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Canva Tutorial

Launched in 2013, Canva is an online design and publishing tool with a mission to empower everyone in the world to design anything and publish anywhere.  Canva is a free graphic design platform that allows you to easily create invitations, business cards, flyers, lesson plans, Zoom backgrounds, and more using professionally designed templates.  

You can even upload your own photos and add them to Canva's templates using a drag and drop interface. It's like having a basic version of Photoshop that's free and doesn't require extensive photo editing knowledge to use. Here's everything you need to know about using Canva. 

Canva’s free plan is great and gives you plenty of tools to work with, but I really recommend signing up for the pro version for $119 per year, which is also free for registered non-profit organizations. It gives you a much wider range of tools that we will be talking about here, like the background remove feature and animated social media templates. However, with the free or the pro version you have access to all their template categories include Zoom backgrounds, posters, presentations, flyers, cards, infographics, business cards, Instagram posts, resumes, invitations, book covers, menus, letterheads, newsletters, photo collages, tickets, bookmarks, invoices, recipe cards, and more. 

Getting started in Canva is easy, you can create a free account just by registering and confirming your email, a paid account can be paid annually or in monthly installments. Once you have set up your account, you can upload fonts, color palettes and images that match your brand that will be saved to use in any design.  With the pro plan you can also invite team members to collaborate with their own log in to the platform. Once you’ve set everything up, you’re ready to start designing. 

First, let’s walk through the template library.  I typed “real estate” into the search bar to bring up templates that are specific to the industry. This pulls up a variety of templates from social posts to flyers and even logo designs.  For our first design we’re going to create a simple Facebook post advertising a listing.  Once I have chosen the template, I am taken to the drag and drop editor.  On the left, you can see the design options; elements, uploads, text, styles, videos, logos and more.  Under the more tab, you have choices to add photos, backgrounds, audio, QR codes and connect to apps outside of the platform.  Once you start editing your image, you will see another menu on top of the editor that allows you to control your colors, font sizing, image position, transparency, add links and resize your image.  Also, when you click ‘edit image’, you have even more tools like removing the background from an image, adding a filter or changing the properties of the image (tone, contrast, light, etc.). 



Getting started, you are probably going to want to make changes to the template like text and image.  This is very easy to do with Canva’s drag and drop wysiwyg (what you see is what you get) editor.  You can add your text to the existing style by highlighting and typing over the text, or you can pull a completely different text style from the text menu.  You can change out images by highlighting existing images, or you can use elements like stock photos, videos, icons or illustrations that are already loaded into the Canva library and come with a professional license to use for your business.  We are not going to dig too deeply into licensing in this tutorial but the licensing information for Canva is available here. As you can see, I have changed the image of the house and one of the images in the circular featured section on the bottom left in this photo by simply dragging and dropping the new images from the library to the template.  Depending on the size and orientation of the new image, you may have to crop or rotate the image, which can be done by simply highlighting and adjusting the white corners around the image you are working with.  To finish off this image, I moved the text from on top of the photo of the interior of the home to the white space above so it would be easier to see, by simply clicking and dragging the text highlighted in purple. 

For the next project, I am going to go back to the template library and find a template for an animated social media post.  Animations are great for catching the eye as people are scrolling through, it gives you an extra second to grab attention to your post.  In the library, I choose ‘Instagram Posts’, then ‘animated Instagram posts’ from the categories above the templates and choose one that is relevant to the real estate industry.  In the design interface I can change the video and text in the same way I did in the last template with the drag and drop, wysiwyg editor. 

For the last project, I am going to do some simple photo editing with a stock photo of a house.  Up until recently, having the ability to edit a photo on this level, removing and replacing backgrounds, using basic layer adjustments and brushes, would only have been available in Adobe Photoshop, which is an expensive and difficult to learn program.  For this, I am going to go back to the home screen by clicking the home icon on the top left of my screen, then I am going to choose a flyer size document from the drop down menu.  When I get to the design screen, the left hand menu is presenting me with lots of templated options, but this time I am going to create my own.  I start with a Pride image I downloaded from Getty images, then I highlight the photo, click edit image in the top menu, and choose background remover, which removes the background of the city and leaves the people and the signs.  I then upload an image of a home in a suburban neighborhood, send the image to the bottom layer by highlighting the image, and clicking the position button in the top menu.  I then resize both images so that it looks like the photo was taken with the people standing in front of the suburban home. I can then add elements like a rectangle, adjust the color and transparency, add a sticker and a logo. 

The final steps to designing with Canva are to name and download your image.  The name of the image is found on the top of the document, you can just highlight and replace the text.  Then click share, and it will give you multiple options for your download, such as PDF, PNG, MP4, etc. You can then save your images on your computer, or you can go to the content planner in the home menu and schedule it to your social networks (this requires you to connect your profiles, which is easy to do if you follow the prompts from Canva). 

The possibilities of what you can easily create in Canva with no previous design experience are really endless.  We have covered images and video, but other options are resumes, power point presentations, business cards and more.  Happy Designing.