Quick Canva Tips


Don’t have a Creative Cloud subscription access to other desktop design apps? Don’t worry, Canva is here to help you push your pixels.


Canva who?

Let’s face it, Illustrator is the defacto standard when it comes to vector design work, but that doesn’t mean its the only choice. There are other apps out there each with their own costs and benefits.

But what if we told you that there’s a practically free option that will do almost everything you need it to do, including the hard bit of just getting you started? Welcome to Canva.

Does it have all the whistles and bells? Thankfully it does not. What is does have is the tools you need with a good interface and a wide selection of pre-done templates, stock images, and fonts. Start with a template, personalise it, pay the low fee for the stock images (if you use them), and then download a press ready PDF to hand to us.

Canva Templates

The templates we supply for Canva aren’t quite as full featured as the Illustrator ones, but they will get you started and give us most of the artwork done for production. You can access the most common templates below.

CR80 (86mm × 54mm)
Key Tag (60mm × 25mm)
Combo+1 (Card (86mm × 54mm) + Key Tag (28.5mm × 54mm))
Combo+2 (Card (86mm × 54mm) + 2 Key Tags (28.5mm × 54mm))
Mid Sized Pass (80mm × 120mm)

How to Use the Canva Templates

Clicking on one of the links above will open up a new page asking you if you wish to use that template in Canva. Click on the “Use Template” button and if you have a Canva account, log in. If you don’t have a Canva account, you will need to create one. There’s no need to pay for a Canva Pro account at this point if you don’t want to. These templates were made with the free account and you can do most things with the free account. If you find you’re using your Canva account a fair bit though, it’s always good to support the people who make your tools.

Once your template is open, click on “File” and make sure that Show rulers, Show guides, and Show page bleeds are all ticked. This lets you see the boundaries you can design to. Let’s go through them.

Everyone Needs Boundries

The dotted grey line is the edge of your card. That’s where we’ll cut the card down to.

The white space beyond that is what’s known as the bleed. Make sure that any background colours or images are sized out to there. It gives us some wriggle room when we’re cutting and makes sure there’s no thin white edges when we cut slightly out. We’re good, but plastic is slippery stuff. Us being out by less than half a millimetre is noticable if there’s no bleed.

The purple lines inside the page edge mark the inner safe zone. Keep important stuff like logos and text within those lines. They’re about 3mm in from the edge.

The grey circles indicate where we’re going to punch a hole. Try and keep important stuff about 3mm away from them too. You don’t want your phone number to go missing or have a hole go through someone’s head. That last one is not a good look, and yet happens surprisingly often.

Design Away

This is where you let your inner graphic designer go to town. The tools and elements are to the left of the screen. Under “File” there is a “Help” button. Canva will walk you through the interface better than we can.

If you’re not sure where to start though, Click on “Templates” on the left of the screen. You can then do a search and find something that works for what you’re after. Don’t stress if it doesn’t say exactly what you need, you can change the text to suit, pick a different photo, or change the colours. Just check that all the elements fit the boundaries as above and you’re all good.

What about mag stripes, barcodes, numbers?

You need to allow for them, yes.

If you need a mag stripe, leave the top 15mm of the back of the card clear. You can put colour and images there, but the mag stripe will go over the top.

Barcodes need some white space to print on and depend on the size of the number make a box at least 12mm tall and about 30mm wide. That will cover most barcodes. We can tweak it bit when the artwork arrives if the barcode needs more space.

Signature panels are 10mm tall and go the entire width of the card. They are clear, so you’ll see anything you put underneath. You don’t need to draw them in, just let us know that you need one.

From Canva to Express Card

Once you’re happy, we need your design so we can print it.

Canva will save as you go as long as you’re logged in, so once you’re done, just check that it says “All changes saved” in the menu bar and you’re right to send it to us.

From Canva, we need a Print-Ready PDF to go to production. Click on the “Share” button in top right of the screen, then select “Download”. Pick “PDF Print” from the File type dropdown, and make sure the Crop marks and bleed box is ticked and that all pages are selected.

Depending on the images and fonts used, you might have to pay a couple of dollars so the original artists can feed their children tonight, so do that (it’s less than a cup of coffee, so I guess they’re only eating two minutes noodles tonight) by clicking “Pay and download”. Once you have the file downloaded, send it through to us and we’ll get to work.

Can I just use the free watermarked version?

Sure, but the final product will have the Canva watermark all over it because we can’t remove it and someone’s child doesn’t get two-minute noodles tonight.

Again, less than a cup of coffee. Let the artist eat.