How to Use Overlays

How to Use Overlays
April 24, 2017 Tanya Friedland


Some know them as stickers, while others call them clip art. Whatever name you fancy, we think 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 trying to create a seriously stylin’ graphic design, these versatile building blocks are here to help. Check out this video tutorial made for your personal edification, or skim below to get the highlights.

Overlay Basics

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

Basic controls:

  • To add an overlay 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 overlay 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 overlay and select Original aspect ratio.
  • Use the Layers palette to control how text and overlay elements are layered in your designs.
  • Flip overlays horizontally or vertically by clicking the horizontal and vertical flip buttons in the Overlay palette.
  • Use the Overlay palette to change your overlay’s color. You can use the Color Grid or Color Spectrum to flip through different colors, enter a hex code, or use the eyedropper to pick a color anywhere out of the PicMonkey Editor.

Blend modes and more

Every overlay has a Fade slider in the Overlay palette that lets you adjust its opacity. Blend modes can also affect transparency because they change how the overlay interacts with the background that’s 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 an Overlay opens several new controls, including:

  • Straighten
  • Delete
  • Duplicate

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

Overlay erasure

You can always erase parts of an overlay. This can come in handy if you want to create a background erase image or if you want to layer text and images.

To erase part of an overlay:

  • Zoom in so you can see what you’re doing.
  • Select the Eraser tab in the Overlay palette.
  • Adjust your eraser size and hardness and erase away.
  • If you take off too much, click the paintbrush icon to paint it back on.

Add your own overlays

In addition to using PicMonkey’s overlays, you can also add your own and edit them in the PicMonkey Editor. These overlays can be graphic elements like a logo, or they can be images that you want to use in a larger design.

To add your own overlay:

  • Click the Add your own button at the top of the overlay tab.
  • 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 overlay.

Your own overlays and templates

If a template has an image in it, that image will behave like your own overlays. In the Layers palette it will be called an “Image,” but don’t be fooled! It is an overlay.

To replace a template image with an image of your own, right-click it and select the storage option where your image lives. Your image will then be opened within the bounding box of the template image.

If you want to adjust which part of your image is visible, hold down the Alt key on your keyboard (Option on a Mac) and pull the image around with your mouse.

You can also re-crop the bounding box without stretching the image by holding down the Alt or Option key while moving around the corner handles.


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Tanya Friedland
Tanya is a copywriter at PicMonkey, a company that has greatly improved her life by allowing her to Zombify her friends and Santa-ify her enemies. A native Seattleite, she dreams of one day being a contestant on The Price Is Right.