I’m a Lawyer, Not a Designer!
The Star Trek series featured the curmudgeon physician, beginning with Leonard McCoy, aka Bones. He frequently reminded Admiral James T. Kirk that he was a doctor and not an anything-else-Kirk-asked-him-to-do. If you are asked to do some light design work, whether a newsletter layout, an ad, finding an image, social media posts, or creating a graphic you too might find your attitude is much the same as Dr. McCoy. However, the free Microsoft Designer may give you the skills you need to get the job done.
What is Microsoft Designer?
Microsoft Designer is a free multimedia graphic design tool. It leverages DALL.E 3 and GPT 3.5 to generate and manipulate images with artificial intelligence. It is like a mix between Photoshop, Microsoft Publisher and Canva. It is currently free to use as a web (browser-based) application with your personal Microsoft login, and there is an app for your mobile device. The product is in “Preview” and at some point, there will be a paid version.
What Can You Do with It?
Type a prompt into a prompt template to generate an image. Pick an image you like and then fill in the blanks. For example: “An ____background of ____ with a ____, ____ colors, three-dimensional, ____ light”. Then click “Generate”. Or create “A ____ with ____ in the background, constructivist poster style, ____tones, simple composition.” Once the image is created you can share it or save it.
You can also use it to create a design or edit it. To create a design, take your image and describe what you would like to create, such as a social media post, a postcard, or web banner. There are more prompt templates, and the designer will suggest better prompts as you go along. Once you pick the design, you can open it in the editor to change text, add a brand kit, apply a template and more. You can resize the image and the tool conveniently provides dimensions for popular social media sites like Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and more. Your designs and images are saved in My Designs. You can download them, edit them, or repurpose them.
If you have an image, such as a firm logo, you can start with a blank design. Pick a size for your design and upload media from your computer, phone, Google Drive or Photos, OneDrive or other places. Add some text and a background. Much like Designer in PowerPoint you will notice that MS Designer suggests layouts for you in the right column. Some other ideas include animations. With little to no experience you can create custom designs with text, animations, and images to use.
In addition to creating images and designs you can use Microsoft Designer to remove backgrounds, erase parts of an image, expand an image with Generative Expand (coming soon), edit and enhance your photos, and create albums (coming soon). You can also create a Brand Kit with logos, fonts, and more. Be aware that the Terms of
Other Ways to Leverage Design Tools in Microsoft
Word – If you want to make a Word document look more interesting and you have a Microsoft 365 account, open the document in Word online. In the Home tab look on the far right and click on Designer. You can apply a design that incorporates styles and sometimes images to make your document easier to read and more appealing. You can right click to change the image using stock photography. In Word on the desktop go to Insert and choose Cover Page to add or design an attractive cover sheet to your document. Also, in Word on the desktop go to the Design tab to choose a Style to apply to the document. Be aware that if you are not using Styles your document will look much the same.
PowerPoint – In Microsoft PowerPoint get help with creating attractive slides. In the online or installed version of PowerPoint for Microsoft 365 click on Designer to see suggestions for slides enhanced with images and design layouts.
Bing Chat – If you just want to create an image you can use Copilot (formerly known as Bing Chat). Powered by DALL-E 3, simply go to Bing.com/Create and log in with your Microsoft account to access the image generator. This article from ZDNet has the instructions, and some interesting cautions about copyright and AI image generators.
Of course, there is a price to free. For instance, the Brand Kit prohibits use for business. The Terms of Service are a must read since you are granting Microsoft permission to use your content in connection with the operation of their Internet businesses. US residents also agree to binding arbitration and class action waiver. For now, if you are doing volunteer or non-profit work, or working on your personal brand, these are probably good ways to get accustomed to using this type of tool.