How to Use PicMonkey: Editing Photos

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As we learned in the first part of this series, PicMonkey is a free online photo editing site with an option to upgrade to Royale for a small monthly fee or even smaller annual fee. Offering a robust array of editing functions, adding special touches to your photos to make them even more amazing couldn’t be easier from this intuitively easy-to-use program.

Once you upload a photo to PicMonkey, a navigational toolbar appears on the left side of your screen with the following choices:

  • Basic Edits
  • Effects
  • Touch Up (which is covered in Part 3 of this series)
  • Text
  • Overlays (which are covered in Part 4 of this series)
  • Frames
  • Textures
  • Themes

When you click on each one of these basic navigational buttons, the choices under each appear unlimited! So, where do you start? With the basics…just enough to whet your appetite and get you excited about exploring more on your own!

The photo above is a collage, which will be covered in Part 5 of this series. When you upload a photo from your computer’s hard drive, Dropbox, Facebook, or Flickr, your photo will appear on a “dashboard” and the navigational tools will be on your left. So, your dashboard will look like the photo at the top of this collage. I’ve uploaded a flower with bees from my personal collection of photos for this tutorial.

PicMonkey defaults to “Basic Edits” and the choices under this section (which are all free) include:

  • Crop
  • Canvas Color (covered in Part 4 of the series)
  • Rotate
  • Exposure
  • Colors
  • Sharpen
  • Resize

In the flower photo above, the first thing I did was “crop” the photo. When you select Crop, a grid opens over the center of the photo (bottom left of collage). This grid allows you to move it by clicking, holding and dragging the grid across your photo or by resizing your crop using the handles in each corner.

You can also crop your photo by hovering over the crop box perimeter and waiting for a two-sided arrow to appear. By clicking, holding and dragging on the line, you can crop your photo larger or smaller. Once you are finished cropping, click on Apply. You can also canel plus, if you make a mistake and want to start over, just use the back arrow at the top of your dashboard!

For the flower photo in the bottom right corner, I’ve selected the “Rotate” button. This grid appears when you click on the “Straighten” button and hold and drag it. This feature allows you to actually straighten a photo that might be slightly off kilter. The grid lines help you determine how much to straighten.

In addition, you can actually rotate a photo. If you’ve uploaded a photo that is sideways or upside-down, this tool allows you to fix that without opening another software photo editing program.

In the photo above, I also corrected the colors with the Auto Adjust feature, making this photo slightly “warmer”. I did not adjust the exposure (Exposure is covered in Part 3 of the series) nor used the sharpen tool and did not resize” the photo (resize is covered in Part 4 of the series).

Now we are going to add some special effects. The photo above is another collage. There are so many choices under effects that there was no way to show them all! This collage captures a few of the available choices. You will notice that some of the choices have a little white crown in the bottom left of the effect. This indicates that those features are the ones available for a fee with the Royale upgrade. For purposes of this tutorial, I’ve chosen a free effect – Focal Zoom.

Here are the steps I took to create the burst effect of this flower photo:

  1. Click on Focal Zoom
  2. A circle appears that allows you to move it by clicking, holding and dragging
  3. On the “Focal Blur”bar, I dragged it to 100%
  4. On the “Focal Size” bar, I dragged it to 67%
  5. On the “Edge Hardiness” bar, I dragged it to 73%
  6. On the “Fade” bar, I dragged it to 39%
  7. I clicked on “Apply”

Next, we will add Text to this photo. The above photo is a collage. When you click on Text from the navigational toolbar, so many choices appear that it can overwhelm you! Decisions, decisions…how do you choose? The easiest answer to me is just choose any one of the simpler text fonts and click on “Add Text”. When you do, a text box appears on your photo and a pop-up text editing box appears on the right side of your dashboard (in the collage above, the text editing box is on the left).

Click your mouse inside the text box on your photo and start typing. Once you have finished typing what you want on your photo, choose a font by actually clicking on the entire set of words (they will be selected in blue) and click on the font choices until you find the perfect font for your project!

NOTE: All words typed within the text box will be the same font, size and color. To have words in different fonts, sizes and colors, you need to open new text boxes for each different word (I did this with the word “Love” in the photo above).

You can also move your text anywhere on your photo by clicking, holding and dragging the text box. Plus, using the handles on the text box, you can rotate your text – even upside down!

Now let’s add a frame. When you click on Frames, a drop-down box appears with so many choices! For this tutorial, I’ve selected Simple Frames, which is a free feature. The frame around the photo above is the Simple Frames default.

At this point, you can do the following:

  • Change the outer color
  • Adjust the thickness of the out frame
  • Change the inner color
  • Adjust the thickness of the inner frame
  • Round your corners by using the “Corner Radius” tool
  • Add caption space on the bottom of your photo (if you don’t want to put words on the actual photo, you can add them in this Caption Space area)

Whatever you decide to do, also click on Apply to lock in your changes.

Here’s my finished photo:

Ready to send this special little card to a special person! Now’s your chance to upload a photo and create your own magic with the monkey!

Stay tuned for the rest in the series:

  • PicMonkey: The Basics – Touch Up a Photo
  • PicMonkey: The Basics – Design Your Own
  • PicMonkey: The Basics – Create a Collage

By: Carole, from Toot Sweet 4 Two

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  1. says

    I love picmonkey! I recently started using it since switching over to my new lap top that I could not use my old microsoft Picture It program any longer. Your tutorial is most helpful–thanks!


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