Edit Images Like A Pro With Canva
Whether you hire a website designer to make your website or you do it yourself, if you’re anywhere in the online world for your business, you’ll be faced with working with images.
Posting to social media seems to be a necessary conduit for business, by relaying pertinent content, engaging with your audience, and generally letting the world know what you offer.
A picture is worth a thousand words as the saying goes, can never be truer than now.
So you need to have full game on when deciding what to post. I’m no expert in algorithms or analytics, but I constantly work with images. So I thought I’d share an easy to use program that anyone can learn to power up their pictures to pro level.
Canva is an online picture editing and graphic design program, and its simplicity is its charm. Before I start, I want to let you know that I am NOT an affiliate in any way with Canva. I write my blog posts so my Squarespace design clients can manage their own sites after I build them. Yes, peeps, this one’s for you!
Canva has a forever free version and a paid version. Everything I’m going to show you in this post doesn’t require a paid subscription to do.
I know your mama taught you that looks aren’t everything, and with people that’s true; what’s in the heart is always more important than outward appearance. But the online world, that’s a different ballgame. How your picture looks is important.
With that said, let me show you how to make your images look amazing.
Start by signing up on canva.com. You’ll have to choose whether to sign up as a student, personal, business or other account. Explore your options and choose the one that's right for you.
I recommend starting out with a free account at first. You can always upgrade later on if you wish. I have moved beyond the free version because I need to download with transparent backgrounds sometimes, but that may not be necessary for you.
Canva constantly saves your design as you work on it. This is wonderful news! So don’t worry about not finding a SAVE button.
Above is a simplified version of your home page in your Canva account. This is called “all your designs”; that’s what you’ll read on the tab at the top of the page. When you begin a project a new tab will open next to it with the title of that project.
You can access your profile in the upper left corner by clicking on the white down arrow next to your name.
When you are ready to start a design project, you can click the “create a design” button or click one of the images across the very top in the yellow section. If you know where you will be using the images you create, then this top bar is super helpful. It will automatically size your images for the platform you want: Social Media, Presentation, Wallpaper, Facebook Cover, Facebook Ad, etc. At this posting, Canva has 61 different options listed here. Access more than the first five or six shown by clicking on the “+” sign.
When you have a design started or completed, it will appear as a thumbnail image in the pale gray field along with the title of your design. To open, click the thumbnail image and a new tab of your previous design will appear.
Above is a simplified version of a design page. The aqua blue arrows highlight some of your main navigation for designing. The left hand column is the icons for layouts, elements (shapes), text, backgrounds, and uploads that you import.
When you click one of these icons in this column, the medium gray column directly to its right will change, bringing you a multitude of new options. Canva has loads and loads of options for you, some free and some not. As each icon loads its inventory, each item will say if it’s free or costs $1. There are many quality free options provided, but sometimes the free items may not be what you are desiring, and $1 is very reasonable for licensing. However, the licensing lasts for only 24 hours! Use it as much as you want in that design project, but after 24 hours you’ll have to repurchase it to design further.
The good news is you don’t have to pay until you actually choose to download and keep the design. If you know you want to work on a project over a period of time, download all your pages at the same time to avoid repurchasing if you tend to make changes.
As you upload images from your own computer, a library of these images will be saved for future use. Clicking “upload” will bring up this display. Clicking “upload” a second time will bring you to the top where the green upload button is--important to know if your image library grows pretty large.
Toggle back and forth between the design icons, adding what you want to your design field. Example: background, text, shapes, etc.
The large square on the pale gray field is the item you are currently designing. Next to it will be and up and down toggle so you can move an image in a sequence, along with an image number. When you need to add another page, click + add a new page below the last block in the sequence.
As of this posting you can have 30 images in a sequence before the design project is full. However, when you reach the end of the line, Canva gives you the option to “make a copy of the design”. Choosing this creates another design thumbnail and tab called “copy of whatever you named it”. You can rename it to “part 2” and keep on going. However, it will also duplicate all your images. This is helpful if you want to keep certain design elements without having to reconstruct everything. Just delete what you don’t want or need.
The double page icon to the right of the image is for duplicating whatever is in that box.
Don’t like how it’s turning out? Click the trashcan and start again.
There’s more navigation in the very top yellow bar when you are in a design project. Each project will automatically assign a title, which you can rename to match your liking. Click the “title” and a box will appear. Type in a new design title and click “done”.
Clicking on the image box of your design will open up a white drop down menu with new options. Filter, crop and flip may all appear, some or none, depending upon if these are options for whatever you loaded. So don’t freak if you don’t always see all three. Same goes for the words and icons on the right side of this menu.
The image, icon or layout you choose will automatically load to fill the box in your design field. You can change the size by moving the corner either in or out. Moving in makes it smaller, moving out makes it larger. You can move it out of bounds too, which is another way of cropping an image. The area out of bounds will not be seen.
You can move as many elements onto the design field as you want. You can layer and overlap elements. Click the word “arrange” to move an item over or under another item. Over is “forward” and under is “back.
Change the transparency of an item or image by clicking the checkered icon. A window will open with a slider bar that goes from 1 to 100, ith 100 being most opaque and 1 being most transparent.
Create links within your design using the chain link icon. A box will appear where you can type in an external url. You do need to click “apply” in this instance.
Don’t like a choice you’ve made? You can delete individual elements in your design by highlighting what needs to go and clicking the trashcan in this white menu bar. Want to know a shortcut? You can also do this just by highlighting it and hitting the “back” button on your keyboard.
Oh no! You make a mistake or get trigger happy and deleted something you wish you had kept? No problem. Take a breath. It can be undone! Click the word “undo” in the upper left top yellow bar and it magically reappears. Whew. Thank you Canva.
Each click of “undo” in succession will take you back one step. It’s fun! (Don’t go crazy here though just cuz you can-there is a limit til you have nothin’, I know, I’ve been there. Don’t say I didn’t warn you).
“Filter” is a bit more of Canva’s magic you will grow to love. Click to highlight a design element you are working on and then hit “filter”. A drop down menu will open up with a few or a lot of options. Sometimes you have to hit “advanced options” to see them all.
There are currently 23 filters for changing the tone of your picture. You can take your picture thru all of them if you like and still go back to original if none suit your fancy. Use the black arrow to scroll thru the whole list.
There are also slider bars for brightness, contrast, saturation, tint, blur, x-process (“separates colors and boosts the hues” according to Canva), and vignette (darkens the edges). Moving the slider right gives you more of the effect; while moving the slider bar left gives you less.
“Flip” will do precisely that, turning your image over, vertically or horizontally. Clicking the word will open a box with these options.
“Crop” lets you zero in and or focus on a specific part of the image while cutting out what you don’t want. When you click “ crop”, a highlighted box with distinct corners will appear over your image. You can slide the corners in and out or move the box around until you are satisfied. A new white menu bar will appear while cropping. See below.
Click the “checkmark” to finalize the cropped area, or click the “x” to undo and start over.
When you’ve tweaked your design to your heart’s content then it’s time to download. Click “download” in the top bar and a menu of format options will open for you to choose. Whatever you pick from the list will both highlight in blue and will jump and be shown in the top box of the menu next to the black down arrow.
You can choose to print all the pages you have designed, just one or a few. Type in the page number in the gray box if you are choosing to not download all pages. Then click the download button.
You will receive a pop up message on your screen that says “Hold tight, preparing your design…” (plus a fun quote to keep you occupied)
…followed by a “your design is downloaded and ready for use”.
There is a “share” button in the top bar to send your design to someone or somewhere else. A menu will appear that gives you the choice to email your design, share it to social media, link to it or embed it.
There will also be the option to allow people to edit it-or just see it.
You can order prints of your Canva designs too. Click “order prints” in the top bar and a menu box will appear. Click the down arrow to view all your print options. I’ve never done this myself as all my graphics live virtually. Let me know how this works for you- love or not? In the meantime, here’s your options:
Business cards 3.5 x 2 inches
Postcards 5.5 x 4.25 inches
Posters 12 inches x 16 inches
Letterhead 8.5 x 11 inches
Flyers 8.5 x 11 inches
Your last option in the upper right top bar is whether to make your designs public or not. I keep all mine to not because I’m a one man band (no team to manage) and I have another avenue for sharing graphics with clients. But, hey, you may have use for this feature in your biz.
Well there you have it, the basics of Canva. Now there’s no excuse for ugly images or posts!
P.S. None of these images in this post are screenshots- I created them in Canva!
As always, thanks for reading! -Angela Meredith of Less Stress Design
Like this post? Then give it some love (♥) below and share it!