Canva Basics: How to create your own graphics

I’ve had quite a few questions about how I make the graphics that I use on my Instagram and Blog. Today I’d like to introduce you to my little secret (not so secret anymore):

Canva allows you to create all kinds of graphics including invitations, social media images, cards and so much more. You’re basically only limited by your imagination. In this post I’ll run you through the basics of Canva and in future posts we will go more in depth.

canva homepage.PNG
The Canva home screen

The first step is to sign up for an account- don’t worry it’s free! Canva is best used on the computer version, there is an app but it’s a bit trickier to make complex designs with it.

Once you register an account and log in you’ll see this home screen (above). This is the home page you will see each time you log in. Along the top (with the blue background) are the design options- these default to what you use the most. You can click on “more” to see all the other options- there are heaps!

Underneath that is any previous designs you’ve made. If it’s your first time these will be empty. You can copy one of these to make an edit to it while keeping the original (click on the little arrow in the top right of the design’s thumbnail and click ‘copy’). If you want to edit any previous design you can click on it’s image to open it up.

Side Hustle Earnings
Copyright @tashagetsfrugal

For this post I’ll show you a how to make this recent graphic (above) that I shared on Instagram.

To begin with click on “Instagram Post” from the options at the top. There are two options for Instagram posts but either one will work. This will make sure the dimensions of the graphic are perfectly sized for Instagram and you won’t have to re-size it to fit.

Create your design

Step 1: Click “Instagram Post”

The next section is the screen you’ll see every time you start a new design. There are two different menu options on the left. The first one is where all your elements are; text, graphics, backgrounds and images. The 2nd menu changes based on what you select in the first one. The white area is the ‘canvas’ that you’ll design your image on. Stay within the boundaries of this. On the top menu are the “Share” and “Download” buttons to download the image to your computer or share from Canva.

Step 2: The Canva Design area

Add a Background

Let’s begin! We’ll start with the background. Click on “Uploads” in the far left menu. If you just want a coloured or patterned background click “Background” .

We’re going to use our own photo in the background. Most of the images I use are copyright free from Unsplash. You can download the specific one for this tutorial here.

Step 3: Choose a background

Click on “uploads” to upload our photo. Then click on the green “Upload your own images” button and navigate to where you’ve stored your image. Click on the image and click “Open” to upload it to Canva. Once its uploaded (there will be a little progress bar during uploading) click on the photo and it will open on your canvas. From here you can re-size the photo using the black dots on the corners or rotate it using the circle with the arrow on the bottom. For this design we want to re-size the image so it covers the whole canvas. If parts of the original image goes off the edge of the canvas that’s fine. You can click and drag to move it back into the middle if needed until you are satisfied with the placement. If your image gets blurry or ‘pixelated’ when you re-size it then it’s not large enough to be used for social graphics. Try and find a bigger picture.

Step 4: Re-size the image

Once your image is in place it’s time to add text.

Adding & Editing Text

To add the text click on the “Text” section in the left menu. From here there are lots of pre-designed options that appear. You can choose from these or just add a blank heading. We want to click on “Add heading”. Once you click on “Add Heading” you’ll see the text appear in the middle of your canvas.

Step 5: Add some text

To edit the text that appears you can highlight it and re-type your text. In the menu at the top you can edit your font, text size, colour, bold, italic, alignment and spacing in the first lot of options (see image below). On the right side in the top menu you can copy an element, arrange the layers so things sit above or below other elements, change the transparency, add a link or delete the item.

Text editing menu


For our text we are going to change the font and size to “Playlist Script” and size “80″. We are then going to move the text to the top of the canvas by clicking and dragging it into place. Once you’ve done this, add in the 2nd lot of text for the subheading. Go back to “Text” in the left menu and click “Add a subheading”. Using the top menu, change the font style to “Quicksand” and the size to “42”. We’re also going to make it bold and italic by clicking on the “B” and “I” icons.

Adding Elements

Now we’re going to add the pink rectangle that sits behind the text. Don’t worry we’re almost done!

Step 6: Add the shape

Click on the “Elements” section from the menu. Here is where all your photos, grids, shapes, graphs, lines, icons, frames and more are.

We are going to add in a rectangle so click on the “Shape” section. Click on the first rectangle shape that comes up. If you want one with a border click on the 2nd one. The shape will appear on your canvas. From here you can edit the colour of it in the top menu.

Editing Elements

We are also going to edit the transparency of the shape and then arrange it so it sits behind the text. So firstly move the shape to sit over your text and re-size it if you need to. Then click on the colour in the top menu and change this to a colour of your choice. I used #ffd2d4. Select a colour from the default palette or select the “+” button to choose a colour yourself or add in a hex code like the one I used. Once you use it once it will appear in the “Document Colours” section.

After that click on “arrange” on the right side and click “back” until the shape sits behind the text correctly. Then click on the transparent icon next to it and drag the slider down until you are happy with the level of transparency. I went for about ’83’.

Step 7: Edit the shape

Download & Save

We’re done! Once you’re happy with how everything looks click “Download” in the top right hand side to download the picture to your computer. There is the option of .png or .jpg file types. I prefer ‘png’. Click on the drop-down menu and change the file type if you wish. Then click “download”. It will save to your downloads folder.

Step 8: Download the image (or save)

Canva auto saves the image periodically but it’s best to make sure you save it before you exit. To save your image (it will still be editable in the future) click “File” and then click “Save”.

I often “Save” the image but will then use the app version to download it so it’s easier to share straight to Instagram from my phone.


And that’s it! Feel free to play around with the elements and the fonts and in the future i’ll show you how to use more of the elements.

Some Tips:

  • Make sure you design in the correct size e.g Select ‘Instagram post’ for an Instagram design
  • Keep the font and colour choices consistent throughout all your designs. You’ll notice I use the same font for headings in all of my designs.
  • Make sure you have permission to use the photos that you do. Don’t just find a picture off google and download it. Unspash and Pexels are my favourite for quality free images. They can even be used in commercial designs.
  • If you’ve already got a similar design in mind that you’ve done before don’t start from scratch again, “copy” the original image and edit from that.
  • Save, save, save your work
  • If you can’t work out how to download your image on the app version, screenshot it or share directly from the app to your Instagram.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial!

If you have any questions or troubles, comment below and i’ll help you out.



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