It was a few years ago that social media started to become not just a status update platform, but also a media sharing platform. More and more weight was put on visual elements, such as video — and especially social media images.
Naturally, the app world followed the scent. Now the web is awash with tools to help anyone create their own professional-looking, shareable images. Here are our favorites.
To Use in Your Browser
Since Canva launched in 2012, more than 10 million users have created over 100 million designs. As a free tool, Canva is incredibly powerful.
With it, you can create tons of graphic types, from business cards and presentations to Pinterest images and Facebook covers. All from within your browser. You can create these from scratch or use one of hundreds of templates.
Using your own images is free, or you can pay $1 per image to use Canva’s own stock library. No matter which you use, your social media images will stand out among the millions of others out there.
Pablo is a social media image tool created by the team behind Buffer — my favorite social media sharing app. The aim of the Pablo (which we’ve reviewed before) is to help you “create beautiful images easily to make your posts pop.”
The beauty of Pablo is that no registration is required. The downside is that it’s only for creating images with text (stunning as they are). You can upload your own images or freely use one of the thousands on the app. You can add different filters to the image and add, edit, and reposition your text. And you can quickly share your post to your social media profiles directly from the app.
If you’re after something a little more premium, PicMonkey is definitely worth considering. After a free trial, you’ll have access to this intuitive yet massively powerful app for $4 per month.
As a subscriber, you get everything you’d expect: Instagram-style filters, basic Photoshop-style touch-up tools (for removing wrinkles, eye tint, mascara, and so on), a host of fantastic fonts, watermarks, etc. It’s kind of like a stripped-down version of Photoshop.
As well as basic photo editing tools, there’s also the graphic design side of things. You can use the app to design anything from business logos and collages to posters and images optimized for social media. If you don’t feel confident enough to start with a blank slate, there are masses of templates for you to use as a starting point.
If you’re simply looking to create photo collages, Photovisi is a great choice (though if you’re mainly creating collages for Instagram, Layout on Android or iOS may be what you’re looking for). Like Pablo, Photovisi does not require you to sign up.
Just click on the collage design you like, then choose which photos you want to use. You can either grab these from your computer, a URL, your Facebook profile, or your Instagram account. When finished, you can download the image and use it as you like.
You do have the option to add small images and text, but these don’t look particularly great. The main pull here is the choice of collage templates on offer.
You can play around with this tool and download low-resolution collages (which are usually high enough resolution for me) for free. But if you want higher-resolution images, and no watermark, it’ll cost you $5 per month.
If you want to create quote images for social media, things don’t get much simpler than Recite. Again, no signup is required.
Once you’ve added your quote, you’ll be shown a long line of previews. All you have to do is scroll through these and pick your favorite. These come in square, landscape, and portrait formats. Just choose the right shape for the social network you’re using. You can then download the image or post it directly to your profile. It’s that simple.
Do note that these images contain a Recite watermark.
For creating great infographics, Easel.ly comes highly recommended. As a free user, you get access to a number of easily customizable infographic templates and 10 fonts. If you upgrade to an Easel.ly Pro account for $3 per month, you get tons more templates, 50+ fonts (plus the ability to upload your own), and hundreds of thousands of images.
When it comes to customizing your infographic, you have access to everything you need. You can add images, charts, shapes, backgrounds, objects, and more. And when your project is complete, you can download it as a JPG or PDF to share as you like.
Much like Pablo, but for your mobile device, Phonto is an effective way to add text to your social media photos. You can choose from over 400 fonts and edit them in a number of ways. From adding shadows and changing gradients to rotating and adding perspective, you can easily get the professional-level result you’re after.
If you’re looking for something similar but for adding text to videos, try Phonto’s sister app, Vont (iOS).
For creating social media photo collages, April is a fantastic mobile option. Select photos from your camera roll and the app will intuitively recommend a number of layouts. If you want to tweak any of these, just drag the borders to where you want them.
Then comes the (optional) editing. You can apply filters, stickers, text, and borders to your collage. All of these options are highly customizable. You can then share these images direct to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Messenger. Finished collages are also saved to your camera roll.
In 2016, both Google and Apple named Prisma the App of the Year, and for good reason. This is an app that allows you to turn any photo into an amazing work of art. Each filter on the app mimics the work of a famous artist, so with the tap of a finger you can create your very own Van Gogh or Picasso.
This may not sound that impressive, but when you see the final, mesmerizing results, you’ll understand what the fuss is about.
10. MocaDeco ($1.99, iOS)
Although this is a premium app only available on iOS, I couldn’t finish this list without giving MocaDeco a mention. Its ability to create incredible-looking social media graphics time and again is the reason I love it so much.
This a mix between Canva and PicMonkey, but for mobile. You get all the editing features of Instagram, plus much more. That includes adding beautiful fonts and small design elements to really make your image stand out. It’s all very intuitive to use, though there are some in-app upgrades that cost $1 each if you really want to get into the app.
Your New Visual Timeline
As a social media manager, I’ve tried tons of these kind of tools. Many of them leave a lot to be desired, but the few mentioned in this article really are impressive. You can really knock your social media images out of the park with these.
Which other image editing and graphic design apps would you recommend that aren’t included in this list?