Regardless of the field you’re working in, if you’re connected to the internet, you realize the importance of good graphic design. From websites and projects, to emails and social media, almost all aspects of information need some form of graphics to make them more appealing. I’m not a pro at Adobe Photoshop, and because I couldn’t devote enough time to learn it, at a time of dire need, my search for good graphic-design tools led me to, an online website that’s too good for words.

Not all of us are Photoshop experts, and if you’re not too familiar with complex editing tools Canva is the perfect solution. It allows you to create beautiful high-quality graphics with an incredibly simple user interface. I originally started using it to create images, but overtime I’ve come to rely on it for all sorts of documents on it. I swear by this tool because of how much of a lifesaver it’s been for me, on multiple occasions.

Canva recently released their iPhone app, which makes it all the more easier to use. The best part about Canva is that you can create social media posts that are platform-specific. These folks have everything covered, that means Twitter posts, Facebook cover photos, Tumblr graphics, Instagram posts and even Pinterest posts. You can create all sorts of visually appealing documents on Canva. And, by all I literally mean all. Prepare yourself for astounding presentations, magazine covers, and resumes, marketing materials such as flyers, menus, posters, business cards, brochures, and even event invitations and email headers!

I don’t want to to sound like an over-enthusiastic salesperson, but it’s just how great Canva is. Maybe they should consider making me an ambassador. Just sayin’.

I’m going to start with a step-by-step guide on creating your first image through the Canva website. If you’ve never used Canva, don’t worry, this is a literal, step-by-step how-to guide.

1. Go to and sign up for an account. (It’s completely free.)
2. You can use your free account or upgrade to a premium account (which obviously has more features). I’ve been using Canva for about a year now, and I personally haven’t felt the need to upgrade my account.
3. This one’s also optional: Download the app on your phone and login or continue using it on your browser.

Upgrading to premium: yay or nay?
Upgrading to premium: yay or nay?

There are already a bunch of good tutorials on Canva’s Design School. Here are 30 lessons to help you get started on learning how to design.

The amount of time you invest into learning and mastering graphic designing solely depends on you. You can learn some pretty cool stuff on Canva’s Design School tutorials. It’s neatly arranged into subsections with “Getting Started” for absolute beginners that progress on to Fonts, Color, Images, Backgrounds, Shapes and Icons, Layout, Branding, and ultimately Advanced Tips and Skills in Action.

Canva's Design School
Canva’s Design School

Practice does make perfect, but everyone has time constraints and so I’ll get on with the next few steps on creating your bad-ass image. You can start by choosing one of loads of templates for Canva:

Canva's Design Templates
Canva’s Design Templates

Or, alternatively, you can click on “Create a design” when you sign-in to your account.


I’m going to create a Facebook post for this article. You can pick from any of the design templates, and get started. The same rules apply to all of them.

After selecting the document or post type, select a template from the left sidebar. Click on Layouts and select the one you want. Everything on this image will be customizable, so you can change it according to how you want. I’ve picked this simple template for sharing quotes.


Click on the text to modify it. You can change the font type, font size, and color from the small menu-bar that will pop-up when you click on the text.


A general rule of thumb is to opt for a serif and a san-serif font for contrast. As an example, I’m going to take a quote from this Tempest article and replace the text on the image with my selected text. You can type it up or just copy-paste it. [upto to you, but, really who doesn’t want to save that extra 10 seconds by pressing cmd-C and cmd-V]

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I’m keeping the fonts as they are, but I’m going to change the colors of the quotation marks and the yellow rectangle. Select the rectangle until a different bar appears on clicking it.


Test out the colors, till you find the one you want. If you want to pick a color that’s different from the default palette, click on the “+” under document colors.


Pick the color you want, or add a hex code for the color. Once you’ve selected the color you want, click anywhere else. Click on the rectangle again and click on the color option, you should be able to see the color/s added to the document colors next to the previous default colors.

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To be consistent, change the color of the quotation mark by clicking on it, next select the color option.


Click on the color you want next.

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Next, to replace the background image, you’ll have to upload the image first. Click on uploads and select “Upload your own images.”


Go to the folder with the image and select your image for the background.


When the image is uploaded, it should appear under the “Upload your own images” icon on the left side-bar.


Drag the image from the side-bar to the actual image you’re editing.

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The previous background image and overlays are still on the image. So delete them by clicking on the black rectangle and clicking on the trash icon in the small menubar at the bottom Readjust the image you just dragged by clicking and dragging to the left (to the left of the color black icon)


Delete all the other irrelevant images in the background (You can see slight hints to the right).
Click and drag your custom image from the uploads sidebar again if you’re having trouble with the overlay images.

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Change the transparency by clicking on the image, and selecting downwards arrow from the image menu. Vary the transparency from “Transparency” feature.

Enlarge the image by clicking and dragging the circles in the corners on all sides till your image is large enough. Don’t worry if you can’t see your text, we’ll take care of it in the next step.

Click on the option where it says “Back” on the small menubar (to the left of the trash icon).

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You should be able to see one the quotation marks. Keep clicking Back till you can see all the text. The small blue circles in the corner specify the layer it’s on.

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To fix the image and to make the text more noticeable, we can add more elements to the image. Click on “Elements” on the left sidebar. and click on Shapes.

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Drag a shape from the sidebar to the image you’re editing.

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Now change the transparency and color from the mini menubar at the bottom. Since the font- color is white, I’ve changed the square’s color to a black to contrast with the text.

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I changed the transparency to around 52, and after adjusting it keep clicking “Back” till the font is above the shape. That adds more contrast between the white text and the background.


Now readjust the size of the shape by extending the circles on the corner till you’re content with how it looks.

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If you want to compare a few different variations, click on the copy icon to the right of the image (the rectangles below the number “1”).


This will duplicate the image, and you can try a different variation of the same image to the copy of the image below it.


When you’ve finalized on the image you want, you can delete the unwanted versions of the image by clicking on the trash icon that’s right below the copy icon on that image. Finally, download your image by clicking on Download in the top right corner.

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And, voila! Your image is ready.

  • Mashal Waqar

    Mashal Waqar is the COO and Co-founder of The Tempest. She's a startup mentor, accessibility advocate, and LOTR fanatic. She was awarded "Young Leader of the Year" award at the 19th Global WIL Economic Forum. She has been mentioned in over 20 international and regional publications. When she's not trying to be productive, she's usually recording covers off Youtube karaokes.