Free Photo Editing | PicMonkey Tutorial

UPDATE as of 12/18/2012: PicMonkey has finally released their Royale services. For $4.99 a month you get an ad-free editing environment with premium editing tools. Please note that some of the tools I use in this tutorial are now apart of PicMonkey Royale.

When I first started graphic design the only way to really beautify a picture was photo editing software. Gone are the days of having to use installed photo editing software. There have been websites that come and go providing free photo editing. Some of you may remember the now defunct Picnik.  I was so heartbroken when it shut down. Luckily another similar service has arrived, and I recommend it to anyone who is looking for free photo editing online.  Welcome to PicMonkey.


Free Photo Editing Online


PicMonkey is a free photo editing website where no registration is required. Actually it’s so new that all of its online photo editing services were free at the writing of this tutorial. They will eventually have some features (known as Royale) where you will have to pay to use them once PicMonkey is out of Beta. I’m going to assume that it’s going to be on a monthly basis but don’t quote me. For the time being enjoy the freeness. UPDATE as of 12/18/2012: PicMonkey has finally released their Royale services. For $4.99 a month you get an ad-free editing environment with premium editing tools. Please note that some of the tools I use in this tutorial are now apart of PicMonkey Royale.

Today I wanted to show you how touch up a photo using PicMonkey. My mommy friend Kim took a lovely photo of Leo one day using a camera I’ll probably never have. One day. One day. To edit a photo go to the PicMonkey website and click on Edit a Photo. Select the photo on your hard drive you want to edit. You can also create a collage but we will talk about making a collage with PicMonkey in another tutorial.


Free Photo Editing Online


The editor is very easy to use. On the left side of the page you are able to select different edits. I clicked on Basic Edits because I want to crop the photo. To get to Basic Edits if you’re already not there click on the DNA looking thingy. Click on “Crop.”


Free Photo Editing Online


PicMonkey makes it simple to crop a photo. To crop your photo size the square to your liking. The faded edges are what’s going to be cropped aka disappear. When you’re happy with your photo select “Apply.”


Free Photo Editing

Sometimes the photos you take have odd lighting. It happens.  Maybe it’s not as bright or the colors are slightly off. In a program like Photoshop you can adjust the levels, brightness, contrast, etcetera. PicMonkey takes all that work out for you with the “Auto Adjust” button at the very top of Basic Edits list. Click on it and watch the magic happen right before your eyes.

Free Photo Editing


Can you tell the difference? For most people this might be all you want to do. I’m taking it a step further. Why? Because I want to show you that you can get almost the exact same results with photo editing like you pay your photographer to do. Maybe you’re a blogger like myself and want to jazz up the photos you use in your post.  Anyone, even you’re dog, will benefit with what I’m about to show you.  Let’s begin!


Free Photo Editing


To take our photo editing a step further go to “Touch Up.” Click on the lipstick icon. At this point I recommend zooming in order to focus on details. You can zoom in & out by clicking on the percentage number at the bottom right corner of the screen. Using the sliding scale to zoom into where you feel comfortable.

I love touch ups. There are so many things you can do to a photo that make flaws disappear and to create a stunning photo. The first thing I want to do is brighten my son’s eyes. I believe his eyes are what stands out the most.

Free Photo Editing


Click on “Eye Brighten.” I set my brush size to 40 because it’s about the same size as my son’s eyes in this picture. I set fade to 50% If you want a more intense brightening selecting a lower percentage.


Free Photo Editing


I wanted to give you an idea of the difference between my son’s eyes using “Eye Brighten.” All I did was click on his left facing eye using the brush. When you get the results you want click “Apply.”

Free Photo Editing


The next thing I wanted to do was to smooth out Leo’s skin. Airbrushing is widely popular in many pictures including those notorious glamour shots. Think Toddlers & Tiaras. I figured what the heck. Why not? To give my son an airbrushed effect I clicked on “Airbrush.” I selected brush size of 86, Natural, and 20% fade. Again I encourage you to play with the settings. You can also undo what you did by either clicking cancel if you have not applied the effect or if you did use the left pointing arrow in between share and the right pointing arrow.

Free Photo Editing


All I did was press and hold the brush over my son’s skin. PicMonkey’sAirBrush” reminds me of the Blur tool in Photoshop.


Photo Editing Software


I zoomed back out to finish airbrushing the rest of my son’s skin and then clicked “Apply.”


Online Photo Editing


Feeling kinda pasty white in your photos? PicMonkey has a spray tan effect. I’m only using it as an example for this tutorial. I would NEVER spray tan my son.  Select “Spray Tan” and adjust settings accordingly. I don’t want my son to look like Snooki so I took the intensity down to 30% and selected the second color from the left.


Online Photo Editing


Follow the steps for “Airbrush” to get the “Spray Tan” effect. After applying Spray Tan to my son I felt like his eyes weren’t as bright as I wanted them to be. I wanted his eyes a little bit brighter. I went back to “Eye Brighten” Notice how I change the brush size, lighten, and fade in the settings.



The last thing I wanted to do was to remove the dark circles underneath Leo’s eyes. Leo was not a happy baby the day this picture was taken. I don’t think being close to nap time helped either. I almost went with selecting PicMonkey’s clone tool but found that “Wrinkle Remover” works much better.  I set the brush size to 40 and fade to 12%.  I moved the brush underneath his eyes.


Online Photo Editing


“Wrinkle Remover” did a fantastic job at smoothing out Leo’s dark circles. Use “Wrinkle Remover” for those pesky wrinkles and dark circles under your eyes.


Pic Monkey Photo Editing


To add a final touch to my photo I wanted to apply an “effect.” Think instagram. PicMonkey has tons of effects you can select. To go to Effects click on the test tube thingamajig. Can you tell how professional I am yet?


Edit Photos Online


In selecting an effect it is really trial and error. There so many effects on PicMonkey I had a hard time choosing one. Honestly the photo would look good with or without an effect.  I decided on Cross Process. I selected Green, and 0% fade. Again if you’re not happy with that you can undo what you did. I wish life had an undo button.


Online Photo Editing

At this point you’re done. Quite honestly you don’t need to add an effect. My photo is fairly large so I decided I wanted to resize it. Now you may be wondering why I waited until the very end. This is a graphic design tip I learned. When you resize a photo you lose pixels. Pixels are what make up your detail in a photo. Wait until the very end of your photo editing to resize. It’s always better to work with a much larger photo first.


Online Photo Editing

PicMonkey gives you two options for resizing. You can use percentages or go by pixel dimension. For this tutorial I selected percentages. I put in 70% meaning the photo is now 70% smaller than what it was. Click on Apply.

Voila! You’re finished. All you need to do is click “Save” and name your picture what you want it to be named. You also have the options of what quality to save the picture in.

There you have it. You can create a photographer-worthy photo using PicMonkey. If you have not went to PicMonkey yet you are missing out on an excellent free photo editing website. Before I end this tutorial I wanted to show you a closer look at picture I edited.


Before PicMonkey:
Before PicMonkey Photo Editing


And here is after using PicMonkey. I did not use any other photo editing software other than what you saw in this tutorial. That is how amazing PicMonkey is. Wait are you waiting for? Go try it out yourself.

Online Photo Editing | PicMonkey





About Desiree Morris

Desiree Morris is a stay at home mom, brand advocate, and blogger. She is one of thousands affected by the devastating EF5 Tornado in Joplin, MO. Now residing back in Kansas, Desiree dabbles in a variety of topics.


  1. Hi..
    Thank you for making the only actual tutorial that I’ve been able to find. Other ‘tutorials’ haven’a
    actually explained how to do things, but you did so, very clearly.
    web designer recently posted..SkypeHide to Send secret messages into silence of Skype Calls

  2. Today, while I was at work, my cousin stole my apple ipad and
    tested to see if it can survive a 25 foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation.
    My iPad is now destroyed and she has 83 views. I know this is
    completely off topic but I had to share it with someone!
    Fillers with scars recently posted..Fillers with scars

  3. online-jackpot-games.co.uk says:

    Ben Shahn: “I believe that if it were left to artists to choose their own labels, most would choose none.”

  4. haha, i was searching for an online photo editor and then i found this. so useful! thanksss! :)

  5. When I went through this tutorial I was so excited but having tried it out all the extra features you mentioned say I have to be a Royal member so it’s not free. In order to apply the changes to my picture other than the basics it was going to cost. Do you have any recommendations? Am I missing something? Thanks-Michelle


  1. [...] a great Tutorial on how to use Picmonkey to edit photos!  She does a great job explaining the [...]

  2. [...] day when I open my design blog for the world to see. I’ve learned that I love to bake, write tutorials, and dance [...]

  3. [...] my last installment I showed you how to use PicMonkey for free photo editing. Today I am going to show you how to design printable cards with Picmonkey.  For this tutorial we [...]

Speak Your Mind


CommentLuv badge


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: