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How to get started with Canva

How to get started with Canva main article image
Posted on March 13, 2020 by Aida González Vázquez

Canva is an online graphic design tool.  It is available in a web version, and also as an app for mobile devices. This software became very popular because it is beginner-friendly, but it provides excellent results. There are two versions: free and premium.  Both are a great choice to get started.

In our Beginner’s Guide to Graphic Design, we recommended Canva to those who would like to experiment and create their first designs. In today’s article, we will explain to you how to get started with it.

1. How to create a new canvas on Canva

To work on a project, you will need to open a new canvas. You have two options.

Create your canvas from scratch. Press the blue “Create a Design” button on the top left.  Choose “Custom Dimensions” and set the width and height that you prefer.

How to get started with Canva
You can choose the height and width that you prefer.

Choose a pre-made canvas. If you need to create a project for a specific purpose (e.g., a Facebook Ad), you will need to create visuals with particular dimensions. This is easy to do. Click on “Create a design.” Type the name of the graphic that you need or scroll down the menu until you find it. You will see white canvases for pins, email headers, restaurant menus… Almost everything you can ever need.

How to get started with Canva
Search for the name of the file you need to create.

2. How to use templates on Canva

You can find some templates at the home menu before you even open a canvas. Templates are one of the best resources of this software. Qualified designers have created them, and they are free for you to use.

When you open a new canvas, no matter the size, you will find a selection of templates at the toolbar on the left side of the screen. Click one of them to display it.

How to get started with Canva
This is the original aspect of the template

When you become familiar with all the tools we will explain, you will be able to change the initial appearance of your project thoroughly. Look at the example below!

How to get started with Canva
This is the final aspect of the design after editing the template.

3. How to work with stock images on Canva

As you can see in the close-up below, Canva offers a big library of stock images. It is tagged as “Photos” on the left toolbar.   You can browse it to find free pictures for your projects. There is a search bar on top of the tool window. Type any keyword on it, and you will find suggestions. It is an excellent alternative to sites like Pexels or Unsplash, as the pictures are part of the tool already. You won’t need to download any files and upload them again.

How to get started with Canva
Here you can see how the Photos library looks like.

Most of these images are free, but some of them are not. To use those, you must pay a (low) price. The ones tagged with a crown symbol are free once you get a premium account. See the examples below.

How to get started with Canva
You can choose between paying a low price or upgrading to the premium version.

4. How to upload images and videos to Canva

Uploading pictures and videos to Canva is straightforward. The developers have created a drag-and-drop function that allows you to do it in just one click. Choose “Uploads” at the toolbar on the left side of the screen.

How to get started with Canva

If you press “Upload an image or video,” a new window will appear. You will be able to browse until you find the file you want. If you prefer to drop the file directly, it is also possible. Just drag it with the mouse and place it over the library. It will upload immediately.


5. How to edit text on Canva

Changing fonts

Select the text with the mouse. A toolbar will appear at the top of your canvas. Select the box on the top left, and a menu will display. Browse until you find a font that you like. You can try them just by clicking. You can also type the name of a specific font.

How to get started with Canva

Changing the alignment

You can easily change the alignment by selecting the text and pressing the alignment tool.

How to get started with Canva

Adjusting the kerning

Select the text. Press “Spacing.”A small window will appear. Here, you can modify everything related to the text box.

How to get started with Canva

Uppercase tool

By pressing the Uppercase icon, you can immediately change all the text to uppercase or lowercase.


How to get started with Canva


6. How to save and export your files

Press the arrow symbol at the top blue bar. A dropdown menu will show up. Here you can choose the file format.

How to get started with Canva

Choosing a file format is the only change you can make in the free version of Canva. If you want to resize your file, compress it or add transparent background to it, you will have to upgrade to the Pro version.

How to get started with Canva

Once everything is ready, you can press “Download”. You will be able to find your files in your Downloads folder.

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