PicMonkey Made Easy: Basic Photo Editing

Basic Photo editing with PicMonkey

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PicMonkey is very affordable — even the free version has awesome features. If you want to buy Royale though, head over here. It is $4.99 a month, or $33 a year.

For today’s PicMonkey tutorial, I’m just going to show you some basic edits you can do, to make your photos looking more bright and vibrant than before, as well as give some definitions for some common photo editing terms. Here, I will show you how to make a photo go from this:
PicMonkey Edit
To this:
PicMonkey Edit
As well as some other effects that you can apply. I don’t really believe in changing a photo so much, to the point that it doesn’t even look like how the original object or person looking. However, we all know how hard it can be to capture the perfect photo — finding the right light, making sure there are no shadows, etc. The picture I’ll be editing was captured with a simple point-and-shoot camera around dusk. This is one of my favorite pictures of Jack (this was probably when he was four-months-old.) So lets get started!
First, open your photo in PicMonkey as normal.
If you are in a hurry, you can always just press “Auto Adjust,” which is at the top of the options when you first enter the editing stage:
PicMonkey Autoadjust
As you can see, it only ever-so-slightly changed the photo from what we started with. Sometimes, auto adjust works better than others. In this case, it really didn’t do a lot for the photo. It doesn’t hurt to try, but for me personally, I prefer to change settings manually. So, we’ll move on to exposure:
PicMonkey Exposure
First, a definition. Exposure is basically the amount of light that is in the photo. So, quite often a photo is either over-or-under exposed. With the exposure function, we can fix that. Depending on if the photo is over-or-under exposed, you’ll adjust accordingly. Since this photo was darker, I adjusted the brightness ever-so-slightly, didn’t mess with the highlights or shadows, and upped the contrast a little bit as well. When you increase the contrast, the light parts become lighter, and the dark parts become darker. On the flipside, if you decrease the contrast, the light parts become darker, and the dark parts become lighter. Does that makes sense? More or less, when you turn up the contrast, the subject will generally appear to stand out against the background. How you will adjust each of these settings will vary from photo to photo, so just take some time to adjust everything to your liking.
Next, I visit the colors panel:
PicMonkey Colors

I don’t always change the colors, because it can often times make the photo look less real. You can change the saturation and temperature here. Increasing the saturation will increase the separation between the colors in the photo. When I started to increase the saturation here, colors like red and blue became more vibrant. The temperature of a photo is how “warm” or
cold” the light in a photo is, which affects the color. When you increase the temperature, the photo will appear more reddish or orange, and when you decrease it, more blueish. Because I didn’t like how it made Jack look reddish, I opted not to keep these changes for the remainder of the tutorial. But below, here are four photos. The top two are what it looks like when I increase and decrease the saturation, and the bottom two are when I increase and decrease temperature.

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PIcMonkey Color
There’s probably a time and place for each of these (though…the top left one is a little scary!) but not for what I was going for. When it comes to adjusting the color, I like to try and find a happy balance between the saturation and temperature — if it’s even need at all.
Finally, under the basic edits, is Sharpen:

Basically, sharpening a photo is meant to make it pop more. When doing sharpen, remember that a little bit goes a long way, and be sure to balance it with the clarity tool. You can choose the “unsharp mask” function, but since this is a beginner’s tutorial, we’ll save that for another time. I hardly ever sharpen my photos, but when I do, I definitely try not to go overboard. Because, when you do, you end up with a grainy photo like this:

Finally, there are two more edits I did to this photo before I called it good. PicMonkey has a lot of great touch-up features that I think anyone could enjoy using from time-to-time. Some of them can be super tempting to use — like the one that makes you look skinnier — but remember…just because you change something in a picture, doesn’t change it in reality 😉 I’ll go over these all more later, but here’s two that I used for this photo. First, airbrush.
PicMonkey Airbrush

I think that we all have seen photos that have been airbrushed way too much (um…Hollywood anyone?!) However, I really like to use the airbrush feature just to touch up areas a little bit. In this photo, I just used it slightly over Jack’s brow, to get rid of some of the graininess that was there originally. It just softens up the area. The PicMonkey tool has a natural airbrush feature, and a strong one. I always use natural…because, well, I prefer natural! I did change the fade a little bit, just so it wasn’t as strong.

Finally, the eye brighten tool. This just helps to make eyes pop a little bit more. Jack has beautiful eyes to begin with, but they were a little darker than usual in this photo. I lowered the fade a little bit, so it wouldn’t change his eyes too much. You can also lighten up eyes with this feature as well. With a click of the button, his beautiful eyes stand out just a little bit more.

PicMonkey Eye Brighten

And there you have it, a few basic tips to make your photos look a little better using PicMonkey.

If you liked this tutorial, be sure to check out these others using PicMonkey:

Changing Backgrounds With PicMonkey
Removing Shadows With PicMonkey
Using the Clone Tool


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