Thursday, May 2, 2013

How to edit photos of your scrapbook layouts using PicMonkey

Have you ever looked at someone's scrapbook layouts online, and wished you knew how to take a great photo of your work for your blog as well?  Let me tell you a's only about 50% photography, and the rest is in the editing! Here's how I photograph my scrapbook layouts, and edit the images using PicMonkey...

1. Photograph your layout in natural light
Be warned...using a flash will overexpose the colours in your layout, and may cast shadows. For the best results, try to shoot your photograph using afternoon light. Late afternoon has the softest light, reducing those harsh shadows, and allowing you to get the best results. For those of us in the southern hemisphere; chose a north facing position out of direct sunlight. Place your layout on the ground, and take your photo looking directly down onto your layout. Try to keep your layout as square as possible through the view finder. Focus, focus, focus...the clearer your image, the easier the editing will be. Snap a few photos, and choose the best one to edit.

2. Open your image in PicMonkey
PicMonkey is a free online photo editing software, that is incredibly easy to use. You can pay for an upgrade to Royale membership (which I have) if you wish. Royale membership will give you a lot more features to play with...but it's not necessary.

3. Straighten your image
It's near impossible to take a straight photo every single time. Thankfully, PicMonkey allows you to straighten your layout. Select "Rotate", then move the "straighten" slider left or right until the image of your layout is straight. Use the grid on the screen as a guide, then click apply once you're satisfied with the image. (Use this tool for your landscape photos too to get your horizons straight.)

4. Crop your image
If you scrapbook 12x12in layouts, cropping your layouts is incredibly easy to do! Simply select the "crop" feature, then select the "square" option from the drop down menu. Click on the corner of the square, and while holding down the left mouse bottom, drag out the square until the outline of the cropped area reaches the edge of your layout. You may lose a little of your layout, but that's okay.
Select "apply", and PicMonkey will discard with the excess image.

5. Resize your image
Some galleries only allow images to a maximum of 600x600 pixels, so that their servers don't become clogged with high resolution images, thereby slowing down their site. The same applies for your blog. If you want your layouts to load on your blog quickly, you need to reduce the size of your images. I prefer 550x550 pixels for my own blog. I find that this size is a perfect fit within my blog column width, and large enough so that the details of my scrapbook layouts are still visible.  Experiment with different sizes to see what works for you!

To resize your layout, select "resize" then type your preferred size into the "change size to" box. If you have cropped your image square, you will only need to type the number in the left hand box. PicMonkey will keep the proportions of your layout. Select "apply" to set the size.

6. Sharpen your image
When you resize your image, you may lose a little clarity and sharpness. Select "Sharpen", then adjust the levels by moving the slider to the right until you're happy with the look. I adjust sharpness to a maximum of 3, and clarity to a maximum of 10%. Any more than that, and your image may look a little grainy. Select "Apply" to set your levels.

7. Adjust your colours
Make sure you have your layout next to you when you adjust your colours, so that you can compare your layout to what's on the screen. I noticed that my layout was too dark. To adjust, select "Colors", then "Auto Adjust".  PicMonkey will decide what saturation and temperature levels suit your image. If you're not happy with the look, simply move the sliders left and right until you're satisfied. Select "apply" to set the colour levels.

8. Save your image
Last step in the editing process is to save your image. Give your image an appropriate title, and save at the highest quality. Avoid saving over the top of your original image, just in case you need to re-edit it in the future (it happens!).

9. Upload your layout to your blog!
Here's the final product. If you use blogger like me, once you've uploaded your image, select "original size", and voila! Your layout will appear on the screen exactly as you've edited it.
As you can see, with a few simple edits, you can turn your layout into an image that will pop on your blog!
It only takes a few times to get used to editing your layout images, and you'll be amazed at how fantastic your blog looks now!

Day 2: Educate us on something you know a lot about or are good at. Take any approach you'd like (serious and educational or funny and sarcastic)

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