AUGUST 2020 UPDATE: Many accounts are seeing the rollout of various, new Canva text effects. These are “one-click” options that allow for easy shadowing, and more. There is not an “outline” option, but I found you can easily achieve an outline through one of the other abilities. It’s quick and easy, take a look:
Canva is awesome. I don’t even have to ask opinions…we can all just agree and move on.
But, for as much work they’ve put into helping non-design professionals create stunning graphics, there are some face-slappingly obvious features that don’t exist.
I’m sure there are good reasons as to why such features are missing, but for someone putting the final touches on a project, only to not be able to simply outline text with a click of a button to finish up is a bit silly.
So, I’ve put this tutorial together as a workaround. Murphy’s law will probably lead to Canva rolling out the feature the day after this goes live, but so be it. Here are a few other hacks and shortcuts, if you needed them, along with guidance on how to put a white border around a design in Canva.
When I first put this together, I received a lot of feedback that it isn’t outlining, but more shadowing. While I somewhat agreed, you can achieve an outline look if you line up your layers properly. But, just to help clear the air, I tinkered a bit, found a better way, and have now rewritten everything for better use.
With that, here you go!
How to Outline Text in Canva
1. Create Text
Go to the “Create a Design” button and choose a new layout, and then add text. If you already have a design in progress, you can certainly use that; just select the text.
Here I’m using Knewave font, size 88.
2. Create a Copy of Your Text
Once you’re happy with your text, go ahead and create a copy. You can do so by selecting the layer and clicking “ctrl” or “command” + “c” to copy and then “ctrl” or “command” + “v” to paste (make sure you’re only selecting the layer, and are not inside the editable text box). I personally find it easier to simply select the layer and then click the “copy” button on the top right of the screen.
3. Change the Color of One Text Layer
Now that you have two identical text layers, select one (doesn’t matter which). Navigate up to the “Pick a Color” box and choose the color you want for your outline.
I chose white:
4. Make Multiple Layers of Shadow Text
Now, this is the fun part. With the “shadow” layer – in this case, blue – you’re going to want to continue to copy and paste multiple layers, moving each layer on top of the original to create a growing shadow that gets bulkier and bulkier. We are doing this to ensure the shadow layer encompasses the white layer placed on top.
The trick is to keep the symmetry of the letters in tact. What I mean by that, is, if you just place a few copies, you’ll see certain letter or parts of letters getting out of whack; uneven, really. So then, when you place your white layer, the shadow isn’t symmetrical, and it’s not going to look great.
Here’s an example (again, a bad example):
5. Keep Copying Laters Until Outline is Full
From here, the rest is really up to you, as you now have the freedom to keep making your shadow layer larger and larger to your heart’s content.
For example, here is the original text on top, and then the multiple layered text on the bottom.
Then, when you add the white layer, voila!
Now, the amount of work you put in is going to depend on the font, where some fonts make this outline effect in Canva really easy and nice looking, and others make it really difficult, requiring either thicker shadow layers, or some cheating to fill in gaps and jagged edges.
Here are is an examples with a different font.
Anyway, super easy, but never as easy as simply clicking a shortcut button, when the feature arrives (if ever). There’s a video walkthrough at the end, too. Please feel free to ask questions if you get stuck!
Full disclosure, as an affiliate, I receive compensation if you make a purchase through these links; there’s no extra charge to you.