8 Things You May Not Know You Can Do in CANVA
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Do you find yourself wanting to add or change an element in Canva but unsure of how to do it? Here’s what’s helped me to do everything I need to produce the images I want. There’s really nothing I can’t do on this site (except curve text without doing it manually). Perhaps there are 1 or 2 ideas here that you haven’t found. Let’s see what you can do in Canva that you might not be aware of yet.
Some of these features require that you upgrade to Canva for Work for $12.95/mo. If you use Canva often, it’s absolutely worth it. FYI, none of these Canva links are affiliate links. They’re only here for convenience.
1) Adjust letter spacing and text line height
Very often, I see social media graphics in which there is too much or too little space between letters or lines. That’s completely adjustable with Canva. In the top right of your working page, click on Spacing, and you’ll see the bars to adjust this. I use this feature more than any other.
Don’t forget to make the spacing match in all separate text boxes. And, for good design, use no more than 2-3 different text treatments per piece. That includes font sizes.
2) Upload your own fonts
After working with Canva for many months, I found that I was losing a bit of my inspiration because I was using and reusing the same fonts. I had 6-8 favorites and wanted something else. I found a few on Google Fonts, downloaded them to my computer and easily uploaded them to my branding page in Canva. Now I’ve got new toys to play with! It’s completely revitalized my designs.
3) Crop an image
This feature is especially useful when you have a product image with too much white space around it. Cropping can allow you to increase the image size without compromising the spacing of your other elements. It can also help you fit a picture that you need to enlarge, but the dimensions don’t quite work, i.e., a square original may resize much better if you crop it as a rectangular before you enlarge it.
4) Adjust the transparency of any element, even a background
This is one of the many very cool things you can do in Canva. I ghosted back this background image because it was way too dark and ominous looking in its original form. The lighter version of the rose is 38% of the original.
And, sometimes branding that looks perfectly fine in most pieces will be too heavy in others. Here I’ve lightened the small icon in the lower corner and pulled back on the saturation, so it’s not too stark. The difference is 100% vs. 58%. Even 90% vs. 100% can be significant and soften it a bit.
The button for this is on the top right of your working page. It’s this mini-checkerboard.
5) Overlay a shape for text
To allow type to read more clearly, a lighter background only for that element can make a darker image work. It’s preferable to reversing type; it’s usually best to avoid light type on a dark background. It’s considered more difficult to read.
Click on Elements on the far right of your Canva screen, and you’ll see options for Shapes. Choosing one and changing the color to white (or another color you’d like to use as an overlay) will then allow you to adjust the transparency of that element so you can see the image underneath. Simple.
6) Lighten up any uploaded image
I see many examples of social media graphics that would have benefited considerably from lightening the image. It’s the last thing I check before I download my final work. I always question if anything can be just a bit lighter and brighter.
This example is subtle, but it makes a significant difference. See how much more vibrant the babies legs appear and how the overall appearance is less muddy?
You can adjust the brightness and contrast as well as make other corrections using the Filter button on the top right of your working page.
The Flip button (next to Filter) is another valuable tool. You can reuse your images by flipping them horizontally or vertically to give them a very different look.
7) Center and align elements
Select one element and hold down the Shift key to select all others you want to align. Go to the top right of your page and click Group. Then drop down the More button and choose Arrange. You’ll see options to center or justify left or right, etc. When done, remember to Ungroup the elements and click somewhere else on the page to return to your regular options. You’ll see the group lines disappear after you click out of the image.
8) Create your own Branding shortcuts
Are there colors and fonts you use all the time in your designs? Upload them to “Your Brand” on the left side of your Canva home screen. You won’t have to scroll down to that particular font you always use or recreate the same color every time. You’ll be able to access your favorites quickly and save time. You can also add your logo and create your own template.
And here’s a little extra design tip; dumb quotes
Often, when you type a word with an apostrophe, you will end up with what’s called a “dumb quote.” Serious designers spot these immediately. Here’s what the difference looks like in the font named Playfair Display. And here’s how to correct it on a Mac. Remove the apostrophe and with your cursor still in that letter space, type Option, Shift and the Right Open Bracket at the same time.
A word about Pinterest
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I found PicMonkey to be more complicated than I was up for and Canva does all I need. If however, you’re going to be manipulating images that would otherwise require Photoshop, PicMonkey has more options for that type of work. If you’re relatively technically-computer-literate it should be a quick learning curve. PicMonkey has tutorials, and you can find instruction on YouTube too.
Helpful Mac shortcuts I use all the time.
Change text from lower case to upper case: highlight text and hit Command/Shift/K
Create a border around a work: highlight text and click Option/Shift/B
Type the “TM” trademark symbol: press and hold the “Option” key and then press the “2” key on your keyboard
Type the registered “R” in a circle symbol: in your document. Press the “Option” key and then press the “r” key
Make a center dot, like this one ·: hit Shift, Option + 9.
What else have you found that works in Canva? Please share in the comments below.
If you were helped by this post about what you can do in Canva, please share it and check out the following posts. Also, download your FREE Guide to Creating Effective Social Media Images.