11 Common Photo Editing Mistakes to Avoid

Print it, frame it, and mount it so you know to never do this.

We’ve given you our best practices for photo editing, but what about the worst practices? Like chocolate, Netflix, and the rest of life’s greatest pleasures, it’s possible to go overboard with PicMonkey. To help you out, here are the 11 most common photo editing mistakes to avoid when you’re getting started, working fast, or just being a little forgetful.

However, if you’re getting creative, conjuring weird and amazing images with the artsy parts of your brain, do whatever you want. These guidelines apply to general photo correction.

1. Skipping the basics

Most photos will benefit from some quick adjustments to exposure, crop, and alignment. These adjustments are so fundamental, we gave our Exposure settings an Auto adjust button, and the Straighten tool has quite the trick up its sleeve. Drag your cursor to trace a straight line over your horizon, and presto! PicMonkey automatically aligns the image to your line.

2. Going overboard with Touch Up

Bad bad bad. Don’t do this.

Most of your friends and family know what you look like, so they’ll notice if you’ve turned into a Kewpie doll in your next photo. Skin and teeth are the biggest culprits.

People wield Airbrush and Wrinkle Remover like they’re going into overhaul mode, when it’s more of an easy-does-it approach that you want. That’s especially true for teeth. It’s not that you shouldn’t whiten them, but if they stand out like luminescent mouth-beings, it looks weird and fake.

3. Uncropped goodness

Before you trash a photo that you’ve deemed a mistake, see if you can simply crop out all the bad parts and get to a really good photo. You’d be surprised how many crooked and blurry foregrounds are secretly hiding some beautiful landscapes.

4. X-treme FX!!!

All of our effects come with Fade sliders that let you choose exactly how much of the effect gets applied. It’s essential to pick the right percentage for your photo.

Why? Our effects are built to work with a huge range of photos. Chances are, your pic’s somewhere in the middle, which means you won’t get your best look with one of the more extreme settings. Your image should be the first thing people notice, not the effects.

5. Spooky shadows

Dark Edges is our vignette effect, and we give it a default size of 70/100, and an intensity of 40%. Think of it like a heaping spoonful. It’ll do the trick, and you might find that you’re happier with slightly less, but any more? Whoa there; it could look like a haunted pic from the 1890s.

6. Too big or too small

But we thought 100 pixels was fine?!

Web images should be optimized for the viewing context. If the photo’s dimensions are too big, it’ll take longer to download. If the photo is too small, the browser will expand it, which ends up looking like fresh garbage. So find out the exact size you need and resize the image (or crop it) to those dimensions.

7. Sharpen up close

Sharpening is a secret weapon for your photos, but some people treat it like a focus tool when it’s really intended for line defining. If you do it last, and do it when your zoom is at 100%, you should be good to go.

8. Too many fonts

Fonts are fun, and getting carried away with them is admittedly fun, too. But for your final design, you’ll get the best results sticking with just two (or at most three) fonts. Sizes, colors, and different weights provide all the diversity you need.

9. Screaming text colors

Ever try to read pure red or blue text on an image? It’s hard, it’s annoying, and it might even literally hurt your eyes. Bright text is notoriously hard to read, and that’s why you don’t really see it in professionally-designed images (unless of course, it’s accompanied by some drop shadow). Most designers don’t use 100% black text either; we recommend adjusting the color picker so you get a very dark grey instead.

10. Huge watermarks

Representin’ 😉

There’s no point in watermarking your photo if the watermark itself is going to stop people from wanting to look at the photo. Aim to make your watermark big enough to be visible, but not obnoxious.

11. High contrast, low goodness

Ah, exposure. What can we say about exposure? Usually, it’s “chill.” As you make exposure edits, you get used to these changes very quickly. Step one needs a step two, which of course leads to step three, four, until you’re looking at a new and improved image, right?

Not always. Each edit re-contextualizes your image, which will keep looking good compared to the preceding edit. However, when you use the before and after button in the top toolbar, you can compare your edits to the original image. This shows you how much you may have over- or under-corrected your image’s original problem areas.

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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 powerful images that level up your business.