a lot to like in the Over app and I do find myself going back to it more than I thought I would. It is a versatile app with some interesting creative options. Over is also available for Android.

Over for iPad

5. Studio Design (Free)

Studio Design is an app that I came across while researching what I was going to include in this blog post. I haven’t used it a whole lot, but based on the time that I have spent using it, I think it is worthy of inclusion here. It does many of the same kind of things that other apps in this category do, but perhaps most interesting to me was the ability to remix designs from other people. When you do this, the camera on your device opens with the fonts and other layers overlaid on your screen so that you can compose and take your own picture. For me, that had a lot of interesting creative opportunities and it models good digital citizenship because  published designs include a credit for the original designer. The app is 100% free, does not require you to set up an account, and has plenty free artwork that you can download. Studio is also available for Android.

Bonus Pick: Notegraphy (Free)

Looking to display some longer forms of text? If so, Notegraphy is worth a look. Simply type or copy and paste the text you want to beautify, then choose from a number of stylish themes that can be used to showcase your words. It is a little more restrictive than some of the apps above in terms of features, but there is something to be said for simplicity. It can also be used on Android and on the web at notegraphy.com.

Further Research

Some other apps that I have not yet had the chance to try, (but would like to), include Typic, Uptown & Co, Retype, Typorama, Rhonna Designs and Path On. Have you tried any of these graphic design apps for the iPad? If so, which ones are your favorites?

Get Creative in the Classroom with Canva for iPad

Are you a graphic designer? Me neither, but when I use canva.com it’s easy to convince people that I might be. Why? I’ve written about Canva before. It’s a website that allows you to create a variety of stunning flyers, posters and graphics for blogs and websites with a minimum amount of effort. I love it, especially now that they have now taken the wraps off the new Canva for iPad app.

canva for iPad

Canva for iPad is extremely easy to use, and if you have ever used the web version, there will be almost no learning curve at all. You start by picking the design template you want to work on, or enter some custom dimensions for a specific size. After that, everything is a simple drag and drop away from the design that you want to create.

using images on canva for ipad

You can search for images, icons, and shapes that you want to add to your creation using the search button in the top left-hand corner. There are hundreds of free, stylish elements that can be used in your image, as well as a variety of background colors and textures. There is also an amazing collection of designer fonts that you can adjust the size and color of, and the ability to add photos from your iPad. When your image is finished, it can be saved as a PNG or PDF and saved to the iPad, or opened into another app to use as part of another project.

So, if you are looking to design some new images for your classroom website, or need something to spruce up your blog, the Canva app is a great choice. It is also a great tool for students to create posters, infographics, postcards, flyers and more. Check out the video below for more information.

Roomle: Sketchup Style 3D Modelling for the iPad

If you have ever longed for an iPad app to do 3D planning and modelling then Roomle is definitely worth a look. It lets you design, build and furnish home or office spaces with ease, and it produces results that will instantly impress. It’s a free app, and it could be a great way for students to explore some 3D modelling on the iPad. You might even use it to create your own learning space.

You begin your design in 2D and draw out a birds-eye view of the room or building you want to design. Walls are easily drawn with a drag of your finger with measurements and angles included to give as much realism as possible. Pinching the screen lets you zoom in and out of your floor plan as required.

Roomle: Sketchup for iPad

When you have your basic layout drawn out, it’s time to add the details. The app has a library of different furniture and construction elements that can be added to your design. Chairs, tables, plants, flooring, appliances and more can be added. You can also add doors, windows, fireplaces and staircases. The library of objects may not have everything you want, but with hundreds of objects and accessories, there is a great selection that will doubtless have most of what you need.

Read More »

Bring New Life to Teacher Websites, Blogs & More with Canva!

Have you ever wished that your school or teacher website had just that little bit more flair? It’s easy to wish for, but unless you have the skills of a graphic designer in-house, and some powerful editing software, it can be difficult to achieve. Until now. Canva is a free, easy to use, online design tool that could be used by teachers and students to create professional quality graphics in no time at all.

canva homepage

As you can see in the screenshot above, there are several templates to get you started, but you can also create a design with custom dimensions for something like a website header that might need exact specifications.

Once you pick the template you want, the editor will open with full customization options to make this design your own. It is very simple to use. The search tab on the left lets you search through a bank of images that you can use in your design. There are a huge number of free images and graphics here, but also a selection of premium images which can be bought for $1 each if needed.

Read More »