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
I have also started offering up some of my own photos as free stock images, and you can browse through them here.
Step 2. Sepia and colour spot
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
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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;
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)