Canva Tips, part one

canva tips part one

Good morning, folks!

One of my sweet friends has recommended for some time now that I write a blog post about Canva, specifically my tips and tricks, so here goes:

First, I am going to assume you know what Canva is because I only talk about it all the time.

Second, this is not an affiliate post. I get absolutely nothing if you choose to use Canva or purchase any of their products (memberships, images, etc.)

Here are the basics:

  • Canva is the easiest online design program I have ever come across.
  • It can be used completely for free, with a bit of work.
  • All of the for-pay images are $1.00 each, and you get 24 hours to edit your design before you’re required to repay for the images. (Unless you buy an extended license.)
  • They offer some neat design classes at no cost to you.

I’ve used Canva now for a few years and it has come a long way.

For the purposes of this blog mini-series, I will be using Canva 2.0 (their newest version, but the old version is still available.) and I am also a subscriber to CanvaForWork. I will share 2-3 tips/tricks/hacks in each post.

Let’s start there.


Cost: $12.95 per month—there is a free 30-day trial, if you’re interested.


  • Brand Kit | Start building your brand kit by choosing your colors, uploading your own fonts, etc. and apply them quickly and consistently to your designs.
  • Magic Resizing | Make an image for Twitter, then magically resize it for Facebook, Instagram, or your blog. (Sometimes this does require a little futzing on your part, but it really does save a boatload of time!)
  • Animation | CanvaForWork’s newest draw, animation. Bring your images to life, get more attention. (Admittedly, this still seems to be in beta and there are 7 preset animations to choose from, and you have next to no control over it. I do believe this will be expanded upon and improved in the near future.)
  • Teamwork | If you have a creative team, CFW makes it easy to collaborate with everyone in one cohesive space.
  • Transparency | Download your images with a transparent background, which is great especially for logos!
  • Expanded Free Library | More images in the Canva library are free than the free version of Canva.

One thing I cannot speak about with any knowledge is Canva Prints, their printing service.

What To Use Canva For

  • Social media images
  • Create advertisements
  • Create marketing products like bookmarks
  • Blog images
  • Book covers (they even have Kindle cover dimensions at the ready)

Download in .PNG, .Jpeg, .PDF (print), and .PDF (standard)

What To Expect, Not To Expect

Expect ease of use, first and foremost. Canva is the easiest thing I’ve ever used. Expect high-quality images, and a vast number of them. You can, and likely will, get lost in browsing. I won’t judge…I do it a lot.

Do not expect Photoshop quality editing. You can do basic things like crop, make something transparent, play with filters, etc. If you’re looking for Photoshop-like effects, you’re not going to find it in Canva…

Though I do have a few tricks up my sleeve.

Normally when I do a post like this I try to make it a step-by-step thing and work toward some sort of finished project, but let’s do this differently.

I mean, this isn’t about a finished product, necessarily. This is about teaching you some hacks and giving you some tips I’ve picked up along the way. So let’s get started.

Text Shadowing

Adding a shadow to your text isn’t an outright option in Canva…yet. But adding your own is really simple.

text placeholder

Step One:


Click text, then add a heading. Type what you’d like, size it, place it, make sure it’s the color you want. Then, with the text box selected (as shown), click on copy, found on the top, right-hand side of the screen.

This will copy your text, and then you’ll change the copy’s color, then use the position button (found next to copy) to send it backward, behind your original text.

And, voila. You’ve got some homemade shadowing going on.

text placeholder (1)


I give you this “hack” with a little bit of sadness and frustration.

If you do an image search for “gradient” on Canva, you’ll come across this after some scrolling:


Now, it doesn’t look like it there, but that particular image starts off dark and gradually goes transparent to the top. I used to use this a lot because it made shading certain areas of my images easy, in turn making text stand out without having to darken an entire image. In fact, I used this on the cover for Sex, Love, and Formalities.

However…Canva’s done something to the coding for this image which makes using it pointless. It automatically makes this image the background, sometimes making all of your other work disappear (don’t worry, there’s an undo button.) but it’s rendered this particular image absolutely useless.

And there isn’t a perfect replacement hack, but I have found one.

Keep scrolling a little, and you’ll come across this gradient, which isn’t from top to bottom, but more one-corner to another-corner.

This is what you’re looking for:gradientthingy2

If you need to use this to lighten up an area, then you’re in luck. Bam. You may have to flip the image or rotate it to get it where you want it, but that’s no big deal.

But what if you want to darken an area?

First, a before-photo with the help of my new virtual assistant.

text placeholder (2)

It’s difficult to see, but there is some text on the bottom of that artwork, it reads “No Gradient.”

I’m a bit on the nose today, huh?

Well, once I do my little trick with this white gradient, I’ll actually darken the bottom a little bit so that text shows up much better.

pic w gradient

And there you have it. Now you can see light text on a light image without having to drastically change the image. In order to do this, select the gradient I showed you above, then click the Adjust button, turn the brightness all the way down, and badabingbadaboom, you have your gradient. Use the Position button to get it where you need it, behind your text but above any other images, like I did with the frame in the image above.


Search Tip

Finding your favorite images in Canva can be daunting because of the vastness of the library.

Canva’s library is so vast because their images are submitted by a multitude of artists, graphic artists, and photographers. If you come across an image, no matter graphic or photograph, and you really like it and you want the other graphics in your project to match (you do want that, you do! you do!) based on style, lighting, color scheme, etc. etc. Then, all you need to do is search that artist.

How, you ask? I’m happy to tell you.

Last Spring I fell in love with a little fox I found on Canva and I’ve made a few of my social media headers and posts creating custom scenes with these little creatures. If you haven’t seen them, let me share my current Twitter banner with you:

winter (2)

I wanted my little woodland creatures to all look cohesive. But trying to scroll through dozens upon dozens upon dozens of images all from different artists took too long, but not with this trick.

I know it might be hard to tell, but those graphics aren’t all made by the same artist. The top three are, the rabbit and the polar bear on the second line are by someone else, then that first deer on the third line isn’t even a totally opaque image, it’s actually more like a doodle—completely different from the others.

So, what you need to do then is find the style of image you like the most and hover over it for a moment, you’ll see this:

Clicking that little ellipsis will give you a few options:


Notice the by-line underneath the image’s title? That’s the link you’re going to click that will take you directly to every image that author has submitted to Canva, but before you do that, I want you to take a look at the keywords and remember a couple of them.


The code you see in the search bar is that particular author’s brand code.

And now every image you browse with that in the search bar will be by that particular artist. This will help you have continuity in your design.

But… What happened to those cute little winter-loving creatures we were looking for? They’re lost!

You might think this would take longer, but no.

Remember, I had you glance over the keywords for the image you liked.



With the artist’s brand code still in the search bar, put in one or two of the keywords you remembered, press enter and voila! Now you’re cooking.

Or, designing rather.

And that’s all I’ve got for you right now. In the interim, if you’d like to learn more Canva tips, follow me on Facebook. That’s the only social media platform I will share them on outside my blog.

Do you have any questions about Canva or CanvaForWork? If so, please reach out in the comments below.

Until next time, my loves. ♥ Happy writing, reading, and designing.

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