Book Cover Design Tip: Adding Depth to Text with Canva

August 13, 2017 Aesthetic craftsmanship Canva post Sarah Lentz
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One of the things I learned to do fairly recently with Canva is to add depth to the text on my book covers — without giving them a thick and ungainly drop-shadow.

Photoshop (PS) fans may point out that their program of choice makes it easy to add shadow and adjust the settings (glow, transparency, etc.) until it looks just right.

Maybe Canva doesn’t have all the features PS has, but for me and many others, it’s a heck of a lot easier and quicker to learn and use (but if you’re a die-hard Photoshop fan, I won’t hold that against you).

Still, … sometimes it helps to get tips like these from folks who’ve been using Canva longer and who have learned how to do things that maybe aren’t obvious to new designers who’ve never used any other design program.

I was one of those, by the way — which is probably why it took me a while to figure this out.

But let’s get to it, already. 

How to add depth to your text using Canva

Even though you will be doing this yourself, the more your cover looks like you paid big bucks to some designer who’s worth every penny, the better. That way, when someone looks at your cover and says, “Wow! This looks amazing! Who designed this?” You can then say to your new fan, “Oh, that old thing … It’s not one of my best, but I’m glad you like it.”

Or you can have every intention of playing it cool, only to squeak loudly (stupid nerves) and then clear your throat noisily, struggle to regain control of your emotions, and then smile and say, “Oh, … well … I designed that myself” and bite your lip so hard you nearly draw blood as you wait for confirmation that the one who just praised your work still likes it. Sad, I know, but so much more relatable (to me, anyway).

Ahem. Let’s get to work!

Open Canva, create a new design (or open one you already have), and select the text function.

Canva Kindle cover template

I clicked on “Add Heading,” and since I have Bebas Neue set as the font for new headings, it pasted a text field in that font right onto my Kindle cover template. 

What I did next was change the text to the word “Aesthetic,” change the font to “Jasmine” and change the font size to 144. I then changed the color to the turquoise shade stored in my “Your Brand” color palette (which comes with the paid version: Canva For Work).

Canva Text Feature

Next, I made sure my text was still selected and clicked on the word “Copy” in the upper right of the editing bar. So, now I have two identical “Aesthetic” text fields.

Canva copy text

Next, I grabbed hold of that copy and slid it right over the original to stack them. Then, I zoomed in by clicking on the plus sign on the lower right corner of the editing screen. See below.

Now that I can see my two stacked text fields more clearly, I can make the new layer darker — either black or a darker shade of turquoise.


So, after making that new text layer black, I can grab hold of the little half-circle at the right edge of the text field and pull it a bit more to the right, so my darker “Aesthetic” will expose the lighter turquoise just a bit to its left — as you can see below.


Next, I’ll go to the “Arrange” button on the upper right side of the editing bar (just to the right of “Copy”), click on it, and select “Back” to push the darker layer to the back of the lighter one.

Now that I’ve done this, and my turquoise “Aesthetic” is now back on top, I can adjust the transparency of the darker layer (still selected, as shown by my color swatch on the editing bar) by going to the transparency tool to the right of “Arrange.”

I’ll slide the ball on the transparency scale until I get the look I want — just enough shadow to give the word more depth without making it look too harsh — though it really depends on the background and on the effect I’m going for. I’ll add an image, now, to see how well my text stands up to a more varied background.

I added one of the images in my ‘Upload” library and pushed it to the back of the text, using the “Arrange” feature, clicking on “Back” until both layers of text came to the front of the image.


I may decide, at this point, to go back to my darker layer and adjust its transparency again. I could even increase the overlap (if I wanted to) by grabbing hold of its edge again and pulling it to the right a bit more — or to the left to reduce the overlap).

To select the darker layer, I’d click on the text again, and it should show the uppermost layer — which will be the turquoise “Aesthetic.” I’ll go to “Arrange,” push that layer to the back of the darker one, click on the image and then back on the text. Now, my upper layer should be the darker one, and I can push it back again and adjust the transparency or the overlap (or both) while it’s still selected. Once I’ve clicked elsewhere, though, if I re-click on the text, it’ll select the uppermost layer again.

It’s not the easiest way to do things, and some programs will show the different layers and allow you to click on the one you want without pushing others to the background. But no design program has everything. 

For the featured image on this post, I added the word “Craftsmanship” — partly to show how adding an extra layer and adjusting the overlap and transparency can make text stand out against a background of a similar color. At thumbnail view, though, that word is pretty much invisible. So, for the cover of my new journal idea, I gave it a darker color that contrasted nicely with the turquoise.

Your turn! Has this post been helpful to you, or do you think it would help someone else you know? Is there anything else you’d like to learn how to do on Canva? Please let me know in a comment.

You can also email me at or reach out to me on Facebook or Twitter. 

Thank you for reading, and have a great week!


Book Cover Design Tip: Adding Depth to Text with Canva

By Sarah Lentz

Writing and designing book covers are two of Sarah Lentz's favorite things. She lives in Minnesota with her husband, their four kids, and two messy but adorable guinea pigs.


  1. Reply

    Lisa Smith

    Hi Sarah,
    I Love Canva so much. Although Canva doesn’t have all the features Photoshop has, But many many necessary tools are included in canva.
    I am a graphic designer , i am designing for my clients company since 2016 by using Canva.
    Great thanks for sharing this awesome post dear.
    __Lisa Smith

    1. Reply

      Sarah Lentz

      Thank you, Lisa! Canva has pretty much everything I need for what I do, though I know it doesn’t do everything. 😉 It’s good to know of a graphic designer who uses it for her professional work, though. Thanks so much for taking the time to read my post and comment on it! Have a great weekend!! 🙂

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