5 DIY Tools to Jazz-up Your Visual Communication

Get your audience’s attention with banners, drawings, comic strips, animation…no previous artistic experience required

“The medium is the message” Marshall McLuhan

 Among the many projects that I have undertaken, be they presentations, videos, lectures, eLearning, newsletters, or posts for social media, I’m always on the lookout for way to enhance visual communication. I like tools that will both make the job easier and get people’s attention in all the right places (see Motivational Design framework). If those tools happen to fun and cheap, all the better.

For this post, I want to share some of the online communication tools that I have come across that allow me to Jazz-up my visual communication. Since this is a list, and by no means a ranking, I have placed them in alphabetical order.


Need a quick banner, a colorful social media post, a punchy graphic or a document template? Canva is a free graphic design website that can be used for just about anything you can think of. It utilizes a simple drag and drop platform, and you have access to millions of quick start templates, photos, graphics and fonts.



Can’t draw to save your life, but love those dynamic hand drawn videos? No need to find an artist, Doodly does it for you. This tool offers a bank of sketches that make it look like you hired a professional sketch artist. Of the tools listed here, this is the only one that only comes as a desktop software that needs to be downloaded and does not come in a free version. The price ranges from between $40 to $70 dollars per month depending on your needs. However, it is very simple to use and a very smooth running software available for both PC and Mac. It has a large library of pre-existing sketches, but also allows you to upload your own. As an added bonus, you may also upload sounds and narrations as well.



Need a snazzy photo or graphic for you work? Pixabay is a free website that allows you to access a huge library of photos and graphics for both commercial and non-commercial use. Though you do not need to create account, doing so will both increase the amount of images you have access to and allow downloading in full quality. Furthermore, you can also upload your own photos and graphics to share with others. By doing so, you may voluntarily donate cash to the authors of those photos if you so desire, meaning there is always the possibility of obtaining a little revenue for the site.


I often find that stories are one of the most powerful ways to explain and remember information. There are many applications that require you to use think about a sequence of actions in order to properly tell a story.  Storyboardthat is a rich, yet simple tool that allows you to create comic strips or storyboards. The thing I really like about it is you don’t need to be a cartoon artist. It gives your tens of thousands of different, editable, cartoon images and backgrounds. It is available as a free tool, with a limit of 3 storyboards per week, or as a paid version that allows for unlimited storyboards.


If drawings or comic strips aren’t dynamic enough for you, go for the full on real time animation (without the animation artist). Formally known as GoAnimate, Vyond is a a cloud based animation tool that offers thousands of pre-animated elements that are all controlled by drag and drop.

Give these tools a try and tell me what you think. If you have any other tools that you prefer, please let me know, or leave a comment.

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