A great image never goes out of style; and apparently Tip readers don’t get tired of reading about new sources for free graphics and new options for graphics editors. Posts about these free resources continue to be some of the most popular and widely read. If you’ve missed some along the way, feel free to revisit these covering Photoshop Express and Sumopaint for online photo editing, the free PhotoScape program for off-line photo editing, design tools for social media such as Canva, free desktop publishing tools including LucidPress (for flyers, brochures, and newsletters), and FormatPixel for “web top publishing,” Gravit for a free vector graphics editing tool that also includes free templates and graphics, and Two Free iPad Apps from Adobe for Creating Video Presentations, plus Android and Desktop Alternatives.
This week’s Tip covers another free online vector graphics editing tool: Vecteezy.
Note: I learned about Vecteezy via an email from the company. I don’t typically write about content based on email solicitations; but I made an exception in this case because I do think it will be a useful tool for many small business owners.
Vecteezy could best be described as both easy and simple. This means if you have any experience at all with graphics editors, you’ll intuitively know how to use it (which is a good thing, as the help is almost non-existent) and will be able to jump right in and start editing and creating. It also means that the program functionality is very basic—nothing near as sophisticated or robust as Photoshop Express or Sumopaint or Gravit. But, if you have basic needs the simplicity is a big plus, because you don’t need to wade through deep menus or large sets of confusing icons to find the functionality you want.
When you first get to the Vecteezy site, you’ll think you are on a graphics site, not a free editor site. And, you’d be right—Vecteezy is designed to work with the free and paid “Premium” graphics available on the site, as well as with Shutterstock graphics (which you need a Shutterstock subscription to access). Even the “free” graphics available on Vecteezy come with a price—none can be used without attribution, even if you alter them significantly. That’s part of how they make their money and drive people to their site.
The good news is that you don’t need to use Vecteezy graphics to use the free editor. Scroll all the way to the bottom of the homepage and you’ll see a “Start Designing” button in the “Edit Before You Download” section. Click that button to begin designing from a blank canvas with your own images, or with images you import from other truly free sources that provide graphics with a Creative Commons 0 license allowing you to commercially use them in any form without attribution. (Of course, you can pay for the “Premium” Vecteezy membership ($99/year) for access to a large catalog of royalty free images you can use commercially without attribution. See this post for details on allowed usage.) Or, you can go straight to the Vecteezy Editor here, and begin using the tool. But, note that it only works with Chrome, Chromium, and Opera. You’ll be prompted to use one of those if you access with Firefox, IE, or some other incompatible browser.
My favorite site for a wide variety of public domain images, including clipart, illustrations, and high resolution photography is Pixabay, which I have written about in several previous tip posts. Not only are the images top quality, there is a search function which is both intuitive and useful. For other sources, check out Tips for Finding Free Public Domain Photos and Graphics and 22 More Sites for Free Public Domain Stock Images You Can Use for Any Small Business Purpose.
When the editor launches you’ll notice two annoying things immediately: The canvas will contain one of the Vecteezy templates and there will be a banner at the top asking you to sign-up or sign-in. You can get rid of the image by selecting File–>Clear from the menu or pressing Ctrl + O on your keyboard. The only way to get rid of the top banner is to comply. You can create a free account which will enable you to login, clear the top banner, and save your work to your account for future editing. But, if you don’t want to do that and can live with the banner overlay, you will still have access to full functionality and will still be able to export and to save everything you create to your computer.
Once your canvas is blank, you’re ready to begin. You can import photos (.png, .jpg, .gif) or vector graphics (.svg) to the project, resize them, align them, rotate them, flip them (vertical or horizontal), or duplicate them. You can also use the tools to add lines, curves, text, shapes, and a variety of simple illustrations. You can change the canvas size, background color, and transparency at the start, or begin with a large canvas and then re-size it to fit your content.
You can’t perform any advanced photo editing, such as cropping an image you import or color-correcting it or otherwise touching-it up or altering it, nor can you copy a portion of it and paste it as a separate object. The pen tool is comprised of a single brush (though you can change size and color). And, the selection of shapes and illustrations is fairly limited (though you can always import your own from elsewhere).
One standout editing feature in Vecteezy is the Text function. The editor comes with a nice selection of fonts that you can fully customize—add outlines and fills, control transparency, size, and letter spacing, and best of all apply a line curve to text so that it fits over, under, or around images. Getting a text line curve perfect is a complex task in most editors—with Vecteezy you simply move the slider until you get the shape you want.
As noted earlier, if you need help using Vecteezy you’re pretty much out of luck. Clicking the help icon in the bottom of the right-side menu pops a chat box that notes you may get a response “in a few hours.” There is no user guide or even a FAQ or support section on the site that covers the editor. So, your best bet is to just play around. The “Undo” link in top navigation makes it easy to step backwards if you don’t like the result.
When you’re done, you can download your work as a .svg, .png, or .jpg file. As this is vector art, if you select the vector (.svg) output, your creation will be easily resizable in other applications. If you’ve created an account you can also save it and return to it later (by opening it from the Profile page in your account). That’s it: easy, simple, and free. Give Vecteezy a try the next time you need to make a quick graphics edit.
Bonus Tip: Vecteezy is a part of the Eezy network of sites. Also worth checking out if you use the full version of Adobe Photoshop is Brusheezy; it contains a very nice selection of free brushes, backgrounds, and textures.
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