Do you need to add a burst of flair to your project, but you can’t find the right object in Canva’s elements? Do you need to highlight some text or an object quickly on your canvas? You can do all this and more when you draw in Canva. The best part is it’s super simple to do on desktop and mobile.
Canva may be known for its numerous templates and design elements to choose from, but the ability to draw your graphics can take your designs to the next level. In this ultimate guide, you’ll learn what each pen or brush does in your drawing toolbox, how to move or resize the shapes you create, and how to draw perfect lines and shapes if you’ve got a shaky hand.
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced designer, this guide will help you unlock the full potential of Canva’s drawing tools.
How To Freehand Draw In Canva
The old-school way of drawing with Canva was to download the built-in drawing app. Today, you can find the tools to draw in Canva on the Side Bar to the left of the screen.
To start drawing in Canva, click on the Draw button. The drawing tools will pop up on the side as a sub-menu.
If you don’t see the Draw button in the side menu, you must update your Canva desktop app. Once you update the app, the button will automatically appear.
If you’re using Canva through your browser, you shouldn’t have to update anything, as Canva will keep everything automatically updated in the browser version.
Brush Settings Explained For Drawing In Canva
When comparing the drawing capabilities of Canva to a dedicated drawing app like Procreate, for example, it’s evident that Canva is lacking in many areas.
However, if you need to add a few bits of flair to your project or highlight some text, the drawing tools in Canva are more than enough.
In the first section of the drawing sub-menu, you’ll find four different brushes/pens. You have the Pen, the Marker, the Highlighter, and the Eraser.
The Pen Tool is a quick way to add some notes or quick shapes to your project. Just select the Pen Tool, then drag your mouse around your canvas.
Using your mouse to draw or write with the Pen Tool can be cumbersome, but if you move your mouse slowly, you should be able to create what you need to.
One limitation of the Pen Tool is that holding down the Shift key will not affect the tool. So nothing will happen if you try to hold down Shift to draw a straight line. Drawing a straight line will be covered later in this guide.
The Marker works exactly like the Pen Tool. The main difference with the Marker is that this tool will draw thicker lines by default.
The Highlighter is a more specialized brush. It’s best used for spotlighting text or other objects, this is much quicker than manually highlighting text in Canva.
The biggest difference with the Highlighter is the transparency. This brush is more transparent than the others by default. The transparency is what makes this brush so helpful in highlighting text.
If you make any mistakes while drawing, you can easily clean up your mistakes with the eraser.
To use the Eraser, select it in the sub-menu first, then click on the line or shape you want to remove.
The eraser also works like a traditional brush, allowing you to erase multiple objects quickly instead of clicking each object individually.
To erase multiple objects, first select the Eraser, click and hold at the starting point of where you want to erase, then drag your mouse over the objects you want to erase.
When using the drawing tools, you can change the brush’s or pen’s color anytime.
To do so, click the Color Picker in the Drawing Sub Menu, then choose your color. Once you’ve chosen your color, you can select your brush and see what the color looks like in your project.
If you need to change the color of a line or shape you’ve drawn, first select the Move Tool from the sub-menu, then click on the object.
Once your object is selected, click the Color Picker in the Options Bar above the canvas.
From here, you can choose your replacement color.
If the line you’ve drawn looks too thick or too thin, you can adjust the weight of your pen or brush by clicking the Line Weight button.
Clicking the Line Weight button will open a sub-menu where you can make your adjustment.
The first three buttons are the default Small, Medium, and Large options.
You can use the Plus and Minus buttons to select an exact size if you’re looking for a specific thickness. This is perfect when you need a size in between the default sizes.
The main thing to remember when choosing your line weight is that you must decide on the thickness before drawing. Once you’ve drawn your shape or line, you won’t be able to change its weight afterward.
The last option you can adjust in the Draw sub-menu is the transparency of what you’ve drawn.
To do this, click the Line Weight button, then adjust the Transparency slider.
You can now select your pen or brush, then see what it looks like on your canvas.
Much like adjusting the line weight, choosing your transparency before using your pen or brush is required. You won’t be able to change the transparency again through the Draw sub-menu.
However, there is a workaround to adjust the transparency of a shape after you’ve drawn it.
First, select the shape, then click the Transparency button above the canvas. You can now adjust the Transparency until the shape looks right to you.
How To Fix Shaky Lines When Drawing In Canva
One of the trickiest parts about drawing in the desktop version of Canva is keeping your mouse steady while you draw.
No matter how steady you think your hands are, chances are, your shapes will end up with annoying bumps and drops and will result in shaky-looking lines and shapes.
To compensate for this, Canva added a built-in system to help you eliminate this shakiness.
To draw a perfect line or shape, draw the object as you normally would and continue to hold down the mouse button at the end of the shape. Keep your mouse still for a few seconds, and the shape will automatically adjust to a perfect shape. This also works on mobile by holding your finger or stylus down after drawing.
Not every shape will automatically correct itself. There’s a short list of shapes that will work using this method:
According to Canva, they’re working on adding more shapes to that list. For more information on this method, click here.
How To Move Or Resize What You Draw in Canva
One of the fun parts about drawing in Canva is how easy it is to move and resize your shapes after you’ve drawn them.
To do this, first, select the Move Tool in the Draw sub-menu.
To move your shape, click and hold on it, then drag the shape where you need it on your canvas.
To resize your shape, first, click on it, then drag one of the Corner Handles until the shape is the correct size.
You can also use the Side Handles to adjust the form of your shape further.
To use this method in an actual project, select your brush, then draw out a rough position for your shape. Make sure to adjust your line weight before drawing your shape. You can also draw a shape and then edit it like any other object in Canva.
Once you have the basic positioning of your shape down, select the Move tool and resize the shape to perfectly fit the area you need in your project.
Once you have your shape in place, you can adjust the transparency by selecting the shape and clicking the Transparency button above the canvas. This is helpful if you forgot to adjust the transparency in the draw menu beforehand.
When it comes to lines, you can extend the lines that you draw.
First, select the Move Tool, then select the line. Drag one of the handles to extend the line where you need it.
This is very easy to do in an actual project, especially if you’re adding multiple lines. First, draw out your first line.
Then, click on the line to bring up the Mini Options Bar. Select the Duplicate button to create an exact copy near the original line. You can also use the copy-and-paste method in Canva if you’d like.
Next, use the Move button to place the duplicated line where needed.
To adjust the length of the duplicated line, click on it with the Move Tool, then use the handles to adjust the line where you need it.
Repeat this process as many times as you need to for your project.
How To Use The Drawing Tool In Canva Mobile
If you don’t own a drawing pad and can’t get used to using the mouse to draw shapes on the desktop version of Canva, you also have the option to draw with the mobile version of the program, where you can use your finger to draw.
Even better, if you have an iPad with an Apple Pencil or any phone with a stylus, you can get the best natural drawing experience.
To draw in Canva with your mobile device, click the Draw button in the Side Bar if you are working on a Tablet or Ipad.
If you are working on a mobile device, you will need to click the plus sign at the bottom of the app.
Then scroll along the options until you find the Draw Tool. Once you click on it, the various options will appear in the sub-menu.
I will demonstrate the layout on the iPad, but everything else works the same except that your menu on mobile is at the bottom of the screen. In the sub-menu that pops up, you can choose your pen or brush and start drawing on your canvas.
If you’re using an iPad / Tablet / phone with an Apple Pencil / stylus, you can quickly and easily add complex shapes or handwritten text.
Anything you draw on the mobile app can be resized using the Move Tool in the sub-menu.
With the tool selected, tap the shape you’ve drawn, then drag one of the corner handles until your shape is the correct size, or use the rotate icon near the bottom to turn the shape.
With the Canva mobile app, you can quickly add flair to a project by drawing a shape around an object. If you want the shape to be perfect, hold your finger or stylus down for a few seconds until it corrects itself.
You can use this technique to add as much flair as you need for your project.
Canva’s mobile app is also perfect for highlighting text in a project. Grab the Highlighter tool in the Draw sub-menu and highlight your text using your finger or stylus.
If you added an extra mark you need to delete, grab the Eraser tool and swipe over the areas you need to remove.
You can also change the color of your lines and shapes in the mobile version of Canva.
To change the color of your pen or brush before you draw, click the Color Picker in the Draw sub-menu, then choose your color.
To change the color of a line or shape you’ve already drawn, tap on the shape, then tap on the Color Picker above (on iPad) or below (on mobile) the canvas.
From here, you can choose the color you need.
If you need to add a thicker line or shape to your project, tap the Line Weight button, and choose the best weight.
To change the transparency of your line or shape, you can adjust the Transparency slider in the Line Weight sub-menu before you start to draw.
Or, you can tap on your already drawn shape, then tap on the Transparent button above the canvas on iPad or below the canvas on mobile. Adjust the Transparency Slider until you’re satisfied.
There are tons of ways you can use the drawing tools in Canva to spice up your designs, and hopefully, now, with these tricks and mind, you have some inspiration to work from!