8 Canva AI tools to improve your design workflow | Zapier (2023)

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 are 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.

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 (à la Photoshop), 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. Earlier in the year, Canva released a flurry of new tools, including:

  • Text to Image

  • Magic Eraser

  • Magic Edit

  • Magic Write

  • Magic Design

  • Presentations

  • Beat Sync

  • Translate

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.

Exploring Canva's latest AI tools

Before we dive in, it's worth mentioning that many of Canva's AI features—including Text to Image, Magic Edit, Magic Design, Presentations, and Beat Sync—are available to all users for free.

For certain tools, though, Canva gives users on a free plan trial access before requiring a paid upgrade to Canva Pro. For example, free users get a total of 25 queries for Magic Write, while paid users get 250 queries per month. And Canva Translate gives free users a total of 50 pages of translation, while paid users can translate up to 500 pages each month.

The only tools on this list that are exclusively for paid Canva users are Magic Eraser and Background Remover.

1. Text to Image

Text to Image is Canva's answer to generative AI tools like DALL·E 2 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."

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.

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:

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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:

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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!

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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 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.

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.

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5. Magic Design

In the past, creating designs in Canva meant combing through their 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.

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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.

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6. 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 Presentations by Magic Design 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.

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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.

7. Beat Sync

When you watch well-produced Instagram Reels or TikTok videos with audio, you'll notice that the visuals tend to correspond with its 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.

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8. 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.

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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.

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 Eraser, Magic Edit, Magic Design, and Beat Sync massively reduce the time investment needed to create content. But an even bigger impact may be enhanced creativity. Tools like Text to Image 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.

Related reading:

  • The best AI video generators

  • How to generate blog images with DALL-E and Zapier

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

  • The best AI photo editors

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