Make a cycle diagram to show how one event flows to another using Canva’s online diagram tools

Visualize the flow or steps of a cyclical process

Cycle diagrams are used for all sorts of processes and series of events. You can use one to show the flow of money in an economy, the way resources move through a production process, or the life cycle of an idea. The key to a cycle diagram is that there is no beginning or end, one step follows another repeatedly. 

Cycle diagrams are normally circular, though they don’t have to be. With a little creative thought, almost any shape can be used. The key is to clearly show how one phase flows to the next, and so on. Using Canva’s drag-and-drop design tools as well as ready-made templates, you can easily create a cycle diagram for any purpose or need. Simply choose one of the templates to start with then edit the text, colors or images to fit your vision. 

5 steps to create the perfect Cycle Diagram

  1. Create a new Canva account to get started with your own cycle diagram design.
  2. Choose from our library of professionally created templates.
  3. Upload your own photos or choose from over 1 million stock images.
  4. Fix your images, add stunning filters and edit text.
  5. Save and share.

Customize any template and make it your own.

  1. Change the images. Upload your own images or choose from our stock library of over 1 million photographs, graphics and illustrations.
  2. Change the fonts. Choose from over 130 fresh fonts.
  3. Change the background. Choose a background from our library or use an image.
  4. Change the colors. Change the color of your text boxes and text to add extra flair.

Workout how many steps you need before you start

The key to a cycle diagram is that it’s repetitive – it never ends. That means the ‘last’ step links up with the ‘first.’ So you’ll need to work out how many steps you need before you begin. Once you know how many you need, name them and put them in the correct order, before you start your design. It’ll save lots of problems later if you get it right from the start.

Thanks to Canva’s library of templates, however, creating a cycle diagram would require only a few clicks, drags and text editing. Our team of amazing designers has already done the heavy lifting for you in terms of layout, you need only add your own edits to turn it into a perfect fit.

Use colors to distinguish one step from the other

You could give every stage in your cycle diagram a different color. If so, choose colors that work well together. Canva’s default palette has colors that complement each other well. But you could choose contrasting colors – those that are opposite each other on the color wheel too. Colors can also be used to group stages in a cycle.

To change an element, shape or text’s color simply click to select it, then click on the color tool on the editor toolbar. You can choose from the pre-chosen color palette or choose from any hue on the color wheel. If you want to make your design consistent with your branding guidelines and know the specific hex code, you can also key it in or paste it into the provided field.

Use arrows to illustrate flow and continuity

Cycle diagrams are all about movement. They illustrate how stages move from one to the next. And nothing demonstrates movement like an arrow. It guides the viewer’s eye and leads them around the diagram. Canva has lots of different styles of arrows to choose from. Take time to explore them and then when you’ve found the perfect one, customize your chosen arrow for your diagram.

To find and use arrows, head over to the Elements tab and click on the Lines folder. Choose from the selection of arrow shapes and click or drag it into your design to add it. You can also the search bar to find more arrow options.


Do I need to download Canva to create a cycle diagram?

You won’t need to download Canva to start designing. Simply head on over to, create an account and log in. If you want to design on the go, download our free iPhone, iPad or Android apps from the App Store or Google Play.

Can I edit my cycle diagram after I’ve saved it?

From time to time, you might need to update a text or step in your cycle diagram. With Canva, you can edit and save your designs as many times as you like. Every time you create a new collage it will appear in the “My Designs” section of your Canva homepage.

How can I share or download my cycle diagram?

Once you’re finished designing your cycle diagram, you can share your design straight from Canva or download it for printing.

To share your design, click on the Share button then choose whether to email your design to specific people, post your finished design via social media, or even embed it on your blog or website.

To download your design, click on the Download button then choose the file type (JPEG, PNG, PDF – Standard or PDF – Print).