Are you looking for Canva alternatives for your DIY Graphic Design? We’ve become more adept at using visual content tools to create our own marketing and social media images – often using more than one tool to do so. So maybe it’s time to check out what’s out there!
In this post, I share a number of desktop tools or apps that are alternatives to Canva. Try them – they might serve your visual content needs in new or different ways! There’s no reason why you can’t have a number of tools like Canva in your arsenal.
BY DONNA MORITZ | 20 AUGUST, 2018 | CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS
Before we start with the Canva alternatives, let’s talk a little about why I love DIY graphic design tools so much for creating visual content.
We’ve come a long way from ClipArt!
My interest in visual content tools sparked in 2012 when introduced to a photo editing tool called Picmonkey. It was my first experience with a tool that allowed me to create visual content that looked more like a designer had created it and less like I’d used ClipArt (I shudder to think of ClipArt even being an option back then… or even Publisher… remember that? Yikes!)
Suffice to say, I was in heaven. I was able to create effects that attracted eyeballs to my visuals, and some of my earliest blog posts were about Picmonkey. Over time my arsenal of tools grew to include Canva when it first launched (I was the 200th-and-something user way back when it was in Beta) and other apps like Over and video tools too, like Wave.We've come a long way from Clip Art and Publisher (shudder!) for non-designersClick To Tweet
Canva changed things up for all of us, allowing us to to create visuals using templates. Resizing images for various platforms became my friend! And since then they’ve grown to have millions of users.
By the time I discovered Canva, my blog had already pivoted to focus almost entirely on visual content tools and visual platforms. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to test and review dozens of visual tools (many of them Canva alternatives) – because a key focus of Socially Sorted is to show you what’s out there so you can find the right DIY visual tools for your business.
I often get asked by my community about Canva alternatives, because you are looking for new and different features. Or maybe additional tools like Canva to use as well. So, it was time for me to write a post for you all! I’ve rounded up 7 Canva alternatives that all have different features you might like:
7 Best Canva Alternatives for DIY Graphic Design.
Here are 7 great Canva alternatives to play with. The focus is on desktop tools as that’s how I like to design. I find it too fiddly using my thumbs on a phone unless I need to whip up a quick image. You might be different – but I wanted to be clear that I am not focusing on mobile apps (although of course some of these tools do have mobile versions).
Let’s jump in:
Your DIY Design Secret Weapon – the Drag-and-Drop Design tool that helps you create Visual Content SO good it looks like a Pro designed it.
If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll have heard me talk about Easil. I discovered Easil in 2016 when I was sick of all the DIY templates starting to look a bit “same same”.
Easil stood out to me initially (and still does) because of the sheer quality of the templates. I started to use it more and more, and it’s been my primary go-to visual design tool for well over a year now. I even joined their team recently as Chief Storyteller because I like what they are doing so much.
The other thing that drew me to Easil was the ability to design at a basic level OR take it up a notch and use designer-level features like Layers, Design Merge (merging elements of different designs) and Text Effects. So much so that many designers love designing in Easil but it’s awesome for non-designers as it’s so easy to get started. I also love that Easil is intuitive in that you just have to click on your image or text and the exact tool kit or “Action Bar” you need pops up in the dashboard area. It’s slick!
Easil is always creating new templates and keeping ahead of social media trends – for instance they have a huge selection of Instagram Story templates. Match this up with the sheer professional quality of the templates, and it’s a win for me.
For many reasons, I really struggle with how to compare Easil to Canva as I think it is closer to designer tools from Adobe than a DIY Design tool … Easil is kind of doing its own thing which is refreshing. It’s definitely one of the best Canva alternatives available to us right now.
Let’s take a look at some of the other features that made me love Easil:
- High Quality, Professional, Editable Templates – designed by professional designers so they are commercially ready and don’t give you that “cookie cutter” feeling that you’ve seen them all before. Easil has no particular style so the templates are always edgy.
- Templates are All-Inclusive – All templates are inclusive so even if you’re on a free subscription and you access a template, you don’t pay extra for hidden elements. If the image or icon is in the template, it’s included.
- Unique Editing Tools – It has a whole bunch of features that I can’t find elsewhere like:
- Text Effects Tools – including neon/glow effect, drop shadow and text masking (adding images to text or shapes)
- Color Palette Generator – pulls in a selection of colors from your image to use in your design.
- Tables – you can use the Tables feature to create and write ebooks or create menus. So handy for laying out text!
- Transparent PNG – create designs with transparent backgrounds in just one click.
- Advanced Design Tools – including the ability to work in layers, group elements and merge design elements from other templates.
- Folders and Favourites – you can store your designs in folders as well as logos, illustrations, images and assets.
- GIF Maker – you can animate images, photos, text, icons and more for really unique GIF animations. Unlike Canva’s GIFs where you can only really animate text or elements in a few set ways, you can get creative with Easil using photos, text, icons and text effects.
- EasilStock – This is Easil’s exclusive series of stock images – included at no extra charge on ‘Plus’ and ‘Edge’ subscriptions. They are a breath of fresh air when it comes to stock images, prefect for industry or entrepreneurial content. And they add new ones all the time!
- Print Services – Australia-only at present but this may well expand to other countries. You can print flyers, business cards, posters or banners… straight from Easil!
- Great Support – Easil’s graphic designers actually jump in on support when necessary, which is super useful when you are not a designer… to help you learn how to DIY effectively.
Here’s how the pricing and features work:
Easil has a Free Plan, and two paid tiers (Easil Plus and Easil Edge).
- Free Plan – this gives you access to their Free range of Editable Templates, Stock Images and Graphic Elements as well as basic Text effects like Drop Shadow and Glow. You can also work in layers and groups and upload your own images.
- Plus Plan – is $7.50 USD per month. This gives you access to all of the features on the Free Plan as well as well as 5000+ more All-inclusive Templates, Transparent PNG images, animated GIFs, High-res PDF download, Design Merge, Store Designs in Folders and Brand Elements in Favorites, Resizing Tool, Text Masking, Uploading Your Own Fonts and Unlimited Free use of 1500+ Free EasilStock Images.
- Edge Plan – is $59 USD per month and includes everything in Plus as well as 10,000 Industry and Event specific templates + Priority Support.
Every plan on Easil gives you access to free stock images as well as a huge library of cost-effective pay-per-use stock images.
Watch this Space: Big things are coming for Easil in terms of how you brands can use it. I’ve been fortunate to take a peek under the hood and it’s exciting! I’ll update it here when their 2.0 update goes live.
Ridiculously Simple image creation for social media marketers, bloggers and small businesses.
Stencil is a graphic design tool that is all about creating social media images easily and quickly (as well as ad images, marketing images and email images). It’s designed to be a tool that you can access quickly in your browser to produce a quick image and post it, so I wanted to include it as one of the Canva alternatives.
One of the features I do like about Stencil is their huge library of quotes that you can use to quickly import into your image and create fresh content. I have used these many times before when trying to plan what to post for images. The quote section has a great search function too so you can search by the person saying the quote OR by quote keyword or phrase.
Stencil’s template selection is much smaller than other tools on this list of Canva alternatives, but for quick, easy posts, it’s a basic selection to get you started.
I also love that you can access so many fonts with their Google Web Font integration and it has a solid selection of images/photos and design icons. So, if you wanted to go beyond creating a quick image, you could get more creative.
- Stock photos – Stencil has 1.5 million stockphotos (Royalty Free, CCO)
- Template designs – use 650+ Templates to create images quickly and easily.
- Huge library over icons and Graphics – over 1 million of them!
- Large range of custom social media sizes – Stencil has 41 custom sizes including social media sizes, ready to go.
- Massive Quote Library – Stencil has 100,000 quotes you can use to instantly create quote images. Use the chrome extension to add quotes straight from the web, into a Stencil canvas to create images.
- 2,300 Google Web Fonts – never run out of font inspiration or upload your own.
- Share images to Social Platforms – create, preview and share images to a range of social platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Buffer and Bitly.
Stencil starts with a Free Plan where you can create 10 images per month (with access to limited photos and icons). You can then upgrade to:
- Pro Plan – for $9 USD per month and get access to all the features to create 50 images per month (including font uploads, access to photos and graphics, logo/watermarks, keep up to 100 favourites, 650+ templates, and premium support.
- Unlimited Plan – for $12 USD per month for everything in the Pro Plan plus unlimited images and favorites.
Easy-to-use design tool for creating stunning visuals.
Crello is a newer kid on the block and is the DIY design tool from the team at Depositphotos. At face value it reminds you of Canva with a similar tool kit so it definitely makes this list of Canva alternatives.
But it’s different to Canva in the sense that you can go one step further and create animated visuals with the Animation Maker tool. Sure, you can create animated visuals in Canva, but as I said above, they are very restrictive (just text and elements flying in). Crello allows a lot more creative freedom with animation.
But let’s take a look at the visual design features first (and why I’ve included it as one of the Canva alternatives).
Next to Easil, Crello is probably the best tool in this list for having a decent template library. Crello also has one of the best selections of illustration-style graphic elements I have seen anywhere. A large percentage of Crello’s templates are “illustration” style vs just photo-based so it’s a different kind of look, and one that can stand out on social media.
It’s also one of the only tools in this list to have templates for Facebook Cover Videos. Using Crello’s Animation Maker, you can create some pretty cool Facebook Cover Videos that catch the eye!
Here are the key features in Crello:
- Plenty of choice for design size and format – Crello has 33 image formats for resizing, including Facebook Cover Video.
- Templates – Crello has over 12,000 templates and 240 fonts to choose from. Templates can be searched under size or theme with a large number of themed template collections.
- Massive image library – 65 million images can be accessed in Crello via Deposit Photos.
- Photo Editor – add photo effects like filters (ready-made or make-your-own), color effects, layers, transparency, cropping, blur effects.
- Design Tools – add text, stickers, animations and more using layers to make multi-level images.
- Animation Maker – this feature is the key difference to Crello and brings your designs to life. To access the full-featured Animation Maker suite you’ll need the Pro plan (see below) but it includes a huge selection of “Animated” templates as well as thousands of free animated objects
Crello has two levels to keep things simple – Forever Free or Pro.
Forever Free gives you access to the features above for creating static images, flyers, posters, business cards etc – including free templates, photo editor and fonts. You can create limited animated images in that you are restricted to 1080 x 1080 animated posts from the template selection (you can’t resize or add animated objects) and includes the Created in Crello branding on download.
Pro is Crello’s best option at $9.99 USD per month. With a Pro account you also get all the features of the Animation Maker including full access to all animated formats (Animated Posts, FB Video cover and Full HD Video), unlimited commercial usage on all animations (no watermarks or Crello branding) and thousands of free animated objects. With their collection of animations and video backgrounds, you have plenty of scope for creativity… or just use templates. You can also resize your animation designs.
Photo editor. Design Maker. Idea Realizer.
Picmonkey began life as a photo editing tool but it can be so much more, which is why I have still included this on my list of Canva alternatives.
As I said above, Picmonkey was one of the first tools that I used where I could see the light in terms of DIY Graphic design. The tool (and their team) has always been cheeky and kinda loveable and they are always adding fun features and graphic elements. Here’s a few of them:
- Basic and Advanced Photo editing tools – Cropping tool, exposure sliders, color tools for brightening/correcting/auto-correcting color, sharpen tool, rotate tool and resize tool for social media, print and web. Picmonkey also does transparent PNG which is handy.
- Photo Effects and Filters – Tried and true photo effect filters, Basic photo effects like softening/frosted edges, Black and White effects, Vintage camera effects, Paintbox color effects, Light effects, Artsy photo effects. You can also use Layers to erase or mix and mingle effects.
- Add Text to Photos – it’s easy to use Picmonkey’s text tool to add text, graphics and textures to your images. One feature they have that you don’t see in many other tools is circular-shaped text (awesome!).
- Touch Up effects – change eye color, face features, whiten teeth or remove blemishes on photos.
- Collage Maker – a range of flexible customizable grid layouts/collage layouts for photos (in different combinations that you can easily edit or add text).
- Graphics – This was always one of my favourite things about Picmonkey. They have a huge selection of graphics, vectors, icons and effects that allow you to create custom images… literally thousands of free vector illustrations, labels, seasonal graphics and icons (it’s a great place to come for Christmas or Halloween). You can scale all the images easily or layer them to create something cool.
- Templates – This is a newer feature for Picmonkey. They now have a basic collection of design templates for different social media and design projects.
It might not be an exact match for Canva, but it’s a good tool to have in your tool kit and to consider as one of the Canva alternatives. Especially if you are not Photoshop savvy and want to be able to access cool photo editing features.
Picmonkey has a free plan where you can take it for a spin for 7 days (the previous Forever Free plan was discontinued).
You can upgrade to the Basic Plan for $5.99 USD per month ($71.88 billed annually) or you can choose to pay $7.99 and be billed each month. This unlocks the entire Picmonkey workflow, so you can create images with effects, editing tools, templates, graphics, touch up tools, textures, frames, fonts and store images in the Hub.
The Pro Plan gives you the most Picmonkey features with everything included in the Basic Plan plus unlimited Hub Storage for your designs and PDF export. This plan is $9.99 USD per month, billed on an annual basis which means $119.88 per year. You can’t pay monthly for Pro.
5. Adobe Spark
Adobe Spark Post is the fun, fast and easy way to create stunning graphics for all occasions.
Adobe Spark Post is part of the Adobe Spark suite of video, web and image creation tools. Unlike their more advanced Adobe cousins – Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop – this set of Adobe products is much easier to use. But with that comes more automation and less creative control. However it stacks up well as one of the Canva alternatives for DIY Design.
Adobe Spark Post is for creating images or visuals and is the closest in functionality to Canva of the Adobe Spark products. It’s available on desktop and mobile and this is probably the only tool out of this selection that I have used more on mobile than desktop over the past few years (mainly to access the animation feature which is mobile-only). But you can create on mobile or desktop. Here are a few of the key features:
- Template Designs – Adobe Spark Post is very template-driven. You simply find a template you like, change out the text (or the image) and you’re good to go. Create collages, flyers and social posts and resize them for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or more.
- Apply themes – you can take any text and graphic and apply a range of different design themes to your design in one click (and color palette themes as well).
- Easy Text Resize – drag the text with your mouse (or finger if on mobile) and the text resizes to fit.
- Animation effects – Adobe Spark Post was one of the first tools to add animation. It’s slicker than Canva’s animation effects but still pretty basic compared to Crello’s animations. And they are only available on the mobile version of the tool.
- Brand Features – add your logo, choose colors and fonts, and create personalised templates and themes with brand assets.
You can use Spark for Free or upgrade to Spark Premium.
Free includes the ability to create graphics and sync your projects across desktop and mobile (iPhone and iPad only)
Premium gives you the ability to replace the Adobe Spark Logo with your own, and add your brand to your graphics (color and fonts). You can also create branded templates, manage your brand and update branding across templates in one click. Includes live phone and chat support.
Note: if you have a Paid Adobe Creative Cloud account, Spark Premium is included in your monthly payment.
Create online graphics in a snap!
Snappa claims to make design snappy, not clunky. It has all the usual suspect features like a graphic editor and resizing ability for graphics. I have to be honest and say I haven’t used this tool much over the years but some of my audience have used it at times so I am including it here as one of the Canva alternatives so you can see what’s out there.
Here’s some of the features of Snappa:
- Graphic Editor – Snappa’s graphic editor is drag-and-drop like most of these tools and has a range of features to allow you to add text, effects, graphics, shapes, adjust line height and spacing and effects like opacity.
- Visual Asset Library – You can choose from 500,000+ photos, 70,000+ graphics and 200+ fonts. All photos are royalty-free and licensed for commercial use.
- Templates – Snappa has hundreds of pre-made templates in a range of sizes and niches. Out of the tools here I think Snappa’s templates are probably the closest in style to Canva’s. They have a DIY feel to them and aren’t probably as professional as some of the other templates like Easil’s pro-quality templates or Crello’s illustration images. But if you get creative with fonts and you have some design skills you can create something custom.
- Resize Tool – like most of the other tools, Snappa also allows you to resize your images in just a couple of clicks. And like most other tools you usually have to do a little tweaking to make sure text, photos and icons are positioned properly as it renders into the new size.
- Own Photo Upload – like with other tools, you can upload your own graphics and photos into Snappa.
- Save and Organize into Folders – You can save custom designs into folders for later reference and editing.
- Import Custom Fonts – If you need more than the 200+ fonts included in Snappa you can upload your own fonts.
- Share images to Social Media – this is one benefit of Snappa – you can share your images to Social Media. I use Agorapulse to schedule most of my social media images, so I don’t usually use a visual content tool to schedule my images. But if you were creating an image on the fly, this could be handy.
- Team Collaboration – similar to Canva, you can share designs, folders and other brand assets between team members.
Note some of these features are available on the paid plan only – see below.
Snappa has 3 levels of membership – Free, Pro and Team.
Free is for a single user with access to all photos and graphics, 5 downloads per month and a limited number of templates for only 2 social accounts.
Pro is also for 1 user but you get unlimited downloads, access to templates, and social media accounts. You can also save designs in folders and upload custom fonts.
Team is for 5 users. You get all the features of the other plans as well as Team Collaboration, which means you can share designs, folders, fonts and brand assets with your team.
Design Engaging Images for Your Social Media Posts.
Pablo is probably the simplest of these Canva alternatives but it also has a place here for creating visual content quickly and easily – I’d liken it to the ‘no frills’ tool of this list. If you are a Buffer user (it’s a Buffer tool!) it’s a no brainer to use Pablo for quick and easy images, straight from Buffer.
If you don’t know about Buffer, it’s a scheduling tool that lets you share any web page you’re reading. You just simply create a Buffer Queue and then add content to it to keep it topped up and shared out to your social platforms throughout the day. Pablo is Buffer’s sidekick to allow you to create images to share to your Buffer queue.
You can also use Pablo as a stand alone tool, however it’s a little more basic than some of the other tools on this list.
- Multiple image sizes – You can create images with the perfect size and format for Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Pablo keeps it simple however: focusing just on square, vertical or landscape images. A combination of these three sizes works for pretty much all the social networks. Tall and Vertical is ideal for Pinterest, Short and horizontal is ideal for Twitter and Facebook, and Square is ideal for Instagram or LinkedIn …or even Twitter and Facebook.
- Analytics Built-in – if you share your images straight from Buffer you can see how they are performing with Buffer’s analytics.
- Sharing straight to social networks – you can share straight to Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter… even Pinterest!
- Buffer Extension – with the Buffer extension you can access Pablo from any web page and use the elements of the page as your next Pablo image. Just right click on any text to use the text on your image – perfect for grabbing quotes or tips from your content or that of other bloggers!
- Inspirational Quotes – Pablo has a library of inspirational quotes to choose from. Like Stencil this is handy when you are searching for content to share.
Pablo is free – you can start using it here. Once you get started you can also easily sign up for Buffer via Pablo if you are not already a Buffer user. Buffer is free for 3 social accounts and 1 user, or $15 per month for 1 user and up to 8 social accounts. Business accounts are available too. Check out Buffer Pricing here.
How do you compare tools?
It’s always going to be difficult to make a direct comparison between DIY Graphic Design tools or in this case, the “Canva alternatives” – because it’s not just about the features. It’s about you and how you like to create visuals and what your skills are too.
The key is to take them for a spin. You won’t know what you will love until you try it. Give it a few weeks and take advantage of the free trial period to test out some of the paid features too.
Generally I find that most people in my Socially Sorted community will use at least two tools to create visual content, sometimes more. Usually one of those tools is paid and then they might use one or two with free versions but it varies greatly. It just depends on who they are and what their content needs are! Whatever you choose from this list, try some of these tips to get results when testing out these Canva alternatives:
Tips for getting the most out of your DIY Graphic Design Tools
- Look for tools that include images. Whether it’s images that are free for commercial use, or low-cost, make sure you have easy access to images. A bonus is if the tool doesn’t charge any extra for images that are included in templates, like Easil does.
- Take note of the templates. If they stand out and you haven’t seen them “around the web” or they don’t look Do-It-Yourself, then you’re off to a good start. The key to using design templates is that you want them to look like a designer created them, even if it’s you finishing them off!
- Don’t mess with the templates too much. No matter which tool you use, there was a designer creating the template in the first place. Trust that they had some idea about how to design! If you are going to make changes, stick to changes like text, background photo or color and try not to move too far from the original design. ie if you replace the text, keep it to a similar style font or length of text.
- Invest in at least one “paid” tool. Most design tools have restrictions on their free versions, and the reality is that you get more if you pay just a little. For most business owners $10 per month is not a huge outlay if you are getting access to a great tool that you use regularly in your business. So don’t be afraid to invest a little in your tool of choice – you’ll get way more back in terms of saved time and hours. Bear this in mind when looking at these Canva alternatives.
- Don’t be afraid to experiment and try a new tool! Try the free trials on the tools on this Canva alternatives list. This allows you to experience the paid features of the tool for a short time. You can’t make an informed decision unless you play with the features. Have fun!
Over to You
What’s your go-to visual content tool for DIY Graphic Design? Or maybe you use a number of tools like Canva for creating visuals. Are you now inspired to try a new tool from this list of Canva alternatives? Leave me a comment below!
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