Tutorial: Photo Editing for Cool Newbies

Hey you! Don’t just lean against the wall with that “I’m fine…really!” look on your face. Come join the party! We are editing our crumbuns off: experimenting, playing, and punching out some hecka beautiful images. Here’s the skinny on how to dive into PicMonkey while holding your drink level and looking kewl.


screen shot of the navigation toolbar

Hover over the “Edit” button at the top of the home page, and photo storage places appear beneath it (your computer’s hard drive or a Dropbox, Facebook, or Flickr account). Click one to select your photo. Your photo will open in the PicMonkey Editor. Alternatively, some browsers will allow you to dra-a-a-g your photo into the Editor; just start dragging the photo and you’ll see a square launch target to drop the photo into when your mouse crosses state lines into PicMonkey territory.

If you’d rather play with a sample photo, we’ve got a few to the right of your photo storage options, after you’ve hovered over the “Edit” button. Click one and it will open in the Editor.

From this point, the world’s your oyster—explore, you Magellan! Or you can keep following our docent tour, here…


PicMonkey launches the Editor with the Basic Edits tab open. If you launched the Editor by clicking somewhere else on the home page, click the Basic Edits tab (the topmost icon in the far left column). Click the “Auto Adjust” button to see what PicMonkey thinks is your photo’s best exposure, color, and clarity. Sometimes the Monkey’s right, sometimes not.

screen shot sowing image being cropped

Click Crop. If you want your photo to maintain its aspect ratio (proportions), click “Scale photo” before you start. Click and drag the corner circles to crop it, and click “Apply” when you like what you’ve done.


screen shot showing undo button in the top toolbar

Notice the toolbar that floats directly above your photo. Your best friend is the Undo button, the curvy arrow icon that points to the left. This is how you undo any action or any effect once it’s been applied. For example, if you didn’t like what “Auto Adjust” did to your photo, click Undo.


screen shot showing wrinkle remover being applied 

If there’s a person in your photo, you can experiment with our Touch Up tools to bring out the best in his or her facial features. Go to the Touch Up tab by clicking the lipstick icon . (You can also get to Touch Up directly from “Touch Up” button atop the home page). Some all-time favorite free ones are Blemish Fix, Blush Boost, and Weight Loss. You can experiment with the Royale Touch Up effects even if you’re not a Royale member; you just can’t fully apply them to the photo. Favorite Royale Touch Up effects are Wrinkle Remover, Mascara, Eye Brighten, and Air Brush. Our photo subject got Barbie-perfect skin today, with Wrinkle Remover. We put some great samples of photos that we retouched, in our Touch Up board on Pinterest!


Click the Effects tab (the magic wand icon in the far left column). These effects are made of awesome, and they can dramatically change the mood of your photo in one click. The efffects group called Tried and True are huge among PicMonkeyers. We used Dusk to create a warm vignette around our wistful lady. Go to our Pinterest Effects board for a quick look at before-and-after pics of many of our effects.

screen shot showing paint palette opened with dusk effect


screen shot showing overlay palette and circular handles

Time to have some fun with photo overlays. Click the Overlays tab (the butterfly icon in the far left column). Scroll down the menu to the People Toppers effects group. Click Facial Hair and observe the instant manliness. We’ve decided Mrs. Wistful needs a mustache. The corner circles help you size the overlay, and the top circle helps rotate the image to just the right angle.


screen shot showing polaroid frame on photo

Now it’s time to frame zis verk of art. Click the Frame tab (the square icon near the bottom of the far left column). The first four frames are the easiest to work with because they maintain your photo’s original aspect ratio. Try Polaroid Frame. Notice that it may crop your photo to a square. Click “Transparent Background,” which makes the frame look super realistic.


Save your photo using the Save button in the top toolbar. You can click Share in the same toolbar to share it on your own PicMonkey share page in Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest or Email.

Next time you set out for adventure, you can explore the Themes tab (the bottom icon in the far left column). The Halloween themes — Vampires, Zombies, Day of the Dead, and Witches — have tons of Quick Tips laid right into the editing experience. It’s like going to the PicMonkey Graduate School of Photo Crazification.  

More photo editing info for your brain:


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