Peep Goes Live With PicMonkey!

1 Peep's 2014 CalendarWM

As you are probably aware, I am a big fan of PicMonkey.com for photo editing. I have done three previous tutorials on PicMonkey, but this time I’m actually doing a video tutorial. Please forgive my clumsiness using the video capture software; I am a complete novice and it shows! I used CamStudio.org to record my video. This is a free application and it’s relatively simple to use, if you watch the set up video. If you choose to install it, please pay close attention during the installation – they have several add ons included so make sure you opt in or out of each one.

The reason I am doing another tutorial now is two-fold. First, PicMonkey.com is offering a one-week free trial of their Royale effects. This is a limited-time offer and I have no idea how long it will be available, so if you’re interested in checking out the additional features you can usually only access by paying for the service, act quickly! You can always opt out if you decide it’s not for you. But hey…who can turn down free?

The photo above is the completed photo from my tutorial. This tutorial focuses on a new feature, Design – the second reason I chose to do this now. It allows you to create your own graphics, which I have used to make a simple calendar. I also show you how to create and apply your own watermark.

I have had such marvelous response to my previous tutorials (Teach Me Something Meme, More (Pic)Monkeying Around – Part 1 and Part 2) that I hope this one is as helpful. Feel free to leave a comment on whether you like it or not and what I can do to improve…other than changing my voice and learning how to use the software better. I know those two already 😉

I used a calendar image downloaded from PublicDomainPictures.net. This photo has a Public Domain license, so the only stipulation on use is to link back to the image in any publication. You can click on the previous link to access that picture.

I am embedding the video here, but you can also view it on youtube.

I had a lot of fun putting this tutorial together. Once I get used to using the video capture software AND I have something worth showing you again, I’ll be sure to do another one. It really is a lot easier than taking screen shots and typing everything out 😉

More (Pic)Monkeying Around – Part 2

So…have you recovered from Part 1 of my Picmonkey tutorial? No? Then grab a stronger drink, because we’re about to start the fun part of using this program!

Today, I’ll be showing you some of the effects you can create using Picmonkey. I’ll show you several styles, but there are many more to choose from, and the fun really begins when you start layering them. Yes, you can easily overdo it if you start stacking them too deeply, but sometimes you hit on a combination that is just magic! So don’t be afraid to experiment…that’s the real fun!

I’m going to continue working on the photo I started yesterday and pick up on the steps where I left off. I’ll show you how a specific effect looks, then cancel it and show you another one.

10. Effects – Orton – Standard setting. This effect gives your photo a soft, bloomy look. It seems to work better with lighter photos, so if you have a dark one you want to use it with, you can always go back to Basic Edits – Exposure and adjust the Highlights or Brightness. I don’t usually do this, but it’s always an option!

11. Effects - Orton - Adjusted

The standard levels for Orton are Bloom and Brightness at 50% and Fade at 0%. I decided it was a bit too much, so I played around with the sliders until I found a combination I liked. If you think there is too much effect in only a part of the photo, you can use the Eraser to remove it. Play around with the brush size and fade until you are happy with the way the effect is reduced. If you need to touch up just a small area where you went a bit far, switch from Original to Effect and paint the adjustment back in. You can do this with most effects, by the way 🙂

11. Effects – Intrepid – Standard setting. This gives a photo a cooler tone and bit of a halo effect.

12. Effects - Intrepid - No Adjustment

I’m happy with the standard application of this effect, so I (personally) wouldn’t make any adjustments. I would just hit Apply.

12. Effects – Tranquil – Standard setting. This effect gives a soft, pink hue to your photo.

13. Effects - Tranquil - Adjusted

With lighter photos, this effect can make the image look washed out. You can always adjust the fade if you think it’s just a bit too much.

I thought it was too much, so I adjusted the fade from 0% to 50%.

13. Effects – Film Stock – Royale settings. There are three effects to choose from in this option – Velvia, Realia and Tri-X. These effects are to give your photos the look these film types give. Velvia and Realia are colour and Tri-X is black and white.

14. Effects - Film Stock - Velvia - No Adjustment

I’ve chosen to use Velvia. It gives the photo a more realistic look, without going too dark. Tri-X is a good option if you want a black and white photo, but you can also use the Black & White effect or even Tint, with adjustments if you are not a Royale user. You also have the option to adjust the hue with those effects, so I tend to use those more often than Tri-X.

I didn’t make any adjustments to the standard Velvia effect in this photo.

14. Effects – Bokeh – Standard setting. Do you like those little bubble effects in some photos? Bokeh is the way to do this!

15. Effects - Bokeh - Using Eraser

Bokeh is a fairly new entry to picmonkey. It adds varying amounts of bubbles to your photo. It is really dependent on how light your photo is on how strong the effect is. You can adjust the size of the bubbles and increase the glow, if you choose. In this photo, there were LOTS of bubbles, so I used the Eraser to remove them from my face and neck.

15. Effects – Sunglow – Royale setting. I totally love this effect. I have to remind myself not to overuse it!

16. Effects - Sunglow - Adjustment

Sunglow does just that – it adds a glowing sun to your photo. You can place it wherever you want, adjust the size and the fade. It gives your picture a warmer tone. I think it works well with this photo, which is very cool. It just adds a bit of glowing warmth.

16. Effects – Curves – Royale setting. Curves gives you much greater control over the exposure of your photo by allowing you to make adjustments to the tones (RGB) in varying degrees. You can either use the pre-defined settings in the drop-down box, work across all tones (the RGB level), or work with reds, greens and blues individually. You can make minor or major adjustments to the highlights and brightness of your photo using this tool.

17. Effects - Curves - Custom

I’ve made adjustments in this shot on both the RGB and the individual colour levels, just to show you it can be done. This is another effect that is very powerful, but you will need to experiment with it. You can use it to adjust the tone or brightness after you’ve added an effect, or use it instead of the basic Exposure setting.

There are a lot more Effects to play with, but these are the ones I use most frequently. Now…on to Textures!

I want to quickly make note of something very important. In both Textures and Overlays, you can import your own textures to use. There are tons and tons of photos you can grab from the internet to add to your work. However, please make sure you always follow the restrictions placed by the creator. I love to use images from deviantART, but I always check the restrictions on use before downloading a photo. Most contributors there are very generous, requiring only a favourite, a credit and a link back in their comments. Remember, if you use someone else’s photo without following their rules for use, depending on the type of licensing they use, you could be breaking the law.

Just so there is no confusion about this, I’m choosing to use one of the standard textures provided by Picmonkey.

17. Textures – Burst – Standard setting. There are three choices of textures to use under Burst. I am using the third one, which has rays of stars bursting from the top of the photo.

18. Textures - Burst - Adjustments & Erase

The default Blend Mode for this is Multiply. However, it seems too dark to me. I generally flip through all of the blend modes to find the one that works best. In this case, I’ve chosen Overlay. I’ve left the Saturation at 100% and adjusted the Fade from 20% to 57%. I go by the way the effect looks here – there is no magic number, just trial and error. But I don’t want the starburst to cover my face. By using the the Paint feature, I can erase it from my face and chest. I have reduced the Brush strength so the effect isn’t totally lost, and depending on what area I am working on, I will adjust the brush size. If you accidentally “colour outside the line”, just switch from Original to Effect, and paint it back in. When you’re happy with it, just click Apply.

I’ll leave it to you to experiment with the other Textures. Now, I’ll move on to Frames.

18. Frames – Daguerreotype – Royale setting. Want an old time look to your photo? Then you want to try out Daguerreotype!

19. Frames - Daguerreotype - Plumbe - Adjusted

Again, there are three different types of frames as well as three different Film effects – Brady, Shiro and Plumbe. In this case, I’ve chosen the first frame type and the Plumbe film effect. However, I decided I wanted some of the original colour to show through, so I adjusted the fade to bring it back in, while still maintaining the frame and most of the effect.

You can access Daguerreotype from the Effects menu, but it only applies the Film effect – not the frame.

19. Frames – Simple Edge – Standard setting. If you want to caption your photo, adding a Simple Edge is the easiest way to do it.

20. Frames - Simple Edge - Caption Space - Color Picker

A simple edge frames your photo with a thick outer frame and a thin inner frame. To add a caption space, just increase the caption space thickness (kind of hidden in this photo). The default is a black outer frame with a white inner frame, but you can change these colours by clicking on the colour boxes. I usually use the Colour Picker to select colours that are found in the photo. To do this, just click your cursor on the eyedropper in the top corner of the colour picker, then hover it over any colour on the screen. Once you’ve found the colour you want, just right-click your mouse button, and it will set that colour.

But what’s a frame without a caption? On to Text!

20. Text – Standard & Royale settings.

You can have all kinds of fun adding text to a photo, or use it for product displays to add your product information. Or whatever strikes your fancy!

21. Text

To add text, just click on the Add Text button. Clever, eh? The default font is Didact Gothic, but all you need to do to change the font is to click on one of the dozens that are included. Then just pop your cursor in the text box that pops up and start typing. You can change the size, the blend mode, the justification and the colour (including using the colour picker again) from the pop up window that controls text. You can use mulitple sizes and fonts by highlighting the part of the text you want to adjust. Once you have your text written, you can place it wherever you want, making adjustments to size by dragging the edges of the text frame. The combinations are practically endless!

When you’ve finished your photo, you may want to claim it as your own. Here’s where Picmonkey makes adding a watermark easy – through use of the Overlay function.

21. Overlay – Adding a watermark – Standard setting. While there are tons and tons of options with using the Overlay function, one of the nicest ones is to be able to add a watermark to your photos. I created my own watermark in Picmonkey by following the steps in this Picmonkey blog post. I’m not going to recreate the steps – please just click the link and follow along.

22. Overlay - Your Own - Creating a Watermark

Once you have created your watermark (or if you have one already), just go to Overlay – Your Own to import your image. You can then adjust the placement, the blend mode and fade to suit.

And that’s about it. I haven’t covered even a fraction of the possibilities available using picmonkey, but I hope you’ve learned a bit about what it can do. With just some patience and some practice, you can turn a snapshot into a masterpiece…you’re only limited by your imagination!

1 Picmonkey Tutorial Tranquil WM

(My final image is using all of the basic edits and touch ups, plus the burst texture, simple edge frame, text and adding my watermark using overlay)

I have completed a fourth tutorial using PicMonkey – this time it’s a video! You can click here to check it out.

More (Pic)Monkeying Around – Part 1

I’ve been amazed by how many hits and comments I have had on my Picmonkey tutorial from Strawberry Singh’s “Teach Me Something” Meme Challenge! I’ve decided to take it even further and take you through a step-by-step process on how I edit a photo using Picmonkey. Alas, I won’t be doing a slick video, but I’m going to add screen shots and explain the rather circuitous route I take when post-processing a photo. Please be aware Picmonkey has both free and paid elements. The Royale settings are marked by an orange crown. I am a Royale member, so I am including both. Cost to gain access to these features is US$4.99/month or US$33/year.

I’m going to break this up into two posts, since I’ve taken a LOT of screen shots and I don’t want you to get bored. Also, since I’m taking part in Avatar Blogger Month at irez.me, this tutorial will be two of my 30 posts in 30 days (clever, eh? 😉 )

Today I’ll be taking you through basic edits and touch ups…my way! So grab your drink and your snack, turn on your favourite music, and let’s begin!

1. Uploading your photo. Pop over to picmonkey.com and click on Edit a photo to open a window to select your picture. (You can click on any of the photos in my posts to see larger versions)

2. Open photo

I’m going to throw in the photo of the tool bar for Picmonkey again. To see the name of the tool, just hover your mouse over the icons.

1 Picmonkey Control Panel

2. Basic Edits – Cropping – Standard setting. Cropping is always the first edit I make. I generally use 1024 X 768 (a 4:3 ratio) for my photos, but there are also a lot of pre-defined crops you can use by selecting from the drop-down menu. If you choose a crop that isn’t pre-defined, make sure you click the Scale photo box so your ratio stays the same.

3. Basic Edit - Crop

Once you’re happy with your crop, click Apply. If you decide you don’t like it, just hit the back arrow button at the top of your screen and start over.

3. Basic Edits – Exposure – Standard setting. This is the next edit I always make. I click on Auto adjust and see what picmonkey decides to do with the exposure levels. As you can see from this screen shot, it was pretty happy with the exposure, only adjusting the Shadows +1.

4. Basic Edit - Exposure - Auto Adjust

You can play with the sliders to your heart’s content, or just go with the auto adjustment. I have noticed that picmonkey likes brighter photos, so if you have a dark picture and want to keep it that way, you’ll probably have to drop down the amount of Highlights Picmonkey adds. Even if you don’t, you can adjust this through other methods later in the process.

That’s usually all I do in Basic Edits, but feel free to play around with the other settings.

On to Touch up!

4. Touch up – Clone – Royale setting. If you take hi res photos in Second Life, you most likely have to contend with those annoying grid lines across your beautiful picture! If you’re shooting against a busy background, this might not be a problem. I, however, usually shoot portraits against a solid background (this one was actually white, by the way. The Windlight setting I chose gave it the cool blue tint). Gridlines on a solid background are fairly simple to remove, using the Clone tool. You’ll find it at the very bottom of the Touch up menu. It’s also available in the Effects menu, but since I go to Touch up first, this is where I normally access it.

5. Touch Up - Clone - Remove Gridlines

You’ll need to adjust your brush size, depending on the area you are working with. Since I’ve got a lot of real estate on the background and it’s a fairly consistent hue, I can use a larger brush. Just make sure the Source button is blue, select an area of clean background that closely matches the area of the gridlines and click. That will select the area you will be duplicating and will show up on your photo as a green dashed circle. As soon as you do this, a solid white circle will appear over your selection. Simply move this over the area that needs to be corrected, and drag and click to cover up the lines. You’ll need to adjust your target area from time to time, since it moves with the selection you are correcting. Just click on Source again, choose a new area and keep covering up whatever needs to be fixed. You can use the back arrow at any time to go back if you make a mistake or need to change your target area and have gone too far.

Once you are happy with the cloning, click Apply.

5. Touch up – Nip Tuck – Royale setting. This is Picmonkey’s version of Liquify, found in Photoshop. I use this to round out those jagged edges and sharp bits that Second Life photos always have. In the photo I’ve chosen, the edges aren’t that bad, but I will still use Nip Tuck to clean it up.

6. Touch UP - Nip Tuck - Using Melt as Liquify

There are three settings you can use in Nip Tuck – Melt (the water drop), Reduce (the scalpel) and Fill (the syringe). I rarely ever use anything besides Melt, but feel free to experiment.

You can see from the screen shot the areas I need to work on. Generally, I reduce the size of the brush, but leave the Strength at 50%. Again, play around with these settings for the best fit for you. Now, simply place the brush over the area that needs to be rounded and push and pull until you have the look you want. Unfortunately, there is no masque in Picmonkey, so you will need to be careful not to distort the parts of the photo around the areas you correct. This might be a good time to adjust the strength if you notice major distortion in the surrounding area.

I find it easier to use gentle nudges, rather than a sweeping motion with the brush, but if you have a steadier hand, you can try using longer strokes to nip and tuck those nasty bits into submission!

I’ve used Nip Tuck in this photo to soften the jawline, round out the sleeves of my dress, make the corner of my nose look less sharp and smooth out the curve of my arms.

6. Touch up – Clone – Royale effect. Yep, I’m heading back to Clone. While I was doing my nipping, I noticed that part of my necklace had disappeared. Grrrr. Rather than go back into Second Life and reshoot the photo, I’m going to use Clone to fix this. No, it won’t be perfect, but if you’re not zoomed in on the area, I think you’ll see it’s a pretty nifty fix.

7 Touch Up - Clone - Jewelry Repair

Once I’ve zoomed in on the trouble spot, I open my Clone tool again and reduce the size of the brush. I select an area of the chain that is appropriate to fill in the missing part, then drag the selection brush upwards, filling in the missing chain below the orange bead that originally appeared to be embedded in my neck. Once I reached the bead, I needed to work on the part above it. I ran into a little problem there – there isn’t a part of the chain close to this gap, and when I tried using the same area I had originally used, I found the skin surrounding the chain was much lighter than the area I was trying to fix. But since there wasn’t really another area that had the right curve of the chain, I used the lighter-skinned area to fill in the missing part, then switched over to Eraser on the Clone screen, reduced my brush size even further, and deleted those pixels around the chain that were too pink. It’s a tedious process, and I didn’t manage to remove all of the lighter skin, but from a distance, it’s barely noticeable. I can live with that, hoping that nobody but me zooms in that close!

7. Touch up – Airbrush – Royale setting. Now I grab my Airbrush, just to smooth over those blotchy areas created by shadows and highlights.

8. Touch Up - Airbrush

Adjust your brush size to whatever works for you, but a larger brush seems to give a more blended look (at least to my eye). I do avoid using the Airbrush in areas that have bright highlights and around the eyes. At least at this point 😉 I’ve noted the areas where I will airbrush – the arms, neck, and the cheeks, up to the cheekbone. Simply stroke the brush over the blotchy areas, and watch the subtle blending. If you go over an area that has bright highlights, you will probably notice a demarcation line. If this happens, just use your handy back arrow until it disappears, or the eraser to remove the parts you don’t want.

8. Touch up – Wrinkle Remover – Royale setting. I use this tool to blend the highlights and shadows that don’t work well with simple airbrushing.

9. Touch Up - Wrinkle Remover - Softening Harsh Shadows & Highlights

With this photo, I am going to reduce the brush size, increase the fade and work on that strong shadow around the jawline, the heavy highlight on the cheeks and smudge the shadow around the lower eyelid. Don’t get frustrated with this tool – it’s rather sensitive and it can take several adjustments to get the blend just right. You can use the Eraser to fix any minor boo-boos if you shade too far, or hit the beloved back arrow if you really screw up (like when your cat jumps on your keyboard and you smear your eyeliner across your nose!). I do caution you that if you use too heavy a hand with this tool, the area can look pixelated. Just keep practicing – it’s well worth the effort!

I usually go back to my Airbrush at this point. Sometimes I will use it to soften the blending from the Wrinkle Remover, but it’s not always necessary.

9. Touch up – Eye Brighten – Standard setting. I don’t often use this tool, but it’s nice if you want your eyes to really stand out.

10. Touch Up - Eye Brighten

I had a hard time capturing the brush in the right spot for my screen shot, so forgive me that it isn’t positioned directly over the iris in this shot 🙂 It’s really a simple tool to use. Adjust your brush size so that it just fits over your eye, and click. It doesn’t change the colour of your eyes – it simply brightens them.

And that’s it for part one! There are a lot of tools I haven’t covered here, but I’m taking you through my method. I may use other tools, particularly in Touch up, depending on the photo, but these are my go-to tricks.

I hope you haven’t nodded off on me and will stay tuned for Part 2, when I go through the fun part of Picmonkey – the effects! See you tomorrow!

I have completed a fourth tutorial using PicMonkey – this time it’s a video! You can click here to check it out.