For the non-designer, the prospect of creating original graphics for your business, blog, or emails can be daunting. Learning advanced software like Photoshop can seem like overkill while beginner programs are not always flexible enough. In our Canva review, we’ll introduce you to a web-based graphic creation application that lands squarely in the middle of these two extremes, offering an impressive range of advanced features while being incredibly simple and straightforward to use.#Canva enables you to whip up quick and beautiful #graphicdesign for any purpose. Click To Tweet
Our Canva review
If you’d like an example of Canva in action, look no further than the featured image of this blog post!
We design the featured image for each of our blog posts quickly and easily using templates within Canva. What you’re looking at above is four different components layered on top of each other:
- The Blrt logo
- A shape with a Blrt green background
- The Canva logo
- A screenshot of Canva made somewhat transparent against a white background.
The result is an image that looks professionally designed that required only a couple minutes of tinkering and exactly no expensive software. The second part of our Canva review will walk you through how we did it.
First up in that Canva review, though, let’s take a look at what’s under hood.
Free but powerful
Canva hits a powerful sweetspot for those who want to create professional-looking graphics with ease.#Canva is your free and simple - but still powerful - #Photoshop alternative. Click To Tweet
The user interface
Using Canva is incredibly intuitive, making it quick and easy to get off and running in a hurry.
The interface itself drops you right where you need to be, offering you a wide selection of templates designed for popular uses including social media platforms, print page sizes, presentations, ebooks or advertisements. Need a new Facebook banner image? Just click the template and you’re in business with a blank canvas cut to exactly the right size.
Selection of elements
Once you’ve got that blank canvas, you can start filling it with free or premium elements – or upload your own.
The first step is to select your layout, which makes it easy to give your image structure. Selecting a divided layout gives you the ability to work with ‘windows’ in which you can manipulate each image separately to create a clean finished product. This feature image from our recent post sharing leadership quotes is a good example:
This feature image was made with a three window layout, which allowed us to frame each image (by resizing and dragging) within the window in which it sits. In this way it was simple to take three images of different sizes and put them together in a clean and professional way in a matter of minutes.
Once you decide on a layout, you can choose from a number of free elements to start decorating that blank canvas. Canva includes a number of free stock photographs, as well as a very extensive range of ‘premium’ photographs that will run you $1.
There are also frames, shapes, lines, illustrations, icons, charts and backgrounds available (with the fancier options adhering to the above pricing model) to help you get your design underway. You also have the option of uploading your own imagery for ultimate flexibility.
Learn how to design
Canva claims you can learn how to use their app in 23 seconds. The nuts and bolts of using the app (which we explore more deeply in the next section) are definitely that simple but the principles of good design might take a little longer, depending on your skill level.
Canva sees you coming in this regard, offering tutorials on the basics of great design (including fonts, color, images, backgrounds, etc.) to help you get your designs off on the right foot.
For those who have a grasp on the basics, Canva’s design school blog provides inspiration through the exploration of basic (Color Theory and Design Elements & Principles are categories offered) or advanced design concepts (see: Design Trends and Creativity & Psychology), as well as specific design styles from around the world.#Canva offers a number of resources to help you lift your #graphicdesign game. Click To Tweet
Whether you want to design a slick flyer, an infographic, or a banner, Canva has a tute to get you home in style. There are also structured courses – currently: How to Build a Brand and Creativity – that offer daily lessons with the aim of helping you upskill in a given area of design.
These lessons alone are an incredible resource (and don’t even require you to have a Canva account) and add even more value to an app that already delivers a powerful (and free) punch.
All of this said, the best way to understand what Canva is all about is to see it in action. To round out our Canva review, we’ll now walk you through the creation of the feature image for this blog post.
Creating quick and beautiful graphics
Canva is truly a pleasure to use, allowing ‘designers’ of any skill level to produce consistent and compelling imagery in a flash. In the final section of our Canva review, we’ll show you how we put together the feature image for this blog post in a matter of minutes.
To get started with a graphic in Canva, you choose from any number of predefined templates, or enter your own custom dimensions to start with a blank canvas cut to that size.
We’ve already set up templates to the proper size for various platforms, which live on our main screen.
We’re making a blog post image, and are greeted with the template when we click that design on our screen.
The template you’re looking at here has some design elements built into it. The Blrt logo is on top of a pentagon filled with a Blrt green background. The below screenshots show you how most of the shape lives ‘off the canvas’, leaving behind only the snazzy edges that we use to border the logo. It’s as easy as adding the shape, recoloring the background and dragging it into place on the canvas.
Because this template is saved and standard, every blog post featured image is consistent in design – we only need to drop the main image into the background, crop, move and save!
The feature image for this particular post requires a little more effort, which lets us show off a few of the many advanced editing features that Canva is equipped with.
The background of the image is a screenshot of Canva itself, which is easily uploaded using the main menu.
As you see here, the image drops on top of the existing designs. Using the menu, it’s easy to move the screenshot behind those designs. From here it can be resized and moved about the canvas, using the edges of the canvas to crop the visible part of the image. Here is the background in position:
This is a bit flashy and doesn’t scream “Canva Review!” to anybody not already familiar with the look of the app, so we need to find a way to incorporate the Canva logo. This would make for quite a busy graphic, however, so we’ll just use the controls on the screenshot layer to make that part of the graphic somewhat transparent against the white background. Voila:
Looking better already. Now we drop the Canva logo in place and get it into position. Canva provides gridlines to help you align each component with other components. In this screenshot you can see that Canva has helped me align the bottom of the Canva logo with the bottom of the Blrt logo, as well as the center of the Canva logo with the center line of the entire graphic:
Now we have a feature image that tells the story of our post and, in this case, is delightfully meta!
Don’t worry if your final image or any components look a bit fuzzy – Canva uses low-res versions of your components while you’re editing in order to keep everything running quickly and smoothly. Your final save will be at the highest resolution allowed by your original input files.
To get said final image, we can select from several save options (JPG for web use, high-quality PNG, or PDF for sharing or for print) and the Canva magic is thusly engaged to put our image together for us.
Once the final image is produced, the final output screen allows you to share it directly to Facebook or Twitter, or send it via email.
Share your creations
We hope our Canva review has highlighted how the app makes it quick and easy to make professional-looking graphics regardless of your level of design expertise.
If you’re working up a design and need feedback from the team, Blrt can help you get everyone on the same page. Simply save your most recent draft, drop it into Blrt, and begin talking, pointing and drawing over the features of the design. Your fellow team members can reply in their own time to offer their feedback and make suggestions for changes.
Share a design today:
Blrt helps you get your point across quickly by allowing you to talk, point and draw over images, documents and websites. The resulting video-like recording is called a Blrt.
Your Blrts require much less bandwidth than video and can be shared with anyone on mobile or desktop. This makes Blrt ideal for both collaboration and the creation and sharing of dynamic content, as public Blrts can be embedded into any webpage.
Once recorded, Blrts are stored in the cloud and are exchanged with others in a conversation-like fashion. A record is kept of the exchange, and new parties and media can be added at any time.
Blrt shifts time and place, allowing users in a conversation to participate in their own time. In an era where activity-based working and distributed teams are commonplace, Blrt is revolutionising the way people interact to get things done.