PicMonkey is an excellent free photo editing tool that is simple to understand, easy to use, and can help you to embrace digital scrapbooking as a way to capture and celebrate your family's memories! This post will focus on how to edit images using PicMonkey before you place them on a digital scrapbook page.
*Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I will make a small commission if you purchase through these links.
Now for those of us who are truly amateur photographers, that we are usually just trying our best to capture the moment and we don't always take the time to properly compose the shot, adjust for lighting, and set the focus point. Which can leave us with some poor quality photos to work with at times! And when you are looking at photos taken a few years ago- it can be even worse!
How to Edit Images Using PicMonkey
Now I love this photo of my son Jack proudly displaying his new stop-motion animation camera and his new football- but the photo is dark, the flash is bouncing off of the TV screen in the background, there is a random hand on the left side of the page, and there is too much background hanging around in the photo.
So let's edit this image to improve it. Start by opening up PicMonkey and selecting Edit a Photo.
Step 1: Cropping
For me, this is always the first thing that I do to a photo- re-frame it to showcase what it is that I love about the photo. But that doesn't mean that the subject of the photo should always be centered. Keep in mind the “rule of thirds” (as excerpted from Wikipedia):
“The guideline proposes that an image should be imagined as divided into nine equal parts by two equally-spaced horizontal lines and two equally-spaced vertical lines, and that important compositional elements should be placed along these lines or their intersections. Proponents of the technique claim that aligning a subject with these points creates more tension, energy and interest in the composition than simply centering the subject would.”
Now depending on the original image- it may not be possible to always follow the rule of thirds- nor should every image on a scrapbook page use that approach. Sometimes you'll want to use closely cropped headshots or panoramic landscapes, and dozens of different compositions- but the point I want to make on cropping is that you should crop your image to showcase what is important to you, and don't worry about trying to crop to a specific size or dimension.
On the left side of your PicMonkey window, you'll see a list of editing functions under the page title “Basic Edits.” Select the button for Crop, which will place a 9-square box over your image.
You can use your mouse to pull the box to make it larger or small, wider, narrow, tall, short- however you want to re-size your image. If you desire to follow the rule of thirds, then you want the main focus of your image to fall along one of the internal gridlines of your 9-squared boxes. Once you've achieved the desired size- click Apply.
Step 2: Enhancing Exposure (Lighting)
The next thing to address is the lighting in a photo, and PicMonkey offers many ways to do this- depending on how much you want to change, and how much time you have to play around with the tool. Personally, when I am creating scrapbook pages, I am editing 4-10 images for each page that I am building, so I just want to pretty up my photos in the quickest and simplest way possible.
I mainly stick with the Exposure tool (4th box down on the left side of the page), and most of the time I select Auto Adjust. PicMonkey smartly adds highlights or shadows as it deems necessary. Occasionally I will increase the contrast a bit (which more highly accentuates the differences between the light and dark sections of the image), or sometimes I will add a little highlight to lighten it overall. Basically, I am just setting the levels to please my own eye.
There are a few other editing tools that you can use- under Sharpen you can use the Unsharp Mask function to add some beautiful clarity to your image- just slowly move the sliders around until the image looks pleasing to your own eye.
You can also Auto Adjust under the Colors function to allow PicMonkey to “correct” your color for you. Again, do what it simple to you and pleasing to your own eye. 99% of the time, auto-adjusting the exposure is all that I do.
Step 3: Red-Eye Removal and Other “Blemishes”
On the far left side of your screen, you'll see a series of icons- select the one that looks like a face and then scroll down to find the Red-Eye Remover. This is so simple to use, that there is no excuse not to remove those glowing red eyeballs in your photos that you intend to use for digital scrapbooking!
Simple select whether your red-eyed subject is human or furball, and then using your cursor, click on the offending red eyes. Poof- they will return to their natural color! Click Apply.
Here's how the before and after pictures look side by side:
Don't Forget About Black and White Photography!
Sometimes certain images seem almost beyond repair. Here's an image of my three youngest kids taken at our Science Fair under the harsh gym lights that give all of our school photos an orange glow:
But here it is after applying the Black and White feature in PicMonkey (select the icon that looks like a magic wand, select Black and White, Click Apply).
PicMonkey offers so many editing functions- you could spend hours and hours layering on effects and trying new things. But when it comes to preparing photos for digital scrapbooking, I suggest you find a quick path to crop and brighten your photos before moving on to building your page.
The Digital Scrapbooking Series
Here are all of the links to my 6-part series which will teach you How to Create Digital Scrapbooks for (Nearly) Free!
- Why you should use PicMonkey for digital scrapbooking
- How to edit images using PicMonkey
- Where to find free digital scrapbook paper
- How to create digital scrapbooking layouts in PicMonkey
- How to add text to your digital scrapbooking layouts
- How to print a paper copy of your digital scrapbook
Have you tried using PicMonkey to edit your photos? If so, what's your favorite feature?