Intro to Design

Intro to Design
July 26, 2017 Tanya Friedland

Are you a designer?

Wait, don’t answer yet. We’re willing to bet cold, hard moolah that even if you didn’t go to art school or spend weeks learning some schmancy computer program that you can make great designs. Shout it from the rooftops: Design doesn’t have to be complicated!

When you fire up PicMonkey’s easy-to-use design tools you’ll be whipping up high quality logos, cards, and social posts in no time. Here’s the secret success formula we use to create bona fide designers. (Trust us, that’s you.)

1.  Open a canvas

create a design, open a canvas

We believe it was Fraulein Maria who once said that the beginning is “a very good place to start.” The beginning of any design starts with a canvas. To get just the one you’re looking for, hover over Design on the PicMonkey homepage and you’ll have the option to choose between opening a template, a blank canvas, or a custom canvas size. If you know the pixel dimensions of the canvas you want, custom is the way to go.

Our design templates offer hundreds of artist-created templates. All the elements in a template, like canvas color, fonts, graphics, and images, are totally customizable, so everything you learn in this tutorial can be applied to a template.

If you want to make a design yourself but aren’t sure the exact pixel dimensions of the canvas you want, our blank templates come in tons of common print and social media sizes.

2. Change your canvas color

create a design, change canvas color

Once you open a blank canvas, the PicMonkey Editor automatically opens the Canvas Color tool. Use the color picker to find a color that’s right for you, or if you know the hex code of the color you want, enter that into the hex field. You can also use the slider to adjust the tone of the color you’ve picked. When you like what you see, click Apply.

3. Add some text

create a design, add text, text tool

To navigate to the text tool, click the Text tab (the “Tt” icon) on the left-hand side of the editing panel. Scroll through the “Ours” tab to see the full selection of PicMonkey fonts, or use the “Yours” tab to access fonts from your computer. Once you find a font that you want to use, click it and then click the Add text button at the top of the panel. This will open a text box and the Text palette.

Drag your text box around to place it in different spots on your canvas. Push and pull the corner handles to resize, and pull on the left or right side to increase line space. Rotate the corner handle to turn the text box.

create a design, curved text

From the Text palette, you can control color, size, opacity, style, justification, blend mode, and whether or not it’s flipped in any kind of fancy way. Click the Effects button on the palette to add text effects like drop shadow and curved text.

4. Add some graphics

For the uninitiated, graphics are graphic elements like stickers or clipart that you can add to your designs. PicMonkey has loads of graphics that you can use, but you can also add your own logos, graphics, and even photos by clicking the Add your own button at the top of the Graphics tab (the butterfly icon).

Drag your graphic to reposition it on the canvas. Push and pull the corner handles to resize it, and change its aspect ratio by holding the Shift key while you move the corner handles. Rotate the top handle in order to turn an graphic.

create a design, add some graphics

Like with text, when you add an graphic to your canvas, the Graphic palette automatically opens. From this palette, you can control the color, fade, blend mode, and orientation of the graphic. You can also erase part of an graphic if you don’t want it in your design.

Tip: You can find specially curated selections of seasonal text, graphics, and effects in the Themes tab (the icon changes seasonally, but it’s second to the bottom).

5. Tidy things up with Alignment and Layers

We’ve got two more essential design tricks up our sleeve with the Layers and Alignment palettes.

create a design, layers

Found in the far left side of the bottom toolbar, the Layers palette lets you see all of the design elements on your canvas, including text, graphics, and images. You can reorder them in relation to one another with the arrows at the top (Bring to front, Bring forward, Send backward, and Send to back). You can also flatten all those elements into the background of your image and delete individual elements. The Layers palette is an easy way to click into an object that you want to edit.

create a design, alignment, grids

The Alignment palette helps you get your text and graphics placed and spaced nicely. You can add a customizable grid to your canvas and use it to visually place your text and graphics, or have your objects snap directly to the grid. The palette can also help you align objects in relation to one another when you enable Alignment hints.

6. Save to Hub and keep the inspiration flowing

create a design, save to hub

Congrats! You’ve made a sweet design that you can be proud of. When you’re done, you can either export it to your computer using the Export button in the top toolbar, or click Save to save it to Hub. When you save to Hub, you can continue to edit your design in PicMonkey at any time, thanks to Hub’s re-editability feature.

Don’t be sad that your design is finished! Whenever you want inspiration, design tips, or tutorials, you can find it on our blog.


Turn inspiration into action. Join now, and treat yourself to the PicMonkey creative toolkit.

Start your free trial!

Tanya Friedland
Tanya is a copywriter at PicMonkey, a company that has greatly improved her life by allowing her to Zombify her friends and Santa-ify her enemies. A native Seattleite, she dreams of one day being a contestant on The Price Is Right.