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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Easily Create Web & Print Graphics with Canva

Categories: Web Design, Creativity, How To

All of my clients will know that I am a massive fan of the free online image editor PicMonkey and always recommend it to anybody who will listen. However, I recently came across Canva, another excellent online tool to help you create stunning graphics for both the web and print. It's well worth a closer look if you like to keep your site's images fresh and up-to-date without tearing your hair out! And creating Facebook cover images is a breeze.

Canva is currently in beta - this means that it is still being tested and you might come across the odd bug here and there. But from what I have tested so far, it's working pretty well and is certainly ready to create some great web graphics for you. Being in beta also means that all of its features are free right now. I'm not sure whether this is likely to change in the future but if it does, fair enough - programmers need to pay their rent too! But that is no different from other quality editors such as PicMonkey and you will probably find that all of your basic editing tasks will still be available with the free version. However, in Canva you get access to a massive stock of over a million photographic images that you can use in your designs, most of which are premium and cost $1 each. You only pay when you publish though, so you can mess around with your layouts until you're happy before committing to any expense.

Anyway, back to what Canva is all about. Contrary to PicMonkey, Canva isn't really about image editing in the sense of fixing up an image, correcting colours, changing contrast or even brightening your teeth! Canva is designed to help you create funky graphics for your publications, so if you want to make your own images part of that, you should make sure that you have optimised them already elsewhere (ie. with PicMonkey!) before uploading them into Canva.

When you start with Canva, you are given the option to select from a series of pre-measured layouts but you can also enter your own custom dimensions. The Facebook cover template is ideal to quickly start a new graphic to adorn your Facebook page and advertise your latest competition or offer Season's Greetings!

Once you have selected your layout, you can now kick-start your graphic with a seemingly endless selection of design elements that go far beyond simple text and shape overlays. But do remember that although graphics are generally free, photographic elements tend to be charged at $1 each. So if you don't want to use the ones available here, simply use your own (just make sure you own the copyright!).


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