Adam Kirkup and his wife Sarah blog at www.fourfortheroad.co.uk. They use Canva, the free online design tool, to make all their graphics. In this guest post, Adam talks about how to use Canva and why he loves it to make blog graphics. Adam says, “I’m not being paid by Canva. I just think it’s a really good way to design for bloggers without the money or knowledge for Adobe Creative Suite.”
Over to Adam:
If you don’t have a background in design or the money to shell out on Adobe Creative Suite, don’t worry. You can make swish-looking graphics quickly, easily (and for free!) in Canva.
What is Canva?
Canva is a browser-based design software. It includes thousands of free elements – photos, illustrations, shapes and text – and a drag-and-drop interface. It’s simple enough for a non-designer like me to pick up, but powerful enough to make blog and social media images that actually look good.
As well as the free elements there are also ‘premium’ elements, which each cost $1 to use, but I’ve found the free ones are more than adequate for the job.
Head to Canva.com and sign up for a free account. Log in, and you’ll find three options on the top bar. ‘Your Designs’ is where you’ll be able to access all of your previous designs or create a new one.
Canva have templates for just about every blogging and social media eventuality: Pinterest pins, Twitter images, Google Plus headers, Facebook posts. It’s all here.
Just click the ‘More’ option at the top to see the whole range, or you can create a design with custom dimensions.
When you open a project, you’ll see a selection of pre-made designs on the left side of the screen. These are a great way to start designing. You can change the images and text, and add, remove or re-organise elements as you like.
When choosing a template and adding elements, look out for the ‘free’ label in the bottom right corner. If it doesn’t say ‘free’, then you’re going to be asked to pay for it before you can download your finished image.
Also on the left sidebar, you’ll be able to browse Canva’s galleries of elements, or use the search function to find something in particular.
When you find something you like, just drag it across to your picture. When you move things around, dotted lines will appear to help you snap things into alignment with the page, or with the other elements.
By going to ‘Uploads’ you can add photographs or images, either from your computer, or direct from Facebook or Google Plus. You can drag these straight onto the image, or if you add a frame first, they will click neatly into place.
Editing everything is super straight-forward. You can add Instagram-type filters to images using the ‘filter’ option. Click onto text boxes to change the font, co
lour and size. Shapes, lines and illustrations can be edited too.
You can overlap elements by selecting them and clicking ‘back’ to move, for example, a shape behind some text. You can also rotate, and change alignment and transparency.
Exporting your image
When you have everything how you like it, you’re ready to download your finished design. Click ‘Download’ at the top of the page and you’ll get a dropdown menu. Select ‘As an image’ for a .png file, straight into your ‘Downloads’ folder.
If you’ve used a premium element, this is when Canva will ask you to cough up for it.
Now upload the image to your blog or social media account, and wow your followers with your design skills.
Canva’s blog and “Design School” have loads of great tips and tutorials to help you think like a designer, from image enhancement and font pairing, to creating a consistent brand identity.