How to Use Canva to Design Like a Professional

Canva Logo with Images Background
Canva

Sometimes a tool like Photoshop may be too heavy for your simple image editing needs. In those cases, Canva might be a better fit. Find out how to use it to design clean, attractive materials—without any knowledge of design.

What Is Canva?

Canva is a popular online graphic design application that makes it easy to create high-quality images and materials. Millions of people use Canva to create social media images, posters, digital invitations, presentations, and physical materials like brochures and business cards.

Unlike high-powered tools, such as Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator, Canva has a low barrier to entry because of its simple intuitive interface. It’s available on the web or as a mobile app for Android and iOS.

Canva offers several pricing plans for individual users, with varying levels of functionality:

  • Free: This has most of the functionality needed to make simple designs.
  • Pro ($9.99/month): The Pro plan contains additional templates, graphics, fonts, and photos. It also allows users to save transparent PNGs, create custom templates, and upload their own fonts.
  • Enterprise ($30/month): Specifically meant for corporations, this plan features project workflows, group resources, and unlimited cloud storage.

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Canva’s Templates and Resources

Canva Templates Collage Screen
Canva

Canva’s most useful feature is its wide array of templates. Even with a free account, there are thousands of templates across over a hundred design types. There are templates for nearly every use you can think of, from a personal resume to an Instagram post for your band’s upcoming live performance. However, it should be noted that many templates are only accessible to Pro or Enterprise users.

To select a template, go to the Canva home page. From here, you can use one of the recommended templates on the home page, or hover over the “Templates” button at the menu bar. In the menu, you’ll find an array of layout types categorized by usage.

Canva Template Menu

These categories include “Social Media,” “Personal,” “Business,” “Marketing,” and “Study.” Clicking on Personal > Cards brings up all the templates that can be used to make personalized greeting and holiday cards.

Most templates contain several of the following:

  • Vectors and Graphics: These are additional elements used to add character to a template, such as shapes, stickers, frames, or in some cases, animated icons.
  • Stock Images: These are stock images that are directly available from Canva’s library. You can decide to keep these or upload your photos and replace them.
  • Color Palettes: To have a cohesive style, most templates follow a specific color palette for across its various elements.
  • Font Groups: These are combinations of fonts selected by Canva’s designers.
  • Page Layouts: This is especially true for templates that span multiple pages, such as presentation decks or brochures. There will typically be several layout options for each page, similar to Google Slides or Powerpoint.
Color Palette Sample Canva
Canva

On top of pre-included assets, you can add additional elements from Canva’s comprehensive resource library. On the left side of the design screen, you’ll find a wide variety of graphics, stock images, and fonts that you can use on top of what’s in each template.

Canva Included Assets

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The Design Process

To best illustrate the process, let’s edit a simple photo in Canva Web. This design will be posted on social media to promote an upcoming virtual talk about internet privacy and cybersecurity.  First, select Templates > Social Media > Instagram Post.

Canva Template Browsing Screen

From here, select a template close to your planned design. We’ve selected this template intended to advocate for remote learning.

Canva Template Selection Screen

In the primary Canva screen, you’ll see several pages of the particular template. If you’re making a single material, select one of these pages for your final design and disregard the rest. Alternatively, if you’re making a multipage creative, you can easily create a cohesive album with a template.

Here, we’ve edited the first page to fit our event, changing the text, the background color, and a bit of the layout. Now, all that’s left is to export this design and to load it on Instagram.

Canva Finished Output Screen

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Publishing and Exporting Your Designs

You have several options when publishing your designs. First, you can save it locally as either a PNG or JPG file; take note that only Pro users can export their images as transparent PNGs. You can also send it directly to your printer to ensure a high-quality print.

Canva Output

If you made a presentation, you could set it to “Presentation Mode.” This will bring the deck full-screen and allow it to function similarly to any other kind of presentation software. If you’re showing the design to someone online, you can create a viewing link that can be accessed by anyone.

Lastly, you can directly export your design to a linked social media platform, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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