How to Use Canva: The Beginners Guide

How to Use Canva: The Beginners Guide

What is Canva?

Canva is an amazing tool that makes designing anything and publishing it everywhere entirely possible! It boasts a user-friendly drag and drop tool with thousands of customizable templates that are used by designers across 179 countries.  This graphic-design tool website was founded in 2012 and has been praised for its drag and drop format that enables access to over a million graphics, photographs and various fonts.  It can be used by both designers and professionals and its tools can be used for web and print media design and graphics.


What Can Canva Be Used For?

Make Your Own Designs Without Expensive Software

Canva is a one stop tool for all simple design projects and can be used by anyone and everyone.  It has an endless assortment of content that can be created and is a wonderful resource for social media images that can, with a little tweaking, have multiples uses.


Design Custom Meeting Agendas

Canva has a “Documents” section in which you will find many business-friendly templates.  These templates are not specifically dedicated to meeting agendas, but the “Letterhead” template can be used to easily design and template whatever you may need.


Once your template has been selected you are able to edit and download your images as High-Quality PNG.  Thereafter you would save the image to your desktop and then add it to a Word document.  You will then be able to resize and centre the image across your page or adjust the margins by using the “Layout” option in Microsoft word. This amazing tool is able to design a professional agenda for your meeting in under 20 minutes.


Block Blog Quotes

People that use Canva on a regular basis are familiar with the ability it has to create blog header images for your posts.  It creates custom images to quotes so as to emphasize the phrase line in your text.


Canva can make this process simple without help from a designer and ensures that you are matching brand guidelines with the colours that you have chosen.  The best tools for doing this are ColorPick Eyedropper Chrome Extension.  You can also use the “Custom Dimensions” option which is available in the top right corner of the application.  The quote size will depend on the dimension of your blog together with the amount of text that you would like to display.


Make Brochures

Digital Marketing Agencies are sometimes called upon to create brochures that are print-friendly.  Canva can design brochures that are beautifully designed and can save your budget by not requiring you to hire the expertise of a designer.


Canva is an affordable and quick solution to all of your brochure needs.  It is also very helpful to copywriters who are working on a brochure copy.  Canva also allows you to see how the copy is going to look in a trifold brochure format.


Design Photo Collages

Photo collages can be used for a number of applications such as hosting or attending events where you take photos of guests and colleagues.  These collages can be used to promote and showcase events and marketing plans such as:


·       Promotional Event Emails

·       Landing Pages

·       Thank You Pages

·       Social Media

·       Follow-up Emails

·       Blog Recaps


Photo collages can also be a great addition to blogs, presentations, and follow-up communication with attendees.

Make Presentations

Creating presentations on Canva are simple and it has many easy easy-to-use templates under the “Documents” section. Before you have selected a template, you need to decide that size layout you require for your PowerPoint set up. You can adjust your PowerPoint dimensions by selecting the design tab and then clicking “Slide Size”.


The standard presentation size has a very large selection of templates with matching layouts. You can see the matching designs by clicking the corner of the presentation where you will see a number of templates below the first slide.  Try to make sure that you keep to the same colors, logos and fonts across all the slides in your presentation.


Social Media Icons

Canva offers a number of social icons under the “Icons” section. You won’t be able to created images smaller than 40 x 40, but you can always use Pixlr Express to resize the images to whatever size you may need.



Also learn how to create your own video with Canva:

How to Use Canva: The Beginners Guide


Canva can turn your visions into reality and allows you to finish designs within minutes.  It also offers a step-by-step tutorial for designing whatever you need from scratch.  Canva templates are fully customisable so you are able to change the colors, images and anything else that you need.  There are thousands of templates to fit any of your design needs.  If, however, you need something completely custom-made you are able to do the following:


# 1 Pick the Right Dimension for Your Design

Choose the design type that you require from the Canva homepage.  These designs are set to the optimal dimension for every kind of graphic.  You can also use custom dimensions by searching for “custom size”.  You are able to choose from pixels, millimetres or inches.


# 2 Decide on A Background

You can chose the background for your design by using a colour or an image.

Background Colors

  • Useful Design tip


Chose colours that are best suited to your needs by using Canvas Color Combinations tool.  To choose a colour, use the Color Picker tool in the toolbar at the top of the editor.


Background photos

To use a photo as a background you need to add a grid. Once you have done this you can place the photos on the grid and resize, crop, flip or layer them to create the visual effect that you are looking for.  You can then search for images or upload your own image.  Once this has been done you can then drag and drop the image onto the grid.  You are also able to add filters to change the brightness and clarity of the photo.


  • Useful Design tip


Add background images or feature images to your design.


Background Images

Background images are used to support the message of the content. Too much going on in the background makes it hard to overlay text or illustrations.  Consider the texture of your image when choosing an image for your background.  You can crop these images to find pockets of texture that will work better.  By doing this you an also remove any space or features that make the image create too much noise.


Feature Images

These are usually the focus of your design and sit high in the order of visual hierarchy.  You can use a single or split image grid to apply clever feature images that can help you content to be more appealing


# 3 Add Your Elements

Designs can include text, icons, illustrations and photos which need to be combined in such a way as to be visually appealing.  It is important to consider the balance and composition of all the elements in the design. Furthermore, when you are laying out your elements check to see if they are balanced and centred.  You also need to make sure that they are not too close to other elements or too near to the edge of the page.  Try to keep things simple and don’t overload your design with too many elements.  Arrange the elements in accordance to their importance and try to play with size and colour to see what works best.  If you would like to add a photo to your design, then use one of the Canva frames which can be found under “elements” in the side panel.



  • Useful Design Tip


White space can be used anywhere within a design space that is free from text, images and embellishments.  It can be used to help create grouping, improve legibility or to add emphasis.


# 4 Choose the Fonts You Want

It in important to take into consideration that the font can have a massive impact on your design.  Your design may need more than one typeface. Canva suggests that you don’t use more than two fonts in a design so as to not make your design look less messy.  Try to use complimentary fonts that add visual interest and work well with each other.  Canva has hundreds of pre-set fonts to choose from. These can be found in the Text tab in the side control panel.  You are also able to create your own combination.  Try to go with a simpler font paired with a more elaborate font so that your design is balanced. Canva has a Font Combination tool that can help you with this.  Remember that if your font is too complicated it can detract from the message that you are trying to convey.


  • Useful Design tip


Typographic is used to established the order of importance given to different design elements. When you apply different fonts, colour and scale the text you are able to dramatically change the way in which your message can be received.  Practice makes perfect so keep creating and practicing until you are able to create perfect designs.


Watch this useful video to introduce you to Canva for beginners:

Canva Shortcuts


Convert Text to Uppercase


Use Command + Shift + K to capitalize all letters at once. If you want to convert all of the text to uppercase instead of selecting the text and re-typing it all you can use this keyboard shortcut instead:


Shortcut: Command (or Control) + Shift + K

Add a Border on Text


You can use Option + Shift + B to add a border around a text element when using Canva.  Add a border around any piece of text by following he Canva keyboard shortcut.  First you need to select the text box that you would like to add a border around.  Next you would use the following shortcut:


Shortcut: Option (or Alt) + Shift + B

Increase the Border Size


You can increase the border width in Canva by pressing Option + Shift + Equal. If you want to increase the size of the border that has been added you can use this keyboard shortcut. Select the object with a border and then press the following:


Shortcut: Option (or Alt) + Shift + Equals sign

Decrease the Border Size


You can also decrease the border width in Canva by pressing Option + Shift + Minus.

If you want to decrease the size of the border, then use this keyboard shortcut. Select the object that has the border then use these keys:


Shortcut: Option (or Alt) + Shift + Minus sign

Switch Between elements on Different Layers


You are able to press and hold Command and click on items in a layer so that you can alternate between the items. First select the object that you would like to move and us the following keyboard shortcut.


Shortcut: Press and hold the command (or Control) key. Keep clicking until you are on the desired layer

Forward and Backward Movement of Layers


If you want to move a layer forwards or backwards you can use Command +] or Command + . You can also make use of the up arrow or down arrow.  If you want to move layers forwards of backwards then select the object that you want to move. Then use the following keyboard shortcut.


Shortcut: Command (or Control) + [ or Command (or Control) +]. You can also substitute the up or down arrows for the brackets in Canva.

Displaying a Gird on Canva


Let say you would like to display a grid to make it easier to align images in Canva.  Press Command + to make it easy to align objects on your image by applying a grid to your workspace. Start creating the imagine in Canva and then use the following keyboard shortcut:


Shortcut: Command (or Control) +;

Undo An edit


Made a mistake? If you want to undo a mistake in Canva press Command + Z. You do not have to reload the page and start from scratch.  Simply use this keyboard shortcut to undo your changes.


Shortcut: Command (or Control) + Z. To redo an edit, use Command (or Control) + Shift + Z

Duplicate a Layer


You can duplicate a layer in Canva by using the keyboard shortcut, Command + C and Command + V

If you feel the need to duplicate a layer, then use this Canva keyboard shortcut.


Shortcut: Command (or Control) + C to copy. Command (or Control) + V to paste.

Constrain the Proportions on Images


If you want to constrain an image when resizing it then hold down the Shift key and drag it into Canva. You can constrain the proportions by first selecting the layer that you want to work with then holding the shift key and dragging it in the direction that you would like to scale your image.  To do this use the following keyboard shortcut:


Shortcut: Shift key

Delete Items


You are able to quickly delete items in Canva by clicking on an object and then pressing the delete key. You can select the item that you want to delete and press the delete key.


Shortcut: Delete key

Move Multiple Images


You are able to select multiple layers in Canva by pressing Shift + Click. If you want to move multiple images at a time, then use this keyboard shortcut to move only the ones that you would like to move.


Shortcut: Shift + Click. Once you have selected all of the items you are able to drag them to their new position.

Select All Objects


Select all objects in Canva by pressing Command + A. If you want to select everything in your Canva project at the same time, there is no need to select these items individually.  Instead you can launch your Canva project by using the following keyboard shortcut.


Shortcut: Command (or Control) + A. This keyboard shortcut can also be used to quickly move images in Canva.

Move Objects in Increments


You can move an object in increments by pressing Shift + arrows. If you need to move an object, then you can move them in 10-pixel increments.  First select the object to move and use the following keyboard shortcut:


Shortcut: Shift + arrow keys

Nudge An object


If you want to nudge an object in Canva you can use the arrow keys.  If you would like to move an object in a small amount, then select the object and use the following keyboard keys:


Shortcut: Up arrow, Down arrow, Left arrow, Right arrow

Search For photos


You can quickly search from your Canva project with the keyboard shortcut Command + /.

You don’t need to leave your project in Canva to search for photos. Simply use this keyboard shortcut to find them quickly:


Shortcut: Command + /

Zoom In


You can zoom in on your Canva project by pressing Command and =. You can view the details of your project by using this command:


Shortcut: Command (or Control) + =

Zoom Out


You can zoom out in your Canva project by pressing Command and – key. You can use the following shortcut to view the bigger picture in Canva.


Shortcut: Command (or Control) + –

Add a Textbox


If you want to add a new textbox in Canva you can press the T key. Also, if you want to add a new text to your Canva project you can use the following shortcut:


Shortcut: Press the T key


Create Your Own Logo with Canva


Once you have an idea on how you would like your log to look then it is time to start designing.


Step by Step Logo Designing process:


  • Browse Layouts


Before you decide to start the design process you should take some time to browse through the logo layouts.  You are able to find the logo templates by choosing the Logo option that is under “Create a Design.”

The existing layouts will thereafter automatically show up on the left sidebar.  Canva offers hundreds of logo templates that can be used to create your own if there is an existing design that is similar to what you have in mind. You will be able to save a lot of time by simply customising the layout instead of designing your logo from scratch.  If, however, you don’t find what you like then it is time to start building the logo


  • Choose your Colors

Start by creating a colour palette.  You can click on any part of your design to bring up the options menu. Once you have located the icon for colours you can choose colours from the default colour palette or simply create your own.  If you decide to do this, then click the “+” sign that is located under Document Colors to bring up the colour wheel. Now select the colour that you want and Canva will automatically provide the colour code that is needed. You can now incorporate the same shades into the rest of your branding. Simply click the “+” again to add a new colour.


Now that you have selected your colours then you will want to set a background colour before you start adding other elements to your logo. To set the background colour for your logo, you can just select the appropriate colour from your palette.


  • Choose your font

It is now time to add your text.  You have two options when it comes to text. You can decide to manually add and choose your fonts using the  “add heading,” “add subheading,” and/or “add a little bit of text” features, or you can browse through the existing font layouts and choose the one that you would like to customize. Both of these options are in the left sidebar.


If you decide to choose the manual option, then you need to add text to your design by using the “add” feature.  Now that you have added a heading or any other text then you can change the font size, colour and style by using the menu options above the design.  If you have decided to choose a pre-designed font layout then you can still change the colour, size and style by using the menu bar.



  • Additional Style Elements

Now it is time to add other elements and other touches such as lines, shapes, illustrations and icons.  These can be found on the left sidebar.  You can switch the colour of any of these style elements by clicking the colour square in the top left menu bar.


  • Finish and Save

Your logo is now ready! Click on the “Download” button that is located on the top right side of the page


Watch: for more logo design information.


The Benefits of Canva


  • There are unlimited folders for your designs.
  • Team functionalities.
  • Unlimited storage for photos and assets.
  • You are able to upload your own images.
  • You can access millions of photos.
  • Exclusive access to free photos, illustrations, and templates.
  • Easily resize your designs.
  • Upload the custom fonts you want for your brands.



Canva Pricing



This option is perfect for individuals or small groups working on quick projects


·       Includes:

·       8,000+ free templates

·       100+ design types for social media posts, presentations and letters

·       Thousands of free photos and graphics

·       Canva App for designing on the run



Perfect for individuals and small teams who need more customization and productivity



Per user/month, billed yearly


·       Includes:

·       Everything Free has, plus:

·       You are able to create your brand’s visual identity with logos, colours and fonts in 1 Brand Kit

·       One-click design Magic Resize

·       420,000+ free templates

·       75+ million premium stock images, photos, videos and graphics

·       Upload your own fonts and logos

·       Custom templates

·       One-click photo Background Remover



This is perfect for larger teams who need advanced brand and collaboration control



Per user/month, billed yearly


·       Includes:

·       Everything Pro has, plus:

·       The ability to establish your brand’s visual identity with logos, colours and fonts across multiple Brand Kits

·       Control what team members can see, access, and upload in Canva with brand controls

·       Built-in workflows to get approval on your designs

·       Protect any part of your design from team edits with advanced template locking

·       Unlimited storage

·       Single sign on (SSO)

·       24/7 Enterprise-level support


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