When it comes to designing graphics for your website or for posting on social media, you may find yourself at a loss. Photoshop or Indesign are great for graphic designers but not all of us have access to these programs or have the time to learn how to use them. The other option is to hire designers to create graphics for you and this can be expensive. So, what do you do? Is there a way to create professional graphics that do not cost a fortune? Fortunately, there are tools to help you if you are facing this dilemma.
Canva is one of the tools I use constantly. I use it to create most of the images I post on my website and on social media. On registering, you are immediately able to create a design. You can choose from over 50 different templates, including a Facebook cover, a Pinterest graphic, a blog title, an infographic, an album cover and an eBook cover. Social media posts, documents, and eBooks, marketing materials, email headers, events and ads are some of the headers under which templates are organized. If you don’t want to use a template, you can also create a custom design, putting in your own dimensions.
Pick a template or customize an image
I select a Pinterest template so it is already the optimum size for posting on Pinterest. I can see some graphics that have already been created that I can modify for my own use. It is easy to drag-and-drop one of these and then just change the text. If I don’t want to use one of these, I can use the search function to find an image or upload one of my own. You will see the search button at the top, followed by layouts, elements, text, background and uploads.
All of the elements work by dragging and dropping, so they are very easy to add, remove or edit. I have found that using Canva is very intuitive and it is easy and fun to experiment. Just pull over a certain layout and change the text. If you don’t like it, use ‘undo’ and start again.
If I want to use different elements, I can pick from free photos, grids, frames, shapes, icons, charts, and even illustrations.
I often prefer to upload my own images. There are so many beautiful images online that are free to use from sites like Pixabay and Unsplash. However, you are also able to use the search function to find images on Canva. There are some that are free but many others can be used at a cost of $1.
If I press the text icon, I see that I can add a heading, subheading and a little bit of body text. There are also examples I can use, where texts are combined in creative ways. Combining different fonts can be somewhat tricky for beginners. I enjoyed this post on font pairing from the Canva design school that showed not only which fonts go well together but also the type of design for which they are most appropriate. There are a number of beautiful fonts available to use in Canva.
There are default colors like black, white, red, green, blue and yellow. However, you are not limited to using these colors. A color wheel gives you the option of creating and experimenting with colors. You may want a specific color that goes best with your image. If you know the hex code of a color you want to use, you can simply insert it.
My graphic design
In the next image, you can see that I have uploaded an image and dragged it into the template. I have also added a heading but it is still in the default text. Now I will start experimenting with fonts, other elements and various colors to create the final result. I play around on the color wheel until I find a light blue I like and decide to change my text and the font I have used. This is when your creativity can really come into play.
My final image looks quite different as I decided to increase the size of the photo and change the location of the text. This is the joy of using Canva. It is flexible and easy to use. You can experiment, change your mind and start all over without any problem. It is a great timesaver too – I tried to use Paint before I discovered Canva. What a difference it made when I started using Canva! I still use Paint at times for certain functions but Canva has made designing so much easier. It also helps to have templates already in the optimum size required for the different social media platforms.
I feel much happier with the images I am creating now and I am still learning every day. There will always be a need for good graphic designers but at least tools like Canva have empowered the rest of us who may battle with graphic design. We have the tools we need to make our work look more professional than it was before without having to go through a steep learning curve.
I would love to hear more about any struggles you may have had in creating your designs. What tools do you enjoy using? I know there are more tools out there and perhaps many I haven’t discovered yet – maybe you are just as passionate about one of them as I am about Canva.