April 10, 2008

5 FREE Tools for Church Communication and Design

My favorite word is FREE. I like free stuff...books, food, coffee. Having worked for churches for most of my working life, I have an extra affinity for the word free. Most people in churches, especially the communications "departments" of smaller churches, are working with little to no money. Often, they have to use borrowed programs to get their work accomplished.

So, to help those with little to no budget produce higher quality pieces, I offer the following FREE software tools:

1. The GIMP. While Photoshop is the standard image editing software, there are many who cannot afford the high price tag associated with it. GIMP offers comparable functionality with absolutely ZERO cost. It is an open source image editing program that allows you to do pretty much everything Photoshop can do. Websites like DeviantArt offer FREE brushes, and it is pretty easy to learn how to convert Photoshop brushes for use in GIMP as well. Plus there are plenty of online tutorials to help you learn how to use it.

2. OpenOffice. This productivity suite is comparable to anything Microsoft Office can offer for those on a tight budget. It has word processing, spreadsheet, graphics, and presentation capabilities, and, once again, cost absolutely nothing.

3. Colorpic. This handy little program allows you to mouse over a color on your screen and retrieve is html color numbers. This is useful for creating color palettes for web and print design. Colors can be chosen, saved, and palettes converted for use in Photoshop and GIMP.

4. Stock.xchng and Morguefile. These websites offer great photography at no cost. Most only ask for acknowledgment that their photo is being used. These images provide a good starting point for any design project.

5. Inkscape. This handy program is a vector graphics creator similar to Illustrator. If you have to work with vector graphics, this program is hard to beat for the price of FREE.

One more FREEbie

6. Google! If you are not using the capabilities of a Google account, you don't know what you are missing...e-mail (gmail), Docs, spreadsheets, Notebook, Reader, the possibilities are seemingly endless, and Google is improving them constantly.

Here are a few more posts you may like:
10 Writing and Creating Tools I Can't Live Without!
5 Quick Steps to Improve Your Church Communications Pieces

What are some of your other favorite tools?


  1. I use stock.xchng all the time - it is a very useful resource. freefoto.com has some nice landscape stuff, but not much else. It's beautiful, but doesn't have the variety stock.xchng does. And Google is pretty invaluable.

    Thanks for the hint on the other stuff though - I used Colorpic just yesterday to help me with a redesign on a website that I maintain for a missionary friend. It was really useful! I can't wait to try the other stuff. I wish I could find an open source version of InDesign somewhere. I use it at work all day, so to have something similar to it for church and freelance stuff would be great. That would really help me out.

  2. There are a number of free photo sites out there, but nothing that approaches the quality of Stock.xchng or morguefile. We do most of our design and page layout directly into photoshop or GIMP. I know there is probably a better way, but it works for us at this stage.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.