At one point in my life, I was a teacher.

That’s right.

I actually subjected myself to the insanity of public education willingly.

And high school at that.

I know what you may be thinking and the answer is no!

No, I didn’t have a death wish, but I did have a passion for design and have always been good with teenagers, so the next logical step was to combine them and teach design to teenagers right?

It was successful most of the time…when kids weren’t figuring out ways around the district firewalls to get on Facebook. (Facebook was still hot for the kids at that time.)

But I realized that design didn’t excite everyone the way it excited me.

You may be in the same boat.

Someone or something (your small business, blog etc..) is causing you to have to learn how to do certain things that don’t excite you but are necessary to your brand.

Or perhaps you do enjoy it, but you don’t know where to start.

Well, this is an exhaustive, even heroic list of resources that should help you along.

Inspiration & Ideas

The way I satisfy my quirky design side is by creating templates and printables, but these are designs that have to come directly from me, not from the lead of a client.

As I started designing, I found that inspiration had to replace client requests.

When clients know what they want, it’s my job to make it happen for them, but when I’m coming up with a design and it’s not specifically for me or anyone else, I need an inspiring place to draw from.

Remember, when searching for inspiration:

  • you aren’t trying to duplicate something exactly
  • you are looking at techniques and elements that jump out to you  that you can use yourself or communicate with your designer
  • you are looking at colors and how they come together
  • you are looking at textures and how they are used
  • you are thinking about how these designs make you feel and deciding whether you would want to convey something similar

Below are some inspirational and idea generating tools you can use for your designs:

You will find 3 different types of inspiration
1. websites that collect ideas for you
2. blogs that feature lists of great designs
3. photography sites that are sure to inspire

Don’t let your research stop here. With these different types of inspiration in mind, do your own searches and find what is right for you.

Websites dedicated to collecting inspiration

InspirationGrid Designspiration TheBestDesigns
Inspiration Grid – You can choose from myriad categories from advertising to print design to video. Save any images by pinning them to your Pinterest, sharing them on social media or bookmarking the page with a free online website like Dropmark.
Designspiration – This Pinterest style website showcases graphic design, websites and fonts and allows you to just browse and discover. A great feature is that you can search for inspiration by color as well.
The Best Designs – The Best Designs allows you to search by overall theme like “Non-Profit”, “Restaurants”, “Business”, etc…You can also look up specific designers, books on design or choose a gallery category to browse.
PinterestGraphicDesign Designthelogo PatternTap
Pinterest – This may seem obvious, but not everyone gets into social media. Pinterest holds an overwhelming amount of inspiration. Just search “graphic design” or “logos” and you won’t be disappointed.
Design the Logo – This site is part of Flickr. You can find designs done by professionals and just designs that people like.
Pattern Tap – This is a great place to get ideas for specific elements for your designs while the other websites provide overall inspiration. Need a good-looking button or an idea for some icons. This is your place.

Example Blogs with Design Lists

Design Bolts – Post featuring brochure designs
AWWWARDS – Post featuring logo designs
Oubly – Post featuring 78 amazing and creative business card designs
The above examples are just that. When search “design inspiration for…”, you will find tons of blogs that have helpful lists like these.

Example Photo Inspiration

Chase Jarvis

Interesting Design Elements

Sometimes when creating a design, you can get three-quarters of the way there, but one element isn’t quite right.

Maybe you can’t find the background that you want or you need create a table, but can’t get your boxes spaced evenly.

And it would be remiss of me not to mention the awesome design templates you will find in the BMays Shop

There are excellent tools that can make daunting or tedious tasks really easy. 

Below are some online generators to help you cut your design time

BGP Gridulator ZenBG
BG Patterns -Choose a foreground and background color, choose your canvas, the image you want repeated in your pattern, and voila! You have generated a custom background pattern to your specifications. Downloads as a PNG file.
Gridulator -Easy way to create grid boxes for your design. Decide how wide you want the overall grid and how many columns you need. Once you enter that, you can choose spacing and download your boxes. Great for organizing images or text.
Zen BG -Pick one of the many textures available. You can adjust the opacity and scale. Next, add as many colors as you need and rotate the image to your liking. Then just download it and you have your background!
SubtlePatterns ColorLovers StripeGenerator
Subtle Patterns -Pre-made patterns for when you just want something, well, subtle. Browse through the options and click the preview button to see what the pattern looks like on a larger scale.
Colour Lovers Patterns – Either color a pre-made pattern or design your own. Choose your own specific colors by hex code, RGB or CMYK
Stripe Generator – Need to make perfect stripes? Choose your color(s), spacing, thickness, whether your strips have a drop shadow. Also find stripes others have generated and tweak for your purpose.

Help with Colors

Colors can make or break a design.

I have seen graphics and images that I didn’t care for, but I couldn’t seem to take my eyes off of them because of the combinations of color it had.

For a guide to color theory and choices for your business or blog, please refer to A Fresh, Helpful Look at Colors and their Effects in Branding.

You can also learn about color as an element of your brand identity here: Is your Brand a Shady Situation or Just Non-Existent?

Otherwise, here are some great resources for choosing color combinations and getting the exact colors you need.

AdobeKuler RockColorTemplate
Adobe Kuler – Create your own combos and save them or explore others to get ideas.
Coolors – Allows you to create thousands of color combos using calculated color theory.
Rocket Design Color Template – Get a quick look at color theories and relationships

Creating Your Own Images

Now that you are prepped with the tools you need to understand how to make what you want, you need tools to assist your creative juices.

Some tools offer more assistance (templates, etc..) than others, but the goal is to create an engaging design for your audience and you can do it with these.

You can also check out this free tutorial of

Are you really interested in creating your own graphics? Ready to learn Photoshop?

Check out my Learn The Shop Beginners Course

Pixlr Quozio Scratch
Pixlr – Allows you to create in three different modes. 1) Completely from scratch Photoshop-esque set up, 2)Image design software a little more user-friendly, or 3)An app-like image editor with backgrounds, borders and filters.
Quozio – Enter a quote or a set of text, who said it and Quozio will create an image for you to share on your blog or social media accounts. With a free account you can save quotes and upload directly to Facebook.
Scratch – Allows you to create games, stories and animations to make your point or just have fun. You can explore and share what others have done and even use their free forum to get help with a project.
Canva Fotor
BeFunky – Has so many templates to make your creation great. You can design social media images, invitations, menus . . . really . . . anything.
Canva – Perfect for making blog and social media images. Just sign up for a free account an explore all of the possibilities.
Fotor – Has the ability to edit images and make collages, but also cards and touch ups. That’s right…get rid of that zit.

It’s a proud moment when you have a vision and you can actually create it.

Hopefully these tools have been helpful. Have some other suggestions? I would love to find out about them.

If you want a little head start, check Shop B for design templates.

What did I miss? Do you have anymore suggestion?

Share the Knowledge!


  • Melissa says:

    Thank you for creating this list! What a great timesaver. Yup, pretty heroic. 🙂

    When it comes to colors, I love the image palette tool at, too. You upload an image you like, and it creates a palette based on what it “sees.” Really handy for those of us who know what they like, but only when they see it! (link:

    • Brittany says:

      You are welcome Melissa! Thank you for telling me about the Image Palette…that thing is awesome. I can’t tell you how many times I look at an image and see color before I even see the actual image. It’s like dancing to a song because of the music and then later realizing what the song says!

      I will absolutely use this and likely add it to this list (with a credit to you of course) when I update it in the future.

  • Regina says:

    This is a heroic list of resources. I love that you made it pretty too. I feel like there are at least 17 new resources for me to go geek over. For example, Gridulator?! That’s amazing. Cuts down on my time making that for myself in Photoshop and automatically does the math for me. Win. Win. Win. Thank you.

    • Brittany says:

      Right! Mental math is not my strength, so I use to have to pull the calculator out and then figure out how that looks in Photoshop or just wing it. I’m so glad you found it helpful. Check out what another commenter just told me about.…you upload a pic and it creates a palette for you. How awesome is that?

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