I find that I use multiple tools from my graphics software library depending upon the application. Here’s what’s in my toolkit:

Microsoft PowerPoint

Yes, that PowerPoint. No, I’m not kidding. PowerPoint has become my goto tool when it comes to quick-and-dirty graphics, including book covers. It turns out that this presentation product is also a great general purpose graphics package. I even provide a Udemy class on using PowerPoint to make book covers.

The GIMP

This used to be my goto tool, now it’s my heavy lifting tool. If what I want to do is too detailed or complicated for PowerPoint, then I naturally slip into working in the GIMP. I’ve used the GIMP now for about 28 years so it’s very familiar to me. The problem is that it’s difficult to learn.

The big difference between PowerPoint and the GIMP: PowerPoint has no layers. This greatly simplifies it’s use since layers are the source of most problems in the GIMP.

Moho (formerly Anime Studio)

Layers are back with Moho, along with keyframes. Yike!

If it’s animation I’m after, I step my game up to Moho. In my opinion, Moho is the most powerful animate program out there (this is based on having used… Moho ;-). I love it and use it exclusively to make my images move.

Clip Studio Paint (formerly Manga Studio)

This program is the real deal. I haven’t used it in quite some time, but it is an extremely powerful graphic editor. The area in which this program shines is 3D perspective rules. You can use this program to easily create wild landscapes in 3D. I love it, but have to get better at it.

Canva

Canva is a free (with options to upgrade) online web based graphics tool. I’m just getting started with this. Go to canva.com and you’ll instantly be overwhelmed by the number of templates, fonts and free images provided for every occasion (e.g. Facebook/Twitter banners, emails, book covers, …).

This may be the tool of my future.

Screen Capture

I include this because I’ve made heavy use of it ever since my wife first showed it to me. On Windows 10, press Alt-PrtScr to capture the current screen into the cut and paste buffer. You can then paste the screen into PowerPoint and the GIMP for further processing.

I use this technique all the time since first learning of it.

That’s it. Those are my graphics tools and tricks.

So, what do you have in your toolkit?

—Brian