Stencil Review | The Photoshop Killer?
Have you ever just needed to knock out a quick image for an ad or a blog post, but dread having to open up photoshop and hack away at it? Enter Stencil ...
Well no more my friends! In my humble opinion stencil can completely replace photoshop for the needs of the internet marketer. Now depending on how you started down the path of internet marketing, you probably either love or hate photoshop. I personally started as a developer, and figured hey I'm "techy" I'll pick up photoshop no problem. Man was I wrong. I think I probably picked it up and put it down five different times before I actually got to a point were I could use it with any real proficiency. I'll tell you right now though if stencil (https://getstencil.com) was around when I was learning I wouldn't have ever tried to use photoshop again.
It is by far the easiest to use, while still having a TON of functionality. I use stencil for what I would say is 97% of my photo editing needs. The other three % I could probably get done with stencil, but I'm used to photoshop at this point, and can jump in and do what I need to do then jump back into stencil. Now lets be clear here, I'm doing the type of photo editing that is required for internet marketing. Things like...
What I use Stencil For
- Social Post Images
- Simple Logos
- Blog Post Images
- Back Ground Images
- Stock Photos
The last one on the list is actually what sold me on stencil at first. I got an email from appsumo (if you aren't familiar with appsumo check out our review here ... if you are in the IM space you HAVE to signup for appsumo). I recieved the lifetime access email from appsumo, and typically my MO is that even if I don't need the product right now, but think at some point in the future I might $49 bucks for lifetime access is a no brainer to a tool that would cost you just about any amount on a monthly basis.. but I digress. I have a DepositPhotos.com account, which is just about the cheapest place I have found to get good quality stock images (appsumo deal for them too), but when I saw the stencil offer I saw that not only were they a photo editing app they also provided a royalty-free repository of over a million stock photos. Even if you are paying < $1 a photo by purchasing in bulk on depositphotos, getting access to over a million photos is a huge win. I jumped on the deal, and then I started trying out the app to see what I could do.
At first, I didn't really try the editing portion since I was really just in it for the stock photos. Then I started to play with it a bit more, and have been amazed at all the functionality they have built into it. Once I saw the potential I immediately started having my VA's use it to create images as well. Below I'm going to go over all of the different functionality in stencil, then I will go over how I personally use stencil, and why I think that if you are in the IM space and have to do any photo editing that stencil should be in your virtual toolbelt.
*Pro Tip: Having your VA’s use stencil drastically decreases the amount of time they have to spend on finding, editing and adding images to your sites.
Below I’m going to go over all of the different functionality in stencil, then I will go over how I personally use it..
Here we Go:
As you can see from the screenshot below their repository currently consists of over 1.2 million different royalty free photos. If you get into obscure niches there aren’t always images there, and then you will have to fall back to your preferred stock photo vendor. More often than not though you can find an image in here that will work.
Here you can see the Icons that are provided with the subscriptions. With over 700k if you can’t find an icon in here then you probably aren’t going to find it anywhere.
Another great option in the icons section is that you can actually drop these icons onto a canvas and then edit them. One thing I’m constantly using it for is for arrows. If you are trying to draw attention to something whether it is an in image in on a site or text in an add I’m constantly needing arrows. Well, stencil is perfect for this. I grab the “flavor” of arrow I want, and then I can style it however I want. I can:
- Rotate It
- Change Colors
- Scale The Size
*Maybe its because I’m still not very good in photoshop, but creating arrows is a huge PITA for me, this makes life sooo much easier
This is another feature that stencil has that makes it sooo much more than just another photo editing app on the web. Stencil gives you list of “featured templates” that are already designed and formatted for different social media platforms. Need to post to facebook a few times a month to keep your social fortress fresh. Just jump into stencil, and find a featured template, update the text, and download.
AND Not only do you have featured templates, but you can create your own templates. Do you create ads in a similar way? Similar size, cta in the same position, etc. Well create your own template, and now you can churn out ads like a friggin boss! I was creating a bunch of different PPL sites, and needed to create some ads for each of the different sites. I just created the template that I wanted to use, and then I had my VA’s go in and use the template but update the logo and the phone number. Easy Peasy!
Sometimes when you are trying to manage a bunch of sites, you just don’t have the time or energy to try and cook up whitty sayings for your social media feeds. Well Stencil solves this problem for you as well. While I haven’t really found myself using this feature all that much I could totally see someone who is focused on engaging their audience on social media using these quotes as they are churning out posts for the month.
This feature allows you to upload your own images, which is great. Whether you have a photo on your phone that you would like to use or you found an image on another site that you would like to edit this allows you to easily upload your own images, and have them handy at any point in the future.
This reminds me a bit of what Photoshop is doing with thier libraries funcationliaty… but I feel like this is a simple, elegant implementation, while the photoshop implementation feels like a bit of overkill, and managing it in the web interface has given me tons of issues.
Logos & Watermarks
This is something that comes in super handy when you want to make sure the appropriate branding is on your images. Whether its a post that is going to go on social media or its something that is going on your site, instead of having to track down the correct version of your logo (I know I saved it somewhere … ), now you can just toggle your logo/watermark on and off.
The ability to save images to your account can be really helpful if you don’t have time to finish an image, or you want to prep images for the future. Personally I’m more of a JIT photo editor (just in time), so I do my editing right when I need the photo, download it, and post it wherever it needs to go. You can however save the images you create in stencil to your account so you have them for later.
The Stencil Editor
On the right hand side you will see where you can create a new image. This defaults to the same size you are already using.
Below that, you have the button which will add text. Once you click on the text it will bring up the properties window of the text element. At the top, you can select from a list of fonts that are preinstalled, and as you hover the fonts the text element will change to that font, so you can see how it will look on your image. Super helpful.
Also as you slide the text size slider it changes the text elements size for you so you don’t have to keep guessing. Also a very cool feature.
I’m not going to go over each of these but everytime I think, oh I need to do this to my image, and think that stencil isn’t going to have it I have been pleasantly surprised that it is included. For example opacity of text
Setting Image Size This is one of those features where you just know that the people who created stencil knew the paint points their target audience had. How many times have you gone to create a Facebook ad and think
Shit what size is a facebook ad again?
Well with stencil you don’t have to ever try and remember.
All you have to do is select the resize image button on the right and it presents you with a context window that has a bunch of different presets.
- Posts (fb, insta)
- Ads (fb, linkedin, display)
- headers (fb, twitter, yt)
The custom option is fantastic. If you have a website theme that you use frequently (I use ThriveThemes.. eghmm they are awesome), and say your default post size is something like 850 x 247. I can’t tell you how many times in the past I would open photoshop and then it would take me longer to find the actual image size that I needed to create then it took to edit the image I was going to use. NO MORE MY FRIENDS ! Set up your custom size formats, name them, then thank yourself, and stencil the next time you go to create a new image and don’t have to hunt it down.
How I Use Stencil
I would say there are 4 different types of photos I primarily use stencil for.
- Logos (PBN’s usually)
- Blog Post Images
- Social Account Images
Now I’m not necessarily recommending this if you are trying to build out an authority site, but if you need a logo in a pinch for your coming soon page, or you are building out PBN’s and want them to look legit, but don’t want to pay a designer to build them then this is a great option. Lets say we are either building a local PPL, Rent & Rank, or PBN site and we want the site to look “good”, but not ready to spend a bunch of money on logo design. For this example we will say its in the Painting niche… I think it actually took me longer to type out this sentence then it did to create this logo (and I type 70+ wpm).
*and for those of you who are extra observant you’ll see you can create transparent backgrounds, and then it gives you the option to download it as a PNG. #winning
Blog Post Images
Keeping with our painting theme, now I’m probably going to need some blog post images right? Well all we do is:
- Select new image
- Choose the size from custom format
- Select a royalty-free image
- add our logo
Now let’s promote our cool new blog post somewhere, shall we? What do you think … maybe a leaderboard ad? 60 seconds later …
And finally we want to make sure that our social fortress looks legit right? Well we can use the same assets that we have on our other images to make things flow.. This is a facebook cover, but we could then change the size to twitter cover, then youtube cover .. you get the idea
All in all I think this is probably the AppSumo that I use more than any other. It is an integral part of my day to day operations, and Highly recommend you take advantage of using it. Below is a link to where you can get a free trial and check it out yourself. I’m confident that if you give this a try you will not be disappointed! Get Stencil Free Trail
Stencil has three different plans. The first plan is free and is great for getting your feet wet, test driving the app. It allows you to create 10 new images a month, but it limits the amount of images you have access to as well as the amount of icons.
Here is the stencil pricing grid
Free Plan - FREE
Pro Plan - $9/a mo
Unlimited Plan - $12/ a mo
Stencil Coupons, Discounts & Promo Codes
The best deal that we have found on stencil is definitely the Appsumoo deal, so keep your eye out for them rerunning it. In the mean time we are in the process of trying to get our readers a deal so keep on the lookout for updates!
For anyone who has struggled with photoshop in the past and feels like they are using a bazooka to try and kill a fly I highly recommend checking out stencil. It has just about every feature you would ever need for editing and publishing great photos for the web. Give it a try and I guarantee you won't be disappointed.