Whether you’re artistically inclined or not, sometimes you just need to whip up an illustrative or entertaining image for a blog post or presentation. The tools on this list help you generate respectable graphics in a jiffy — design talent optional!
Most of the tools on this list are web-based and as easy to use as filling in a web form. We’ve added a couple of desktop applications that make visual communication a lot quicker and easier, even for those of us without a ton of graphic design skills.
1. Warning Labels and Signs
Advising people to the dangers of the situation has never been so easy. Simply pick a label style, a warning icon, and enter your desired text into a simple web form and voila, you’ve got a standup warning label.
For a vertical sign-style warning image, check out the companion site Warning Sign Generator.
2. De-Motivational Posters
Annoyed by those superficial and unflaggingly insipid motivational posters we’re subjected to in dentists’ and corporate offices everywhere? Why not take a stance against mass-produced pseudo-solutions to important problems?
With the Demotivators tool you can easily generate a realistic illustration of the trials and tribulations of Real Life. Just choose an image from your desktop to create a motivational parody from, customize your image settings, add a title and de-motivational text and you too can contribute to the better psychological health of us all.
3. Street Signs
From the same fine folks who brought us the Warning Label Generator above is a tool for making funny and inappropriate street signs. Once again this is a simple web form; simply choose one of four background styles, input the text you want displayed on the sign, and choose an optional suffix (Road, Lane, etc.).
Almost no list is complete without a reference to funny cat pictures. On the internet, all roads lead to LOLcats, so you might as well make like the natives and start rolling your own.
The LOL Builder tool will help you achieve goofy captioned imagery of your favorite felines and other irresistibly cute animals in no time. You can upload your own photo or re-use an image someone else has submitted.
There’s even an advanced version of the LOL Builder for once you’ve mastered the basics, allowing you to adjust the position of your text and caption bubbles. Poster and “breaking news” bulletin styles are also available, and there’s no rule that requires an actual funny cat to be present. If you want to use any of these tools to make images with other themes, the Internet Police will probably not be showing up at your door.
5. Magazine Covers
This magazine cover tool from Big Huge Labs lets you upload an image or bring in one of your photos from Flickr (), Facebook (), Photobucket () or from a URL. You can customize the color palette, fonts, and up to 17 lines of text to generate your own custom print mag cover.
It takes a hardy soul to laugh in the face of death, but if you have the courage this tombstone generator might help. It’s a quick and painless web form that adds your custom text to the headstone.
7. Xbox 360 Achievements
This one goes out to the gamers in the house — especially those of you who experience that satisfying pang of joy each time the achievement badge with trademark sound pops up on your console.
You can make your own achievements with this handy tool, and we sincerely hope you put them to hilarious uses. Know of a funny Alterna-Achievement? Let us know in the comments.
8. Movie Posters
Another project from Big Huge Labs, the movie poster tool is a web form that helps you design a film-style poster from your own images. Choose an alignment for the photo, a poster style, text and accent colors, title fonts and colors, and enter your own custom text for the film title, taglines, credits and MPAA rating.
9. Garbage Pail Kids
Who else is old enough to remember these gems? Relive your youth, or your child’s youth, with this Garbage Pail Kids card generator. Modify the text badge, customize your font and the positioning of the text, and you’ve got your own gruesome custom and classic trading card.
10. Presidential Seal
Going from the cultural to the political, this simple tool lets you add your own verbiage to the official U.S. Presidential seal. And did you know the Vice President also has a seal? Can someone please alert Biden?
11. Add Photo Effects
The Tuxpi site offers a bunch of easy, one-click web-based tools for adding borders, captions, reflections, and other types of effects to your digital photos. You can turn any image into a postage stamp, wanted poster, pop art collage, and more.
Sorry Windows users, you’re out of luck on this one. Skitch () is a Mac desktop app that makes screenshots dead easy to edit and share. Simple edit tools allow you to overlay text, lines and simple shapes to your screenshots or other images. Skitch integrates with iPhoto, Aperture and Photo Booth to easily pull in your existing images or grab a shot from your webcam.
Once your image is ready, you’re one click away from sharing it to the web (publicly or privately), uploading it via FTP, or dragging it to your desktop. A history trail saves the images you’ve worked with for easy reference.
This tool is so useful it’s one of the few I have set to launch automatically on startup. I wouldn’t want to be on a desert island without it.
13. Comic Life
From the makers of Skitch is another great application for would-be doodlers and ad hoc illustrators. Comic Life is available for both the Mac and for Windows PCs, and helps you create professional-looking comic panels, photo albums, and other image layout template styles.
Have you ever torn your hair out looking for those great poofy comic fonts in Photoshop or other tools? That’s one of the areas where Comic Life shines, allowing you to easily drop in impactful lettering text to your images or panels.
More than that, Comic Life provides a fun and easy entry into getting more create ideas flowing with your images. This is the only paid app on this list, but at $24.95 for the standard and $29.95 for the deluxe version, it’s on the cheaper side of imaging tools that help achieve professional-looking results without spending a heinous amount of time. There’s a free 30-day trial as well so you have a chance to check out if it’s worth shelling out the registration fee for your needs.