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May 1, 2023

Design

Adobe Creative Cloud vs Canva: Which Tool Is Right for You?

Adobe Creative Cloud vs Canva. The battle of the design titans. A discussion that resulted in me not getting a job at a tech company a year ago (a story for a different day). 

As a designer, I should let the cat out of the bag: I am an adobe user, and I don’t see a web app like Canva converting me anytime soon.

That being said, I see the appeal of Canva. A web based app you can access from virtually any device that can connect to the internet? And it has professionally designed templates? AND YOU CAN COLLABORATE ON DESIGNS?

Sorry, I got a little excited. The features Canva provides are enough to swing a good portion of Adobe users to their platform, but as I hinted earlier, only if your use case can adapt.

Software Capabilities

Let’s get a quick TLDR for those of you who just ZOOM past the post: Adobe's Creative Cloud suite of products includes industry-standard software like Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, which are used by professionals across various industries. Canva, on the other hand, is an online platform designed to make graphic design accessible to everyone, regardless of their design skills or experience. 

Let’s get that breakdown now:

Adobe Creative Cloud

Adobe Creative Cloud Software

Adobe Creative Cloud includes various software products, including Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere Pro, After Effects, and more. Each of these tools has a specific purpose, making the entire suite a comprehensive solution for designers, marketers, and content creators.

Photoshop

I’m in a love-hate relationship with Photoshop. Since I’ve been using it for the past 8 years, it’s an app I know like the palm of my hand. Unfortunately, because it’s now a lease rather than buy out, I’ve spent close to $3000 for this software.

Ouch.

Anywho, Adobe Photoshop is a powerful image editing software used by professionals and hobbyists alike. Its feature set includes a wide range of tools and capabilities, allowing users to create and manipulate images in various ways. Photoshop's primary focus is on photo editing, and it offers features such as cropping, resizing, and color correction, as well as advanced tools such as layer masks, adjustment layers, and blending modes. It also includes a range of design tools, including typography and vector shape tools, allowing users to create graphics and designs from scratch.

Illustrator

Part of that painful three thousand dollar package is Illustrator. Adobe illustrator is a vector graphics editor that is widely used by designers and artists. Its primary focus is on creating scalable, vector-based artwork such as logos, icons, illustrations, and more. One of Illustrator's key strengths is its precision and flexibility, allowing users to create artwork that can be scaled to any size without losing quality, and if you lost the vector file of one of your artworks, with a click of a button you can turn a JPG or PNG into a vector graphic (live trace does have its limitations, but for simple non-gradient high resolution graphics, it works wonders)

InDesign

For those individuals or companies looking to make magazines, brochures, or any multipage document, you’re probably already familiar with InDesign. Its feature set includes a wide range of tools and capabilities for layout design, typography, and production, allowing users to create multi-page documents with precision and control. InDesign isn’t just for printable documents, as it offers features for creating interactive digital documents with buttons, forms, and multimedia elements. Other features include support for print and prepress production workflows, automated page numbering and cross-referencing, and integration with other Adobe software such as Photoshop and Illustrator. 

Premiere Pro

Premiere Pro Music Video Editing

Here comes another app strong in my repertoire. Adobe Premiere is one of the most used video editing software. Its feature set includes a range of tools and capabilities for video editing, color correction, audio editing, and basic motion graphics, while the timeline-based interface allows users to edit footage to their exact vision, with features such as trimming, splitting, and adjusting clip speed and duration. For the more advanced users, Premiere Pro provides advanced tools for color grading, such as Lumetri Color and even third party plugins, allowing users to adjust color and exposure to achieve the desired look and feel. As for audio editing tools, you’re able to adjust everything, from levels, syncing up with the video, adding effects, and even adjust the noise profiles of a microphone recording. 

After Effects

I know I mentioned that Adobe Premiere Pro can handle motion graphics, and for the most part it can, but if you want to go more in depth and detail, After Effects is the program for you. It allows users to create complex visual effects and animations by layering and compositing footage and graphics, offering features such as keyframe animation, masking, and rotoscoping (green screen without the greenscreen). Advanced users are even able to import their photoshop or illustrator files to create the animations within After Effects, adjusting the keyframe transitions to create a smooth design.

Canva

Canva iOS Mobile App for iPhone & iPad | Canva
Canva Design Usecases

Canva, on the other hand, is an online web app with both a free plan and paid plan. Surprisingly enough, Canva has the ability to do nearly everything that the Adobe Creative Cloud software can.

Graphic Design

Design On the Go With Canva for iPad | PCMag
Canva running on iPad

This is Canva’s bread and butter. Canva has been primarily a graphic design software since 2012. Users have access to thousands of customizable templates across various design categories. From logo design, social media posts, flyers, posters, and even magazines. With their drag and drop design, Canva allows for anyone to be a designer, regardless of their skill. The tools range from the typical crop, resize, and filters, to even background removals and AI generated artwork.

Office Work (i.e. Presentations and Word Documents)

One exclusive feature set of Canva is their word processing and presentation features that make it easy for their users to create professional-looking documents and presentations. What do I mean by this? You can create a resume, letterhead, and layout an outline for a presentation while also allowing for collaboration for multiple users to work on the same document at the same time, similarly to Google Docs.

Once your document is complete, with a click of a button, you’re able to convert your document to a full on presentation with the color palette of your business to ensure everything is on brand. You can change templates on the spot, while retaining the same information from your document, saving you hours of design work and transferring from one document to another, and still retaining that collaboration feature.

Video Editing

Video editing is a recent add on, and somehow Canva managed to pull it off right unlike other competitors. With Canva's video editing tools, users can create engaging motion graphics and videos for social media, marketing campaigns, and more. All powered by their predesigned templates and their connection to stock footage. Users can also upload their own footage and use Canva's drag-and-drop design tools to add elements such as text, images, and graphics to their timeline. Everything about this software is intuitive and user-friendly, making it a great choice for beginners or those looking for a simple and effective video editor. 

When comparing Adobe and Canva in terms of features, it is important to note that Adobe's Creative Cloud suite offers more advanced features than Canva, especially when it comes to video editing and publishing. However, Adobe's tools have a steeper learning curve, and may be overwhelming for beginners. Canva, on the other hand, is designed for beginners and non-designers, and offers an easy-to-use platform with a range of templates and tools that can be customized to suit individual needs.

Pricing

You heard me rant about the pricing already for Adobe Software, so let’s rip that bandaid off.

For Adobe Software, I’m only going to hover over the best packages, since the others are built primarily to sway you to buy their premium package.

  • Photography Plan (Photoshop and Lightroom): $19.99 a month
  • Creative Cloud Apps: $54.99 a month
  • Business Plans: $84.99 per user per month

The pricing is brutal. For all apps, you’re looking at $660 a year for one account, or for a business you’re looking at $1020 a year which is a huge investment for anyone starting out. Worst part is that each software individually is $20.99 so if you just get Illustrator and the photography plan, you’re at $41.99, only $13 off from having access to every single app Adobe offers.

Canva, on the other hand, offers both free and paid plans. The free plan offers access to basic design tools and templates, while the paid plans offer additional features, including access to premium templates, images, and fonts.

  • Canva Pro: $12.99 per month
  • Canva For Teams: $14.99 per month per user 

Canva is a much easier pill to swallow for smaller businesses starting out with their digital marketing, and easier for beginning graphic designers looking for a tool that does it all. Yearly, you’re looking at $156 a year to use the platform, and by that I mean get access to the exclusive templates.

User Experience

Canva Pro Review: The Best Way to Make Graphics in 2023? - TalkBitz

Canva's user experience is focused on ease of use and accessibility, providing a user-friendly interface with drag-and-drop functionality and heavily relying on their  wide range of templates and design elements. The platform offers a clean and intuitive design, making it easy for users to navigate and find the tools they need. Canva's user experience is designed to be simple and straightforward, allowing users to create professional-looking designs without needing extensive design knowledge or experience.

Getting Started with Adobe Photoshop: 15 Photoshop Tutorials for Beginners

On the other hand, Adobe Creative Cloud's user experience is geared towards professionals and enthusiasts who require more advanced tools and capabilities. While the interface is sleek and well-designed, it may be overwhelming for beginners, with a steep learning curve to master the software. However, once users become familiar with the interface, they have access to an extensive range of tools and features for creating high-quality designs, videos, and graphics.

Both Canva and Adobe Creative Cloud offer a range of templates and design assets to streamline the design process, but Canva's focus on simplicity means that users have access to fewer customization options compared to Adobe Creative Cloud. Conversely, Adobe Creative Cloud offers a vast array of tools and features, but may require more time and effort to learn and use effectively.

Why We Stick to Adobe Creative Cloud

My tone has been slightly negative towards Adobe Creative Cloud, and fairly positive towards Canva. So why have we not made the switch? Honestly, it’s muscle memory and the exclusive features behind their software.

As much as we love the collaboration features of Canva, we would be missing out on live tracing, depth maps on photoshop, Lightroom/Camera Raw and other features. As for speed, to create custom designs, it’s easier for us to build from scratch on Photoshop or Illustrator, than starting off with a blank canvas on Canva and using their templates to achieve our desired look. We’re also able to work with a variety of file formats, meaning we are able to edit and create virtually any file that a client may request.

While Canva is a great tool for simple designs and marketing materials, Adobe Creative Cloud's advanced capabilities make it a better choice for us for our highly customized designs and provide more advanced features to meet our client's needs.

Pros and Cons

Finally, let's look at the pros and cons of each tool.

Pros of Adobe:

  • Comprehensive suite of industry-standard software products
  • Powerful features for advanced graphic design and video editing
  • Integration with other Adobe tools and platforms

Cons of Adobe:

  • Steep learning curve
  • Expensive pricing, especially for the full Creative Cloud suite
  • Can be overwhelming for beginners

Pros of Canva:

  • User-friendly interface, making it easy for beginners to use
  • Available on virtually any device
  • Wide range of templates and design tools
  • Affordable pricing plans, including a free plan

Cons of Canva:

  • Limited advanced features compared to Adobe
  • Online platform may not be suitable for all users
  • Not suitable for advanced video editing or publishing

Adobe and Canva are two popular tools for graphic design and visual content creation, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Ultimately, the choice between Adobe and Canva comes down to your needs and preferences. If you are a professional designer or require advanced graphic design or video editing features, Adobe may be the better choice. However, if you are a beginner or non-designer looking to create professional-looking designs quickly and easily, Canva may be the better choice.

Regardless of your choice, both tools offer powerful features and tools for creating stunning visual content.

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