Because you’re reading this, we imagine you’re the type of person who takes visual impact seriously.
We’re also betting that you might’ve dabbled in posting images to social media, and you might even be trying to build your very own brand.
We love that, ‘cause it means you’re our kind of people.
Unfortunately though, designing impactful graphics isn’t easy. And neither’s building a brand that’s consistent.
So, we thought we’d write this post about filters.
Why filters? Because funnily enough, using filters properly is kind of like cheating your way to better graphics and more consistent branding. It’s like having a pro-design trick up your sleeve.
It’s a trick we use at Canva. We uses filters on a lot of the images we post to Canva’s social media to ensure they look amazing and are consistent. Below are four that clearly meet those criteria, all overlayed with a Nordic filter, which ties them to a consistent aesthetic.
Of course, to achieve the desired effect with filters, you’ve got to be able to use them properly.
Step 1 — Start a design
Luckily/unluckily for you, we think that the best way you’ll learn how to use filters in Canva is to actually just start using them.
So, once you’ve signed up to Canva (or if you’re already subscribed), click here to open a blank social media graphic design canvas.
Step 2 — Upload a photo or choose one from the Canva library
Once you have your blank canvas open, upload your own photo, or pick one from the Canva library, which you can edit along with us.
Upload your own
Watch this video to see how easy it is to upload your own photo:
Use one from the Canva library
Or, to find one in the Canva library, use a keyword to search for one in the search bar. You’ll have access to thousands of pictures in a split second
Just want to use free photos from the Canva library? Too easy, just navigate to the Elements tab on your design tools panel and select “Free Photos”:
Once you’ve found a photo you like, drag it over to your blank canvas and if you need to, adjust its size by pulling the ends to make it fit the canvas.
Step 3 — Add your first filter
The last thing we want you to do before we get started is to add your first filter. To do that, just click anywhere on your photo, and a gray bar will appear displaying several options. One of them’s filter. Canva has over 14 filters, with several variations, but feel free to just pick one for now.
Photo filters help add that extra edge and oomph to your photos. They can convert a dull sunset into an exceptionally amazing view.
They’re also responsible for making your everyday food look like it just came out of a Michelin-starred restaurant.
Filters are basically preset photo effects that can help you turn your pictures into social media worthy pictures in a few seconds. Since these photo effects are already preset, you don’t have to scratch your head thinking about technical aspects of each photo like hue, saturation, contrast or tint.
Every photo tells a different story, and a filter can help you express it.
The photo filters in Canva have been carefully and meticulously created to help you add that much-needed shine to your pictures. And you don’t just get to choose the filters; you also get to play around with each setting of the filter to make it absolutely perfect for your photos.
In this article, we’ll share 15 ways Canva can be used to win with filters.
Want to use the images featured in this article? Just click on them— most will open up in your own Canva account, for you to use right away.
Have you ever wondered why you always think of McDonald’s when you see yellow and red in combination?
It’s because McDonald’s has a flawlessly consistent brand, which makes it immediately recognizable.
Is your brand consistent?
And when we say ‘your brand’, we don’t just mean your logo. Instead, are all the photos and graphics you publish, either on your blog, on social, or elsewhere, consistent?
Because if they’re not, it’s dangerous to expect your brand to be consistent.
And if your brand isn’t consistent, then you have a serious, serious problem. Because imagine if for the past 25 years McDonald’s changed their brand colors every six months and the golden arches to a different letter of the alphabet once a year?
Brand consistency builds trust, familiarity and reliability, three of the most important ingredients you’ll need to launch and/or maintain a successful business in today’s digital world.
So, in short, brand inconsistency = stunted business growth.
Fortunately, we’re here to help. We’ll let you in on a little Canva secret that will guarantee that from now on, every image or photo you publish to the world will be brand consistent.
The secret? Filter codes.
You know color hex codes? These six-digit codes beginning with a #, used to represent every color imaginable:
Well, Canva has the same thing for filters.
After you make your own branded photo filter in Canva, you can copy its filter code and use it for ALL the photos and images you design in Canva.
And the best part?
You can be as creative as you want with your branded filter. Spend a few hours tinkering with Canva’s filter settings until you settle on the perfect one, unique for your brand. Copying filter codes guarantees that you won’t ever have to spend the same time figuring out the settings again.
So, how do you create and use your own branded filter in Canva?
Step 1: Create your filter
To create a filter code, let’s go back to the same image we added above. For my photo, I wanted to make the colors pop and stand out. So, the first thing I did was increase the contrast:
(Note: You’ll notice the filter code at the bottom of the filter settings pane).
Returning to my design, I needed a little more pop of color, so I decided to increase the saturation as well (Pro tip: If you want to make pictures black and white, take saturation to the minimum).
I decided to skip on the tint because I wanted both blue and green to come out separately. By choosing a color as the tint, you can change the color balance of the entire picture. For instance, this is how the picture would look with a yellow tint.
Back to our original photo, to get a sharper image, I decreased the blur.
And just to add a little bit of drama to the whole photo, I increased the X-Process. The last setting option — Vignette — adds shadows to the images that start from the edges. This can be useful when you have your object right at the center of the photo.
And just like that, you have your own personalized filter:
Step 2: Use your filter code
Now that you’ve created your filter, it’s time to use it. As we mentioned above, you’ll find your code at the very bottom of the filter settings pane:
To use it for other designs in Canva, highlight the numerical code and copy it. Then, when you’re in another design, just paste the code into the same field and your branded filter will appear over the new design.
BONUS: Use a lot of travel photography? Use this filter code: 648f78644f007f32 to transform your graphics, like I’ve done here:
Here’s a free template we put together in Canva with this filter code:
BONUS: Use a lot of fashion photography? Use this filter code: 71968e6450009132 to transform your graphics, like I’ve done here:
Here’s a free template we put together in Canva with this filter code:
Now that you’re on top of how filters can be used to achieve brand consistency, we’ll spend the rest of the article delving into some of Canva’s most popular filters and we’ll give you some tips on how to use them, and what photos they’re best used for.
Remember, you can use ANY of the images/designs featured below in your Canva account by just clicking them (you’ve got to have a Canva account though, remember).
Filter code: 649b481b56007f32
Rosie is one of my personal favorite filters because it takes your photos and turns them into very polaroid-looking 90s pictures and it’s all because of that gorgeous red tint.
The contrast is high, and the saturation is low, meaning the color intensity is lowered which is why the picture has a vintage feel to it
The intensity setting at the top of the filter settings will increase or decrease the total intensity of the picture (changing this setting will change all of them in that left-hand settings pane).
What would I use Rosie for? Fashion photos, landscapes, and those sunset views that aren’t as good as you imagined but you want your friends to think it was absolutely magnificent.
Filter code: 6e72763664198232
This filter can make your ordinary summer pictures look like you just spent the summer in Europe, and that’s all because of the orange tint in this filter.
The brightness, contrast, and saturation are just slightly increased to brighten up the picture and to make the colors come out.
The Vignette blurs out the edges so that the focus remains entirely on the object in the middle. You can adjust the Vignette, according to the size of the main object in the photo.
What would I use Summer for? Portraits and photos from my last beach vacation.
Filter code: 7a368a2a64007f32
Now Cali is great for brightening up those old pictures with low light that you never thought of using just because they lacked the much-needed intensity.
In this filter, the brightness is of course pumped up, and the contrast is decreased furthermore to increase the effect of brightness.
Adding so much light to your photos can sometimes lead to loss of color, but it doesn’t happen with Cali because the Saturation levels are increased as well.
For this photo, I decided to add an orange tint to make it seem like the picture was taken at dawn. (That is an Instagram hack right there !)
What would I use Cali for? Low-light pictures, photos from date nights and photographs that could have been very good if the sun shade hadn’t ruined them.
Filter code: 6e797c645d008c32
We have all seen those envious food posts on Instagram. Even when the picture on your feed is from the nearest Starbucks, it looks like it’s from a high-end café in France.
Well, this is where Canva’s Festive filter can help you.
This filter adds more brightness, contrast and saturation to the photo. It also decreases blur, which increases the sharpness.
All these little factors help in brightening up the colors in the photo. The X-Process, in the end, helps strengthen these separated colors and boost the hues in the picture.
But, if you thought the Festive filter was only suitable for food pictures then you are absolutely wrong. Here is the picture we used in the Summer filter and it looks equally amazing.
What would I use Festive for? Food posts, outdoor pictures that lack color and fashion photos.
Filter code: 6a78566465279632
Epic is also one of my favorites because it can give the city shots that post-apocalyptic and superhero movie look.
With less saturation and more contrast, the pictures go a little dark, but the whole drama is added to it by X-process.
The Vignette blurs and darkens the edges to put the focus on the object in the center, which in this case is the Empire State building.
What would I use Epic for? Wide city clicks, snow clad mountain photos and foodgrams..
Since the filter has such high X-process, it’s also perfect for foodgrams.
Filter code: 5d7905645d326432
Street filter is a gritty twist to the basic black and white filter.
The classic grayscale filters increase the brightness while completely taking down the saturation to make the photo lose all its colors. The photo is bright, and yet, it is still black and white.
But, with Street, the brightness is further reduced to give the whole picture a more grittier and darker look.
What would I use Street for? Fashion shoots, portraits and landscapes.
Filter code: 8f552f155115a032
The Whimsical filter adds a pinkish-red tint to your photos, and it completely fills them up with light. The saturation levels are lowered down to really make the tint pop out.
The sharpness is also increased, but the reason you see a slight blur in the photo is because the Vignette is enhanced as well.
You can adjust the Vignette according to the placement of your object in the photo. This would be a great filter to add some warmth to pictures with mostly cold colors.
What would I use Whimsical for? Summer photos, beach vacations and romantic couple portraits.
Filter code: 5a7942a06432b432
Have too much warmth in your pictures?
Canva has got the right filter to fix that as well. Drama has a blue tint and with the help of this filter, you can make your photos look cooler.
The saturation levels are lowered in this one too. It helps the blue tint take the center stage. The increased X-process enhances the hues.
What would I use Drama for? Basically any photo that needs a more edgier and grittier look.
Filter code: 6e4c7e952f008132
Edge is another filter with a blue tint, but the tint isn’t as noticeable here as it was in the Drama filter, because the saturation here is high.
That is why the colors after the filter has been processed are much more brighter.
What would I use Edge for? Low-light pictures, mountain filled and beach photographs.
Filter code: 7350006457006722 or 725000be64226432 (with purple tint)
Some pictures look way more better when they are in black and white, and that is when you need Grayscale.
The saturation is completely turned off, and the brightness is slightly increased to add some light to the photos.
But, if you are not exactly in mood for a classic black and white photo, you can also give this filter your own take by selecting a tint and adding a vignette.
What would I use Grayscale for? Portraits, fashion shoots and macro photos.
Filter code: 7354506464006432
Nordic is another vintage filter, and it reminds me of old pictures from newspapers.
To make the photos look old school, the saturation is starkly decreased, and brightness is increased. This will be a great filter if you want your pictures to give an 80’s and 90’s vibe.
What would I use Nordic for? Any photo that is screaming for a vintage touch.
Filter code: 646452946428a932
Every Instagram account needs at least one food picture, a pet picture, and a polaroid style picture. Retro is the perfect filter for that.
It doesn’t play around much with brightness or contrast. But it sets a specific tint and increases the hue in the picture to give it that signature Polaroid look.
The Vignette makes the picture look more authentic with the slight blur.
In this photo, I changed the tint from default green to blue to enhance it even more.
What would I use Retro for? Fashion photos, pet pictures, food clicks and landscapes.
Filter code: 6e58583264389632
Let’s be honest, half of the pictures we upload on social media are selfies.
And they are not just any selfies; you need to click at least 20 pictures to get that one perfect selfie which can be finally uploaded online.
The Selfie filter on Canva has a red-ish tint and high hues to give your face that glow which can get you all those likes you deserve.
What would I use Selfie for? My selfies, obviously. But, portraits as well, because this filter can really brighten up faces.
Filter code: a33f4a6456004d32
The Blues filter completely brightens up photos. The contrast and saturation are reduced to give a very 1950s affect.
And, it has no tint or hues to it as well. Basically, with this filter you can simplify your photos.
What would I use The Blues? Landscapes, sunset and sunrise shots.
Now that you know all the filters Canva has and how to use them, it’s your turn to try them out. Filters are always fun and you can make a million variations to a single filter. Don’t forget to comment and let us know which filter is your favorite.