There is a new drawing app in Canva so what can it do and how useful is it for an artist? Can you draw on Canva?
Canva has released a new feature, it’s a drawing app with basic functions. It can be useful for creating simple designs or adding your own hand-drawn elements to existing images. The new tool includes a pen, marker, glow pen, and highlighter, all with adjustment settings controlling line width, color, and transparency.
In this post, I’ll show you how to use the Canva drawing tool, in simple steps. Let’s go.
(I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. However, I only promote products I like and recommend)
How to Open a New Canvas in Canva
To create a new canvas in Canva, follow these steps:
- Log in to your Canva account and click on the “Create a Design” button located at the top right of the screen.
- Select the type of Canva design you want to create from the dropdown menu. These include pre-made templates for things like social media posts, presentations, and marketing materials.
- Or choose to make a blank canvas with custom dimensions at the bottom left of the panel. It’s a circle with a plus sign (+)
- Choose your preferred dimensions in Pixels, Inches, Millimeters, or Centimeters, and set the size
- Click the larger “Create a Design” button to start your new design
Alternatively, if you want to use an existing design, you can go to the “Recent Designs” tab on the Canva homepage and select your own design.
How to Find the Drawing App in Canva
There are two ways to find Canva’s drawing tool. This is the first way:
- From your home page scan down the menu on your left
- Click on Discover Apps and it opens the menu page
- Use the search bar and type “draw” the app will be in the dropdown
- Or Click on the “Design Essentials” tab and you’ll see the Draw (Beta) tile
- Click the tile and choose to open a new or existing design
- Select your canvas preference from the menu. Pre-made or custom
This is the second way to find your drawing app:
- Open a new or existing design and scan down the menu on the left
- Click on the Apps icon at the bottom
- This opens a side menu with app tiles
- Search for “Draw” or scroll down to the “Create Something New” section
- Click on the Draw tile
- Your app is added to the side menu and the settings open up alongside
Choosing Your Pen Brush and Settings
You have the choice of 4 drawing tools and an eraser. They are positioned as tile icons at the top of the panel.
- The Pen Tool
- The Marker Tool
- The Glow Pen Tool
- The Highlighter
- The Eraser
Each option has the same adjustment settings. Two sliders, one for the size indicating the line width, and the other for the transparency, scaled from 1 to 100%, number 1 is almost invisible and 100 is a solid line.
Beneath that, you’ll see preset color tiles. Sadly no color names are attached (1 in 8 men are colorblind). The first tile is multicolored with a plus sign (+) in the middle. It opens the color selector and color picker tool, along with the HEX codes.
Read this post if you’re like me and colorblind: How To Be a Colorblind Artist (I’ll Show You How I do It)
Having tested the Pen and Marker settings I can see no difference between the two tools. They produce exactly the same line width on the size slider scale so unless I’m missing something they are the same thing.
The Glow Pen produces a neon-like effect.
The highlighter has a square or wedged nib, in all other respects it is the same as the Pen and Marker tools, when the slider is set to 100% it draws a solid line.
Really you have 3 choices, a rounded line, a square line, or a glowing line. Pretty basic stuff.
How to Use the Eraser Tool
The eraser tool works with all the line tools and can be fine-tuned in the same way, using the size and transparency sliders.
When you draw on a canvas or over an image, your drawing is on another layer. It can be erased at any time.
As soon as you tap “Done” the layer becomes a new element and can no longer be erased.
New drawings can be added one by one if you wish. Each time a drawing is marked as “Done” it locks the design as a new element (layer).
Can You Customize a Drawn Element?
With a drawing layer saved, it can be customized like any other element. It can be edited, cropped, and flipped. You can add animation effects, and change the size and position.
You can even add a glow to a plain line, which begs the question as to why you really need a glow pen in the first place. You can add drop shadows, blur, and filters. You can do everything you would normally do with an element.
And all of this is available in the free plan.
How to Use the Draw App With The Text-to-Image App
While I was playing around with the apps I experimented with the text-to-image app and realized how that it was just about possible to tweak some of the imagery. Not that I’m impressed with the Ai image generator at all.
I entered a command to the effect of, and I paraphrase because I can’t recall the exact words, “a pen and ink drawing of a mermaid for a coloring book. In the style of Arthur Rackham”
I asked for Arthur Rackham because he was famous for his fairytale book illustrations, and his life and work are featured on the web. He’s out of copyright too so no ethical issues.
The results were pretty poor but at least one could be rescued. The example below is a Canva Ai-generated portrait that had wonky facial features.
The first image is how it appeared in the results and the 2nd is after I’d used the Canva Draw App to tidy it up.
I think it would pass the coloring book test.
I redrew the facial features with the keypad of my laptop. It was hard work and these are the results. I should have used a stylus on a tablet touchscreen, it would have been so much easier.
For the purposes of this post, I tried to generate another image using a simple command but this time the Canva app blocked it, this was my exact instruction:
“a pen and ink drawing of a mermaid in the style of Arthur Rackham”
And this was the message that popped up:
“We detected words that may result in unsafe or offensive images. Rephrase or remove them to carry on”
Is there something I should know?
I tried a similar prompt in Midjourney and the following example is the result:
That’s actually pretty impressive, they definately have the influence of Arthur Rackham and you can see how a few minor corrections in the Canva Draw App would suffice.
Who Will Benefit From Using the Canva Draw App?
The most obvious beneficiaries of the Draw App will be:
- Social media managers and users who need to create quick and simple social media posts and marketing materials where time is of the essence.
- Small business owners who can’t afford to outsource all their graphic work or invest the time and money involved in learning to use professional software.
- Teachers who need to make simple charts, diagrams, and presentations for their students.
- Bloggers who need quick and easy graphics to engage their readers or explain complicated or technical topics.
I’ve also just realized that the Drawing tool is very handy for making minor alterations to an image.
Using the eyedropper tool to match the color enables the Canva user to draw over and disguise unwanted marks and blemishes easily and quickly.
Drawing over an existing image creates a new layer (element) so to preserve your amendments remember to hit “Done” when you’re finished.
Before we had this drawing tool, I had to add a shape element to cover any unwanted areas, so this is a very convenient feature that I will use regularly.
That said, I doubt that professional graphic designers will find much use for the Draw app in its present form. They will be using more sophisticated apps such as Procreate on iPad or Adobe Illustrator / Photoshop.
In my opinion, combining two great tools, the Canva app with Procreate app on an iPad gives you the best of both worlds.
Canva is a graphic design tool that will save you time and money, and Procreate is a drawing tool that offers a great drawing experience with a personal touch.
Why not use both?
How to Use Canva With Procreate
Procreate is the number one drawing app and if you own an iPad this is a great way to add hand-drawn elements. There is an additional cost however, the app is $12.99 in the Apple app store, and you’ll need an Apple pencil too, which if you haven’t got one already, is an extra cost.
Read these posts for more information:
- Is The Procreate App Worth it For Beginners? Get the Facts
- Is it Worth Buying an iPad for Procreate?
- Do You Need an Apple Pencil for Procreate? I Found Out
Canva is free to use with the Draw app but some features are blocked by a paywall. The Pro version is currently advertised for $12.99 per month or $119.99 per year, a saving of $2.00 per month. That doesn’t tempt me so I’ve always used the monthly plan. Why? because you can cancel the subscription whenever you like. I’m only using the free version at the moment.
So we are using the Procreate and Canva apps on an iPad.
Draw Your Element in Procreate
- Open the Procreate app
- Open a new canvas on the Gallery page by tapping the plus sign at the top right of the screen
- Set the canvas dimensions reasonably large so you don’t have to worry that your image will be too small
- Tap the brush icon and choose a drawing tool from the huge list available
- Using your Apple pencil, sketch out your design
This isn’t a Procreate tutorial so for help with the basics of getting started read these posts:
- How to Add a Grid in Procreate and Improve Your Drawings
- How to Undo in Procreate: Plus Redo Gestures (2023)
- How to Change Layer Opacity in Procreate: Step-by-Step
- How to Make Straight Lines in Procreate: Step-by-Step
- How to Use the Symmetry Tools in Procreate
- How to Use Layers in Procreate: 15 Essential Tips and More
- How to Duplicate in Procreate: Copy and Paste, Cut and Clone
Or probably better to buy a course. That’s what I did. I bought this one on Domestika. So easy to follow and a bargain price
Remove the Background and Export the File
When you are satisfied with your image you’ll need to remove the background. In Canva, background removal is a paid feature, in Procreate, simply uncheck the background layer. There is another way, you can also use the free online service at Remove.bg
- Open your layers tab by clicking the layers icon. It’s the two overlapping squares at the top right
- Scan down to the bottom and uncheck the background layer. The layer is now invisible and your image is floating.
- Tap the Wrench icon to open the Actions panel
- In the first row tap the Share icon
- Scan down and tap PNG. This file type will preserve a transparent layer
- A new window will prompt you to save your image
- Tap “Save Image” to save it in your camera roll or export it directly into Canva via the Canva app tile.
Open Your Procreate Image in Canva
If you have exported your file directly into Canva your image element will be in your “Uploads” and also saved in your “Recent Designs”, that’s on your home page. Otherwise, this is your next step:
- Open a new canvas as described earlier. It can be a custom canvas, template, or existing design
- Tap the “Uploads” icon on the left column. It’s a cloud with a vertical arrow
- Under the Images tab, your saved images will open alongside
- Tap the “Upload files” button at the top
- Tap “Photo Library” and check your image
- Tap “Add” at the top right of the panel
- Your file will load
- Tap on or drag and drop your image onto your canvas in the image editor
Can You Draw on Canva? Final Thoughts
The answer is yes, you can draw badly. It’s really a note-taking tool and not a realistic way of making digital art. It can be used for fun graphics and quirky doodles, but for not much else.
Canva excels as a graphic design platform and they offer beautiful graphics, free or for a very low cost. The native Canva drawing app is a sideshow. It looks and feels like an easy addon, it’s nice to have, it’s convenient, and it’s very basic.
Wait that’s not all…
- Is Drawing From Reference Photos Bad? Are You Cheating?
- How to Scale Up a Drawing: 4 Easy Ways and Save Time
- Can You Copy Art and Sell a Painting of a Painting? I Found Out
- 7 Types of Contour Drawing Explained: Quick and Easy
- Artist Business Cards: How to Use Them to Drive Sales
- Can Anyone Learn To Draw? Are Artists Born or Made?
- How to Trace a Drawing: 12 Ways to Get Results – Fast!
- How Do Artists Get Their Ideas? (It Might Surprise You)
- How to Plan and Compose your Art (A guide for beginners with examples)
Are you are interested in selling your art? My guide will show you how to start a business from scratch
In the end, it’s all about practice. Join Sorie on Domestika and join over 100,000 students taking her sketching classes. Wow.