Graphics are an integral part of any business’ branding and marketing plan. It communicates not only the visual look for your company, but also the message you want to convey. Whether you are designing an ad, blog post graphic, or some other advertisement, you need the right graphics to get you noticed.
But what if graphic design is not your strong suit? Well, that’s where Canva comes in. It’s one of the best resources for creating amazing visuals. You don’t have to be an expert designer or know how to code to use it. Canva operates on an easy drag and drop system.
Canva is simple to navigate once you familiarize yourself with a few basic operations. It won’t take complex calculus equations to figure it out, I promise. In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to design a graphic from a pre-formatted layout as well as do a custom design. So without further ado here are my best Canva tips that will get you started designing share-worthy graphics in no time.
One of the best things about Canva is how easy it is to use. On their homepage, you can choose the size or type of graphic you want to create. They have templates for social media platforms, blog title, ebook, etc. You can even create a customized size. I’ll be using the Facebook post template, throughout this tutorial.
Designing A Pre-Formatted Layout
Once you’ve chosen your template, you’ll be taken to the drag and drop editor. Just pick a layout and drop it onto your canvas. Canva has over 8,000 free and paid layouts to choose from. Once you get the hang ofCanva, you can use the paid layouts for inspiration, and recreate the design so no need to buy!
Making Changes To A Layout
Now you can begin making any changes to your design you want. You can change the fonts, colors, and sizes of all elements using the toolbar at the top of the design editor screen. You can also align elements by using the built-in grid lines that automatically appear when moving elements around on your design.
Saving Your Design
When you’re done making changes to your design, you will need to save it to your computer. Click download in the upper right-hand corner of the design editor screen. A drop down list will give you the option of saving as a jpeg, png, or a pdf.How easy was that? Pre-formatted layouts are great, for quick designs. You can have a beautiful graphic to use for your Facebook post in no time!
Designing A Custom Graphic
I personally like designing my own graphics for a more consistent look for branding (plus, I can be as creative as I want with my design!).
You can add any elements you want, including your own images. A word of caution, though, be sure to read Canva’s terms and conditions before uploading any images.
Again you will start by choosing a template. The only difference this time, you will choose uploads then click on the green upload image on the left side of the editor screen. Choose the image from your computer you want to upload. Now, just add the image to the canvas.
Click the text tab on the left side of your design editor screen. There are many options when it comes to text. The first 3 options at the top of the text box are basic text. This is what I use 99% of the time, but you can explore the other options to add a little something extra to your design.
As shown above, to change the font, size, or color of your text, click on the text you want to change. The design editor toolbar will appear at the top of your design editor screen. You can make any changes to your text from the toolbar.
To add an element to your design, click the elements tab, on the left side of the design editor screen. There are 9 categories of elements to choose from such as frames, shapes, illustrations, etc. Click on the design element you want to use. This is where you can get super creative.
Don’t worry if you’re not the most creative person on the planet because Canva has your back on that too. On the homepage, check out the Get Design Inspiration tab in the bottom left-hand corner of your screen.
For branding stay consistent with your designs by using the same elements in all promotional graphics. Incorporate your brand colors, fonts, logos, and your website address. You want your social media posts to stand out in the crowd and your audience to recognize your graphics as yours.
You can easily create a consistent branded look with the paid version of Canva since you can save templates of your designs. You have the ability to use them over and over again for each platform you design a graphic for. If you are posting graphics to social media regularly, having templates can save you loads of time.
For this design, I’m using a solid box shape to overlay on the image. The box automatically appears as blue. As shown above, you can change the color by clicking the color box on the toolbar. The size of the box is also pre-set. To change the size, move your cursor to the corner of the box and drag in the direction you want to size it to. Adjust the position of the box by moving it to the center of your image and using the grid lines to align it.
If you don’t like the look of a solid box, you can change it’s appearance by making it transparent. In the upper right-hand side of the design editor screen click on the dots to the right side of the arrange tab. You can change the transparency by adjusting the slide up or down.
The arrange tab will allow you to pull an element forward or push it back to be either on top of or behind another element. If you have multiple elements you want to add to your design, and you want to layer them, use the arrange tab to do this. Click on forward if you want a certain element to appear on top of another, and click on back if you want it behind another element.
The copy tab is used to duplicate elements. Click on the element you want to copy, then click on the copy tab on the toolbar. It will make an exact copy of the element, including color and size changes.
For this design, I added additional text overlaid onto the box. You can see how the transparency allows your image to show through. The text is also more readable than if it was directly on the image.
When designing graphics for social media, keep in mind that the graphics will appear much smaller, especially on mobile devices. It’s important that all text on your graphics can be seen. You don’t want potential clients scrolling past your post because they can’t easily read the text.
Play around with your design to get the look you want. A trick I use when designing is adding a second page. I can use this page to try out different ideas. When your done designing just delete the other page.
Ok, so I’ve added a lot of cool things to my graphic, but my design isn’t quite finished yet. I want to add one more element. As shown above, click on elements again on the left side of the screen. This time choose illustrations. You can scroll through to find the perfect one for your design.
I’ve chosen to add a dollar sign to mine because I wanted something visual that would relate to the message I’m trying to convey. To add an illustration, just click on it and drop onto your design where you want it to appear. As with any elements, you can change the size and color to fit with your design. To align the illustration with the other elements, use the grid lines to center.
When you’re finished designing your graphic, you can save it by clicking on download, as explained above.
Canva also gives you the option to invite others to view or edit your design. You can share it directly to Facebook and Twitter as well.
To share, click on the share tab in the upper right-hand corner of the design editor screen. You can enter an email address for the person(s) you want to share it with, or post it directly, to Facebook or Twitter.
In this same window, you can also choose the link tab. This will give you a specific link for your design so you can share your graphic with others.
Other useful features
Canva is by far the easiest graphic design platform out there. If you need quick, professional looking graphics for your business, but don’t have the time to learn some complicated program, Canva is your answer.
Besides the graphic design editor, Canva also has a free photo editing tool, color palette generator, and font combination tool. With the free version, you can have 2 folders for organizing your designs. It’s a one-stop shop to create everything you need for attention grabbing graphics.
The upgraded version of Canva has magic resizing, a must for social media managers. You can also upload custom fonts, set your brand’s color palette, and have unlimited folders. Another feature they just added is Create A Team. You have the ability to set up team members under your account. Canva allows up to 10 members to be added for free. This is a super useful option if you have multiple graphic designers in your organization. It can even be utilized by individual business owners who outsource their design work to virtual assistants.
Now that you’ve got the basic steps down for designing gorgeous graphics in Canva, check out their tutorials and design courses. You’ll learn even more design tips, tricks, and shortcuts. These tutorials will help take you from basic design to advanced. Have fun!