10 reasons why Easil is one of the best Canva alternatives
I've never met an online marketing tool that can do everything which is why I've been searching for Canva alternatives. I love Canva and it's definitely a stayer on my list. But there are gaps in what it can deliver which is why I'm also using Easil for easy text shadow, metallic fonts and much more.
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It may come as a surprise that I’m recommending Canva alternatives. I’ve been a huge fan of Canva for a long time. I run the biggest Canva group on Facebook. And about 10,000 people have taken my free Canva beginner’s course. But the reality is, no single tool can do everything you want.
Well rather than complain about what Canva CAN’T do, I’ve been looking at tools like Canva that fill in the gaps. And while there are plenty of Canva alternatives out there, it's only now I've found one I felt strongly enough about to share.
I’ve had my eye on Easil for a while now, and their latest release sent them shooting straight to the top of my list of Canva alternatives. Here’s why.
1. Text shadow
This is a gamechanger from Easil. Adding text shadow in Canva is possible, but it’s a manual process and the end result isn’t perfect. For many people this is the most important reason to look for Canva alternatives.
It seems like such a simple thing, so why isn't it there?
Well, in Easil, text shadow is available with a few clicks.
There's a text shadow icon in the menu, and it allows you to customise a soft, hard or glow shadow. You can also vary the blur, distance and angle and choose a color for your shadow.
The result is quick and easy to achieve and looks fantastic.
2. Text mask for both native and uploaded fonts
If there's one complaint I hear all the time in my Canva Facebook Group it's the lack of metallic fonts.
Canva has no option for this whatsoever. The only way to achieve a similar affect is to use the Canva text mask letters - which are only available in one style. You'd be hard pressed to call this a font. To use it, each letter is an individual element that you place in the design to create a word. And at the time of writing, the 'T' option was still not available. Even though I reported the corrupt element to Canva months ago and they said they would fix it.
A text mask is a letter with an image inside. You can create some great effects for your graphics using this method.
Like Canva, Easil offers a text mask option, but it is not limited to a single letter style. You can drop your own image into an Easil native font, or your own uploaded font.
Let's say you want a gold script font. With Easil, you select your font, type in the word or phrase you want to use, then click on the edit mask icon in the top menu. Then you select an image to 'drop' inside that font. I kept it simple for this example and searched Easil for a metallic gold background and added it to the mask. You can also upload your own image - metallic, texture, color - anything you want. You can also adjust opacity, add a filter and crop the image to get the desired result.
3. Color palette generator
When it comes to Canva alternatives, this one is a little closer in comparison. Like Canva, Easil makes it easy to select and change colors using Hex codes. They are the six-digit codes that represent colors.
When you are creating a design, the use of complementary colors is important. A design with images and fonts should look harmonious. One way to achieve this is to use colors for other elements and text that draws on the shades in the image. You could use a color identification tool, like the Color Picker Chrome extension. But a color palette generator, particularly if its built in to your design tool, is much better.
Easil comes with a couple of extra features that make designing with color a lot easier than Canva. From within the design desktop you can generate a color palette of up to six colors for each photo in your design. This helps keep your design palette consistent and harmonious.
And you can also view a set of complementary shades for any document color.
Now Canva does have something with some of this functionality. But it's not in the design desktop - it's a page on the Canva website. Drag and drop an image into the Canva Color Palette Generator to get five colors with hex codes from the image. I shared this in my group recently and not one person was aware it existed. It's a helpful tool but doesn't quite stack up to the color palette options and accessibility in Easil.
4. Unlimited design pages
If you've ever tried creating an eBook or long document in Canva, you know you only get 30 pages per design.
I batch a lot of content in templates, so this one drives me a little crazy. Particularly if I'm batching one social post per day for a month and it's a month with 31 days. I have to create an extra design for the last day as a different design document.
In Easil there is no limit to the number of pages you get for a design. I got up to 110 pages when I was testing this and finally emailed Easil to confirm.
But this one comes with a warning. Keep in mind that you are using a browser-based design tool. If you have a lot of elements and large uploaded images, don't go overboard. If the design size gets too large you may experience problems.
5. Easy selection of elements from the layers menu*
As you design, elements often become layered together. Sometimes they create groups. Sometimes they sit on top of each other, like a background, shape and text. Once layered, making a change can be difficult. This is because the outline of an element can become hidden under another element.
The layers menu in Easil makes it easy to find, select and work with the elements in your design.
At first glance, the layers menu can seem a little overwhelming in Easil. But the menu has a natural, cascading format that makes sense once you get used to it.
Elements are automatically added under page headings in the layers menu. You can also add new groups using the icon at the bottom of the menu. For example, I created a headline with three separate text boxes. I then added a new group called ‘Headline’ and dragged each of the text box elements into the group. This ‘locks’ them together and it's then easy to move or duplicate that group. If you no longer want to group elements, all you have to do is drag them out of the group.
With a bit of practice, the layers menu makes navigating a complex design and making changes a lot easier. You can also delete elements from your design in the layers menu by clicking on them, then clicking on the trash can next to them.
You can still work with layered elements in Canva, but there is no single place to manage this. It can be difficult to select individual elements in layers. There are shortcuts for selecting 'covered' elements. But many users resort to moving elements around to make a change. Then they have to try and place them all back to get the original design again.
* Warning if you are tech-phobic
This feature is not for some beginners. Don't let that put you off. You can use Easil without having to deep dive into layers. But as you get more comfortable with the program, you'll find it's worth learning more about layers. For beginners it may not be the most appealing things when you are looking at Canva alternatives. But trust me. Down the track, you'll wish there was something similar in Canva.
6. Exact placement of elements by entering pixel distance
Exact placement of elements is the big one for me.
I'd put it at number one in the list. But I don't hear the request from Canva users as often as you would think. I do hear people asking for a ruler in the Canva design desktop. And most people use the gridlines to place elements. But if you are creating a detailed document this can be a nightmare in Canva.
I create a lot of free downloads for my blog. To make them look good, I like to mix text with icons for bullet points or numbers. This means I need to create many different element boxes then try to line them up. In Canva, this is difficult and almost never exact.
Easil on the other hand has a bit of a secret weapon in this department. In the top menu, there is a position icon. Like Canva, this has the basic options like move forward or move back. But the difference is you can also specify the exact pixel distance from the top or left of the design. So lining up many different elements exactly is not a problem.
7. Instagram story templates
Pretty design templates are my weakeness!
Like Canva, Easil has thousands of templates you can adapt to suit your own design purposes. And there are a lot of pretty templates in Easil. I've been using Canva for years now and I find most templates underwhelming. I only use them to take certain features and adapt them. Rarely do I adapt an entire template.
Browsing through the Easil templates, I found them much fresher and modern. I like clean designs, so they are to my taste. It's an individual thing but if you don't love Canva templates, consider this.
The biggest difference is Easil has a dedicated category of Instagram Stories templates. This is a big gap in Canva. There is no category for Instagram Stories in the design desktop. You can search all templates but the results are still quite limited.
8. No hidden paid elements
Paid elements within templates can be tricky in Canva. If a template has a paid element, you will see a $ symbol in the bottom right hand corner.
Now I am nit-picking here. Paid elements in Canva are easy to work around. In most cases you can replace the paid element with something free.
But Easil makes this a non-issue. There are no hidden paid elements in templates.
Canva has some great support resources available. Articles, guides, design tips. Click on the green Need Help button in your design desktop to access support.
Easil also has a support site with articles covering design basics and pro tips. And if you can’t find the answer, you can reach out to the Easil team via in-app chat, email or even phone.
If you can't find an answer on the Canva support site, you'll need to fill in a form. When I used this to report a corrupt template, the response time was several days. And several months later, the problem is still there.
Particularly if you're paying for the Canva app, this can be very frustrating.
10. Design assist
DIY graphic design can be a huge time and cost saver.
For solopreneurs and start-ups this is the big appeal of tools like Canva and Easil. And for those working on hobby projects, it opens up access to visual content creation like never before.
Even the bigger businesses are jumping onto the opportunity.
But if you run into challenges with your designs, these benefits can go out the window.
If you're a Canva user, your best option is to ask for help in user forums, like my Facebook Canva Group. Or hire a Canva pro user on sites like Upwork or Fiverr.
Easil's Design Assist service connects you with a professional designer. It's available inside the app which makes it convenient. And it takes the guess work out of trying to find a reputable designer to help you online.
There is a fee for this service, but you can upload a brief and get a quote before any work is undertaken.
The verdict: Is Easil one of the best Canva alternatives?
When I started writing this article, I was conscious I didn't want it to become a Canva-bashing session. While I have described this as Canva alternatives, this won't be the case for all people. Canva supplements may be more applicable for some people.
And I still love Canva. It's a fantastic tool, and it solves a huge problem for me when it comes to visual content. I don't have the budget for graphic designers. I don't even have a budget for a virtual assistant to help me at the moment. So I do it all myself. And even using Canva for Work, that's pretty inexpensive. But there were gaps. And my Facebook Group was telling me there were gaps. So I shifted my loyalty to neutral and went out in search of Canva alternatives. And Easil ticked the most boxes for me.
So let me be clear. I'm not jumping ship. I produce an enormous number of graphics every month. Hundreds, sometimes thousands. Which means two things. One - I've got a huge amount of work invested in the Canva app already. And two - Canva is the best tool I've found so far to help me organise and manage my designs. I batch produce and my process requires systems. And Canva works very well for that.
But... Easil is showing some impressive innovation. It seems to be a company with a strong focus on the customer experience. The user experience in the app and support offered is second to none. The access to text shadow and text masks (particularly to create metallic text) is a big bonus too. And the exact element placement means that I'm moving all my content upgrade and slide decks to Easil.
As I said in the beginning, it’s unlikely that one tool will ever meet all your needs. Yes, I'm still a Canva fan. But I'm officially an Easil fan now too. It really is one of the best Canva alternatives and well worth having a look at.
On a more subjective note
I reached out to Easil to fact check some of the content in this article. And heard back from the managing director Annette within hours. The company sends out a very positive energy that I like supporting. They are producing an innovative product and backing it up with exceptional, friendly service.
Canva vs Easil comparison table
(Information correct as at 31 May 2018)
Which of these DIY design tools is right for you comes down to your individual needs. It may be one. It may be both.
Canva and Easil both have a lot of fantastic DIY features and many are similar. For the purpose of comparison, this table highlights the features covered in this article and a few additional important variations between the two apps.
Remember, one design app is unlikely to meet all of your requirements, but this will assist you in evaluating whether Easil is one of the best Canva alternatives to meet your individual needs.
Yes - one month, credit card required
Yes - no credit card required.
Free forever option
Paid version with additional features
(USD) Easil Plus $7.50 per month billed monthly
Very limited, as individual letters
Yes, for both native and uploaded fonts
Color Palette Generator
For images only, not incorporated into design desktop
Yes, for image and document colors, available in the design desktop
Pages Per Design
30 maximum per design
Unlimited, but user discretion required based on bandwidth and complexity of design
Manual, with some shortcuts available to access hidden elements
Dedicated layers menu
Manual with guidelines and grid available
Exact placement based on pixel distance from top or left of design
Instagram Story Templates
Very limited number via search only
Dedicated category of templates available
Hidden Paid Elements
Yes - templates are identified but paid elements are not obvious
Via web from in help section of main website
In-app chat, email or telephone
Yes, for an additional fee
Folders (for designs)
Yes - they are not quite as obvious but they are there - on a design thumbnail (before you open it) just click on the 'i' for folder options
Yes - for iPhone, iPad and Android
Currently available in US, Australia, Canada, Europe and Mexico
Currently available in Australia only
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