Sunday 10 June 2012

10 Things... I Love About PicMonkey

Today it's 10 things on the Tenth - for more details see Shimelle's post today here. I thought that this time I'd share some tips with you for using PicMonkey

I've been using this website a lot lately to edit my photos - for family pictures, but also for editing photos of my layouts, and other blogging things. I know a lot of people probably have Photoshop, or something similar, so you might be able to do these things in those editing programs. But I don't have anything like that, so I've found PicMonkey very helpful. And I hope these tips will be handy for some of you too! So, here's:

1. To rotate pictures of my layouts.

If I've taken a picture of a layout, and then discovered it tilts slightly to one side, I can rotate it on here (go to Basic Edits - 'Rotate'). I used to do this in Microsoft Office Picture Manager, but that program didn't let me have enough control over the degree of rotation. And PicMonkey puts a VERY helpful grid over the top of your photo whilst you turn it, so you can see when your picture is in line:

You just drag the dot gently left or right along the 'straighten' line, until your picture is in the right place.

2. Applying effects to photos.

I like that choosing one simple effect can make a photo that little bit more magical. Go to Effects - the scientific vial-type symbol, then choose whichever effect you fancy. For this beach shot of my son I just cropped it a bit, adjusted the exposure to make it a little lighter, and then applied the 'Intrepid' effect, and faded it about 50% (so the effect was not too strong on the photo, it just gently changed it). The photo went from this:

To this:

I like the slightly retro feel, but it doesn't overpower the photo too much.

3. Using the Clone tool.

This tool is amazing. I always wanted to try it out on Picnik, but because you had to pay for it I didn't get round to it until until they were closing down and made everything free. It's still free at the moment on PicMonkey, but when you do have to pay for it I will fork out the cash as I love to use it.

It's a good tool for fixing 'problem' areas of your photos. I've used it to remove a big crease from an old photo of my granny from her youth, to lay part of one photo on top of another photo to make sure everyone was smiling in a photo, and for removing clutter from the background of a shot. Here's an example of the last one, when I changed the photo on the left to one on the right:

I removed the pictures stuck on the wall using the clone tool. After selecting the clone tool (Go to Effects, then 'Clone') you need to choose the brush size, and then the 'source' - the part of the picture you want the colour/image to come from. I chose a part of the wall with nothing on it, as close to the patch I wanted to cover as possible. You want to get it as close as possible as the light or shadow will be different on another part of the picture:

To cover up the rest of the mess in the background I used overlays of Roses. Go to Overlays (the symbol of heart, starburst, and speech bubble shapes) , choose 'Roses' and then click on the one you want. It will appear on the photo and can be resized or recoloured. More on Overlays later.

4. Applying the 'Dodge' tool to lighten areas of my photo:

I've been able to adjust brightness on my photos before, but I love this tool because you can lighten certain areas of photos. I use it on family pictures and craft photos, when shadows have fallen and made the colours look wrong. I used it on the photo of this layout to lighten the bottom right corner, where the kraft cardstock looked darker than in the rest of the photo.

Just go to Effects - 'Dodge' and choose how light you want it to go (light, mid, or dark - dark still means lighter than the original, but only just). Choose your brush size, and drag it across the problem area:

Just make sure not to go over the same spot too much, or it will look too washed out compared to the rest of the picture. The less you do it, the more it will blend in. 

You can also do the opposite, and darken areas of your photo, by using the 'Burn' tool.

5. Using 'Airbrush' - to get rid of my moles!

I've a lot of small moles on my neck, and some on my face. I put up with these, and they don't bother me too much in most photos. But it's nice every now and then to have a picture without them! Of course, this tool can also be used to remove spots or other unsightly marks.

To use the tool you just go to Touch Up (the lipstick symbol), and either 'Blemish Fix' or 'Airbrush' depending on how strong you want the effect to be. For this photo I used 'Airbrush' as I wanted to lighten the crease lines around my neck too:

I have a feeling that the older I get, the more I may use this tool!

Shine Reduce and Red-Eye Removal are also tools I use a lot under the 'Touch Up' heading.

6. Easily adjusting the colour cast with 'Neutral Picker'.

This helps when the light hasn't been great when taking the original photo, so the colours look slightly 'off'. You just go to Basic Edits - 'Colours' - Neutral Picker. Click on neutral picker, and a little pipette symbol will appear when you move your mouse. Click this where there is some white on your photo, and the saturation and temperature of your picture will automatically adjust. My top tip for this is to then go back and auto-adjust your exposure again too. I used this technique on this photo of a card:

7. Making a blog header (you can also make a collage).

I followed this tutorial about how to make a collage in PicMonkey, in order to make my current blog header.  There is now actually a function to make collages on the PicMonkey site, but I haven't tried this out yet. I just made myself a blank photo, as per Ashley's suggestions, and then layered up my elements using overlays and text. 

I used two rounded oblongs (from the Geometric overlays) layered up as the base of my header, and then added clouds, hearts, and arrows, etc. To add the text you go to the 'P' symbol - Text, and type in what you want to say. Choose the font - for 'Jennifer's Jumbles' I chose 'Marcelle Script' - and click 'add' to place it on your picture. You can then adjust the colour and size:

The only trouble I've found using PicMonkey like this is that you can't save the file-in-progress, just the end result. So if I've made a mistake it's quite hard to fix it after saving it and leaving PicMonkey. I had to re-do the header from scratch because I hadn't made it narrow enough the first time. But, it only took me about 5 minutes to re-do it, so it wouldn't stop me using it again.

8. Resizing my photos.

Again, this is something I've been able to do in Microsoft Office Picture Manager, but it's great to be able to do it here. I now find it easy to get the right size quickly, so that I can make sure my photos fit my blog page. 

To re-size your pictures, just go to Basic Edits - re-size, and type in the pixel width you want. It will automatically keep the proportions of your photo, unless you uncheck the box. I used it to resize this photo (which I've also applied the 'Tranquil' and 'Dark Edges' Effects to) - to fit my blog I've made it 630 pix wide:

9. For entertaining my daughter!

My daughter thinks it's really fun to add effects and overlays to photos. She's only 4, but she's quite good with the computer (she's taking after her blogging mummy!), and I can open a photo for her in PicMonkey, and come back a few minutes later to see it turned into this:

So fun!

10. For adding edited pictures to layouts.

I love all these fun ways of using PicMonkey, but the thing I love most about it is then printing off my edited pictures, and using them on scrapbook pages. I like using pictures from Hipstamatic and Instagram, etc, from my Ipod Touch, but the quality of them is not always great. By using high quality photos taken with my DSLR or point-and-shoot camera, I can apply effects in PicMonkey and still print them nice and large without worrying that the quality will suffer:

I love the way this picture of my little man stands out more from the page because it has such a striking effect (I used the 'Urbane' option). 

Just make sure you always save your photos to the highest quality (Russell) option!

There we go, my reasons for loving PicMonkey! I hope you have found something useful. See you again soon! 

P.S. Don't forget to enter my giveaway for an Echo Park 'Note to Self 'collection kit, and see details of my upcoming blog event, here! x


Connie Mercer said...

thanks~didn't know about picmonkey:):)

rach said...

Mee too, I've never heard of it before. Looks really good, can't wait to have a play.

scrappyjacky said...

I'd never heard of this one....but will definately be taking a look.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing, never heard of picmonkey either but off to check it out/

Beverly said...

Just started playing around with it this week and this helps so much! Thanks!

Tracy said...

I never edit my photos, because I am to lazy, lol.
But I have used picnic to block out things, like license plates. But they are no longer, so I should check them out :)

Clare said...

Sounds like a great programme. I use Picasa atm but this sounds like it has a few more features so I might have to give it a go.

Sian said...

It certianly looks like a lot of fun to use - and the fantastic results are obvious from your brilliant examples

Kirsteen said...

Thanks for sharing - I'd never heard of picmonkey. Trying it now :) Thankk you for sharing my blog giveaway :)

Sarah said...

I had not heard of this one - will def inately have to take a look! Thaks for sharing all your tips and techniques!! x

Kirsty.A said...

Great tips. I have PSE, but I've necer used the clone tool. I definitely will give it a go now

Jimjams said...

Looks like a great on-line tool - and I love "free". I generally play around with Picasa rather that Photoshop Elements as I like some control, but can't cope with too much choice! Definitely going to have an explore of Picmonkey though - TFS

Sheena said...

great 10things x
not heard of this so off to find it :)

MonicaB said...

I've never heard of pic monkey before, thanks for the intro to it.

Melissa said...

I use Photoshop to edit my photos. You've done a great job sharing about PicMonkey!

Alison said...

Thanks for sharing all this info...must go take a look!
Alison xx

Charis said...

Great post! I use Picmonkey but had no idea what the clone function did... genius! Thanks for sharing.

Karen said...

I use PSE, and had heard of PicMonkey but had no idea how much it could do. Love the effect you added to your photo. It is just right!

Ruby said...

What an awesome post, thanks for the information! So glad you stopped by my blog :)

Nathalie said...

Same as you, I don't have PSE or Photoshop but I LOVE PicMonkey!!! One of the thing you didn't mention that is my favorite is adding text directly on photos :)
Great post Jennifer!

Nance said...

I haven't used picmonkey but thank you for the tutorial. Will sure try it and thanks so much for taking the time to visit me on my blog. Really means a lot....

Cheryl said...

So glad you stopped by my blog and that I found this post in return... I have been looking for a "new Picnik," and this sounds like it's even better! Thanks for the great tips!

entssouthwales said...

Some awesome techniques there and a neat way of decluttering on photos - well done and keep up the good work!

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