Getting Started with the Design Tool

Getting Started with the Design Tool

PicMonkey’s design tools are clean and easy to use, so nothing gets between you and your next big idea—whether it’s a blog graphic, a logo for your business, or just a sick flyer for your friend’s band. In this article, you’ll learn about:

  • Canvas options
  • Overlays (ours and your own)
  • Blend modes
  • Fonts
  • Text effects
  • Layouts
  • Pre-made graphic swatches

I. Canvas

Start with a clean slate


Every design starts with a canvas. And yeah, even though you can always go back and change your canvas, this first step into the Design tool represents a big decision in the direction of your design. With PicMonkey, you’ve got options everywhere you want them.

Know your dimensions


From the start, you have shortcuts into a square canvas, a Facebook cover, our most popular card dimensions, or your own custom ones. If you have a specific printed dimension in mind, check this inches-to-pixels conversion chart for just about everything.

Pick a color, or not


Once you’re in the design tool, you can choose the color of your canvas, or shed those hues and make your background transparent. If you have branded assets or are looking for ultimate precision, you can type any six-digit hex code to get the exact color you want. Hex codes are your friend, and if you wanna know more about ‘em, this article is actually really simple and helpful.

Tip: Make the canvas a two-toned gradient with our Ombre effect. First, pick white for your canvas color and click Apply. Click the Effects tab, scroll down to the Ombre effect, and select your two colors. We recommend picking two similar colors, since subtle gradients are all the rage.

II. Overlays

Overlays are the building blocks to your next great design. With over 1,100 overlays (plus access to literally infinitely more when you upload your own), there are zillions of design possibilities for purty much any sensibility.

Diversify your collection


Our overlays make up an incredibly diverse collection—from cutey patootie to classic Victorian—and many of them are either hand-drawn or infinitely magnifiable vector graphics. Here’s what that means: at both the smallest of small and the crazy-hugest of crazy-huge, Overlays are crisp and beautiful. Your teeny ladybug detail and your massive ladybug monster will both look hella profesh.

Go solo or go nuts


Overlays are also built to be beautiful stand-alone assets, as grouped patterns, or as different components in a logo or little cartoon. They’re organized into groups of 3–12, and you can find them not only in the Overlays tab, but in the Themes tab, too. Each theme has its own set of overlays for your seasonal or festive design-needs.

Mind your modes


The overlay palette menu has tons of options for customizing your overlays. The blend modes in the Overlay palette offer 10 different blend modes to play with the ways your overlay interacts with the colors behind it. Blend modes are the unsung heroes of some really cool designs, since they allow for complex color interactions and special transparencies. You just hafta play around with them.

Perfect the pixels

In the palette’s Eraser tab, you’ll find fully adjustable eraser and brush controls. You can use these to reshape any of our existing overlays, or fine tune your own.

III. Fonts


Find the perfect font

The Text tab has loads of designer-curated fonts to choose from, and we’re constantly adding more of our favorites. Our collection has something for every kind of design. On top of that goodness, you can upload any of your own typefaces. Bloggers, small business owners, and font freaks, rejoice!

Mix and match

Different fonts make for a dynamic design, but too many can be distracting, confusing, or just funky. Get more tips from our picking and pairing fonts article.

Separate your text

When you’re designing, we encourage you to put each line in a separate text box; that way you have full control over its alignment and sizing. There’s all kinds of cool stuff you can do with text.

Tip: If you’ve added an overlay or text object and rotated it, you can straighten it by right-clicking on the object and choosing Straighten.

Drop that shadow


If legibility is a problem, try adding a drop shadow. The Effects tab in the Text palette has Drop shadow, Inner shadow, and Knockout effects with settings for shadow angle, blur, transparency, color, and intensity. If you want your text itself to be the main attraction, maybe text masking is just what you need.

IV. Templates & Layouts

Design in Collage


For a streamlined design experience, you can find more than 25 handy dandy design layouts in the Collage tool. They are, of course, easily adjustable and ingeniously responsive when you add, remove, or adjust elements of your design.

When you’ve got the layout and backgrounds the way you want them, you can take it to the Editor for overlays and text by clicking the Edit button in the top toolbar. Premium members get the best of both worlds, and can easily switch between the Collage and Editor tool. Just hover your cursor over a cell, click Edit and then click Open image in Editor. This gives you full access to the overlays, canvas options, fonts, and everything else PicMonkey has to offer. Once you’ve made your design tweaks, you can take those changes right back to your template by clicking Back to Collage.

Get pre-made graphics with Swatches

Even more easy peasy design goodness is the Collage tool’s Swatches tab. You can use your own premade pattern, or choose from over 75 of our versatile graphic patterns. They’re perfect for text backgrounds, banners, and anything else your creative heart desires.

Get started on your next Design here.

This article was written by PicMonkey Staff, a multicellular organism of hive-minded sub-parts who just wanna get you the ideas and information you crave, so you can make good pictures and take over the world.