Looking for Canva alternatives?
Trying to find easy design tools for non-designers?
Maybe you don’t know where to begin with creating images.
Or maybe you find Canva just too confusing!
- You’re looking for the easiest graphic design tool.
- You want the best graphic design software for beginners.
- And it has to have free graphic design templates!
You’re in the right place! I’ll share and compare several popular graphic design tools – as well as some you may not have heard of yet.
Plus a FREE comparison chart download. All updated for 2021!
You can do free graphic design online! Most of these tools offer a free trial and/or a free-forever version.
Pay a little more (currently from $8-39 paid monthly) and you’ll get some really great added features. I’ve been allowed to test some for free to bring you this in-depth report!
Disclosure: I’m an affiliate for some of these products, which means I may get a commission if you purchase. You won’t pay a cent more!
I’ve grouped these graphics creators by easiest, easy, and a quick overview of the pro tools.
Topics we’ll cover (click links to jump to that point in article):
Why are images critical in your marketing? (just below)
EASIEST Graphic Design Tools Click to jump to this section
Stencil Online Design Tool Click to jump
Snappa Online Design Tool Click to jump
Adobe Spark Post Online Design Tool and mobile app Click to jump
Over App for mobile Click to jump
EASY Graphic Design Tools Click to jump to this section
Canva Graphic Design Tool Click to jump
PicMonkey Online Photo Editor Click to jump
PromoRepublic Social Media Content Builder & Scheduler Click to jump
Pro Level Design Tools Click to jump to this section
Plus a wrap-up at the end.
No time to read it all? Download your FREE comparison chart!
This post was originally published in January 2015, and updated in July 2017, January 2018, March 2019, and September 2020.
Why are images critical for marketing?
Humans are visual creatures! You need images to:
- Draw attention to your business.
- Stop the scroll on social media.
- Give people something to share from your blog.
- Create a positive feeling about your business.
Visuals are memorable and effective, because they help people process, understand, and retain more information more quickly.
Here are a few stats:
- The brain processes images 60,000 times faster than any other information.
- 90% of the information transmitted to the brain is visual.
- 40% of people respond better to visual information than text.
- When people hear information, they’re likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later, but if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65% of the information three days later. (source)
- Blog articles with images get 94% more views. (source)
- Tweets with images receive 18% more click throughs, 89% more likes, and 150% more retweets.
Convinced yet? Get ready to try some design apps!
What’s the EASIEST graphic design software to use?
I’ve tried a lot, and these 4 are all super-easy Canva alternatives.
They’re perfect whether you’ve never designed anything in your life – or are a pro like me! The results are that good.
We’ll review Stencil, Snappa, Adobe Spark Post, and Over. The first two are browser-based tools, while Over is a mobile app. And Spark does both!
The benefits to these are:
- They’re as fast as it gets.
- No learning curve or tutorials needed.
- Design templates by pros – no design experience needed.
- Photos included at no extra charge.
- Resize your graphics for multiple platforms with a few clicks.
Each of these easiest Canva alternatives includes:
- Free searchable images with CC0 rights.
- Design templates included.
- Save your design to rework later.
- Organize your designs into collections / folders / circles.
- Fonts included.
- Upload your own logo and fonts.
- Dozens of social media sizes, ready to use.
Note: Some features may only be part of the paid plans.
Stencil Online Design Tool
The fastest way to double your social engagement is with this ridiculously simple image creation for social media marketers, bloggers and small businesses. Use it on your web browser.
Watch this video for an overview, or read the details below.
- 4,400,000+ background photos, hundreds added weekly. Or upload your own.
- 1,125+ design templates, ready for you to edit.
- Upload and store every logo you need to create visuals for different brands.
- Search 100,000+ quotes right in Stencil to make inspiring quote images in seconds.
- 3,150+ Google web fonts let you find the perfect font for your image.
- Or, match your brand perfectly by uploading your own fonts directly to Stencil
- Font styling includes shadow, outline, background color, and clone (duplicate).
- Vector icons are right at your fingertips, royalty-free and safe to use however you want.
- 75+ pre-loaded sizes for social networks, ads, blog posts and more. Or create your own!
- Magic resize to optimize for different platforms.
- Undo / redo and history, so you can change your mind as you design.
- Easy-to-use Chrome and Firefox extensions to create images on the fly. So fast!
- Live preview before you post to your social networks – or schedule via Buffer.
The free version of Stencil includes 10 image downloads per month, limited backgrounds and icons.
Upgrade to Pro and create 50 images for $12 per month paid annually, or $20 billed monthly. Or pay a little more and upgrade to Unlimited!
With either paid plan, you can save your designs in Collections.
Want to know more? Learn about Stencil vs Canva.
Snappa Online Design Tool
Another easy browser-based tool, Snappa saves you time every step of the way. Watch this video for an overview, or read the details below.
- Create highly engaging images in minutes with drag-and-drop.
- 4,000,000+ photos and graphics – royalty-free and licensed for commercial use.
- Or upload your own photos into Snappa, and they’re available for you to use.
- In addition to the 200+ fonts pre-loaded in Snappa, you can import your own custom fonts to keep your branding intact.
- Choose from hundreds of pre-made templates, available in multiple sizes and suitable for a wide range of niches.
- Image dimensions for social media, display ads, blogs, emails, and infographics are available as clickable presets.
- In two clicks, you can magically resize your graphics into any other size. Turn your Twitter header into a Facebook cover, your Instagram post into a Pinterest Pin, or a Facebook ad into a billboard ad.
- Brand your images by uploading your own company logos and graphics.
- Save all your custom designs and organize them into folders. Edit a previous design in seconds.
- If you get stuck, you have unlimited access to video tutorials, help docs, answers to FAQs, and in-house email support.
- Snappa makes it easy to collaborate with your team. Share designs, folders, fonts, and other brand assets with ease. (Team plan only).
- Share your graphics to the popular social media platforms without leaving Snappa – or connect your Buffer account to schedule your posts.
- Play with photo effects until your graphic is perfect – no design experience required. Effects include color overlay, darken, blur, saturation, hue, brightness, and contrast.
New and cool! Remove image backgrounds with a click.
A free Snappa account includes 5 downloads per month so you can try it out.
Pro gives you unlimited downloads, templates, and social accounts for $10/month billed annually, or $15 monthly. Includes saved designs and folders. Plus there’s a Team account for up to 5 people at twice the Pro price.
Stencil vs. Snappa
Both are browser-based tools, and offer a free-forever version.
They’re quite similar in the way they work. Which to choose?
Well, you can try both for free, and decide from there. But here’s a rundown of the main differences I see:
Love quote images? Stencil has a searchable database of over 100,000 quotes. Learn more about using Stencil for quote images.
Want to make infographics? Snappa has several options. Stencil has none.
Highlight text on any web page and it instantly appears in Stencil with the Chrome or Firefox extension.
Want to organize your designs into folders? Both now offer this feature! They’re called “Collections” in Stencil (and Over has “Circles”).
Adobe Spark Post [online AND mobile]
Adobe Spark differs from the other apps in this section in these big ways:
1 | It includes BOTH an online and a mobile app.
2 | Spark includes Post (for static images), Page (to create web pages), and Video.
3 | The Premium version comes FREE with any Adobe Creative Cloud subscription.
A lot of CC subscribers are unaware of this, so if that’s you, check it out and see if it’s what you’re looking for.
If you’re not a CC subscriber and decide to buy Spark, consider paying the same price for an Adobe Photoshop subscription, because Spark is included with that as well.
Though for a limited time, you can subscribe to Spark alone for 20% off.
So, why would you care to?
Get started in seconds
Create attention-grabbing graphics, videos and social posts, at any skill level, with intelligent design guidance from Adobe.
Stand out from the crowd
Remix thousands of images, templates, animation effects and stickers, and personalize them with your brand’s assets in one tap.
Share anytime, anywhere
Work across web, iOS, and Android, and instantly share to social media, your website or blog, via text, email, or print.
Adobe Spark is the one I use to make my videos.
Typically I’ll create the images in Spark Post because it gives me a lot more options.
Then I can quickly compile them into a video with Spark Video.
You can use Spark for free, but the Premium version includes:
- Choose from the trendiest premium templates – over 31,000!
- Access millions of free images, icons and GIFs.
- Get the complete library of beautiful Adobe Fonts. Not the same old free Google fonts!
- Remove the Adobe Spark watermark – forever
- Personalize! Apply your logo, colors, and fonts in one magical tap.
- Brandify! Create from branded templates and themes.
- Teamwork makes the dream work – invite others to collaborate.
- Easily switch between brands while editing projects to boost your productivity.
Seriously, the variety of templates will blow your mind. A small sampling is shown below.
Over mobile app
But you only want to create on mobile?
There’s certainly no lack of graphics apps for that. It’s hard to even know where to start!
I’ve tried a lot of them, and have found them to be pretty limited. Many only create square images, which isn’t going to help you if you need a cover photo or blog post image.
Over is different, though! It includes 27 preset sizes for most all your graphics needs.
Designed with mobile creatives in mind, Over features standard and custom-made fonts and well-crafted artwork overlays, combined with a sleek design, easy-to-use functionality, and immediate sharing ability.
This app lets you type in any text you like, and change the font style, size, alignment, and more. It even lets you change the color with a clever color picker to match text to an existing color in the image, or specify your brand color by hex number.
You can rotate the text, and nudge it until you get your text exactly where you want it.
Over isolates each design element on separate layers, giving you complete design control.
There are design templates in the Pro version – several new ones daily. See one you like?
- Open it and work on it so it saves to your Projects. Edit it again later!
- Tap the + sign and save the template to your personal Circle. Access and edit it any time.
- NEW! Search for a template by keyword (at the top of the templates feed).
Easily import the photos from your camera roll, or search Unsplash or Pixabay right in the app.
There are some filters and photo editing options, as well as some very creative Photoshop-worthy blending modes.
Or just tweak one of their templates and post!
Free to download, with a number of paid upgrades. For full functionality, you’ll want the Pro subscription at $14.99 monthly or 99.99 per year (in the US) on iOS. Be aware that this is an auto-renewing subscription.
For the more limited Over Android app, the cost is $29.99 US.
If you only want to design on mobile, this may be all you need.
Download the Over mobile app for iOS here.
Download the Over mobile app for Android here.
EASY Graphic Design Tools provide more options
The tools in this section have a lot more features and options than the ones above, but they’re still fairly easy to use.
They also have big differences between them. Once you know what those are, it should be easy to pick the one that will work best for you.
Here, we’ll talk about Canva itself, plus two distinct alternatives.
Each of these easy tools includes:
- Design templates by pros – no design experience needed.
- Save your design to rework later.
- Fonts included.
- Upload your own logo.
Note: Some features may only be part of the paid plans.
Canva Graphic Design Tool
No roundup of design tools would be complete without mentioning Canva. It’s seemed to dominate the market by having a pretty generous always-free version. Be aware though, many photos, templates, and design elements will cost you $1 per use.
Many people just love Canva. If you’ve tried it and don’t, no worries. There are many other options for you!
I find it a little complex, and feel that it requires a bit of a learning curve. But as I said, many people swear by it, so it could be the perfect fit for you too.
This video will give you a quick overview of Canva basics.
There’s also Canva for iPad and iPhone!
You can design almost anything with Canva, including multi-page documents to export as PDF. They also have a great variety of infographics templates.
Another plus is saving your designs, even in the free version. You can reuse the ones you like as templates to create a series of images.
Its photo editing options are very limited (you’ll want PicMonkey for that), but are probably all most people will need. They include 19 filters, brightness, contrast, saturation, crop, and flip.
There are also some new effects like Duotone and Color Mix that are fun but of limited usefulness.
FREE Canva includes:
- Two folders to organize designs
- Up to 10 team members for free
- 1GB storage for photos and assets
- Access to over 8,000 templates
- Upload your own images
- NEW! 100,000 free photos
- Access millions of photos for $1 each
There’s an upgraded version called Canva Pro that includes everything Free Canva has, plus:
- Create your brand’s visual identity with logos, colours and fonts in 1 Brand Kit
- One-click design Magic Resize
- Over 100,000 free templates
- 60+ million premium stock images, photos, videos and graphics
- Upload your own fonts and logos
- Create custom templates
- Unlimited folders and 100GB storage
- One-click photo Background Remover
- Download designs with a transparent background and customize download quality
- Export designs as animated GIFs or MP4 videos
Of course, video content is HUGE so that last one is quite important!
Learn more about how to use Canva.
Canva Pro is 9.95/month paid annually, or 12.95/month (per user).
PicMonkey Online Photo Editor
PicMonkey is hands-down the best and easiest online photo editor.
But don’t leave just yet if you’re only looking for a design tool. PicMonkey has some pretty fun features there, too. Including some new ones you may not be aware of!
For instance – 1,000s of design templates! And a storage feature called Hub.
PicMonkey recently added millions of stock photos from Unsplash + iStock by Getty, so it’s not just for editing your own images any more.
More recent additions:
- New stock video library
- New 1-click background remover
- A new, smarter resize feature
- New Brand Kits to keep your brand looking consistent and professional
- Mobile app
Can I use PicMonkey for free?
The PicMonkey mobile app offers a completely free way to edit photos and create designs on the go. It’s available for Android and iOS mobile devices, as well as iPad.
As far as the desktop app, new users may try out all features, but you’ll need to start a 7-day free trial to save your designs to Hub, create custom effects, and share and export your work.
After your trial, you have a choice of the two reasonably-priced plans.
A Basic membership gives you storage for 1GB of your designs, so you can edit and reuse them. Access them both on your computer and on your iPhone.
Here’s what you get in Basic:
- Hub storage for 1GB of your graphics
- Sort Hub images
- Save, Export, Share
- Add and trim videos
- Advanced touch up tools
- Primo effects, overlays, fonts
- Re-editable images, in Hub
- Pro designed templates
- Real-time collaboration with shared folders and commenting
That’s only $7.99 monthly, or $72 for a whole year (which works out to $6 per month).
Upgrade to Pro at $12.99 monthly or $120 for the year, and get all of the features included in Basic plus:
- Unlimited Hub storage
- Smart resize
- Brand Kit
- 1-click background remover
- iStock by Getty photos
- PDF export
Learn more about how to use PicMonkey.
PromoRepublic Social Media Content Builder & Scheduler
Have you heard of PromoRepublic? It’s rather unique.
It’s all about a holistic social media plan, one part of which is making graphics.
You can create stunning posts in seconds with 100,000+ designer templates, ideas and visuals.
When you make those graphics and schedule them to your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram, you’ll see them laid out in a calendar format. Now you can see where you might have some gaps to fill in!
Not only do you create graphics in PromoRepublic, you also get hundreds of pre-made post ideas, in various categories like engaging, educational, and promotional.
It’s similar to the concept behind my Social Media Content Planner. PromoRepublic might be a good option for you if you don’t like working from a printed-out planner. This is all online!
This video will give you an overview:
How it works:
- Find customizable professional templates that fit your needs.
- Publish with one click, or schedule to be published on 4 social networks.
- Keep scheduling visual in a week or month scale in one interface.
- Schedule with time slots suggested by AI for different types of content.
- Recycle successful posts within a year, just preset the repeating period.
- Sell more through engagement with your existing audience, and new customers.
It’s very business-minded. You’ll be served up ideas pertinent to the industries you set up in your profile. Plus all the social media holidays content, and ability to search for any ideas you want.
Your work is saved after you schedule or post it, so you can easily edit it to crank out more content! You can literally make a month’s worth of content in a couple hours.
You can try it for free with no credit card required. After the trial, the cost is $9/month (paid annually) for a basic version that doesn’t include scheduling posts.
There’s also a Pro plan that offers a lot of features! It’s $49 paid monthly, or $39/month when paid a year in advance.
- 50 downloads each month.
- 10 social profiles.
- 100,000 pre-designed post templates.
- Automated posting to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest.
- Schedule Instagram posts (get a notification on your phone).
- Free stock photos included.
If you need unlimited downloads, more social profiles, and a team member, there’s a Superior plan at $49 per month. Plus, you’ll get performance stats. This package is great for social media managers.
PromoRepublic includes hundreds of templates and ideas in 10 sizes of graphics, which are optimized for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram posts and Stories.
Resizing your graphics for different uses? Horizontal to square works well, but you may need to tweak your design if you convert to a vertical Pin or Story.
If you love the idea of a pushbutton content plan, give this one a try!
Pro Level Design Tools
I’m just going to give these a brief mention.
If you want full photo editing functionality and don’t need pre-designed templates, these are your top options.
Pixlr is a robust browser photo editor, for all your editing needs. With Pixlr Editor you have full control over your images, including layers and effects.
It’s browser based and works similarly to Photoshop – with limited features. And, it’s free! You’ll find it here.
GIMP: GNU Image Manipulation Program
GIMP is a cross-platform image editor available for GNU/Linux, OS X, Windows and more operating systems.
Also similar to Photoshop, this one you download and run on your computer. It’s available to download here.
If you’re ready for the real deal, Photoshop is it.
And it’s probably not as expensive as you think! You get Photoshop for desktop plus Lightroom Classic for $9.99/month with 20GB of cloud storage.
Want Adobe Illustrator to create vector graphics, and/or Adobe InDesign for page design and layout? Get one for $20.99/month, or the complete collection of creative apps for $52.99/mo.
Photoshop will force you to use your creativity. It does not include a library of templates like you get with the 6 tools mentioned in the Easiest and Easy sections. You’re on your own to whip something up.
These Adobe tools do include the full library of Adobe Fonts – 1,000’s of fonts! No more same-old same-old free Google fonts.
Plus you get the Pro version of Adobe Spark, which is a super-easy design app for quick graphics and videos.
By the way, Photoshop and InDesign are my fave design tools – but when I want some quick inspiration, I grab one of the easy-peasys 😉
Canva Alternatives Wrap-Up
There are hundreds of graphic design tools, apps, and software available now. Many are free! But their functionality is limited.
I’ve given you an overview here of 7 easy design tools (click to try):
Adobe Spark online design and video tool (with mobile app)
I find these to be not only easy, but provide the best features for the money.
Which one or ones sound like a fit for you? Try a couple! All are free to try.
Not sure yet? Download your FREE comparison chart!
Consider upgrading your favorite, though. What’s your time worth? Certainly the time-saving features of the upgraded versions are worth a few dollars a month.
I’d love to hear what you’ll choose after learning about these Canva alternatives – best online design tools for non-designers!