How to use Canva:

Lucy Drown

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canva, photo and graphic design program

Canva is a popular cloud-based software program that helps users to design graphics and imagery. It has templates that are fully customisable, i.e. you’re able to change the colours, replace the images, and more, to suit whatever you’re trying to create. Canva is commonly used by business owners, as it’s a way of creating professional looking business posts and logos, etc., quickly and easily.


Why should you use Canva?

Canva’s power lies in its user-friendly, drag-and-drop templates that help you create professional images, even if you have no knowledge of graphic design.


To begin, you need to create an account. The good news is that Canva’s free offering provides you with more than enough features to get started. When you’ve used it for a while, you may want to consider upgrading to Canva Pro.


(Some of the following features are only available in the Pro version.)


While the software works best on a desktop, it also has a convenient app for both Android and iOS.

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Starting your design (Video above for Guidance)

  1. Choose the correct dimensions for your design. Then select the most appropriate design type from the homepage—Canva has loads of options, from flyers to Facebook posts and many more, all predesigned to be the optimal size for the intended use. You can also select custom dimensions.

  2. Once you’ve selected a design type with the correct dimensions, the corresponding template opens in a new tab/window. Your design will be to the right of the screen, editing options will be in a bar on the left, and your download and share options, top right. In the example, I selected the Instagram post design type, which creates the exact proportions of a square Instagram post. I also selected a template as the basis for my design.

  3. Canva’s design process breaks things down into elements. Every aspect of the template is completely customisable. To change the image element, simply click on the image and press the delete key on your keyboard. On the left-hand side, if you click on the ‘photos’ option you can see the images available from Canva to use; you can also search for specific topics. Alternatively, you can upload your own photos. To do this, click the ‘uploads’ menu on the left (under templates).

  4. To change the text on your design, simply highlight it then type over the suggested wording. Once you click on the text, you’ll notice text editing options appear along the top of your screen. You can change the text’s font type, size and alignment, as well as add effects, such as drop shadows and glow. If you click the three-dot menu at the top right of your screen you will find even more options to change the position of the text and its transparency.

  5. Now, let’s look at changing the colour of elements, backgrounds or text. Select the element you wish to alter by clicking on it; a coloured square will appear in the top left-hand corner. If you click this, you will be presented with an extensive array of colours to choose from. Canva automatically selects colours associated with your design template; you can also use a RGB HEX code to find a specific colour/shade.

  6. Next, if required, you can add icons, shapes and stickers, by using the ‘elements’ menu option to the left of the screen. You can search for what you need; in the example, I’ve typed in ‘golden retriever’. There are also basic shapes and symbols for you to select and manipulate, such as squares, rectangles and arrows. You can drag these into position and change their colour by following the same process as above.

  7. When you’ve finalised your design, look to the top of your screen for sharing and downloading options.

The software is certainly easy to use, and the pre-set dimensions eradicate any resizing headaches when you upload your design onto the desired platform. As mentioned, there are more features if you upgrade to Canva Pro and you’ll find plenty of tutorials on Canva or via YouTube that will help you get the best from the program.

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