How to Create Free Graphic Designs With Canva

How to Create Free Graphic Designs With Canva

Canva is an online graphic design program with free and paid versions that lets you create professional graphics in almost any format quickly and easily. In this article, I’ll show you:

  • How to start from scratch with a blank graphic
  • How to quickly create graphics from one of Canva’s templates
  • How to enhance and alter images in Canva
  • How to share your images right from the source

Visit and sign up with email, Facebook, or Google. The first screen you see will be the storage space for any designs you’ve worked on and saved, and it will show templates you can use to get started. If you don’t want to use a template, then click “Use custom dimensions” in the top right corner. Enter your desired dimensions in pixels, millimeters, or inches, and then you get a blank design to work with.

opening Canva screen and templates

I like working with the templates, because there’s already so many to choose from and they are labeled with a recommended potential use such as “Facebook ad” or “eBook cover.” They even have templates for modern and professional-looking resumés, certificates, infographics, and more. I create my YouTube thumbnails and channel art directly from Canva templates–it’s easy and looks great!

In this example, we’ll create a book cover. Once you know how to bring in pictures and change fonts, you’ll realize just how easy it is to make professional graphics with Canva. Some of the templates are paid, but I tend to get by just fine with the free ones. Once you select the template, in this case a book cover, you can click on the text to change it. You can select different fonts and change the size and color of the text.

choosing fonts and templates in Canva

You can also delete whole text boxes from the text toolbar, or choose from a selection of other options to alter transparency, style, alignment and more using the dropdown arrow on the right side of the toolbar. This dropdown menu also lets you move the layer of text forward or backward to organize overlapping layers.

completely customize text for your graphic design

You can also easily copy a whole page by clicking the two overlapping squares outside the right side of your graphic. You can use this to work on two graphics at the same time with minor adjustments between them for testing what looks best.

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copy to work on duplicate versions of a project

It’s really easy to work with text in Canva. You can click the Text section on the left-hand menu and choose to add header, subheader, or body text. Or, you can choose from a selection of text designs complete with stylized fonts that look good together and even complementing borders and background shapes.

premade text layers

You can also add elements from the left-hand menu. These include icons, shapes, charts, grids, and photos. The elements menu also holds over 1,000,000 illustrations of everything from hot dogs to rocket ships, and you can search the descriptions to find the illustration you want.  Elements include free and paid selections, but once you add any of them you can change the size, color, and opacity to make it work for your design. You can also move, resize, and rotate any layer using typical click and drag points on the frame of each layer.

elements in Canva

You can totally edit illustrations

If you double click on the background, you can see the whole background image, which is often larger than the design itself. You can that image around. When you’ve selected the background image, an image editing toolbar will appear below the image. You can use this to add a filter to the image and adjust how intensely you want that filter to enhance and alter it. You can also choose “Advanced options” and edit the levels of saturation, contrast, vignette, and more on the image. You can also crop images from this menu.

complete image enhancement and editing

If you want to change the image on a template completely, just delete it and select Uploads on the left-hand menu. From here you can upload an image that is stored on your computer, or choose an image you’ve uploaded to Canva previously. You can also connect to your Facebook account and add images directly from Facebook. Another option is to navigate to the Elements section and choose from over 1,000,000 free and paid photos that are supplied by Canva. Just choose the one you want and drag it into your creation. With all images, you can edit the image levels like contrast, tint, and blurriness from right inside Canva, or you can add a filter.

upload photos to Canva

Once you like what you have, you can share it immediately–directly from Canva. You can Tweet your image, post it to Facebook, email it, or copy a link to your image. You can also download the image in a variety of formats, such as JPG for web, high-quality PNG, standard PDF, or high-quality PDF for print material. You can also simply make your image public on Canva for other people to see on the website.

share and download images

The free version of Canva is packed with useful tools, but if you’re creating a lot of graphics and purchasing a lot of items that aren’t free, it might save money to get a subscription for unlimited use of paid items. The subscription starts with a 30-day, free trial and costs $12.95 per month for the monthly subscription or $9.95 per month for an annual subscription.

what you get with subscription page

Now you’re ready to create and share amazing designs using Canva!

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