So here’s the thing: I personally use Canva the most… but not the free version.
However, I personally don’t believe the free version of Canva is the best option for many bloggers and creative entrepreneurs. Granted, it is perhaps the simplest to use, has the most available templates and built-in images and graphics, and allows you to create simple videos. But it does have some limitations that might be dealbreakers for some, as it was for me.
I’ve tried a LOT of free and paid design tools, but I don’t want you to have to waste time testing tools that ultimately aren’t going to give you what you want. So, I’ve created this roundup of free Canva alternatives to try, including a feature comparison chart of a few of my top picks. I hope it helps you see the major differences and a clear starting point for choosing the best tool for you!
Top 3 FREE Canva Alternatives Comparison Chart: Canva vs Snappa vs Easil vs Crello
Each of my top free design tool picks offer similar basic features, including built-in design templates, photos, fonts and graphic elements. But they each include (or don’t include) some extra unique features. I’ve also included the current pricing for each so you can compare the cost if you ever decide to upgrade.
Here are some important free design tool features compared:
|FREE Plan Feature Comparison||Canva||Snappa||Easil||Crello|
|Cost to Upgrade to Paid||$12.95/mo|
|Unlimited Downloads / Exports||💚||*Limited to 3/mo||💚||💚|
|Upload Custom Fonts||💔||💔||💔||💚|
|Export with Transparent Background (PNG)||💔||💚||💔||💚|
|Organize Designs into Folders||💔||💚||💚||💚|
|Export as Video (MP4)||💚||💔||💔||*Limited|
|Export as Animated GIF||💔||💔||💔||*Limited|
|Drop Shadow Text Effect||💔||💔||💚||💔|
|Add Photo Overlay to Fonts||*Limited||💔||*Limited||💚|
|Use 3rd-Party Templates||💚||💔||💔||💔|
And The “Best Free Alternative to Canva” Award Goes To…
Winner winner chicken dinner! Ready for my #1 top pick for the all-around best free Canva alternative?
Based on free plan features alone, the award goes to… Crello!
My reasoning for choosing Crello is simple: The free plan includes several very cool (and sometimes necessary) features that most alternatives don’t, at least not all together:
- You can upload your own custom fonts
- You can download designs with a transparent background (great for logos, icons, etc.)
- You can export as a video or GIF
- You can apply a photo mask to any font
- BONUS: You can add simple animations to text and individual elements
So Why Stick With a Canva Free Account?
The main reasons I can see to go with a free Canva account over (or along with) other free design apps are this:
- Video! While you can’t export as a GIF with the free version of Canva, you can export as an MP4 video. And not only does Canva have lots of animated templates and graphics and free stock videos built-in, but you can upload and lightly edit your own video clips!
- 3rd-Party Templates! Now that Canva has finally included a simple way for Canva Pro users to share their designs as editable templates, ALL Canva users can benefit from the growing variety of gorgeous templates available for free or on sites like Creativemarket.
Canva Free Alternatives 2020
As I covered above, Crello seems to offer the most all-around variety of options in the free plan, including a few that are unique.
Standout Crello Features
Besides simply offering the most features, Crello offers a few unique standout features, including the ability to apply a photo overlay to ANY font (or even a VIDEO with the paid plan!).
It also allows you to add simple animations to individual blocks of text or elements, which isn’t even really possible with Canva (except for elements that are already animated).
Something to watch out for with Crello is that not all features are available for all designs, and you may be able to access and edit a premium template on the free plan but won’t be able to export unless you upgrade. So, if you like a template, just make sure to click the DOWNLOAD button before you start editing, to make sure it’s actually a free option.
Another limitation to be aware of is with video and animation. While you are able to export certain designs as video or a GIF, you are limited to certain animation options only on the free plan. You can’t access the built-in video library or upload your own videos like you can with Canva. So, if you export as an mp4, it will still actually be an animation. And there are some built-in animated objects (which can be a little difficult to find), but you will mostly need to manually add animations to text or objects.
Still, the animation options are pretty cool, especially if you WANT to be able to manually add animations to specific parts of your design, and having the ability to export as either MP4 or GIF format right from Crello is still very helpful!
I see Easil as fairly comparable to Canva’s free plan, but with a few variations. For instance, Easil doesn’t include video or animation options for free, but it does include a bomb drop shadow effect! Plus, Easil has one of the best and most affordable paid plans, which can make for a smooth transition once you’re ready to upgrade to some more advanced features.
Standout Easil Features
Easil has an awesome drop-shadow text effect — something that even Canva Pro lacks — and it’s available on the free plan. Easil is worth a try for this feature alone!
Easil also includes some of the most gorgeous built-in templates, allows you to create folders for your designs and has one of the most affordable paid plans with most of the features you could need, which makes it a top paid alternative to Canva Pro.
A couple of small but helpful organizational features include the ability to add tags to your designs to help you find them as your collection grows and archive designs to declutter your dashboard without having to trash anything. You can always view your archived designs and restore them from the archived tab.
An unusual limitation of the Easil free plan is that it doesn’t allow you to export as a PDF. You are essentially limited to the JPG format. However, if you will be using Easil mainly for creating social media and blog graphics anyway, you likely won’t even miss the PDF option.
Though we’re talking about the free plan, it might be helpful to know that Easil doesn’t support video at this time, even on the free plan. And while you can create animated GIFs on the paid plan, they are “manually” created only, by way of using multiple slides. In other words, that aren’t built-in animations to work with.
NOTE: When you sign up for Easil’s free plan, you’ll have access to the Plus paid plan features FREE for 30 days! After that, your account will be downgraded to the free plan features unless you decide to upgrade.
While Snappa was at one time my favorite design tool, it seems they’ve struggled a bit to keep up with competitor’s updates and pricing. While I still think Snappa is a great tool and definitely worth a look, it won’t have as many features as the above candidates.
Standout Snappa Features
While Snappa has it’s limitations, the free plan does allow you to export with a transparent background and organize your designs into folders.
An important limitation to note about Snappa is that thus far, they don’t seem to support video or animation at all, even on the paid plan. So, if that is important to you, Snappa probably isn’t for you.
Snappa also limits you to 3 design downloads per month on the free plan.
The only reason Stencil didn’t make my top 3 free plan list is because of its various limits on features (see below) such as “save up 10 images per month”… “keep up to 10 favorites”… etc. That said, it’s a really great all-around DIY design tool (excluding video and animations), and there is a lot you can try for free as long as you’re ok with staying within these limits.
A simple but rather useful feature unique to Stencil is that you can save your own custom dimensions to use later.
Best known for their selection of infographic templates, you can also use Piktochart to create social media graphics, presentations and more.
The free plan limits you to 5 designs per month and you can’t use custom font’s or colors, but if you just want some professional pre-made infographic templates it’s worth a look!
Check back soon for more free design tool recommendations!
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