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! Last week I kicked off this series with a post that explains why PicMonkey is a great (and free!) solution and why I prefer it vs. creating a digital scrapbook at a photo printing website such as Shutterfly.
This week we are going to focus on how to use PicMonkey to edit your photos before you place them on a digital scrapbook page. Now hopefully, you did your homework last week and organized the digital photos that you have taken so far in 2013 and you are ready to start creating a page of one of the events in your family’s life. For me I am starting with Christmas (okay so pre-2013 by just a smidge) and selected a few pictures of my kids opening presents from Santa on Christmas morning.
Image Before Editing
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 going to PicMonkey.com 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 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. So I mainly stick with the Exposure tool (3rd 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 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 lipstick 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 beaker bubbling, 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.
Here’s what’s coming next in this series on Free Digital Scrapbooking:
- How to Use PicMonkey to Improve Your Images
- How to Find and Use Free Digital Scrapbook Papers for Your PicMonkey Pages
- How to Assemble Scrapbook Pages
- Adding Text and Embellishments to Your Digital Scrapbook Pages
- Printing and Enjoying Your Digital Scrapbook
And you can find them here on Wednesdays on Momof6!
Have you tried using PicMonkey to edit your photos? If so, what’s your favorite feature?