What is Canva and why should you use it

In a nutshell, Canva is the most popular and user-friendly graphic design tool out there. There are more than 10 million users worldwide who have already created over 400 million designs!

So what makes it so user-friendly? If you have fiddled around with Photoshop or InDesign before (I know I have and I got frustrated quite a few times) you might know that there is a HUGE learning curve – and not everyone has the time to spend weeks or months to learn a new design program. With Canva on the other hand you only need a few minutes to figure out the basics and you are on your way!

From flyers to social media posts to presentations and infographics Canva has it all! They also offer access to millions of stock images, design assets, icons, color palettes and fonts for all your design needs.

Whether you’re just getting started or need some Canva hacks to design faster and more efficiently, keep reading for the best Canva tips and how-to’s.

Getting Started - The Basics

Choose your Design Type

Start by deciding what you want to design (there are over 60 design types yo choose from or you can enter custom dimensions). Simply enter your search term (e.g. Instagram Story, Pinterest Pin, etc.) in the “Design anything” search box. Click on any of the suggested search results to open a new design. 

Edit Text and Change Colors

Select the text box you want to edit and type or paste in your text. You can either delete or add to any existing content in the text box.

You can also add new text boxes by clicking on the Text tab from the side panel. Select between Add a heading, Add a subheading, or Add a little bit of body text to add a new text box. Use the editor toolbar (at the top of your screen) to format your text, change your font and resize your text box.

Select the element or area you want to change and select the square icon in the left upper corner of your screen. The Canva color editor will open giving you lots of options to change the color.

You’ll be able to add a new color, find specific color with hex codes or search for entire color palettes in the search bar. Just click the color you want to change the element to.

Add and Upload Photos (+ filter photos)

Canva has millions of stock photos that you can find in the Photos tab in the side panel. Use the search bar to look up specific images, or click the category buttons below the search bar to easily browse by category.

The Canva stock photo library features free and paid images but you can filter by availability (free or paid) or orientation to reduce the selection of photos for any specific projects (see image below).

To upload your own images select the Uploads tab in the side panel and hit “upload.” Choose where to upload your image from (Facebook, Dropbox, Device, etc.). Select the file to upload, and click Open.  Now you add them to your design by simply dragging them onto your page

Canva Design Tips

Now that you got all the basics down it’s time to go a little bit deeper. Here are 7 design hacks to easily design beautiful graphics for your business in no time! Before we dive in, check out these 10 free Instagram Templates:

Resize and Crop your Design

You can resize any element in Canva (textbox, photo, video, shape, etc.). Just select the element you want to resize and drag the white handles on the corners of the element in or out to make it larger or smaller.

To crop an element select the element, photo, or video that you want to crop and hit “Crop” on the left side of your toolbar. Drag the white crop marks on the elements edges and hit “Finish” when you’re done. You can also crop media added to frames and grids.

Canva Layers

If you are trying to select a specific object but you can’t select it, it is most likely layered behind another object. Here is how to arrange which element is in the front and in the back:

Select the element you want to move (either to the front or the back) and click “Position” in the upper right corner of the editor toolbar. Choose “Forward” to move it up one layer or “To Front” to move it all the way up. Choose “Backward” to move it down one layer or “To Back” to move it all the way to the back of the layers. 

The “Position” tab is also where you can align your elements (top, middle, left, right).

Group and ungroup your Design

If you want to move or resize several different elements at the same time consider grouping your elements. You can either drag your cursor over all elements you want to select or hold down Shift while clicking on multiple elements. Now you just have to click “Group” in the top right-hand side of your editor toolbar.

When you’re done editing and want to ungroup the elements again simply select your group of elements, and hit “Ungroup” (also located in the top right-hand side of your editor toolbar).

Canva Brand Kit

The Canva Brand Kit allows for easy access to your most important brand assets – your logo, brand colors and fonts. With the free version of Canva you can add up to 3 hex codes for your custom brand colors. 

If you want to upload fonts, add text styles (e.g. the specific font and font size you want to use for all your headings), logos or create more color palettes you will have to upgrade to Canva Pro.

Organize your Pages in Grid View

If you like to add a lot of pages to your designs keeping track of all your individual pages can be challenging. But there is a way to get a full overview of your project (see image). Just click on “Grid View” at the bottom right hand side of your screen. 

Here you can add pages (click the + icon on the last page), delete pages (click the trash can icon below the page you want to delete), duplicate pages (click the two-page icon below your page) and rearrange pages by selecting them and dragging them to another position. 

To get back to your editor view you can simply exit out at the bottom right corner or double click on any page.

Make your Designs clickable

If you’re designing an eBook or PDF document you can hyperlink elements, photos, or text boxes. Just select the element you want to make clickable and select the chain icon on the top right side of the toolbar (if you don’t see it, click the 3 dots). 

Enter your link and hit “Apply”. This is great for any Call-to-Actions (such as “Sign up here”) or if you want to add a link to provide additional information.

Bonus: 12 Canva Keyboard Short Cuts

  • Group Elements – select all elements you want to group then Cmd/Ctrl + G
  • Move elements one pixel – arrow keys
  • Move elements ten pixel – shift + arrow keys
  • Add text box – T 
  • Add a line – L
  • Transform text box to all uppercase – Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + K
  • Copy and Paste elements – Cmd/Ctrl + C to copy and Cmd/Ctrl + P to paste
  • Undo and Redo an action – Cmd/Ctrl + Z to undo and Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + Z to redo
  • Resize elements (text boxes, photos, shapes, etc.) proportionally – Drag + Shift
  • Select all elements on the page – Cmd/Ctrl + A
  • Zoom in and Zoom out – Cmd/Ctrl + Plus or hyphen keys

Final Thoughts

There you go! Now you have all the tools you need to fast track your Canva mastery! Use the design tips and short cuts to design your next awesome graphic. If you want to save even more time and avoid starting from scratch check out my template shop.

Are there any other hacks you use often to make your Canva life easier? Let me know in the comments. 

Let’s get creating!

Pin for later