As a blogger, who needs to do some image editing to make buttons and feature images, I face a dilemma: Why make a heavy investment in something like Illustrator, when I only need software like this a couple of times a month? The learning curve for Photoshop or Illustrator is very steap and one has to spend much time practicing to not forget all the details of the software – not to mention all the new things that are added in new versions.
So what is the alternative? For me it is Canva. Canva is a free online application, which enables you to make great designs without knowing much about designing beforehand. You don’t have to download any software to your desktop, but work on your designs online. When you are finished, you download your creations from the cloud to your computer.
What can you do with it?
You can make invitations, cards, graphics for the web and more. Simply choose the dimensions for your work and start designing.
How does it work?
First you specify the size of your canvas in pixels, mm or inches. There is also an option for choosing predefined templates for posters, Instagram or Facebook covers.
For your work space you can pick different backgrounds, frames, text holders, lines, illustrations and photo frames. With a click and drag functionality these design object can be moved around and scaled up and down. Design elements can be stacked on top of each other and blended with transparency options.
It very much works like a Lego set, where you put things together and have the opportunity to scale design elements.
The Plus Side
You absolutely need no prior design knowledge to make beautiful designs with this tool. All maneuvers are done by simple drag and drop steps.
A plethora of prebuilt shapes, icons and backgrounds are at your fingertips to use.
Many design elements are for free, but stock images can be bought from Canva. One premium image costs 1$. So far I haven’t had the need to buy any images, because there are so many free options available in Canva.
You can also upload your own images or photos and use them as design elements in your graphic design.
For photos there are several options for changing ‘moods’, like making black and white pictures or the very popular retro image looks.
The design elements like icons, lines etc. can be changed in color, since there is an option for picking a specific hex-color.
The people at Canva send out emails with design tips about fonts, colors etc. For the seasons, they are great at coming up with design ideas for Easter rabbits, reindeer posters etc.
Tutorials about designing are provided online to give you more ideas.
Download the finished design as a PNG file or as a PDF.
The Negative Side
One is limited to the look of a design element and cannot adjust small changes. (Colors can be changed though).
There are times when the system fails to download an image and you have to try several times before it works.
You have to use the inbuild fonts and cannot add new ones.
No alignment tools like grids or rulers. But you see when different objects are aligned to each other in the work space.
A phantastic design tool for the amateur designer. Great designs are not the privilege to graphic designers anymore. A flat learning curve for the inexperienced that comes with the right price :-)
Give it a try and comment on it below!
The images in this blog post were all made with Canva in a few minutes.