How to use Canva to create great designs

By Leonie  |  14 April 2016

Canva allows you to do beautiful design work without being a designer. It provides templates for everything from social media graphics, posters and marketing materials to postcards, invitations, different document types and presentations. This guide will cover how to create, edit and download your designs.

How to use Canva

1.  Your Canva homepage

The Canva homepage is where all of your designs will be saved.
To visit your home page go to www.canva.com
To return here from anywhere else in the site, click the Canva logo in top left corner.

Canva article image 1

2.   Starting a new design

Click on the icon in the top panel of the design type you want to use, such as 'Social Media’ or 'Presentation'. Click on the 'More' button on the right-hand side to see more templates.

Canva article image 2

3.  How to use custom dimensions

Click on ‘Use custom dimensions’ on the upper right hand corner, and use the drop down to choose the measurement units (pixels/mm).  This is helpful when making a graphic for a blog or a website (as long as you know what your measurements should be).

Canva article image 3

4.  Creating your first design

After selecting a design type, a canvas will open with the right dimensions. This sample shows a Facebook post. On the left side of your design you'll see a number of layouts for that type. You can choose one of these layouts by clicking or dragging it to your canvas.

Canva article image 4
5.  Edit your text

Click and edit the words to suit your needs. You can change font, colour and size from the mini toolbar. For more editing options click the arrow on the right.

Canva article image 5

6.  Edit your background

Edit the background color by clicking on the ‘Background’ tab and choosing a new one.

Canva article image 6

7.  Downloading your design

When you're done with the design, you can download it as a JPG, PNG or PDF file by clicking the 'Download' button.

Canva article image 7

8.  Upload your own photos

Click the 'Upload' tab then the big green button 'Upload your own images' and select your images. Keep files under 25 mb each, and make sure it's in JPG, PNG, or SVG format. You can also drag and drop them into this space. These will be saved for future use.

Canva article image 8
9.  Searching for images

Canva article image 9You can search for images in Canva’s library. Many are free to use, but some you will need to pay for (premium images). Enter a keyword and images will appear on the left. To use an image, you can either drag it onto the page or just click on it and resize as needed.


10.  Using premium images

Premium images cost US $1 to 'download' into a design in order to remove the watermark.

Once you’re finished designing and you’re ready to download your completed image,  there will be a prompt to inform you about the required payment of US $1 for the image. You also have the option to purchase bundles of image credits in order to get more savings. Note: you have 24 hours to edit and use the image, after which you will have to pay for it again if you would like to use it repeatedly.

11.  Grids

Novice designers might find it useful to apply a grid to their design to ensure it is neatly aligned. Simply search in Canva for the word ‘grid' and then drag one onto your page. Note: if you are using an existing template, you won’t need a grid, but if you are designing from scratch, a grid could be helpful.

Canva article image 11

12.  Use photo filters

Once you have an image in your design, you can apply filters. Click on the image and filters will appear. These can be used to correct an image or to give it a different emotional feeling.

Canva article image 12

13.  Duplicating and  deleting your designs

If you want to copy and change a design you already have in Canva, you can:

  • from your Canva homepage, hover over a design, and click the arrow that will appear in the right corner. Select ‘Make a copy’. Rename your design in the header.  You can also delete here.
  • or when editing a design, select ‘File’ from the header menu and the ‘Make a copy’.

14.  Saving designs

Canva periodically saves designs as you go, but be sure to select ‘Save’ from the ‘File’ menu before leaving the page.

15.  Resizing your design

This is also done from the file menu. Make sure to make a copy first if you want to keep to keep the original.

Canva article image 14

16.  Templates

You may decide to turn your finished design into a template. Select ‘Public’ from the top right menu. Select ‘Publish as template’ and save. If you want to keep your template for private use only be sure to deselect ‘Make public’. Find saved templates in ‘Your brand’.

Canva article image 15 Canva article image 16

With those skills in the bag, you are good to go to create your own professional-looking images in Canva. If you get stuck, or if you'd like more info on any of these processes, head to Canva's Help Centre.

Written by Leonie  |  14 April 2016