Wondering how to choose the best design tool for your business?
Comparing Stencil vs Canva?
Years ago, the answer to the best design tool question was one word:
Adobe’s beast of a pixel-based design tool was the only real option out there to make graphics for your online business.
But now we have a range of high-quality apps that can do most of the jobs that Photoshop can do. And they make it so easy that anyone can create professional-looking graphics!
Two of the top easy design tools are Stencil and Canva. But if you look at Stencil vs Canva, how do the two compare?
Let’s dive into what they offer to help you choose the best design tool for you.
Disclosure: If you make a purchase after clicking a link in this article, I may earn a referral fee, at no cost to you.
What is a graphic design app?
A graphic design app is a tool used to create all kinds of visual content for your business.
These apps generally include a range of features such as text layouts, fonts, and images. You can select and arrange the elements in the way you want.
Many graphic design apps are geared towards social media images. That means they include pre-set sizes and formats to quickly make optimized social visuals.
While Photoshop may be the forerunner of them all, in recent years we’ve seen an explosion of tools including widely-known Canva, plus Canva alternatives.
Here we’ll compare Canva with one of its top competitors.
Stencil vs Canva – what’s the same?
With any good comparison, let’s start with what’s the same.
Both are browser-based design tools. That means there’s no need to download something to your computer. It also means they don’t slow your hard-drive down or use up space on it.
Both are designed to be intuitive and easy to use so that non-graphic designers can quickly start using them.
Both have a free plan and upgrade options to get you more features and benefits.
Both include all the features you expect from a graphic design tool, such as cropping, resizing, filters, and text options.
A few more common areas include:
- Pre-made templates that you can adapt to your brand.
- Ability to resize images (depending on the plan).
- Upload images from your computer or use royalty-free ones in the program.
- Drag and drop approach for text, icons, and images.
- Pre-loaded fonts and the ability to add more (depending on the plan).
- Quick download of the image to use anywhere.
Stencil vs Canva – the main differences
Now let’s take a look at what the main differences between the tools are.
Not all of these will be relevant for everyone, but it helps to show you which one might work best for you.
Both tools have a lot of stuff included in paid plans.
A snapshot of what’s in a paid Stencil account includes:
- 4,400,000 photos
- 1125+ templates
- 100,000+ quotes
- 3150+ Google fonts
- 2,100,000 icons and graphics
- 75+ preset sizes
And inside Canva Pro, you will find:
- 60,000,000+ photos, audios, and videos
- 420,000+ templates
- 223,000+ icons
- 3000+ fonts
- 20 types of graphs to customize (sample shown below)
Speed and efficiency
One of the things that Stencil prides itself on is the speed of its app – and it shows.
Canva is notorious for being a bit slow and getting stuck, especially when downloading an image.
Also, Stencil has extensions for the major browsers including Chrome, Firefox, and Safari.
This means you don’t even need to return to their website to create graphics. This saves you time and makes it easy to create graphics on the fly.
Spot the perfect quote for your audience and want to make it into a graphic? Click the browser extension and quickly make one with Stencil.
With Canva, you’d need to copy the quote text, return to the Canva site, create your template, and paste the quote into it.
Social sharing from the platform
Another interesting feature for Stencil is that you can share your graphics straight to social media from it.
Their integration includes Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.
You can also connect with a Buffer account to send them out later. Or use a Bitly account to shorten a link and track its stats.
Canva has recently added a scheduling feature, but this is more like a Buffer-style affair.
If you already have a scheduling tool, you probably don’t need anything that complicated.
Video and animated features
When it comes to the ability to animate your designs, Canva wins hands-down.
Stencil doesn’t have much in the way of options for this kind of design.
With Canva, you can animate an image to make it move. You can use animated stickers.
Plus, there’s a library of stock videos to use in place of still images.
You can also combine a series of images to create a video and download it in .MP4 format.
So many of my readers are using WordPress. You too?
Wouldn’t it be nice to design graphics within WordPress then drop them in where you want them?
Well, with Stencil, you can do this. There’s a plugin to add to your WordPress site.
So rather than creating somewhere, downloading it, uploading it, and then using it, you can jump from first step to last.
What do they cost?
For lots of us, features top the decision-making list. But the cost is also a factor.
Both tools offer a free version and upgraded options, but they have a different approach.
The free plan on Stencil lets you save up to 10 images a month and upload up to 50 images.
You can favorite 10 items and create 10 collections. You can also schedule 10 Instagram posts a month.
The second tier is called Pro and is $9 a month when paid annually. With Pro, you can:
- Download up to 50 images a month.
- Access all the photos, icons, and graphics.
- Upload fonts, logos, and up to 250 images.
- Create 25 collections and 100 favorites.
- Schedule 25 Instagram posts a month.
The third tier for Stencil is called Unlimited and is $12 a month when paid annually. No surprise here – you can save and upload unlimited numbers of images, and have unlimited collections or favorites.
It also includes up to 100 Instagram images a month scheduled.
Canva has a three-tier pricing structure but the third tier is mostly for larger teams.
The free plan gives access to 8000 free templates.
There are also 100+ design types, and thousands of free photos and graphics. Many have a fee, so if you’re trying to go really budget, beware of this. You’ll pay each time you download an image made with these templates or photos.
The Pro plan is $9.95 a month when paid annually or $12.95 when paid monthly. It includes:
- Brand identity kit with colors, fonts, and logos
- One-click resizing of designs
- 60,000+ templates
- 60+ million images, videos, graphics and more
- Upload fonts and logos
- Create custom templates
The third tier is Enterprise and is $30 a month when paid annually.
You can have multiple brand kits and control user access.
There is also a workflow option when working with designers, and unlimited storage.
What to use Stencil for
Stencil has some standout features when you want to make great social media or blog graphics.
With features such as drop shadow and separate outline and background color, you can easily control the look of text.
It has templates for all of the main social media platforms so you can easily make graphics.
The quotes section is particularly handy, making it easy to create those stylish quote graphics that always do well on social media.
Items are easily arranged into categories to make it quicker and easier to find things.
You can favorite ones to reuse or create collections. Or just search to find something.
The saved logos section is also handy to brand your graphics.
The straightforward licensing also makes it a great place to create print-on-demand items without worrying about copyright. Print and sell as many items as you want without worries of extended license fees or royalties.
Stencil is best for:
- Simple social media graphics
- Pinterest pins
- Blog post graphics and quote graphics
- Print on demand items and physical products
What to use Canva for
Canva is a comprehensive graphic design tool that is more like Photoshop than most other apps out there.
It is user friendly in most cases – although it does take a little getting used to.
The range of templates is extensive and goes beyond social media marketing or blogging.
It is the perfect place to create PDF eBooks, flyers, presentations, and even logos.
It has a massive database of photos, videos, and other elements to use in Pro plans.
The features to create video and animate graphics plays into social media’s desire for this kind of content.
You can also add elements such as charts, so creating infographics and presentations is simple. We shared an example earlier in this article.
We’ve also got you covered with how to use Canva.
Canva is best for:
- Lead magnets
- Digital products
- Online-offline marketing campaigns
- Video marketing
The best design tools
When you think about it, there’s no real Stencil vs Canva debate.
Because both tools offer free versions and cost-effective upgrades, you can have both.
Both have different features that make certain jobs easier.
You can customize your use to make the best of what each tool offers.
However, if you just want to make some pins for Pinterest and graphics for your blog, Stencil is simple and quick to use. It offers everything you need for these tasks.
Without the hair-pulling frustration that I personally experience from the complexity of Canva.
What’s your favorite graphic design tool and what do you use it for?
Which would you pick if it comes down to Stencil vs Canva?