The development of low cost and DIY applications is nothing new. Postscript interpretation capability has traditionally been the barrier between usable applications like Adobe Creative Suite and unusable applications like Publisher. As less expensive options develop, they are becoming more functional, but the rules of physics still apply, and the basics of graphic design must be heeded to arrive at the desired result. Do not expect to get the full capabilities of Adobe Creative Suite for a third of the price or less. If you decide to go that way, make sure you know that the rules of the road still apply.
More often, non-designer customers are tackling their own basic layout and design for things like posters and banners using Canva.com. While the skills of a professional designer may seem trivial to some, the learning curve is steep and the cost of mistakes can be stiff. Here is a list of basic large format printing requirements and links to Canva Support to help you navigate how to get what you and your printer need to produce a an acceptable result. Remember that when you take on the role of designer, the responsibility for file integrity lands on your desk.
Set up the Document Size to your final print size or a simple scale such as half or quarter size. If you use a scale this will affect your effective image resolution requirements. Canva has maximum page dimensions that should be followed. Click here for further instructions from Canva Support.
If you have an existing design in Canva that you’re looking to enlarge, it’s best to keep the enlargement in proportion to the original size, stretching artwork and fonts in one dimension to fit a size often has a negative effect on the aesthetics and legibility of your piece. Most large format printing companies do not have off the shelf sizes, so unless you have to fit a specific frame or space you can create your project to any custom size.
Image Resolution for placed photos and graphics should be between 72-100 dpi at final print size for large format printing, you’ll have to check the properties of your images before placing them into Canva. See our article on High Resolution Images for instructions.
When printing your large format project your printer will need to understand where to trim the edge of your design and bleed is required to insure that your image is finished properly. Here are some support links from Canva to help you design and output your designs with bleeds and crop marks. For further help from Canva Support click Show Margins and Bleed or Apply Crop Marks and Bleed.
Some print vendors may require you to convert your fonts to outlines, or will not accept RGB files. Talk with your vendor on how best to convert your Canva PDF to a flat highres file or converting to CMYK, they may prefer to do it for you before you try any online tools.