How to Make a Photo Overlay

Some know them as stickers, while others call them clip art. (For all you veteran PicMonkeyers out there: we used to call them overlays in old PicMonkey but we’re calling them graphics in new PicMonkey.) Whatever name you fancy, this post is all about showing you how to make an overlay in PicMonkey. We think graphic overlays are the greatest thing since buttered toast—and you should too! Whether you’re looking to amp up the silly factor in a photo by putting a mustache on your nephew, or you’re creating a seriously stylin’ graphic design, these versatile building blocks are here to help.


Overlay Basics

To get started with an overlay, click the Graphics tab on the left-hand side of PicMonkey. From there you’ll find tons of options in our different graphic overlay groups, from plain old shapes to multicolored artist-drawn confections like flowers and facial hair.

Basic controls:

  • To add a graphic to your design canvas or photo, just click it and it’ll appear on your image.

  • To reposition it so that it appears where you want on the canvas, drag it into place.

  • To resize your graphic while maintaining its aspect ratio, pull its corner handles or sides to make it bigger, and push to make it smaller.

  • To change the overlay’s aspect ratio, press the Shift key on your keyboard while you push or pull on its sides. If you change your mind, right-click the graphic and select Original aspect ratio.

  • Use the Layers panel to control how text and graphic elements are layered in your designs.

  • Flip graphics horizontally or vertically by clicking the horizontal and vertical flip buttons on the Graphic Tools menu. Rotate left or right 45-degrees at a time by clicking the rotate arrows.

  • Use the Graphic Tools menu to change the overlay’s color. You can use the Color Spectrum to flip through different colors, enter a hex code, or use the eyedropper to pick a color anywhere in the PicMonkey editor. Rainbow Colors are pre-designated colors that you can choose from.


Blend modes and more

Every overlay graphic has a Fade slider that lets you adjust the opacity. Blend modes can also affect transparency because they change how the graphic interacts with the elements behind it. Depending on what color your background is and what color the overlay is, blend modes might look different each time. We suggest scrolling through them to preview how they’ll look before choosing one.

Right-clicking the overlay will open several new controls, including:

  • Straighten

  • Delete layer

  • Duplicate layer

When you duplicate an overlay, all the changes that you made to the original will be reflected in the duplicate.


Animate overlays

All the animation movements available to apply to your designs. Note that the green stars are looping motion animations, while the orange are entrance motion animations. 

PicMonkey Pro subscribers have the power of animation at their disposal. Turn static graphics into animated GIFs for fun looks.

To animate an overlay graphic:

  • Select your graphic layer.

  • Click Animate on the Graphic Tools menu.

  • Choose your animation style.

  • Click the Play button to preview.

  • Download as a GIF or MP4 file.

Read more: How to Animate a Picture, Text, or Graphic


Erase overlays

You can always erase parts of a graphic. This can come in handy if you want to create a background erase image or if you want to layer text and images. In the example above, we've used the eraser like a stamp on our crown graphic.

To erase part of an overlay graphic:

  • Zoom in so you can see what you’re doing.

  • Select the Eraser tab in the Graphic Tools menu.

  • Adjust your eraser size and hardness and erase away.

  • If you take off too much, click the paintbrush icon to paint it back on.

All subscribers have access to the circular erase tool. Pro subscribers get additional shapes like squares, stars, hearts, and more.


Add your own overlays

In addition to using PicMonkey’s overlays, you can add your own and edit them in the PicMonkey. These overlays can be graphic elements like a logo, or they can be images that you want to use in a larger design. Try layering images for a cool photo-on-photo effect!

To add your own overlay:

  • Click the Add your own image button at the top of the graphics panel.

  • Find your photo and open it from wherever it’s stored.

  • Once you add the overlay to your design, you can edit it just like any other graphic.

Note that we do accept SVG files, which can be customized in PicMonkey.

Use your overlays in templates

If a template has an image in it, that image will behave like your own overlay. To replace a template image with an image of your own, click its layer, then click Replace image from the Image Tools menu and select the storage option where your image lives. Your image will then be opened within the bounding box of the template image.

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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.