In an increasingly crowded social media scene with reduced attention spans, multiple screens, news streams and an unthinkable number of adverts on display, using visuals to tell your story and share your message has become so important.
There are many apps and programs that can be used to create or modify visuals so that they stand out. Photoshop, Picmonkey, BeFunky. WordSwag – the list goes on. Within that wide range of choices though is a current favorite of mine: Canva.
Built with the non-designer in mind, it is the perfect tool for designing print and web-based materials — social media graphics, blog images, lead magnets, eBooks, Facebook ads, Pinterest pins, resumes, one-page bio sheets, LinkedIn cover images to name a few. And with over 10 million users, they aren’t lightweights.
Here’s a quick ‘How to’ to get you started, and a few of my favorite features thrown in for good measure.
Creating a design the easy way!
1 Click Create a design.
2 Find the right design type for your needs. You have a huge range to choose from with the key difference between design types being dimension (think: custom sized canvases).
3 At this point, you’ll see a blank canvas on your screen and a heap of pretty Canva layouts for inspiration. If you are strapped for time or just don’t have a flair for figuring out font – color combinations and all of that design stuff, these layouts are perfect. Let’s assume you see a layout that works. Click on it.
4 Now you have a baseline design to work with, all that’s left to do is make the design your own. To do this, simply click on each element and customize away!
5 Rename your design by clicking on the default title and typing over it.
Creating a design that’s all yours
1 Pick a design type.
2 Lay the foundation for your visual — starting with the background.
For a photo background:
Click on Elements.
Click on Free Photos for a range of options (use the search bar to narrow it down if you kinda know what you’re looking for) or click Uploads, then Upload your own images if you’ve got one of your own.
Click on the photo of choice and play around with it — Stretch it out to fill your canvas. Click, hold and drag to reposition it/change the focus of the image. Use the Filter function to play around with things like brightness and tint. Flip the photo horizontally or vertically if that works. The Transparency scale is really useful too for when you introduce a text overlay.
For a solid background:
Click on Background and pick one. (Tip: In most instances, you can change the base colour of a background simply by clicking on the background and changing the color palette to suit your needs.
3 Get your copy in.
Click on Text.
Depending on what you need, click a standard style for Heading, Subheading, or Body text or use one of the pre-designed font combos available to you.
Type in your text. If you’re planning on using more than one font type, introduce them as separate text boxes.
Format your text via the editor toolbar. You can quite literally change almost anything from font type, size and color to alignment, spacing, and transparency.
4 Rename your design by clicking on the default title and typing over it.
5 Click File and Save.
Other Useful Canva Features
There are a ton of different frames that will suit any design and help to draw attention to a particular part of an image. You have traditional square frames, shapes, and illustrative frames. You can also use frames purely as a decorative element.
To add a photo to a frame:
- Click on Elements.
- Click on Frames.
- Click on the frame you wish to use.
- Find or upload an image you wish to use.
- Drag the image to the center of the frame – and that’s it!
You can add a hyperlink to your Canva design so that when your audience clicks on the hyperlinked element, they are redirected to a web page. To add a hyperlink to your design:
- Click on the element you wish to hyperlink.
- Click on the link icon in the editor toolbar.
- Enter (or copy/paste) the URL of the web page you wish to redirect your audience to.
- Click Apply.
Note: You are only able to apply one link per element. Your design needs to be downloaded as a PDF for the link to be enabled.
Setting the mood with typography
Using different fonts in your visual is a great way to introduce contrast but I’ve always thought choosing the right two fonts is like falling down a rabbit hole. San serifs, serif, script, strong and bold, elegant and beautiful, do I want contrast or not? Wowzers.
And then I found this: www.canva.com/font-combinations and designschool.canva.com/blog/the-ultimate-guide-to-font-pairing. Enjoy!
For those of you who have a Canva for Work plan going:
Creating templates out of designs you use often
Follow these steps to save one of your designs as a template:
- Create a new design in Canva like you would normally.
- When you’ve finalized the design, click on the Show Team slider.
- Turn the Publish as Template toggle on.
- Click on the Save Changes button.
Resizing your designs with 1-click
If you’ve created a Facebook post and want to use it as a post on Twitter and Instagram too, use the magic resize feature.
To resize a design using magic resize:
- Open the design you want to resize.
- Click on the File tab.
- Select Magic Resize.
- Click on the checkbox next to the design type you wish to resize your design to (in this example, you’d be putting a check against both Twitter and Instagram)
- Click on the green Abracadabra-Resize! button. At this point, your new designs will open as two new tabs.
- All that’s left to do is rename the designs so you know which platform each one is meant for!
Creating your very own brand center
The Canva brand kit is super awesome. It lets you define and upload all of your brand assets including your brand colors, fonts, and logo. And once you’ve done the work up front, each time you create a new design – each element you use defaults to your brand while allowing edits if that’s what you need.
To set up your brand kit:
- Click on the Your brand tab on your Canva home page.
- Click on the Brand Kit tab.
- Start defining your brand colors. You can use the color wheel, or the hex code if you already know your brand color.
- Next, get your brand fonts in.
- Upload your logo(s), brand images etc.
Once you get started with Canva, the opportunities are endless. You’ll have the tools you need to create professional-looking visuals images for low cost or no cost at all.
Your visuals will never be the same – in the best possible way!