• Home

  • Productivity

  • App tips

App tips

14 min read

Canva AI: How to use Canva AI tools to enhance your designs

Create, edit, and improve your design workflow with these Canva AI tools.

By Ryan Kane · October 31, 2023
Hero image for app tips with the Canva logo on a purple background

When I first got my hands on Photoshop, I did the most logical thing any other 15-year-old kid would've done: I edited a family photo by swapping everyone's heads onto different bodies. It was the early days of Photoshopping, so my family was blown away. A copy of the photo even made its way onto my grandparents' fridge.

The only problem (other than the creepy head-swapping?)? It was painstaking work. It took hours.

If you're in the market to edit a family photo (or create an image out of thin air), I have good news: Canva's new suite of AI-powered tools is making design—for all sorts of mediums—way more approachable.

What used to take hours in Photoshop now takes minutes or even seconds with Canva. So, whether you're a graphic design pro or an aspiring creator, read on to learn how Canva's AI design tools are about to make your work easier.

Table of contents:

  • A primer on Canva and AI

  • How to access Canva AI

  • Is Canva AI free?

  • Can I use Canva AI designs for commercial use?

  • How to use Canva AI tools to enhance your designs

  • Canva Shield for AI peace of mind

  • Canva AI: FAQs

A primer on Canva and AI

Most legacy graphic design software, like Photoshop, was designed with professionals in mind. But Canva is different. It's a graphic design platform that has always focused on making it easy for anyone to create beautiful designs for anything from social media posts to infographics to presentations.

AI furthers this ease-of-use mission for Canva. Take their AI-powered Background Remover tool, for example. Instead of manually dragging a line around the object you want to keep, the Background Remover tool lets you delete backgrounds in one click. 

Since the launch of Background Remover in 2019, Canva's been hard at work creating more AI tools to supercharge the design process. Canva's arsenal of new AI-powered tools now includes:

  • Magic Media

  • Magic Eraser

  • Magic Edit

  • Magic Grab

  • Magic Expand

  • Magic Morph

  • Magic Write

  • Magic Design

  • Magic Animate

  • Instant Presentations

  • Beat Sync

  • Magic Design for Video

  • Translate

  • Magic Switch

I've personally tested each of these tools. Below, I'll walk you through what each tool can do and how you can use each one to speed up your workflow or enhance your creativity. If you're curious about a specific tool, feel free to jump ahead. Otherwise, keep scrolling to learn more about Canva AI.

How to access Canva AI

Canva's AI tools are conveniently grouped together within the software's "Magic Studio" section, which is prominently displayed in Canva's menu. Many of the tools—like Magic Switch and Magic Write—also show up in context as you interact with your design.

Before we dive in, it's worth mentioning that many of Canva's AI features are available exclusively on its paid Pro or Teams plans, including Magic Eraser, Background Remover, Magic Switch, Magic Morph, Magic Grab, Magic Expand, and Magic Animate.

Is Canva AI free?

Users on Canva's free plan get access to some AI features, though there are usage caps. For example, free users get a total of 50 uses for Magic Write, while paid users get 500 uses per month. And Magic Media gives free users a total of five uses of Text to Video, while paid users get 50 uses per month.

Bottom line: if you try Canva's AI features and find them helpful, you'll want to upgrade to a paid plan.

Can I use Canva AI designs for commercial use?

Canva AI allows commercial use as long as you stay within Canva's permitted uses. For example, you can create an AI-generated design in Canva, print it on merchandise, and sell it.

That said, commercial use is complicated. And the full legal implications haven't really been explored. For example, in a February 2023 ruling, the U.S. Copyright Office decided that images created by Midjourney, and by extension, other generative AIs and apps powered by generative AIs, can't be copyrighted. This means you have limited protections if someone takes your images and uses them in ways you don't want them to.

For now, Canva is attempting to address copyright infringement concerns with Canva Shield.

How to use Canva AI tools to enhance your designs

1. Magic Media

Rather than developing its own generative AI model for images and video, Canva has given its Magic Media tool serious firepower by incorporating technology from leading AI firms.

Magic Media comes in two flavors: Text to Image and Text to Video.

Text to Image

Text to Image, which is powered by Stable Diffusion, is Canva's answer to generative AI tools like DALL·E and Midjourney, which generate images based on natural text prompts. Simply describe the image you want to see, and Canva will attempt to create it.

Of course, the quality of your results will vary based on the prompts you use. Typically, the more details you provide, the better—especially when it comes to describing your image's style. Stuck on what kind of style you want? Canva also offers one-click styles, like Photo, Neon, Minimalist, Watercolor, Retro Anime, and Dreamlike.

To test out this feature, I gave Canva the following prompt: "A golden sculpture of a rabbit on a pedestal, sitting on its haunches, red background, photorealism."

AI-generated image of a golden sculpture of a rabbit on a pedestal, sitting on its haunches, red background.

Canva generates a few options to choose from. Of course, if none of the options match what you were envisioning, you can switch to a different style or rewrite your prompt.

On the surface, Text to Image feels like a replacement for stock photos. But it's actually much more powerful than that. For business owners and marketers, Text to Image lets you:

  • Generate images of products that don't exist yet

  • Brainstorm in real time rather than relying on designers to mock up your ideas

  • Create viral content with unforgettably unique images

Text to Image also integrates with Magic Edit in some interesting ways, which we'll explore later in this article.

Text to Video

I'll be honest: now that I've been using AI to generate images for a year or two, I'm a bit jaded. I take text-to-image tools for granted, and my standards are ever-higher for the images AI produces.

But Canva's Text to Video tool blew me away. Until recently, creating videos of this quality was entirely inaccessible for most people—or would have taken countless hours and painstaking work. After experimenting with this tool, it feels inevitable that Pixar and Dreamworks will soon have serious competition from small animation teams empowered by this kind of technology.

Canva's integration with Runway, one of the leaders in text-to-video AI technology, is responsible for the stunning quality of its generative video. To create a video, I used the prompt: "A small, cute robot navigating a futuristic cityscape, fantasy." You can see the result here.

2. Magic Eraser

Tweaking photos to remove unwanted objects has historically consumed a huge percentage of designers' time. That's why Magic Eraser is an absolute life-saver. It edits, in seconds, what might take designers half an hour or more to do.

Here's how you can instantly clean up your photos using Canva's Magic Eraser: select the objects you want to remove from your image, and then click on the Magic Eraser tool. Next, "paint" over your unwanted objects, and let Magic Eraser get to scrubbing.

In the image below, I used Magic Eraser to remove the lamp:

Before and after photo. The before photo shows part of a navy couch against a white, brick wall. The couch is decorated with two orange throw pillows, and there's a silver floor lamp beside the couch's arm.  In the after photo, the silver floor lamp has been edited out using Canva's Magic Eraser.

Boom. Gone.

Magic Eraser tends to work best when you're removing objects from uncomplicated backgrounds. For example, before removing the lamp, I tried to remove the two orange pillows. No luck. Magic Eraser left messy graphical artifacts behind.

Even so, this tool will likely become a staple of your graphic design toolkit, especially as it continues to improve over time. Just look at Canva's Background Remover tool, which acts similarly to Magic Eraser. Having only been around for a few years, it's impressively accurate, even with highly-detailed images. Here's what it did to the golf photo below—in just one click:

Before and after photo. The foreground of the before photo shows the back of a golfer at the end of their swing. The background is a green golf course. In the after photo, the background has been removed using Canva's Background Remover tool, leaving only a white background.

3. Magic Edit

Magic Edit is the graphic design tool you never knew you needed. With one click and a few words, you can turn one object into another—a bit like a Harry Potter spell.

Take the vanilla birthday cake in the Before image below. I simply highlighted the cake, and then described what I wanted Canva to replace the cake with. In this case, I prompted Canva to change the vanilla cake to a chocolate cake with candles. Presto, change-o! 

Before and after photo. In the before photo, one-tier vanilla cake with multicoloured confetti bordering the bottom edges and candles that read "CONGRATS." The vanilla cake is resting on the soles of a pair of violet block heels. In the after photo, the vanilla cake has been swapped for a two-tier chocolate cake with plain candles.

If nothing else, this tool is immensely fun to play around with. But it has practical functions too. If you're a marketer or designer looking to adapt images for different campaigns, you can quickly:

  • Change backgrounds from summer to winter

  • Customize product photos for different holidays

  • Modify the clothes the models in your photos are wearing

Canva Magic Edit reduces the time needed to go from an idea to a reality, making the iterative design process fast and fun.

4. Magic Grab

Magic Grab turns static images into editable images by using AI to fill in the gaps. Like Canva's Background Remover tool, it effortlessly replaces what used to be a time-intensive design process. Trust me: this will quickly become an essential part of your workflow.

Just look at how smoothly Magic Grab enables me to move and resize the subject in the below photo:

Ryan using Magic Grab to move a person around a photo

You can also use a related feature called "Grab Text" to turn static text into editable text. This feature works well enough, but its usefulness is limited—since it relies on Canva's library of fonts to emulate the static text, you won't get an exact match.

The Magic Grab feature for turning static text into editable text in Canva AI

5. Magic Expand

Magic Expand uses AI to extend the borders of your image. It's a useful feature, but because of its uneven quality, it requires tinkering to get good results.

It's particularly well-suited to extending landscapes, rather than complex backgrounds:

Using Magic Expand to expand the borders of an image with Canva AI

In my tests, Magic Expand often compensated for its lack of certainty by making the expanded background blurry. This turns out ok sometimes, but the blurriness is often noticeable enough that you won't want to use the expanded image. You'll also want to be cautious also about expanding areas of your photo that have faces and hands, since those tend to come out warped.

Using Magic Expand to expand the borders of an image with Canva AI

6. Magic Morph

Magic Morph allows you to use AI text prompts to transform your design's text, elements, and shapes. For marketing assets like social media graphics, banners, and flyers, this opens the door to unique imagery and creative approaches.

Canva is known for helping non-designers create professional designs. But while Magic Morph is fun to play with, it takes users in the other direction: it's easy to generate tacky designs that aren't particularly cohesive. Sticking to Canva's example prompts, or variations of them, tends to produce the nicest-looking results.

Using the Magic Morph feature in Canva AI to adjust the design of an image

7. Magic Write

There are dozens of AI writing tools. But until now, transferring their output into Canva involved lots of copying and pasting.

Magic Write is an AI text generator built directly into Canva, making it easier to generate long- or short-form written content for your social media posts, blog articles, and presentations. It also has built-in features for brands: users of Canva for Teams can create a brand voice, which lets Magic Write create a cohesive style across multiple team members.

As with any AI-powered writing tool, Magic Write is perfect for brainstorming and getting "unstuck" when you have writer's block. But where the tool really shines is short-form content. Let's say you need to generate posts for multiple social platforms. Instead of spending hours crafting the perfect message for each one, you can let the tool work its AI-powered magic.

Here's an example of an AI-generated Instagram post for a fictional financial services app. To create it—or, really, to let Canva create it—I selected a pre-existing Instagram template, put a few keywords in, and left the rest up to Canva.

An AI-generated Instagram graphic for a fictional financial services app created using Canva's Magic Write. The graphic shows the text of testimonial from a fictional client along with their photo.

8. Magic Design

In the past, creating designs in Canva meant combing through its impressive but overwhelming library of design templates, and then customizing them to match your images, logo, and overall aesthetic. Now, Canva's Magic Design uses AI to flip that formula around, so you can start designing with a nearly-finished product. Simply upload a photo or enter a text query that describes what you need, and Magic Design will generate relevant design templates to match. No more building from scratch. 

Considering that Magic Design can build templates for everything from YouTube thumbnails and TikTok videos to presentations and infographics, this AI tool might provides users with more time-saving potential than any other on this list. 

To test Magic Design, I dropped in a photo of Honolulu along with the title "9 jaw-dropping Hawaii travel itineraries." For the style, I selected Travel. From there, Magic Design quickly spun up a buffet of design templates for Facebook posts, Instagram stories, and more.

A series of AI-generated Hawaii-themed design templates created using Canva's Magic Design.

You can also home in on a specific media type, like Instagram posts, and have Magic Design create multiple templates for that specific media. This way, you can choose the design that works best for you.

A series of AI-generated Hawaii-themed design templates for Instagram posts created using Canva's Magic Design.

9. Magic Animate

I wasn't prepared to be impressed by Magic Animate—heck, I've been making text and images fly across the screen with Microsoft PowerPoint since the late '90s. But as a result of its AI integration, Canva's animation tool brings something refreshingly new to the table.

In the past, I'd normally animate each element on the screen one-by-one, or rely on a pre-animated template to make life easier. But Magic Animate automatically sets animations for each object in a way that makes them all flow well together. It also gives you a dozen or so animation styles to choose from and some basic controls, like speed and positioning.

Using Magic Animate in Canva AI to automatically create animations

10. Instant Presentations

Instant Presentations is a Magic Design feature that lets you generate entire presentations from a single text prompt.

That's right—no more rushing to finish your presentation the night before your big meeting. In a last-minute "dog ate my homework" scenario, you could theoretically generate a simple presentation at 8:59 a.m., and present it, literally, a minute later.

It's worth mentioning that Canva can't generate a full-fledged presentation for you—at least not yet. But it'll take care of the design and your first draft, meaning all you have to do is fill in the gaps with a few extra details (and maybe a few more slides).

To put Instant Presentations to the test, I gave it the same Hawaii-themed prompt mentioned above: "9 jaw-dropping Hawaii travel itineraries." In less than 10 seconds, it put together a 10-slide presentation complete with an intro slide and slides for each itinerary, including a relevant image, title, and brief description of each itinerary.

An AI-generated, 10-slide presentation created using Presentations by Magic Design.

The main limitation so far is brevity. Based on my testing, it seems that Presentations by Magic Design are capped at a maximum of 10 slides, and their AI doesn't generate much text. Even so—by outsourcing the first draft of your presentation to Canva, you can easily save an hour or two of presentation prep work. It's a pretty fantastic starting point, if you ask me.

11. Beat Sync

When you watch well-produced Instagram Reels or TikTok videos with audio, you'll notice that the visuals tend to correspond with the accompanying beats. Why? Because viewers are more likely to stay engaged when the visuals match the beat. 

Here's the problem: syncing the beat is a tedious process (just ask your 15-year-old cousin). It involves manually tweaking the timing of multiple audio and video clips over and over again.

Beat Sync uses AI to take the pain out of this process while producing a professionally polished end product. With this feature, even amateur creators can "harmonize" their videos in seconds.

As an inexperienced video editor, I found Beat Sync surprisingly easy to use. To test it, I spliced multiple Canva stock videos together and added an audio track. Then I clicked Beat Sync to automatically match my video clips to the rhythm of the music, lengthening or shortening the audio as needed.

Video editor screen in Canva. At the bottom of the screen is a video timeline and an audio track.

12. Magic Design for Video

Canva's Magic Design for Video continues a trend I'm seeing with Canva's AI features: when applied to video, they're even more useful and time-saving than when they're applied to static text and images.

Like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat, Magic Design for Video takes your raw content and—voilà—returns a social media-ready video, complete with captions, animations, and synced music.

To get started, you just upload the files you want to use:

Uploading files for Canva's Magic Design for Video

Magic Design uses AI to identify the contents of your photos and video, allowing it to put everything in an order that makes sense and add appropriate captions. You'll want to make one or two tweaks to the final result to make sure it's hitting the right notes—but in my tests, I found that the AI-produced video got me 95% of the way there.

Using Magic Design for Video in Canva

13. Translate

With Canva Translate, you can translate your content into multiple languages (134 to be exact), including French, Tagalog, and Xhosa. While there are other AI translation tools out there, having the ability to translate your work within Canva is a serious time-saver.

I asked Translate to change my Hawaii itinerary presentation from English to Spanish. Conveniently enough, it translated my text and automatically adjusted the text size to fit my existing design. Not as conveniently, it only seemed to be able to translate one slide at a time.

One slide of a presentation for a Hawaiian itinerary. The text on the slide has been translated from English to Spanish using Canva Translate.

As with many of these Canva AI tools, I think the biggest beneficiary of Canva Translate will be social media teams. Just imagine the potential for global reach—with less effort. 

14. Magic Switch

Magic Switch solves a serious pain point I've had with Canva up until now: the struggle of moving and resizing objects after changing the dimensions of my designs. (For example, from Instagram Post size to Instagram Story size). Doing this manually is tedious work.

Magic Switch takes away this annoyance, automatically resizing each element in your design and making it painless to expand one piece of content into a multichannel campaign.

For example, you can:

  • Turn a presentation into a series of Instagram posts

  • Convert a YouTube thumbnail into a Facebook ad

  • Turn a blog post into an Instagram Reel

Add in the ability to auto-translate into new languages—from English-language blog posts to Spanish-language TikTok videos—and you've got a seriously productive multichannel marketing tool.

Using Magic Switch in Canva AI to turn a presentation into an Instagram post and summary doc

Canva Shield for AI peace of mind

As AI tools have grown more popular, so have lawsuits against AI firms: authors have sued OpenAI, record labels have sued Anthropic, and artists have sued Stability AI and Midjourney. The chief claim driving these lawsuits is copyright infringement. There are worries among users of AI tools (particularly enterprise users) that they may be sued, too.

Canva attempts to address these concerns with Canva Shield, which promises that:

  • Enterprise customers will be indemnified against intellectual property claims.

  • The work of Canva users will not be used to train Canva's AI (unless users opt-in)

  • Canva will conduct rigorous safety reviews to moderate inappropriate AI content

Canva isn't the first to come up with a policy like this—Adobe started offering intellectual property indemnity in June of 2023—but the policy is a good one, and it's increasingly necessary for users' peace of mind.

The impact of Canva's AI design tools

Given its customizable templates and easy-to-use interface, Canva's strength has always been making design more accessible to non-designers. Now, with this new suite of AI-powered design tools, Canva's taking things to the next level.

Tools like Magic Switch, Magic Write, Magic Edit, and Magic Animate massively reduce the time investment needed to create content. But an even bigger impact may be enhanced creativity. Magic Media and Magic Design are transforming the ideation process for designers and non-designers alike. Now anyone can conceptualize an idea and create a proof of concept in a matter of minutes.

So whether you want to speed up your design workflows or you're simply curious about what's possible, the time to test drive Canva's AI features is now—because this suite of tools is changing the design game.

How to use Canva AI tools: FAQs

Still have questions about Canva AI? Check out the answers to these frequently asked questions so you can get the most out of AI in your design workflows.

Does Canva use AI?

Yes, Canva leverages AI in an impressive suite of AI-powered design tools. To access these tools, go to Canva's Magic Studio.

Can Canva generate AI presentations?

You can use Canva's Magic Design feature to create a presentation, complete with an outline, slides, and content, using a single text prompt. 

Does Canva have an AI image generator?

Canva uses the AI image generator, Stable Diffusion, to power its Magic Media tool. With Magic Media, all you have to do is describe the image you want to see, and Canva will attempt to create it. 

Does Canva have an AI voiceover?

Canva allows you to convert text to speech—up to 1,000 characters per speech conversion—using the built-in Murf AI app integration.

Related reading: 

  • The best AI video generators

  • Stable Diffusion vs. DALL·E 2: Which is better?

  • The best AI photo editors

  • The best photo editors for iPhone and Android

  • How to create social media graphics in Buffer using the Canva integration

This article was originally published in April 2023. The most recent update was in October 2023.

Get productivity tips delivered straight to your inbox

We’ll email you 1-3 times per week—and never share your information.


Related articles

Improve your productivity automatically. Use Zapier to get your apps working together.

Sign up
A Zap with the trigger 'When I get a new lead from Facebook,' and the action 'Notify my team in Slack'