I read somewhere once that it’s the images and design of a blog that grab a reader’s attention first of all, but it’s the content that keeps them coming back. I’m inclined to agree – I know that I’m immediately drawn to blogs with nice pictures. The thing is, unless you’re a really good photographer, finding images for a blog post can be a real headache. Rose, Nicky and I still struggle with this to be honest, but one thing that has helped has been to use PicMonkey to edit our images – it’s made a real difference to the overall look of the blog. I really like that PicMonkey is browser-based so I don’t have to download anything to my laptop; it also means I can edit pictures from any computer. The best bit, though, is how intuitive it is to use.
While I still consider myself a beginner, I thought I’d walk you through the steps I take when I edit an image for a blog post (I edit personal photos using PicMonkey, too). I don’t do much and all in all, I’d say it takes me about five minutes to edit an image, so it’s definitely worth a try.
When I edit an image, my general rule of thumb is to work my way down the basic edit tools then add a filter at the end (more on that later).
We crop all of our images for the blog so that they’re the same size, span the full width of the post, and load more quickly. When cropping, you can use the preset proportions from the drop-down menu (e.g. 16 x 9) or your own dimensions. All of our landscape images are 940px x 628px. I type that into the boxes and click ‘scale photo’; that way I can change the size of the box as I crop the image, but it will stay locked in the proportions of 940px x 628px.
I rarely use this, but it’s useful if something in your image looks a bit wonky. Just slide the scale and a guide will appear on the picture to help you straighten it out. For example I rotated this image of the weighing scales so that the tiles were straight.
I usually start with auto-adjust and see what it looks like. Nine times out of ten, I go with that. Recently I’ve started experimenting with the brightness as I think it can really make images stand out from the page. I just play with the slider, turning it right up and down to see what it looks like. I think cranking the brightness up on this picture of my kitchen had a huge effect.
I rarely use auto-adjust with this feature as it always looks weird, but I often up the saturation and the temperature a little bit. Again, it’s a case of playing with the sliders to see what looks better. The light in my kitchen often makes images look a bit grey, so I often up the temperature. I think increasing the warmth and saturation of these friands (recipe here!) made them look much more appetising.
I’ve only just started using this feature and I find it a bit hit and miss, as it’s easy to go overboard and make the image look pixelated. But it can be useful for adding definition to images and making features pop. I usually click on the ‘unsharp mask’ and set it to radius 4, strength 40% and clarity 4%.
As any Instagram user knows, a good filter can disguise a pretty mediocre image, so I quite often use them for blog post images. The key is to turn the filter right down so that it only makes a subtle difference. My PicMonkey favourites are Dusk and Tranquil and I usually fade them to 75% (though I always experiment a little as sometimes fading it to only 50% works well too). This is one of the very first images I edited in PicMonkey and I can see now that I might have relied a little too heavily on the old filters! Still, I like the effect for this image.
So there you go – that’s how I edit blog images using PicMonkey! I feel like I’m learning all the time and in just a couple of months I like to think I’ve gotten a lot better. There are lots of other cool things you can do in PicMonkey, like creating collages and adding text to images. I’d be happy to do another tutorial on that if you’re interested? Just let me know in the comments section below.
What do you use to edit images? Do you think you’ll give PicMonkey a try?