Using CANVA! A Step By Step Guide for the Graphic Design Newbie

All of the cool graphic design that you see on this website? I made it on CANVA.

CANVA is a web-based graphic design app that allows ordinary people with few skills the tools to make great graphics. CANVA is FREE and has a easy to use features. I’ve found CANVA to be intuitive and fun and today’s blog post is a demonstration of something I created on CANVA. The best to learn, however, is to do two things: first, sign up for a free account for CANVA. Then watch all their demos, go to their “design school” and copy some of the templates that they’ve made.

If you are a self-publisher, blogger or have any social media venue for which you need graphic design, it is worth it to learn CANVA.

You learn by doing. I know I have. I love CANVA and I can’t wait to show you what you can do.

Now, CANVA really is easy. Once you get the hang of the basic tools, you can do a lot of amazing things. And if you use free photos on Morguefile, you can make awesome artwork for FREE. I have NEVER bought anything. I’ve made it work without paying.

I made all of this artwork for free.

Why do I write?

When should I ask for help in my writing?
You should always listen to the gorilla!
What do I do when I lack courage to write?
There isn’t room enough for the words “flush”, “pound”, or “destroy”. Pity.
Where do I get that one good word?
Please feel free to share this graphic with your friends on Pinterest!
Awesome gifts for writers
Mug says: “I’m A 10 Minute Novelist and I have awesome friends!”

By the(Or What To Do If You See A

You don’t have to have art or design experience to make Canva designs, but the more experience you have, the better looking your graphics will be.

This blog post will take you step by step to make a Valentine’s Day post for Facebook. Now, this is just to get you familiar with CANVA. You may not WANT this — just humor me, delete it when you’re done and then make your Mardi Gras thing or Presidents’ Day sale sign or whatever.

CANVA is easy — if you’ve ever used any photography editing software, paint, drawing or any thing like PicMonkey, you’re going to have no trouble with this.

STEP ONE!  Go to your canva.com page and pick SOCIAL MEDIA.  Now the beauty of Canva is that they’ve already configured all the standard sizes for all your social media needs. You will NOT have to do MATH! Let’s all celebrate this.  Now we’re going to call that thing you just picked the WORK IN PROGRESS. (not to be confused with the story kind, just so you know what I mean when I say WIP.) 

This is the one!

STEP TWO! Now, on the left side you’re going to see 5 different major tools for your new graphic. Click bkground   that’s (background) and choose one that’s marked FREE. 

This is the background icon. Click it and choose a background that says FREE.
This is the background icon. Click it and choose a background that says FREE.

STEP THREE!  Now, for the sake of experience, I want you to change the color of the background you chose. You have to click on your work-in-progress and then you’ll see a circle that will allow you to change the color. You can do this a number of ways, by clicking on suggested colors, by moving the slide to a different tone of the original color or by choosing something from the wheel. Everybody change the color! 

I'm changing my light blue background to gray because it's Februrary and I've forgotten what the sun looks like.
I’m changing my light blue background to gray because it’s Februrary and I’ve forgotten what the sun looks like.

STEP FOUR:  Now, go over to Morguefile.  These are all discarded photos that you can download for free. This is the ONLY place I go. In the “search” write HEART. Then, choose a decent photo. Please don’t overthink this, we don’t need any oversensitive stragglers who think their identities are wrapped up in whether or not they have the perfect manifestation of the dying love to your significant other. When you’ve found one, download it.  (ALSO FREE!) 

They have SO MANY TO CHOOSE FROM!
They have SO MANY TO CHOOSE FROM!

STEP FIVE:  Okay, go back to CANVA! On the left, choose UPLOADS. You’re going to upload the photo you just chose. 

You can drag your photo from your downloads folder to this or you can hit the "upload photos" bar. It's easy!
You can drag your photo from your downloads folder to this or you can hit the “upload photos” bar. It’s easy!

STEP SIX: Now, drag your photo over to the Work-in-progress. It will be highlighted. This will allow you to adjust the size and turn it. Play around with it. This is what I have so far.

Okay you haters, I KNOW this isn't pink or red, but I liked it.
Okay you haters, I KNOW this isn’t pink or red, but I liked it.

STEP SEVEN:  Click TEXT on the left. You’ll see a LOT of options show up. You can choose one of the shapes, with the colors and fonts already put together OR you can just choose ADD TEXT. For today’s art, please stick to the easy stuff: ADD TEXT. (You can go back and play around with those other things later). Once you see ADD TEXT on your WIP, you can type something. I’m choosing a line of poetry: “Let my soul smile through my heart and my heart smile through my eyes, that I may scatter rich smiles in sad hearts.” by Paramahansa Yogananda. (Not sure how this person feels about Valentine’s Day. Oh well.)
Oh, and if you want to steal mine, so you don’t have to overthink it, please do. 

STEP EIGHT: Oops the font may not be right! The size may be wrong! Spend a minute tinkering around with the the font, size and color.

Well, now this is a hot mess, isn't it?
Well, now this is a hot mess, isn’t it?
This is better, but not great.
This is better, but not great.

STEP NINE:  Now, we’re going to glam it up. This is my favorite part. Go to the tools on the left side and choose SEARCH. CANVA provides thousands of free shapes, lines and other graphic elements that can add artistic punch to your designs. Click on LINES and choose one. Drag it to your WIP. 

I added a light colored rectangle behind the text. Oh, so much better.

I added a light colored rectangle behind the text. Oh, so much better.

STEP TEN: Now, Go to the Search groups on the left and click shapes. I’m going to go way down on the list and choose a starburst, and I can’t wait to show you what I’m going to do with it. Drag it to the WIP and change the color so it complements your background. 

I added the starburst after I fiddled with the transparency and moved it back.
I added the starburst after I fiddled with the transparency and moved it back.

STEP ELEVEN: Now, highlight the shape you just chose, on the far right of the tools options for this shape, you’ll see a triangle. Click it. Now you have two more options. TRANSPARENCY is my favorite. Move the slide and watch your shape change! This can create a beautiful layer. You can also move it behind the photo, the text or the line. Spend a minute or two moving your elements around.

MY FINISHED PRODUCT!
MY FINISHED PRODUCT!

This is basic CANVA. There is more to play around with, but you now have the simplest tools practiced. Practice more when you can. CANVA keeps all your designs for you so you can duplicate them, augment them or reuse them.

About Katharine Grubb

Katharine Grubb has mastered the art of freewriting because she wrote her first novel in 10 minute increments. There are probably easier ways to write a book, but with homeschooling her five children, she’ll take what she can get. Her latest book, Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day was just released and is available on Amazon.com She lives in Massachusetts and blogs at www.10minutenovelists.com.

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