How to use Canva

One of the questions I get asked most by previous clients is how they can use their branding and design their own graphics for let’s say social media without having to ask me all the time. Of course you can design nice graphics with powerpoint or keynote but it can be quite complicated sometimes. And today I  want to introduce you to a program called Canva, which is much easier to use!

Canva is a free online graphic design program, it is accessible to anyone and very user-friendly. It has lot’s of free templates and ready to use graphics as well as images. There are also some templates that cost money but they are very cheap. Of course it has some limitations in comparison to for example Adobe Illustrator but for a free tool for basic designs it is amazing.

How to use CANVA | MNFL Design

And by the way, it is not only available in English but many many different languages!

Setting up an account

First you have to go to their website www.canva.com and set up an account. This is easy and straight forward.

 

How to use Canva | MNFL Design

Choosing a template and layout

You will be directed to this page where you can choose a layout and design template. There are many different layouts you can choose from all kinds of social media, ads, flyers, presentations, Din format etc. Just have scroll down and have a look.

How to use Canva | MNFL Design

 

And you can also choose to design your own graphic with custom dimensions. Just click on the upper right hand corner button where it says Use Custom Dimensions.

Once you have decided which layout you would like you click on that and then you will find many different pre-designed graphics for you on the left hand side. Some are free and some costs a little bit.

For this example I’ve clicked on Facebook post under social media.

How to use Canva | MNFL Design

Just scroll through all the different design layouts and once you have decided on one click on it so you can edit it.

Editing the layout

Now you can just click on the existing design and change the text, it’s color, the font and it’s size by using the upper bar. By clicking on the color wheel and then the plus sign you can choose from many more colors and you can add your brand specific font using the hex code (#......).

How to use Canva | MNFL Design
How to use Canva | MNFL Design
How to use Canva | MNFL Design

 

On the left hand side you can find a sidebar which says Layouts, elements, text, backgrounds and uploads. Here you can find many design elements which you can use and change to your needs.


If you don’t want to read through this whole post, you can also check out my video on how to use Canva here.


The Sidebar

Elements

Under Elements you can find many free images (that you can use and require no crediting), pre-set frames, many shapes which are very useful, illustrations, icons and graphs.

So let’s say you want to use one of the images instead of the one in the example design. You just click on images and drag and drop a new image on your design.

By using the shapes you could for example then add a frame to the image.

And you can add an icon and customize it’s colors by just dragging it on your design, adjust the size and the colors as well as the transparency of the design element.

In this example I have added a frame to the image which is a little transparent just like the square in the center.

How to use Canva | MNFL Design

Text

By using the text element you can add some more plain text or a pre-set text design and then you also adjust the size, font, color through the menu at the top.

In this example I have added my website name at the bottom of the image.

How to use Canva | MNFL Design
How to use Canva | MNFL Design
How to use Canva | MNFL Design

Just click on the text element, mark it and click on the font, size and color in order to change it.

Please note that you can’t use custom fonts in the free version of Canva. In order to use your custom brand font you would need to use the paid version.

Tip: the nice thing about Canva is also that it has supporting lines to center elements which appear automatically.

Background

You can also add different background elements from Canva. This is usually more handy if you don’t have an image that covers the whole design like in my example but I added a background nevertheless. Then I selected my background image and clicked on transparency to make it a little transparent so the background design can be seen a little bit like a watermark. There are endless options, just play around with it.

How to use Canva | MNFL Design

But of course remember to stay consistent and within your brand guidelines :-)

Plus keeping it simple always works best. Less is more.

Uploads

And if you want to use your own images you can also upload them from your computer or directly from your facebook page. And all images that you have previously bought through Canva will also be stored here.

When you upload your own image just remember to make sure the file is not too big to reduce the amount of time to upload but it is also not too small so it is not blurry. You can then drag and drop your own image on your design and adjust its size and positioning to your liking.

So for this design I have uploaded one of my images, adjusted its size and exchanged it as the background image.

How to use Canva | MNFL Design
How to use Canva | MNFL Design

Tip: By just using your mouse to increase or decrease the size of your image or any other graphic element you do not change it’s dimensions. But if you hold down the shift key and then change the size with your mouse you can distort your image size. This is the opposite in other design programs.

Canva saves your changes automatically so no need to worry about that. And all your previous designs will be stored on the left hand side in your membership area which you saw when you logged in. So in case you want to do a similar design to one of your previous ones it is very easy to go there and just copy and paste an old design and change it to your needs.

 

Additional features

Adding a page

You can add a page by just clicking underneath your existing page and in this case it even has the same background image already.

How to use Canva | adding a new page | MNFL Design
How to use Canva | adding a new page | MNFL Design
How to use Canva | MNFL Design

Undo/Redo

In case you don’t like something you can redo and undo as many design steps as you like by just clicking on the redo or undo button in the main navigation bar.

 

Copy

You can use your mouse to select as many parts of your design as you like and click on copy to duplicate the design elements and drag them to the second page for example.

How to use Canva | MNFL Design

 

Title

You can name your document by clicking here and typing in your desired name.

How to use Canva | MNFL Design

Sharing

By clicking on the sharing button you can share your design via email or by copying the link and you can decide whether the receiver can edit the design or not. And you also also post it directly to social media.

 

Download

By clicking on download you can download your design as a pdf, png or jpeg. Then you can use it for social media or your blog posts, for printing etc.

How to use Canva | saving your designs | MNFL Design
How to use Canva | MNFL Design


 

This gave you a quick overview of Canva and how you can easily design your own graphics using its templates. However you can also play around with it and create your own designs using the same features.

 

Tip: If you want to design something yourself and not use Canva’s templates but it needs to have a certain size you can also use a template, for example for a facebook AD, delete all its content and ad your own. But at least you ensure you will have the right size.

Tip: If you want to design something yourself and not use Canva’s templates but it needs to have a certain size you can also use a template, for example for a facebook AD, delete all its content and ad your own. But at least you ensure you will have the right size.

 

If you need some help with general design rules and guidelines check out this previous blog post I wrote about my 7 essentials for logo, brand and website design which also applies to any other design for social media, flyers etc.

https://www.mnfl-design.com/blog/7-design-essentials-for-logo-and-brand-design

Let me know if you have any further questions and have a fantastic day!

Emilia


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