Canva Design Plan Tutorial

I absolutely love making design plans in Canva, and today I’m so excited to share with you exactly how I do it. If you missed the blog post on creating design plans, I highly suggest you visit that first, then come back here. But if you’ve already checked out that post and you’re ready to start designing, let’s go!

Get Yourself A Free Canva Account

First things first, you have to have an account to use Canva, as well as an actual computer. Currently you can’t create detailed projects on phones or tablets, so you’ll need a desktop or a laptop. Canva is free to use, so you don’t even have to enter a credit card number. Just your name, email address, and a password is all you need to get started.

Stockpile Your Inspiration Photos

Before you can create your design plan, you need to have…well… a plan. (Well thank you Lela Obvious!) Find and save inspiration photos and pieces that inspire you. I like searching through Google’s Image and Shopping tabs to find things with white or transparent backgrounds, although products with backgrounds work fine, too.

Once you’ve got all your inspiration pieces saved and you’ve compiled everything you want to include in your design plan, hop into Canva and follow along with the steps below.

*Note: Photos are below corresponding caption steps.

Start At The Homepage

On the main page of Canva, you’ll find all kinds of awesome templates you can work with. While there are so many fun things to play with on here, we’re going to keep things quite basic for this tutorial. You can always go back in later and explore the templates and make tons of cool stuff another day.

Choose Page Size

Under the Documents section of the template library, choose the US Letter Document. This is a standard paper size so you’ll be sure your images aren’t distorted and words aren’t blurry if you decide to print your plans.

Blank Slate

You’ll be redirected to your design studio with a plain white blank slate. I recommend keeping it white with no background imagery or texture to keep things clean and easy to read.

First up, on the left sidebar, click the Uploads tab.

Upload Images To Library

Pretty basic right now, right? Just upload your images and wait for them to all install into Canva.

I told you, this is really really easy my friend.

Add Your First Image To The Board

Now to the fun part! To add an image to your board, you can either drag it over or just simply click it. It’s going to show up massively large, but you can resize it by adjusting the dots in the corners of your image frame.

Fill The Board

Here’s where things start moving. Keep adding images and adjusting their sizes until you’ve added all the uploaded elements to your design plan. Remember that images can be sized and resized as many times as you’d like, so don’t worry about getting it perfectly laid out just yet. We’ll do that in a few more steps.

As you continue adding your images, you may find that some of them overlap each other and you’ve got part of the white background of one image covering part of another. Just click the Arrange button for the selected image and you can move it forward or backward.

Add A Large Title

I love a good header. A big chunky title with a natural handwriting font is my favorite way to title a design plan.

To add your own title, navigate to the Text tab on the left sidebar. Then click Add Heading.

Adjust Heading

Once your heading text box has popped up and you’ve changed to the text to whatever you want it to say, you can change fonts, adjust sizes, manipulate letter spacing, and pick font colors.

Add Filler Text

I like to add little pops of text to highlight certain elements of the design plan. Sometimes I note room placements, colors, model numbers, brands, or even just the vibe I’m going for with a certain piece.

Finalize Placements And Add Links

After you’ve got all your images and text notes added, you can tweak the sizing and placement of everything on your board.

Once I’ve got everything in the position I like, I add shopping links to any specific items I know I want to buy. These links won’t work on your printed copies, of course, but they’re a great resource in case you forget where you found something and you need to pull back up your digital copies of the design plan.

*Adding links is totally optional, so don’t feel like you have to do it your first time. Or ever, really. I’m just a weirdo that enjoys making these a little too much.

Make More Pages

To make another page, you can click the Add A New Page Button below your board. This will bring up a blank page right underneath the board you just finished, so when you download your files it will all be one combined PDF.

You can alternatively choose the duplicate tab on the right side of your board (the two rectangles overlapping each other right above the trash can) and this will copy the design onto another page. This is helpful if you’ve done a lot of text work and you want to just switch out the photos but keep the same formatting.

Complete Your Design Plans

With Canva, you can make up to 30 pages in one document. You can continue adding pages until your design plan is complete. Don’t forget to make a cover page, as well as a Notes page at the end for jotting down any additional ideas you have or changes that need to be made to your plans while you’re at the store shopping.

In my design plans, I always start with a cover, have one page for Inspiration, one page for color schemes and materials, a page for each room I’ll be working on, and one or two notes pages at the end.

Save As A PDF

Once everything is done and you’re happy with your design plan, you should save it as a PDF-Print. Whether you plan to print or not, this is the best quality save option in my opinion.

I like to upload my PDF design plans to staples.com and order printed booklets. They come out looking really professional and they’re only about a dollar a page. If you have them printed front and back on the paper, you save a bit of money. My printed booklets usually cost me between $6 and $14 depending on how many pages I have.

You can also print them on regular paper and store them in a folder for an even cheaper option. Or keep them digitally on your computer for an alternative that costs Free Ninety Nine.

Check Out My Finished Design Plan

Below are all the finished pages of my design plan (except the notes page because it’s pretty boring) for you to use as reference and inspiration. And if you have any questions feel free to shoot me an email. I’ll help get you un-stuck. 🙂

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