One of the biggest trends in product photography to date is flat lay photography.
It is an excellent way to aesthetically showcase your products to potential customers.
In fact, we’ve seen big companies like Apple, H&M, and eBay use flat lay photography for their digital marketing graphics or website banners.
And there is a way you make them for your product images without doing an actual flat lay shoot.
In this post, we’ll be showing you how to create quality flat lay photography style images for your products using Canva.
Since we are doing photo manipulation today, you will need to have quality front-facing images of your product.
You don’t need expensive photography equipment to achieve this though.
In fact, we actually do have a previous post on how to make quality product shots using your phone.
So if you want, you can go check that out and circle back to this guide once you have your front-facing product shots.
We’re going to make flat lay style photography images in two ways today.
One is using an empty canvas, and the other is editing a flat lay style image and incorporating our product into that image.
So without further delay, let’s get started!
- When it comes to designing flat lay photography, you should always base its surroundings on what you can associate your products with the most.
- We recommend adding grids to contain your image if you have more than one background to add to any design in Canva.
- Canva was not made with advanced photo manipulation in mind, and Photoshop is still the king of that.
Steps In Making Flat Lay Photography
Step 1: Let’s start by setting up a canvas here in Canva.
For this guide, we’re making our images for social media posts so we’re sticking with the 1:1 ratio.
Click on “Create a design”, then custom dimensions, and type in 1080×1080 pixels.
Of course, you might be making your flat lays for different purposes, so the size will vary on what you’ll use your flat lay photography for.
If you’re going to be using your image for a Facebook cover photo or a website banner…
…you’re better off setting up the canvas to the actual dimensions of what you’ll be using your image for.
That is rather than making a single-size flat lay and cropping it to serve different purposes.
Speaking of a Facebook cover photo, we have a tutorial here on how to design Facebook cover photo for your business.
Be sure to read that one too.
Step 2: For this guide, we’re using our mock brand Koffee Kat, as we have in previous tutorials, which is a brand that sells coffee beans.
At this point, you should have your own product images ready in a folder to be imported into Canva.
Once we’ve loaded our images in, we can go ahead and start designing.
Step 3: When it comes to designing flat lay photography, it’s important to tell the story of your product.
And you should always base its surroundings on what you can associate your products with the most.
In this case that would be coffee beans, cakes, cookies, sandwiches. etc. It also helps to look at Pinterest for inspiration.
Once we’ve found a few reference images we like, we can go ahead and make similar setups with our product.
So we like this sample and we think we’ll make something similar with our product with coffee beans, as the element repeating on its sides.
Step 4: Starting with the background, we’re typing in “colored paper”, and we’re selecting a color that fits well with our brand.
Now, we’ll add in our product image and set it up in the center. We also want our product to cast a shadow.
For this image, we want the light source to be coming from the bottom part, so the shadow will be directed to the top part of our image.
Step 5: You can create object shadows in Canva by doing this:
Duplicate your subject image (CMD +c and CMD +v or CTRL +c and CTRL +v for PCs) and send it to the back of your canvas.
You can do this by right-clicking it and selecting “Send to back”, or using shortcut keys (CMD+[ or CTRL+alt+[ for PCs).
And then, position it to where you want your shadow to be, click edit image here, then click see all here in adjustments.
Step 6: Set your brightness to -100, your contrast to 100, and your saturation to -100.
Set your blur to a level that you like for your shadow.
Then click on this transparency icon at the top right and set your shadow transparency to what you feel fits your flat lay setup best.
This will depend on multiple factors like your background texture, the level of saturation in your image among other factors.
Step 7: Then we can go ahead and add surrounding coffee beans by going to the elements tab and clicking on “Elements”.
Now if this were an actual shoot of the coffee beans…
…it would definitely cast a shadow in the same direction and in the same intensity as our primary subject.
But done through Canva, there’s a chance we might overwhelm the image with synthetic shadows.
So if we add shadows to each and every individual bean here, we feel like this is a good stopping point for this image.
Step 8: As a bonus, because we made this flat lay photography in Canva, we do have the option to export this not just as an image.
We can also select a preset animation for the canvas and save it as an mp4 file.
Step 9: Let’s make another one, we saw this image on Pinterest where the product is laid out diagonally…
…and we kind of want to follow that but also want to make changes.
We’re going to start with setting up the background.
We kind of want to have a wooden table as the main background.
But, we also want a little bit of textured paper on the top right side where we can place our brand logo.
So, we just added two background grids that will be the containers for our 2 background images.
We recommend adding grids to contain your image if you have more that one background to add to any design in Canva.
Let us just go ahead and adjust this.
Step 10: Now we can proceed to adding our products. And then, add shadows to each product.
Step 11: We’re going to add additional objects to our flat lay photography.
Let’s add this top view of a coffee cup.
And then rotate it so that the shadow here at the cup is going in the same direction as the shadows we placed under our products.
Now we want to add a plate with cookies, starting with the plate, and then the cookies.
Step 12: If at any point you feel the object doesn’t quite fit with the rest of your image…
…you can go ahead and go to the adjustment controls and edit the:
- contrast, and
- other settings of that specific object.
Now, we’re going to add shadows to the cookies, and as well as the plate. After some final adjustments on the overall look, this is done.
Here’s our flat lay number two.
Now you can also search for flat lay images here in Canva and add your product directly to that flat lay image.
Just make sure you match your product’s shadow with the direction of the shadows of the other objects from the original flat lay photograph you’re using.
It’s important to note that Canva was not made with advanced photo manipulation in mind.
And Canva’s strength is in how it gives you the ability to make graphics for different purposes, all without leaving their website or app.
So definitely keep that in mind and don’t make anything too complex that would push your composed flat lay to look fake.
We would say Photoshop is king when it comes to advanced photo manipulation because we’d have better control of shadows.
We can distort elements however we want, set up realistic light overlays, film grain – the possibilities are endless.
The downside although being that it’ll take much longer to compose our image.
Speaking of Photoshop, here’s our tutorial that will show you how to change the color of an object in Photoshop.
And the process will be much more complex than what we just did in Canva both applications have their pros and cons.
That’s it for today’s today’s guide.
What products are you selling and are you planning on making flat lay photography images using Canva for them? We hope this tutorial will be helpful to you.