How To Outline Anything In Canva

The amount of things you can do with Canva is almost endless, including the ability to outline anything with the program. There’s some work involved, but don’t worry. I will walk you through the process so you can outline anything you want as fast as possible. 

Today you will not only learn how to outline images but also how to outline text using three different effects. I’ll show you how to outline shapes, including multiple shapes at once. Finally, I’ll show you how to outline your entire design. 

How To Outline Images In Canva

To outline an image in Canva, first, remove the background by clicking Edit Image in the Options Bar and choosing BG Remover. Once the background is removed, once again click Edit Image and now choose Glow. Set your desired outline color, and then set the Blur and Scale to 0.

Let me show you this process with a quick demonstration.

Start by cutting out your subject. Once you have your image on your canvas, select it and click on Edit Image. After that, click on BG Remover

When you click on BG Remover, the image’s background is automatically erased, creating a “selection” of your subject. You can use the Erase Button to erase any extra pixels and the Brush Size Slider to adjust your brush size.  

When you’re finished defining your selection, click Apply

Canva doesn’t have an official stroke effect to add the outline, but it has the next best thing, which is the glow effect. 

Now that your selection is cut out click on Edit Image, scroll down to the Shadows section, and select Glow

When you click on Glow, your subject will not look outlined, but instead, there will be more of an angelic look. 

To fix this, we need to go into the Settings for the effect. Click on the Glow Button again to go into the Settings. 

Once you’re in the settings for the effect, you should first crank the Transparency up to 100 percent so you can’t see through it. 

  • Keep the Color black for now to make editing it easier. 
  • For the Scale, keep it at 0 when using the Glow effect to make an outline. 
  • For the Size, move the Size Slider back and forth and see what works best for your subject. 

As for the Blur option, there are two great choices for outlining: 0 or 1.

Bring the Blur down to 0, and your outline will have a jagged edge. If you leave the Blur at 1, there will be a slight blur to the edge that can be more pleasing to the eye, depending on the subject. 

It’s up to your personal preference if you’d like a slight blur or not.

Now that your outline is ready don’t forget to click on the Color Picker and change it to whatever color you want the final design to be. 

After that, click on Apply

How To Outline Text In Canva

To outline text in Canva, first, create a piece of text on your design. Then in the Options Bar, click the Effects Button. Choose the Hollow effect and adjust the outline thickness as needed with the thickness slider. This effect works best with bolder text so the outlines don’t overlap.

Let’s break that down more in depth.

To outline your text, you will need some text to outline. You can place some text by hitting T

After you have your text down, change the font with the Font Menu to whatever you like. However, remember that the three effects I will show you will work best with thicker, more blocky text. 

The Hollow Effect

With your font selected, click on Effects and then choose Hollow

There’s only one option for you to play around with: the Thickness Slider. Here’s what the thickness looks like at 1 and 100

Thickness at 1
Thickness at 100

You can also change the outline’s color with the Color Picker Button

You will need to adjust the thickness for a thin font using the Thickness Slider.

Thickness at 50
Thickness at 9

The Splice Effect

If you’re looking to fill in the actual letters with a color, you will want to use the Splice effect by selecting your color and clicking on Splice in the Effects Tab

The most important option under the Splice effect is the Offset. Set the offset to 0 to give your text the illusion of an outlined look. 

The second most important part of the Splice effect is picking the correct color. Click on the Color Picker to find the best color for your project. 

After you pick the perfect inside color, you can also change the outline’s color by clicking on the Color Picker above the canvas. 

Using the Splice effect is the best way to create a “stroke-like” effect for your text in Canva. Blocky text is recommended, but the Splice effect can work with thinner fonts. 

The Background Effect

Another quick and easy way to create an outline effect for your text is to use the Background effect. This effect will highlight your text through contrast by placing a rectangle behind your text. 

To apply this effect, select your text, click on Effects and click on Background

When you apply the Background effect to your text, the Roundness will be around 50 percent by default. If you want sharper corners on the background shape, set the roundness to 0

Adjusting the Spread will make the shape bigger or smaller, and adjusting the Transparency will determine the shape’s visibility.  

After adjusting the main settings, you can also choose the color of the Background Shape with the Color Picker in the Style Menu

You can also change the color of your text with the Color Picker above the canvas. 

Another cool thing about using the Background effect is that it works with blocky and thin fonts. 

How To Outline Shapes In Canva 

It is also possible to outline shapes in Canva, but it will take some work. 

I’m going to show you how to outline a single shape the manual way, and then I’ll show you the faster method of outlining multiple shapes simultaneously. 

– The Manual Way

The first thing we need is a shape. Click on the Elements Tab and scroll down to Lines & Shapes. Click on See All to find all the different shapes Canva allows you to use. 

Click on the shape you want to add. 

Once your shape is on the canvas, Duplicate it by clicking the Duplicate Button.

Slightly resize the duplicated shape, so it’s about 20% to 40% larger than the original shape. 

Now that your duplicated shape is the right size change its color to what you’d like your outline to be by clicking the Color Picker and selecting your color. 

Next, ensure your new shape is behind the original one by selecting the shape and clicking on the Position Button. Click Backward to move the shape back or press Control + [ (Win) or Command + [ (Mac).

Next, position the original shape in front of the duplicated one to give the impression of the original shape being outlined. 

Now that your shape looks outlined, we need to make it official by grouping them. To do this, first, make it easier for yourself by locking the background. 

Select your background and then click on the Lock Button

With the background locked, drag your mouse across both shapes to select them, then press the Group Button or press Control + G (Win) or Command + G (Mac). 

You will now have an outlined shape. 

Using A Glow Effect

The faster way of outlining multiple shapes is by creating a PNG in order to apply a glow effect. 

Step 1: Design Your Shape Picture

On a new canvas, place down multiple shapes and make sure the background is a solid color. 

It’s important that there is plenty of space between each shape. You will see why in a little bit. 

Step 2: Download And Then Upload Your Image

With your design complete, you will now have to download it to your computer by clicking the Share Button and then the Download Button

Leave the File Type as PNG, make sure you have the current page selected, and click Download

You’re PNG is now on your hard drive. Use the Upload Media Button to find the PNG and upload it to your Uploads Tab

Next, add a new page to your design by clicking the New Page Button and dragging the PNG to the new page.

Step 3: Remove The Background And Add The Glow Effect

Before you can add your effect, you need to remove the background. Select your image and then click on Edit Image. Then click on BG Remover, and your background will be automatically removed. 

With your background removed, you can add the Glow effect by clicking Edit Image and scrolling down to Shadows.

Click on Glow to add the effect, then click on it again to adjust the settings.

For your settings, crank your Transparency to 100 and your blur to 0 or 1. Adjust the size to what works best for your design and choose your color.

Step 4: Edit Your Shape Element

Your shapes will now be their own element that can be cropped and repositioned. Use the Side Handles around the element to isolate one of your shapes. 

To use the other shapes in your element, add another one of your shape elements to the canvas and isolate a different shape with the Side Handles. 

Just keep repeating the process to add as many shapes as you need to. 

How To Put A Border Around A Design 

Sometimes the perfect way to finish your design is by adding a border around it. Here’s how to make a customized border for your design. 

With your design open, add a new page using the New Page Button

Add a square from the Elements Tab under Lines & Shapes on the new page. 

Resize the square into a long thin rectangle using the Handles around the shape. Make sure this long rectangle goes from the top to the bottom of the page. 

With your first rectangle in place, click on it and hit the Duplicate Button. Position the duplicated rectangle across from the original.  

With the two sides done, we just have the top and bottom left. Click on either rectangle and duplicate it again. Use the Rotate Button to flip the rectangle horizontally and place it at the top of the canvas. 

Once the top is in place, click on it and duplicate it to make an exact copy. Move it down to the bottom of the canvas. 

The shape of your border is complete and needs to be glued together. Drag your mouse across all four rectangles to select them and click Group. Your border is now one object.  

Your border may be a single object, but if you want to change the color of it, you will have to change the color of each one independently. 

To do this, select one of the rectangles, and click on the Color Picker to select your color. Repeat this process with the rest of the rectangles.  

And you’re done. You now have a border that perfectly fits your design.


  • 100+ million premium stock photos, videos, audio, and graphics
  • 610,000+ premium and free templates with new designs added daily
  • Up to 100 Brand Kits to establish your brand's identity online
  • Remove image backgrounds instantly with Background Remover
  • Resize designs without quality loss with Magic Resize
  • Schedule social media content to 8 platforms
  • 1TB of cloud storage
  • 24/7 customer support

Article By

Brendan Williams

Hey, I'm Brendan! I'm a professional photographer and photo retoucher who has spent the majority of his career shooting or retouching outdoor lifestyle and social media campaigns for brands like G-Adventures, xoxo Bella, P&G, Fitbit, Chevy, Tourism California, and more. These days I primarily focus my efforts on this site, creating guides and tutorials that I wish I had earlier in my career. Each week I publish new tutorials on Photography, Photoshop, Lightroom, and Canva to help you unlock new skills and bring your creativity to new levels! Everything you learn here is backed by real experience, so you can finally skip the fluff and focus only on what matters.

Continue Reading:

How To Invert Colors In Photoshop

Learn how to quickly invert the colors of an image or a layer mask in Photoshop along with tips to selectively invert your colors instead!

How To Invert A Selection In Photoshop

Learn the importance of learning to invert a selection in Photoshop with the help of simple keyboard shortcuts and several other methods.

How To Use The Gradient Tool In Photoshop

Learn the ins and outs of how to use the gradient tool in Photoshop with useful tips to help make the most of this impressive tool!

Adobe Lightroom System Requirements For Mac & PC

Here's a breakdown of the system requirements for Adobe Lightroom Classic and Lightroom CC to make sure it will run smoothly on your computer.

How To Add A Watermark In Lightroom Classic & CC

Learn how to add a text or graphic watermark to a photo in Lightroom Classic and Lightroom CC to protect your photos from theft.

How To Use Dehaze In Lightroom

Learn how to use dehaze in Lightroom along with five different ways you can use the dehaze tool to improve your images in Lightroom.

35+ Best Fonts For Logos In Canva

Here's a list of the best fonts for logos in Canva to help give you inspiration in your next logo design!

How To Create Curved Text In Canva

Learn how to quickly create curved text in Canva desktop and mobile with just a few clicks to spruce up any design!

35 Best Fonts For Teachers In Canva

Discover the best fonts for teachers in Canva to help with your next worksheet or presentation for your class!

The 9 Best SD Cards For Sony

Discover the best SD cards for Sony to find the most reliable and best valued memory cards for your photo and video needs.

The Best Canon Lens For Low Light (10 Top Picks)

Get a complete view of the best Canon lenses for low light photography and video along with tips to make the right buying decision.

Affinity Photo VS Photoshop – Which Should You Choose?

Let's take a deep look at the similarities and differences between Affinity Photo and Photoshop to see which program you should pick.