The Definitive Beginner’s Guide To Canva (Bye Bye Photoshop)

Let me say this right away, Photoshop is the bee’s knees. It’s got everything you’d want and more from a Graphic Designer’s perspective. But here’s the thing…I’m not a designer. In fact, everything I know about Photoshop is the result of hours upon hours of self study. By all accounts, I’m still a novice. In all likelihood, you are too. That’s why I’d like to introduce you to Canva, the Photoshop alternative that will probably fulfill 95% of your graphic design needs.

What Is Canva And Who Is It For?

Canva is a FREE, cloud based graphic design program that’s intuitive and dead simple to use. With Canva, you can create Pinterest quality designs in less than 60 seconds! Always looking up the exact photo dimensions to create the perfect Facebook post? Now there is no need. With pre-sized social media templates, all of the guesswork has been eliminated. Canva is truly a breath of fresh air and I’d like to show you how to get started.

Getting Started

As I said, Canva is a free program to use, but you’ll need to sign up by either connecting your Facebook account or entering your e-mail address.

Sign In To Canva

Once you’ve logged in, you can now get started by choosing a template. It’s all here. Sizes for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, posters, and you can even create a custom size!

Templates for canva

Now the fun begins. On the left is your Canva editor. Here you have options to change your layout, text, background or even search their database of stock photography. I should mention that although there is plenty of great design material that is free, a lot of the elements cost $1 to purchase (bummer). But look at it this way, you spend a dollar or two on a graphic you made yourself, or pay someone to do it for you for a lot more. Sometimes you gotta spend money to make money.

canva editor

Depending on what you’re creating, start by clicking on the Layouts tab and explore the different pre-made options. Alternatively, start with the Background tab if you’d like to use a pattern or photo (like I made above). Simply drag and drop on to the canvas. Once you do that, the world’s your oyster. Select any number of shapes, lines, banners, icons etc., it’s all there. Looking for something specific? Click on the Search bar! Still not finding what you want? Click the Uploads tab and add your own photos. It’s so easy to do.

canva options

As you can see from the graphic above, there are a number of options you can play with. Drag any element you like from the editor to your canvas. From there, resize, rotate, flip, or even send the object back or forward however you want. A smart feature of Canva are the alignment grids that automatically pop up to help you get everything positioned just right. I also like the ability to change the transparency of any object you place on the canvas. Also, note the duplicate button there to the right of the above graphic. If you want to create multiple designs, you can click that and instantly have a second copy to work with.

Hopefully at this point, you’re starting to see all the potential Canva offers. The final step is to either share your design or download it. You can find those options in the top-right corner of the screen. I believe that process is pretty self explanatory, but I would like to make two final suggestions. First for SEO purposes, by sure to rename and save your project so that it contains relevant keywords. It might not be that big of a deal, but every little bit helps. Second, if you’re not wanting people to “borrow” your design and make it their own, consider adding your web address in the bottom corner.

So what do you think of Canva? Does it offer you enough options to replace Photoshop? Have another tool that’s simple to use? Leave a comment!