Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image

Design Challenge: Canva vs. Photoshop

127 Flares 127 Flares ×

This is the most important virtue for a designer to possess. Discipline is the god of design that governs every aspect of a project… Without it, it is total anarchy, total randomness, pure chaos. Discipline is the attitude that helps us discern right from wrong and guides us to achieve consistency of language in whatever we do. Discipline is what helps us navigate through the social context in which we operate. Discipline is what makes us responsible toward ourselves, toward our clients, toward the society in which we live. It is through discipline that we are able to improve ourselves, mentally and physically; to offer the best of ourselves to everything around us, including every project on which we work…

Discipline is the supreme state of mind, the master of passion, and the governing structure of nature.

There is no design without discipline. There is no discipline without intelligence.

Massimo Vignelli Vignelli: From A to Z (Source: public library)

When I started teaching design, I noticed that tools became more important than knowledge itself.  Students would approach me asking if they would learn how to use [insert software here] by taking my courses, so they could master design, charge more money and attract their dream clients.

Some of them would be disappointed to learn that my focus was to teach them the foundations (the “how” and “why” they should care) so they could use that software to put their knowledge into practice and create a well designed piece. I would change the software to use any given week to show them how the results would be the same. It was the the common denominator (their knowledge) which was the most important asset.

tool \ˈtül\  
Something (such as an instrument or apparatus) used in performing an operation or necessary in the practice of a vocation or profession.

Software and platforms are tools that allow us to get things done.  There are very specialized, complex tools for experts and there are simple, easy to use tools for entry level users (or those who just want to get a feel for what can be done) (tweet this!). However, users of all skill levels often use the same software, even if it’s for different purposes.

For example, I’ve mastered the basics of QuickBooks to support my business, but that doesn’t mean I’m an accountant, or that I am capable of bookkeeping otherwise.  My accountant on the other hand, uses QuickBooks to streamline his calculations and dive deep into the numbers of the organization. We both use the same software, but the results are very different.

Lately, I’ve seen many people get caught up in the limitations of not knowing how to use a certain software, which stopped them from achieving a certain goal. With this in mind, I wanted to create a short tutorial about how professionals and beginners who use different platforms, can still get the same quality results!

Let’s get this party started!


Canva: Select the Facebook Ad template from the homepage.

Select the Facebook Ad template from the homepage.

Photoshop: Create a new document (size: 1200px x 627px)

create a new document (size: 1200px x 627px)


Canva: Select Upload from the left side bar.  Click on the button Upload your own images, and select the image for your ad from your computer.


Photoshop: Go to File > Place, and select the image from your computer that will be the background of the ad.



Canva: scale the image by pulling it from any of the corners (grab the circles at the corner and drag with your mouse to scale it up).


Photoshop: Drag the corners of your image with your mouse to fill out the background of the document.  If by any chance you pressed the enter key after placing it, activate the Free Transform tool by pressing Command/Ctrl-T (edit > Free Transform)




Canva: On the left sidebar, select the Text tool.  You’ll now be able to see all the different typographic compositions and graphics available.  I picked a Text Block that resembles what I want to achieve in my design.


Photoshop: Select the Rectangle Tool (U) to draw a rectangle that will hold the text.



Canva: I will now modify the text block I’ve selected by changing the color of the font and the background, and selecting a typeface that goes with my brand.  Once you click on top of the element, the edit tools with be displayed.  These tools will allow you to make the necessary adjustments.


Photoshop: I’ll define the color I want my rectangle to be. For this, I’ll click on the top control panel, go to Fill and select a color from my swatches.  If the color you’re looking for is not saved there, you can always click on the rainbow-like square on the right and the color wheel will pop-up, allowing you to create your own color.



Canva: The selection of fonts is taken from Google Fonts. If your website/blog is using Google Fonts you can select the same font that you’ve been using in your branded materials.


Photoshop: I now create the rectangle shape by dragging the mouse on the area I want the shape to be. You can always edit the shape by scaling it with the Free Transform Tool (Command/Ctrl-T).



Canva: I now have the desired color and font styles for the Text Block.  I can place it anywhere I want by dragging the shape with my mouse.

photohop_0005_006 canva_0006_007

Photoshop: I’ll now add the FREE WEBINAR copy to the solid green shape to create a title for my ad.



Canva: I’ll select another text holder from the gallery of options.  Once I find the one I want to work with, I’ll click on it or drag it to my workspace.


Photoshop: I’ll create a text box by selecting the Text Tool (T) and drawing a square with it where I want my text to be.




Canva: The text holder I’ve selected needs to be edited to adapt it to my design vision.  I’ll go ahead and modify the color of the ornament and change the font to something closer to my brand.


Photoshop: To add extra elements to the date of the webinar, I’ll select the Line Tool (U).  If your toolbox is showing the rectangle and not the line, just click and hold and the options of shape will be shown.



I’ve now created the same ad with an easy and user friendly platform (Canva) and professional software (Photoshop).




The results are very similar with just a few differences, but if we put them side by side, would you be able to identify which one was made with which tool?




Header Image: lachlan via Flickr

Love this article? Get exclusive content straight to your inbox.

  • Bell Do

    Thank you for the helpful info Jen. I love how this can be a collaborative tool with a designer I love but can’t hire as a Full Time. I’ll follow your suggestions from the webinar on having her build templates for me.

    More tutorials please! 🙂

    • jenniferdopazo

      Hi Bea,
      It is my pleasure to show tricks on how to use tools that are accessible. Thank you for participating in the Webinar, you’re question was GENIUS and it opened the world for other attendees.

  • Great article. I enjoyed watching the step-by-step to see if there would be an obvious difference in the results. It’s so easy to forget that it’s not all about the tool. Vision first, execution second.

    • jenniferdopazo

      You’re right Susan! The tools are just there to help us get things done but our idea, vision and execution will be what stands us and our results apart!
      I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  • ArtsyTECH

    Loved your introduction and like your “side-by-side” comparison.

    Also, I’ve also seen the following occur “in reverse” – where having related experience and expertise is interpreted as lack of skill in or competence with a similar “specific model” used within an environment (which often is also a far more rudimentary tool than a “Developer’s IDE” – ie: Flash vs PowerPoint or Captivate or Articulate):

    RE: “Lately, I’ve seen many people get caught up in the limitations of not knowing how to use a certain software, which stopped them from achieving a certain goal.”

    • jenniferdopazo

      I’m glad you enjoyed it! 🙂

      I see what you mean. How many times skills and expertise are related to a specific software? Too many! It’s what you can achieve and your problem-solving capabilities should also be considered.

      Thanks for joining

  • This was an interesting exercise particularly as I use both.

    A couple of things spring to mind.
    * Not all of the google fonts are found in the Canva library.
    * Using Photoshop you get access to all the fonts on your computer.

    Moving/manipulating text in Canva is the one thing I don’t care for. I find it awkward and limiting.
    Personally I use Inkscape (the free vector software) but then I guess that’s the point. You use the best/most appropriate/favorite tool for the job.

    • jenniferdopazo

      Hi Caroline, I agree that the text is a bit tricky to move around, mostly when you’re trying to break down the pre-defined design as I did many times!

      I’m glad you’re an Inskcape user! I’m an Inkscape + Gimp fan, and they’re my go-to tool for teaching design foundations and web.

      • Well hope interesting is that. So you understand totally why I make the design in Canva and add text in Inkscape – LOL

  • Pingback: 12 Digital Publishing Tools the Experts Recommend()

  • i loved canva when i first found out about it last year… and tried to shift to using it predominantly… but, my only issue with canva has been that saving the images haven’t come out as clear as with ps… i’ve found pixelation is common (even with changing settings – but yours seems crystal clear!), and omw, i once was creating an image for a site, and it moved the elements so they were half off the image – in all different directions! i tried starting from scratch 2 more times, and it kept doing the same thing, yet i had no problem creating that image in ps with no worries. anyone else have any of those problems?

    • Travis Cattach

      I had several glitches and issues with Canva similar to this… in the end I stuck with PS because it’s predictable. I’d be interested to see a head-to-head with PS/Ill Vs Canva/Inkscape/Gimp et al

mautic is open source marketing automation
127 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 43 Google+ 23 Buffer 24 Pin It Share 37 127 Flares ×