So while Photoshop is the standard when it comes to web graphics, not everyone can afford to pay for photoshop. And, even if you do own it, like I do, when you are trying to push out a ton of content, using photoshop (for me at least) takes way to long. Luckily in the last couple years a variety of powerful, online graphic tools have become available.
My go to has been Canva over the last couple of years. It is very powerful and the pricing is amazing. While their paid graphical elements are photos run about $1.00 a piece, I have been able to get away with just their free elements.
So in this post we are going to go over the different “Free” design tools and compare them, using Canva as the standard we compare it to. Essentially I will test the tools creating three different designs standards I use the most. So an Instagram Post, a Youtube Thumbnail and an infographic.
Crello versus Canva
So the first tool I am going to compare to Canva is a tool called Crello. Cello was created by DepositPhotos.com just recently. It makes sense because given the inexpensive stock offerings from Canva, I could see them losing business pretty quick.
Canva provides a ton of stock layouts you can use for most purposes. This includes standard social, insta, Facebook posts as well as ebook covers, infographics, etc. So I have found it easy to create instagram posts and youtube thumbs with ease. They even have stock layouts for infographics, and I have used it to create ebooks as well.
Crello has a similar layout to Canva. There are quite a bit less stock designs but like any of these, you can put in custom dimensions. Crello has a ton more fonts to use but you can’t go any bigger in font size than what the system lets you which is really a bummer. Its also a little harder to find things like free pictures but the paid ones were awesome. Below is a comparison to two instagram posts I did for Bastille Day.
I created a youtube thumbnail next. Canva has the size as an option and some pre-made themes. Crello does not have a premed size, but you do a custom size at 1280 x 720 pixels and get started. Again, I really like the text control with Canva. Fonts, a slider for size. One thing I definitely appreciate about Canva, that Crello didn’t do, was save your pale of colors. So if you used a color once already in a document, it save it to reuse it which was nice when I was doing the background behind text and wanted to swap those out. Either way, its still pretty much a wash.
Finally I decided to create an infographic. This was super easy to do in Canva as they have pre-made designs for Infographics. A variety of free elements were easier to find in Canva. What I would like to see in both tools that neither does, is the ability to add drop shadows and strokes to elements or at least to text.
Which of these two to use? Overall, Canva is a better tool but for Youtube Thumbs, I kinda like the variety of text you can get. For Instagram and Infographics, I will still recommend Canva.
Stencil versus PicMonkey
Note: Since I did this video and review, PicMonkey is no longer free and is only paid. It is still a great tool but there is a small nominal fee associated with it as well.
In this round, we are going to compare Stencil to PicMonkey. I bought Stencil a bit back when they had it on special but they have a free tier as well to try it out. Ultimately you get the most out of Stencil when you buy a paid plan such as the Pro or Unlimited. I have the Unlimited plan.
I will be honest, there are things I really like about Stencil but I feel like it is much more targeted towards social media postings over a general graphic tool. So if you need to do things like Infographics, then Canva will be better. But, fi you are only looking for a social media tool, then we need to look at Stencil.
So when you get into the backend of stencil which just acts like a web app (and has a chrome extension) you will find a really simple interface. There are a ton of backgrounds, icons, and graphics included with the plan. What is really cool is a quotes section which will allow you to access quotes to use for things like your instagram, Facebook or other social media post.
Now here are a couple of the cool things you can do with Stencil. Now, like, Canva, you can upload assets, but what I find interesting is the ability to upload logos and watermarks to turn on or off on every post.
Where Stencil does better than Canva and Crello, is the ability to create text. Besides creating text with a variety of Google Fonts (1,200), your ability to style the text is amazing. This includes uploading your own fonts, ability to do drop shadows and even stroke on your text. The main point is your ability to push out content fast is where Stencil comes into hits own.
The other thing that is awesome is the ability to create standard ad sizes if you want to run Youtube overlay ads, Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, LinkedIn Ads. You name it it, it will do it for you.
One thing I haven’t used yet is the ability to post to instagram by sending via SMS. Apparently you get 100 free SMS messages a month with the unlimited plan. It also has direct integration with Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and buffer, or you can just download it.
If Social is your thing… Then Stencil is what you need. Try it for free in the link below.
PicMonkey has been around much longer than even Canva and has been a go to photo editing tool for many Youtubers. I think it is weak when it comes to social media and infographics but it makes up for it when it comes to creating things like Youtube Thumbnails. The ability to clean up photos, remove backgrounds, make outlines, there are tons of functionality that you will like and I can guarantee you there are several major youtube stars that use it to make their thumbnails. I recommend trying both and see which one works best for you.
Snappa versus Visme
Of these two tools, Visme is probably the newest and as I write this post/do this demo video, it is still in Beta. What I find interesting about Visme, is it is almost more of a substitute for powerpoint and keynote. I didn’t have the pro version to try out the HTML embed but it could be a really cool feature. Where I think Visme comes into its own is with its info-graphics. The number of stock infographics is pretty amazing.
Snappa is another competitor to Canva. The layout is quite a bit different but there are a few features I wish Canva had. First, the ability to add rounded corners to background squares. Now, Canva has these but you have to choose the rounded corners. The way Snappa does it will be much more familiar to people who either do photoshop, or design websites. Second, drop shadows on text. I know its not a popular option these days, but drop shadows can really help make text visible for certain backgrounds. But it doesn’t really have infographic functionality so I used it to create an ebook cover.
I think both tools are interesting and a great addition to your arsenal. If I did a lot of webinars, I think Visme is what you should check out further and I think Snappa can be an able competitor to Canva.