Bonus! Free downloadable PicMonkey alignment grid
PicMonkey Alignment Grid
free downloadable

free downloadable picmonkey grid

 

 

You know how in yesterday’s post I was bemoaning the fact that it’s stupidly hard to align and centre objects in PicMonkey because they don’t offer any tools to do so, or any kind of grid? Well, I’ve fixed that! I’ve put together a really simple tool – a grid as a transparent overlay, marked in convenient halves, thirds and quarters. I’m providing this as a FREE DOWNLOADABLE, so use it for yourself with your next project, and/or you are most welcome to share, share away!

 

How to use it.

1. Download your transparent grid HERE, and save it to your computer in an appropriate folder.
Make sure it’s saved as a .png file, so it retains its transparency (saving it as a .jpg will automatically give it a solid white background).

2. Open your background image in Picmonkey.

3. Click on Overlays, and Your Own. Choose the grid (it’s called “picmonkey alignment grid”), and click on Open.

4. Resize to cover your whole image by dragging the corners to the edge of your background image. My grid is square, but if you hold the shift key down while you drag the corners, you can change the proportions so that it will cover rectangles too.

5. If your background image is dark, the grid might not show up very well – no probs, just play with the Colour settings and Blend Mode in the Overlay pop-up box until it’s got the best contrast against your image.

 

picmonkey tute - alignment grid1

Overlay colour set at black shows the true colours of the grid. Some lines on the grid are difficult to see.

 

 

picmonkey tute - alignment grid2

Overlay colour set at white shows the grid much more clearly.

 

6. Add your other elements, and align them with the grid by dragging them around when you see the four-headed arrow, which should appear when you hover over the highlighted object box.

 

picmonkey tute - alignment grid3

 

7. Delete the grid. You should be able to select it by clicking on the solid circle in the bottom right of the grid.
And there you go! Perfectly aligned text.

(p.s…. You can also download my beach pic as a free stock photo, here.)

 

picmonkey tute - alignment grid4

 

How easy peasy was that!? I’m actually a bit gobsmacked that nobody’s thought of making something like this before. But I’ve searched and searched… aaah well. Now it exists! Hooray!

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Are there any other tools you’d like to have to help you work in PicMonkey? Hit me up with your requests and I’ll see what what I can do! I might just invent something new, just for you…. ;D

Julie XX

 

Small biz how-to: Make product labels with PicMonkey

Another tutorial on PicMonkey? Yes yes of course! Because it’s easy and it’s free and you can do fabulous things with it for your business :) In this one, I get to grips with making beautiful packaging, as presentation is another indispensable tool for grabbing your customers’ attention and making them fall in love with you.

So without further ado, here’s how to make product labels with PicMonkey.

 

DIY labels

DIY labels with PicMonkey

 

I wanted something a bit more modern than retro, which means I need something clean, flat and fresh. One minimalist trend at the moment is to layer a white shape over a pattern, so I started with this pattern in fresh, clear colours.

 

watermelon stars by tractorgirl

watermelon stars by tractorgirl, made using colourlovers.com

 

 

There are several websites you can download patterns for free – but as always, check the licencing! Some are free only for personal use and not available for commercial purposes. I didn’t want to bother with all of that, so I made my own pattern in ColourLovers, which is also a free online program (and VERY fun!).

 

Step 1. How big does your image need to be?

SO! There’s a bit of maths involved here, but don’t panic. Just make sure you measure and double check everything before you print, so you get the size you’re after. Take it slowly and write it all down logically so you don’t confuse yourself.

Print quality is something you need to consider – a good quality print is at 300dpi (dots per inch), although an OK result can be achieved at 150dpi. What this means is that for an A4 sheet of paper printed at 150dpi, your total image needs to be 1240 pixels x 1754 pixels, and for the same A4 printed at 300dpi, your image needs to be 2480 pixels x 3508 pixels.

How many labels are you going to print onto your sheet? If you’re printing at 150dpi and there are 2 across the page and 3 down, each label image needs to be about 620 pixels by 584.  If you’re going to buy printable sticky labels, the sheets are already precut into various sizes so that will dictate the image size you need to work with.

 

Step 2. Getting it to the right size

Go into Picmonkey, click on Edit and load up your background pattern. Go into Crop, and get your image to the size you want – either by using Crop, which will cut the edges off, or with Resize, which will simply shrink your image.

 

Step 3. Designing your label

Here’s the simple and fun part! Go into Overlays. Choose whether you want a simple Geometric, or something a bit fancier – scroll down PicMonkey’s list to find Labels and Banners. Click on the one you want, and resize it by dragging the corners.  The default colour is black, but that’s easy to change by adjusting the colour in the pop-up box – I’ve changed mine to white.

Centre your circle (or label shape) within your image. There are no specific tools in PicMonkey to do this (booo PicMonkey – this is a basic thing!), but you can either do it by temporarily overlaying a grid (you’ll have to upload one of these yourself as an Overlay, set the Fade to 50%, align what you need and then delete the grid layer), or by simply by grabbing the nearest ruler out of your kid’s pencil case and measuring the screen.
****Update! I’ve made a transparent grid to help you do this. It’s yours for free here! ****
Don’t try and do it by eye unless you’re a ninja.

Next, pop in your text. Go into Text, click on Add Text, then choose your font/s (I’ve used a PicMonkey font for most of it (Special Elite), and Goblin for tractorgirl, which is a font loaded on my computer). Then click in the box that appears on your image and add in whatever you need – item name, ingredients, etc.

 

tractorgirl - picmonkey tute

 

Finally, flatten your image by clicking on the Combine icon, second from the right on the top of the screen, or simply just hit Save. Name your file, choose the best image Quality (“Sean”) on the right, and then hit Save to My Computer.

 

For the next part, you’ll need to close that image (click on the cross at the top right); PicMonkey will drop you back to the main page.

 

Step 4. Getting your collage sheet to the right size

Click on Collage, and then it will ask you to choose a photo to upload. Choose your label image.

Go into Layouts, and choose the 3 x 3 in Square Deal – we’ll change the dimensions next.

You’ll see the dimensions listed underneath the collage grid. Make sure the proportions aren’t locked – the little lock icon should be grey (click on it to lock – it will show blue). So for A4 at 150dpi, click on the left-hand dimension (width) and put in 1240, and on the right (height), put in 1754.

 

Step 5. Getting the right number of cells and adding images

Click on the Images icon on the top of your left sidebar – it will already show your label image. Click on Open Photos, and add in your label image again – keep on adding in as many copies as you need to fill your page.

If you’ve got too many collage cells (e.g. I just want 2 across and 3 down), just hover over empty cells until the cross appears in the corner and click on that. If you need to add in some more cells, drag one of your label images over and hover in between cells – a blue area will be highlighted where the new cell will be. (If you’re not sure how big/where the new cell will be, drag your image around to different areas of the collage to see what happens with the cell position.)

 

Drag your images one by one over to the empty cells and presto! A page of perfectly sized labels to print.

 

tractorgirl - picmonkey tute - label collage3

 

And as before, when you save your image, do so at the best quality (“Sean”) – every little loss of information from your image means lower print quality. Your products are worth the best, aren’t they!?

 

(p.s. you can download my pattern Watermelon Stars to use as you wish for free! And you can even recolour it. Here.)

 

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Did you like that one? Not too hard really, was it? :D

If you’ve got any problems, tricky issues or any other questions about PicMonkey, or about labelling your products, I’d love to know! Hit me up with a comment below.

AANNNDDDD…. What would you like to know next? Would you like to have a tutorial about how to make neat-o patterns in ColourLovers? Because that’s awesome fun too. Suggestions please!!!

 

All my best always,
Julie X

 

Inspiring : Nouveau Bohemian {surface design}

With a “background that is ridiculously unrelated to what I do now”, Esther Fallon Lau produces gorgeously diverse patterns, full of whimsical creatures and fairytale people in soft textures and colours. Under the name Nouveau Bohemian, she spreads her designs throughout Spoonflower and Society6 in a profusion of animals, birds, Fridas and tattooed men. She’s a busy person – not content with simply designing, she also uses her Spoonflower products to recycle old furniture with reupholstery and decoupage to sell on Etsy.

 

nouveau bohemian - the enchanted universe

nouveau bohemian – the enchanted universe

 

nouveau bohemian - woodland winter toile

nouveau bohemian – woodland winter toile

 

Esther first gained a degree in Psychology, and went on to spend a life in Government writing policy and managing huge, national projects. “At the height of my ‘serious’ life I was a media advisor to a federal politician. While not entirely ‘designy’ it did require creativity and has given me a good grounding in how to pitch yourself and your products and the importance of powerful, consistent branding, which, when I have more time to launch myself will hold me in good stead.”

After having children, she felt the need to do something that was more grown-up and a channel for her creative energy, and what started out as a hobby has grown into something that is on the tipping point of turning into a real business. “Up until now, I feel like I have been doing an apprenticeship, driven purely by enjoyment. My husband works away for 3 weeks out of 4; and we have two small kids.”

 

 

“Needless to say I have very little time – but I needed a creative outlet, something that was just mine. So I wrote a novel (haven’t had time to try to get it published yet, ha). Then about 18 months ago I stumbled onto Spoonflower and started dabbling in surface design for fun.”

 

“I entered their contests and won a couple. I realised people liked what I do, and my success on that site is growing all the time. Spoonflower is a wonderful tool in so many ways, but mostly because it allows you to test your product out in the market for very little outlay.  Over time, my customers have shaped my style so that it is both still my own, but also more attractive to a wider market.

 

nouveau bohemian - fairytale terrariums

nouveau bohemian – fairytale terrariums

 

“Right now, my focus is on harnessing the creative explosion that is going off my brain, doing as much designing as possible and diversifying distribution using methods that are not time intensive. The next step will be to use my designs to produce and distribute my own products (eg decor items and baby products) and take on more of the distribution myself (which will be more time consuming but potentially more lucrative). I also need to set up a blog to tie all my selling platforms together. And I need to get some sleep!”

 

nouveau bohemian - nutcracker

nouveau bohemian – nutcracker

 

Running a business as a solo operator can be tiring, and there are plans to collaborate with friends in a collective. “So far I have taught myself everything – from Photoshop to reupholstery. I Youtube, Google, and Pinterest constantly as research. I also hassle my dad from time to time to fix up old crappy bits of furniture I find. I am just at the point where I need to 1) upskill on the tech stuff and start working in vectors, and 2) outsource. Here [Byron Bay] I am surrounded by brilliant, talented mothers of young kids who want to do SOMETHING but don’t have the time do everything required to run a small business. So we are currently looking at setting up a women’s collective where some of us produce inventory and others provide essential roles such as marketing and distribution.”

 

nouveau bohemian - the herb garden

nouveau bohemian – the herb garden

 

Creativity has been part of her life forever. “My childhood didn’t involve craft, it WAS craft. My parents were hippies; educated bohemians who believed in self sufficiency, DIY and ‘culture’ long before these ideas became trendy. We lived in the foothills behind Byron Bay and most of our neighbours were artists, musicians, dreamers, intellects and/or completely trippers. My father was a furniture maker. My days were filled with painting, building, creating, cubbies at the creek, gardening, cooking etc. We were pretty poor but my childhood was rich beyond all measure. That’s why when I had kids, I gave up my career and moved us back to our family farm which we share with my incredible mother.”

 

nouveau bohemian - pheasant season

nouveau bohemian – pheasant season

 

For any small creative business, Esther agrees that presentation is everything. “Even if your product is brilliant, customers won’t value it if it doesn’t tell a story. Styling and branding are vital; for instance when I photograph my furniture, I try to use props that allude to the kind of (cool, fabulous) person who might own it. Often my fabric collections are inspired by events, movements, groups of people, geography – for example I have a collection called the Silk Route which explores the intersection between Eastern and Western traditional design.”

“How you present yourself as the artist is also important as this gives your product providence – customers will place more value on niche products made by artists with a background story, than the same product mass produced in China.  That’s why big global brands spend so much money creating the illusion of providence (e.g. by associating a brand with a movement such as bohemian, hip hop, Scandi etc). And when people buy your product as a gift, this story needs to come though in all your  packaging, wrapping, business cards.  When there is a ‘story’ customers feel like they are getting more bang for their buck.”

 

nouveau bohemian - vintage peacock

nouveau bohemian – vintage peacock

 

The best thing that has happened to Esther as a designer? “Funnily enough, having kids. I have always had a very intellectual, logical way of looking at things. My design work before kids was too literal, rigid. The sleep deprivation and other business that comes from having kids has damped down my cognitive skills, making me vague and dreamy. This is bad for getting the house work done but excellent for  unlocking my creative brain, allowing ideas to flow laterally, float around without analysis then morph unfettered into something more organic and original. So paradoxically because of kids I am a much better designer, but because of kids I no longer have the time to be one. Ha. Ha. And my work space is a total mess with kids toys and grubby handprints everywhere. It is not the tranquil, sacred studio space of my dreams.”

 

nouveau bohemian - real men bake

nouveau bohemian on Society6 – real men bake

 

Is there something quirky or curious about yourself that you’d like to share?
“No, but my three year old wants to marry a penguin.”

 

esther painting furniture

esther painting furniture

 

esther clowning with julia gillard

esther clowning with julia gillard

 

And the best piece of advice you’ve ever had? “Follow your bliss.”

You can find more of Esther’s patterns and illustrations in her Spoonflower shop Nouveau_Bohemian, and in her Society6 shop, and her renovated furniture in her Etsy store, Republic of Lush.
Small biz how-to : Using Picmonkey to make a retro-style meme for your blog
tractorgirl - picmonkey tutorial

 

Seen all those great memes about these days? Those ones you keep pinning on Pinterest and sharing on Facebook? Yeah, them! They’re a great way to drive traffic to your blog, and they’re easy to make on PicMonkey – a free online image editor, where you can get fabulous-looking images for absolutely nix (although there is a paid version with heaps more features too).

(And even if you don’t need a meme like this, there are plenty of other things you can make with PicMonkey! Stick with through this tutorial and I guarantee you’ll learn something useful.)

In this online world, good images are vital to grab your crowd’s attention. If you’re writing a blog, or you need a new banner for your Etsy shop or Facebook, or any one of a million other applications, PicMonkey is loaded with preset filters, overlays and frames so that it’s perfect for those of you who are less tech-savvy and/or don’t wish to pay for Photoshop to get something that looks good. Of course it’s not endlessly flexible in the same way that Photoshop is, and it does have a few issues, particularly the constant stream of ads (not in the paid version) which tends to slow its performance (quite noticeable with my slow internet connection). Overall however, it’s a great starting point.

 

IMPORTANT: before you start ANY image editing,
you need to decide what kind of “look” you’re after
.

 

Do not just get in there and start clicking, as (a) you’ll spend waaaay too much time getting to the end; and (b) even worse, you will most likely end up with a visual mess. For this one, I’ve gone for a bit of a distressed, vintage look that is pretty popular these days. So, I’ll use stuff like sepia-tone, add in some texture, and use a hand-drawn style font. Let’s get started.

 

Step 1. Getting an image

If you’ve got a great image of your own, go for it! If you don’t, there are plenty of sites that offer free stock photos, such as Unsplash, GetRefe, or NewOldStock.

 

I have also started offering up some of my own photos as free stock images, and you can browse through them here.

 

So, go to PicMonkey.com, and open your image of choice. I’ve used my pic It’s a big wide world out there.

 

picmonkey 1

 

Step 2. Sepia and colour spot

tractorgirl.com.au - picmonkey tutorial

 

tractorgirl.com.au - picmonkey tutorial

 

Go into Effects and click on Sepia. It will immediately turn your image into an entirely sepia photo. You can use the Fade slider to adjust the amount of sepia over the whole image, or, you can remove the sepia on the parts you choose with the Paint brush tool. Set the size of the brush large to erase out the bulk of the sepia. Then, zoom in to your image, using either the zoom tool on the bottom right of your screen, or if you’ve got a scroll wheel on your mouse, you can use that.

Make your brush smaller, so you can use it to erase the sepia from the details.

You can “grab” the picture and move around by holding down the space bar and the left button on your mouse simultaneously.

 

Step 3. Add some texture

tractorgirl.com.au - picmonkey tutorial

 

Picmonkey has a variety of textures you can add to your pic – you’ll find them under Textures in the left-hand sidebar. But to add your own, you’ll need to go into Overlays, and click on Add Your Own. Upload your file. It’ll show up tiny on your screen, but just resize it by dragging the corners and sides out until it covers your photo.

In the Overlay pop-up box, adjust the Fade to where you’d like (usually around 85% is good). If you’d like to get rid of the texture on some of your image (in this case, I’d like to make the toys ‘pop’ a bit more), click on Eraser in the Overlay pop-up box. Zoom in so you can work on the details, and use the little box on the bottom right to move your picture around.

 

tractorgirl.com.au - picmonkey tutorial

 

Step 4. Flatten your image

When you added the Overlay, that meant that you are now working with two layers. You can have lots of layers if you like, which makes it super easy to move stuff around and put it exactly where you want. However, when you have more than two layers directly above each other you have to click exactly on the thing you wish to move, and this can be a bit tricky if you want to move text around for instance – it just doesn’t have a lot of surface area to grab.

So, for me to add my text overlay and try and get it in the right spot I’ve got two choices – either move the other layer out of the way so the text is the only thing to grab, or else simply flatten the image before I move onto the next step. To flatten, click on the icon at the top of the screen.

 

tractorgirl.com.au - picmonkey tutorial

 

Step 5. Adding text

To go with our retro-distressed look, we need to choose a font with a bit of texture, and to go with the simplicity of the image, an uncomplicated font as well. Like in the image above, choose Text on the left sidebar, click on your font of choice (I’ve chosen Chelsea Market), then click on Add Text. Your text box will appear in the middle of the screen, as well as the pop-up for the text options such as colour, size, left/centre/right justification, etc.

The more you type, the taller your text box will become; but you can change the width of it by hovering over the side until the double-headed arrow and triple lines appear, then just click and drag to your preferred width. I’ve also centre-justified my text, and changed the colour with the hex code – that’s the 6-digit code in the top right corner of the options box (see image above).

***STOP PRESS***
To align the text box in the image, you can use this handy transparent grid I made, here!

I want to also add my name to this image, so click on Add Text again to get another text box. This time, I want to use a font on my own computer, so click on Yours in the box above the list of font choices, and it brings up all the fonts I’ve installed. Unfortunately, Picmonkey seems to mangle a couple of them in the process, so keep an eye out for that when you’re choosing your own. Goblin is still there, so that’s good. Same as I do for all my branding, I pick out a letter or two and change the colour.

 

tractorgirl.com.au - picmonkey tutorial

 

Step 6. Add dark edges

Easy peasy. Go back to Effects in the left sidebar, and scroll down to Dark Edges. Fiddle about with the Size, Intensity and Colour until you’re happy.

 

Step 7. Add a circle under the text

Taking a good look at the image, I think the text at the top is a bit difficult to read with the clouds underneath, so I have decided to put a white circle underneath it.

 

tractorgirl.com.au - picmonkey tutorial

 

Click on Overlay, and in Geometric, click on the circle. Resize it, and change Colour 2 to white (Colour 1 is a line option around the edge, and the default is transparent). Then right-click on the circle, and other options will come up; choose Send Backward. This will drop it one layer, and put it behind the text. (Send to Back will make it the very lowest layer, just above the base photo.) I’d also like the circle a bit translucent so that the clouds show through, so I set the Fade to around 40%.

The last thing to do is to tweak the size of the text so that it fits inside the circle;

et voilà!

 

tractorgirl - picmonkey tutorial

 

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Did you like this tutorial? I’ll be doing another one shortly on making a banner for your Etsy shop, which will also include a style guide and other groovy pointers, but I’d love to hear what you’d like. Is there something specific, for instance your blog header or twitter background that you need to learn how to do? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll get onto it! 

(and don’t forget to join me on the minibus for a regular hit of small biz tips and tricks too) 

Love always,

Julie X