An Introductory Guide to Designing on Canva
This guide was created by Maanasi Shyno, a sophomore at Dartmouth College interning with Launch gURLs this fall. Maanasi is currently running the Launch gURLs social media and developing marketing strategy.
One of the most important elements of starting a business is having strong marketing and advertising campaigns. This can be expensive, but there are lots of free tools to use to help fray costs! Canva is an awesome free design software that allows users to create a variety of graphics. The simple, intuitive interface makes it great for beginners, but a few tips and tricks can make the experience even better!
Getting Started: To get started, press “Create a Design” and select the type of graphic you’d like to make. You can either scroll through the options and find one that is suitable for what you want to do. You can also type in dimensions and get a blank canvas with those dimensions to work with.
Check Out the Ready Made Templates: Canva has a variety of templates that you can use for all of their graphic types. If you select a template after getting to the templates page, you can always change it later!
Canva’s design interface is easy to get a hang of, so you’ll be a pro in no time!
Canva Left Bar
- Templates: Using this button, you can search through a variety of templates. If you use the search bar, you can find specific items as well!
- Uploads: Use this button to upload images or videos you want to use in your graphic. Press “upload an image or video” then select where you would like to get the item from. The current options are your device, Facebook, Google Drive, Instagram, or DropBox.
- Photos: Use this button to search through Canva’s photo bank for your graphic. If you type a theme or item, the bank will pull up some options. Be sure to only use free images if you don’t have Canva Pro and want to make something for free!
- Images: Like photos, you can use this button to search through Canva’s image bank. The main difference is that Canva refers to graphics as images. That’s where I find all the cute people I use for the Launch gURLs social media!
- Text: Use this button to insert a text box. There are a variety of sizes, which of course you can adjust after putting them on your graphic. If you want to look for a particular font, type it in the search bar. You can also scroll down to look at combinations and styles Canva has put together!
- Videos: The video button is very similar to the Photos and Images button, just allowing you to add videos!
- Bkground: This button allows you to change the background on the graphic and is very similar to the templates button.
Canva Top Bar
- Moving elements: If you want to change the position of an element, simply click and drag it. While you do this, you may see some pink lines show up on the graphic. These will help you find the center of the image (when the lines divide the graphic into four quadrants or in half). They can also help you line up elements by drawing a line between the elements to show they’re in the same space. If you’re on a computer and having trouble placing the element with your mouse, you can also use the arrow keys. This helps with items that are just a little off.
- Image colors: If you want to change the colors on an image, click the image. If you can change the colors on this image, a few boxes with the colors on the image will show up in the top bar. Click the boxes and change the colors as you’d like. If you want to add a custom color not available in the palette, press the rainbow color and move the selection until you like it. If you’re looking for a particular color, type the hex code into the search bar.
- Editing an image: Click on the image and notice that on the top, several options become available.
- To crop, press crop and then move the boundaries on the image. Only what is in the box will show up, so if you stretch the image, anything outside the box will disappear. Same thing if you shrink the box. When you are done, press ‘Done’.
- To flip the image, press flip and select if you want to flip the image vertically or horizontally and then press ‘Done’ when you like it.
- To make the image more transparent, select the button on the top right that looks like a faded checkerboard. Adjust the circle to make it more or less transparent. You can also input an image to change it as you like.
- Positioning an element: When multiple elements are overlapped and you’d like to order the position, select one element and then press the ‘Position’ button at the top right. Press ‘forward’ to make that particular element come to the front. Press ‘backward’ to make it go backward.
- Edit Text: If you select a textbox, the top bar will change with a variety of ways for you to edit it. Check out the picture below to learn how to edit text.
Additional Features and Tips: There are a few additional features that may help you.
- Three buttons: Check out the picture below to see what each button means.
- Copy/Paste Functions: You can either use your computer commands or right click on an element to get the copy/paste functions. This will help duplicate a graphic or move it elsewhere. This works across pages. You’ll also notice that you can use this to position elements.
Downloading Your Graphic: After you’re done editing your graphic, press the ‘Download’ button at the top right of the interface. Then select the file type you want. If you have multiple pages, select which ones you want and press ‘Download’. Afterwards, you should be able to find the graphic in your ‘Downloads’ file!
This is an introductory guide to Canva, so not every function has been included! There’s lots of depth to Canva and you can use it to make more than a simple graphic.