Canva is a free invite-only design/image creation tool that’s causing quite a buzz online. What’s all the fuss about, is it any good and should you be clambering for one of those elusive invites? Find out how you could get your hands on one at the end of this article
Canva is an online tool that lets you create and edit images for use on your blog, website, social media page and more besides (business cards, presentations etc).
It’s a simple lightweight bit of kit, but I have to say it’s surprisingly effective.
Hers’s how it works.
The whole thing is online, which means there’s no software to download on your computer (handy if you’re low on space). It also means that your designs are always saved in their ‘cloud’, which gives you access to them wherever you are.
The first thing I should point out is that Canva is not trying to compete with Adobe Photoshop (the market leader). It can’t and it shouldn’t and it doesn’t even try to. Photoshop is a premium tool that costs hundreds of pounds (depending on which package you’re on) and it is the ultimate designers or wannabe designers tool.
Canva is positioning itself in a different niche. It’s a quick, slick bit of kit that you can use to rustle up clean and professional looking designs in a few minutes.
If you’re looking to do complex photo editing or anything that needs to be heavily tweaked or altered or customised, then you’re still best off using Photoshop (or something similar) but if you’re looking to create simple images and banners for your blog or social media page then it’s definitely worth taking a look at this.
Canva is best suited for those of us who don’t have the time (or technical expertise) to build something up from scratch, but still want a way to create professional looking images to promote our brand or message.
What I love most about this is that when you go to make an image it gives you a handy selection of templates to choose from. Not even photoshop has that facility and it might sound like a simple thing but it’s a huge time saver and means you don’t need to figure out how wide or long an image needs to be or where the text should be positioned.
20 ‘Plug n’ Play’ templates you can use Canva to create images for
Real Estate Flyer
All you have to do is click on your chosen template and a nice pre-sized template will pop up.
In fact, why don’t I take you through an example.
I’ve created a Facebook Cover here because, incredibly I didn’t have one for Insider’s Edge. Here’s what appears:
I then scrolled down the different images on the left hand side (see arrow) and chose an image I liked and clicked it.
You now get this:
As you can see it’s prefilled the image with text etc but you can click on each of the different sections to alter them.
To get the image as you want it, you literally just click on the areas you want to change. If you click on a text area it’ll let you write over it. You can also change the font and formatting and get it how you want it.
A quick note on this point. I absolutely LOVE the different font choices they give you on Canva.
I know that’s a very geeky thing to say, but they just look modern, snappy and professional right off the bat.
Anyway, moving back to my example, I changed the text and the font and the colour of the font (to match the Insider’s Edge website) and suddenly it starts looking a lot more relevant.
I could’ve have changed the background image too, but for this example I kind of liked it as it was. There’s an option to upload your own background, so you could have anything in here from one of your own photos, to a stock photo that you’ve bought or licensed for free.
Important thing to bear in mind here. All the fonts on Canva are free, so go wild on that. Some of the background images are free too, so knock yourself out. Other backgrounds are not free and you’ll be able to tell because they have a slight watermark on them or some sort of latticed effect. If you want to use one of these you’ll have to pay $1. You won’t be charged for this until you want to download your finished image (and obviously you need to enter payment details to do so) but it’s worth bearing in mind.
I actually thing $1 is pretty reasonable to license a royalty free image, but if you’re on a budget, try to select one of the free backgrounds, or better still – upload your own!
Here’s my finished design.
It’s not going to win any grand prizes for design… but I don’t think it’s too bad for something that took maybe 5 – 10 minutes to create and cost absolutely nothing, nada, zilch.
Best of all, because the image size is already tailored for purpose (in this case as a Facebook Cover) all I then had to do was download it in Canva, log into my Facebook and then upload the image. No faff, it’s up in seconds.
3 things to bear in mind when using Canva to create images
1. Although this is a free online tool, if you want to use one of their licensed images or photographs in your creation you’ll have to pay $1 when you come to download the finished piece. If you don’t want to pay simply a) choose one of the free images they provide or b) upload your own image. That way your piece will be a true original and it won’t cost you a bean to create or download. If you want to save time and don’t mind paying to use the odd image (it is only $1), do bear in mind that you only get 24 hours to muck around with and download that image (after that if you want to use the same image, you’ll have to pay again).
2. Be careful with the ‘save’ facility. Canva saves your creations as you’re working on them automatically. On the one hand this is great because you don’t have to remember to do anything. On the other hand it can be very frustrating if you’ve been working on something and decide to try a different style mid way through. Why? Because as soon as you make a change in Canva it re-saves it, which means you’ll have lost the original. There is an undo button (which becomes essential!) but it’s not an ideal scenario. I’d prefer there to be a manual save option.
3. If you can, try to upload your own background images to use in your creations. Canva is fast becoming a popular resource and if you want your message or brand to stand out you want to make sure you don’t have the same background image as 20,000 other websites. To get the most out of Canva, get creative and upload your own snaps and backgrounds.
You can sign up for a free account here: