A Beginner’s Guide to CANVA


A Beginner Guide to CANVA

A step-by-step tutorial for canva

I've had a few people ask me lately how to create graphics to post on Pinterest or other social media. I've used some different websites to create my graphics in the past. I like Canva.com a lot and it is my go to place to create graphics, flyers and postcards. I also use PicMonkey.com a fair amount. I decided to create a tutorial to help you get your feet wet with Canva if you haven't tried it out before. Let's dive right in. First things first you're going to need to sign up either with your email, Facebook or Google.


I'm going to take you step-by-step showing you how I created the graphic above to post on Pinterest.

1. Sign Up for canva’s free version

Either sign up with your email, Facebook account or Google account.

2.  become familiar with the canva navigation bar

Once you're signed in you'll see a row of choices across the top of the screen. For the sake of this tutorial we're going to click on the + sign so you can see all of you options.

3.  Choose your first canva design

Scroll down until you find the one you're looking for. Click on the preferred option. In this case we're looking to create a graphic for Pinterest. The beauty of choosing one of these instead of creating one completely from scratch is that they are the right size for where you'll be posting them.


After you've clicked on the Pinterest graphic this opens up a new screen.

4. Become familiar with canva’s design tool options

On the left you'll see a number of choices for layouts that are already made. On the right a blank Pinterest Design.

5. choose a layout

Scroll down through the layouts until you find the one you like and click on it. Note that in the right hand corner of the layout there is a box with the word free. These are the only layouts I use. If there's a dollar sign ($) in that corner I just continue to scroll.


Now you'll notice that where your blank Pinterest Design is now filled with the layout you chose.

Customize your CANVA graphic

1. Choose your Background

You most likely don't want the text or maybe even the colors to remain the same. The first thing I do is play with color. On the far left are the choices for search, layouts, elements, text, background and uploads. I choose background and either just change the color or scrolling down there are patterns. Again I'm only looking for those marked free. The patterns can also be changed to any color you like. This is also where you can use images for your background either by uploading your own or using the free photos Canva offers.

2. Decide text and font

Next I click on the text which reveals a dotted line box.  I highlight the text and type in what I want to say. In this case I typed the words Design With Canva. At the top of the screen are font choices. These are all free. Scroll down clicking on one you think you might like. It will change the text to that font. Don't like it? Keep scrolling and clicking on fonts until you find one you do. Next to that you can also change the size, color, bold, italics, centered and all CAPS for your text. CANVA offers a great variety of fonts, but if you have one in your collection you know would be perfect or one you want to use to match your branding - don’t worry there’s a workaround for using your own fonts in CANVA’s free version. Check it out here.

3. customize text

Next to all the choices to format your text is letter and line spacing. I use these options quite a bit. Play around with it and see how it changes your text and gives it a more appealing look.

4. Easily duplicate an element

When I need more text, but maybe want to format it a little differently from my title at the top of my graphic I make sure I've clicked on my text box to reveal the dotted outline then I simply click on copy just to the right of my text spacing options. This allows me to move my text around on the graphic wherever I want it and maybe just keep the same font but change the size or color.

5. Make a duplicate of the entire graphic

Before I get too far in my changes and when I think I have a good base I make a duplicate of this graphic. This allows me to save what I already like, but I want to see what some of my other options are.  This way I feel like I can go a little crazy but haven't lost what I may end up going back to. It also allows me to play with different backgrounds or color schemes to see what I like best. Once I've firmly decided on a finished product I simply delete that extra page by clicking on the trash can. I'll warn you, though. Don't do this until you're ready! It's not hurting anything being there.


A few more thoughts on color

When you click on the color square for either a background, text or elements in your Canva graphic you'll see a + sign. When you click on this you'll get a color wheel where you can just click around to find a color you like or a slide tool to adjust the selected color to be darker or lighter. You'll also see a place where you can just put in the color code to your favorite color. If this is completely foreign to you then you'll like the next tutorial I'm planning about color!

When an element inside your graphic is clicked you'll see your choices across the top of the screen come back to life. One of those choices looks like a checker board that is half dark and half light. This allows you to make any element a little more transparent. It's a great tool for layovers within your graphic when you don't want to completely hide what's underneath an element, text or photo etc.


Shapes, lines, icons, photos and more

Canva offers many free items to add to your graphic.

Shapes, lines, icons, photos and more. For the subject graphic I used some icons including social media shapes. Many of these can be formatted to whatever color you like. Click on the elements tab on the left to open up all the options.

Once you click on an element to add to your graphic you can move it to wherever you want it in your graphic and resize or recolor it.


name your graphic

This is a step that could be argued about when it should be done. At the beginning or end. It's really a matter of preference. Naming your graphic is very important, though. Canva gives it a generic one according to the size you picked. Pinterest Graphic, for example. Naming it will help in many different ways. If you're using it for a blog you can title it the name of the post plus the name of your blog and adding keywords right in your image name. This helps protect the ownership of it. It also helps in the search engine aspect. Plus it just plain helps keep things organized! The most important step here that should be considered throughout each step of your design process is saving. If you've used a computer much at all you know it's true that clicking save once in a while throughout any project will keep heartache at bay.

Lastly, you're going to want to download it in the format that you desire. Canva will give a recommended file type, but many times I use JPG when I'm adding it to my blog. There's also a share button which gives another option that may fit your needs better.


I hope this step-by-step Canva tutorial helped. Please don't hesitate to comment any questions you may have or clarification you might need. Happy designing, my friends!