This post was last updated Jan 2017, since so much has changed since I first wrote this review!
I’ve already mentioned on this blog how much I love PicMonkey as a photo editor, but I wanted to sit down and do a more formal review of the product. Although this is the right tool for me, it may or may not be the best option for you. So, without further ado, let’s talk about PicMonkey!
Wait…What is PicMonkey?
For those of you who’ve never heard of PicMonkey before, this is essentially an online tool that allows you to do basic photo editing without downloading any kind of software. The best part, for many people, is the price point: free. For those of you who want more function, however, PicMonkey does have a premium version, which I happily pay to use (yes, I’m an affiliate). Unless otherwise noted, everything I’m covering in this review is included in the free version.
PicMonkey has three main functions:
- Edit/Touch Up
Edit and Touch Up are listed separately on the homepage, but they’re really the same thing: manipulating your photo. Through this menu, you can crop, resize, add text, change the colors, and more. They even have a special set of tools for touching up images of people, which allow you to make simple changes like removing blemishes and whitening teeth.
The Design function allows you to start with a blank canvas instead of uploading a picture. They’ve also added templates, which are pre-made posters, invitations, and more. Most of these are not relevant for bloggers, but templates are nice if you also want to use PicMonkey for personal projects.
Lastly, there’s the Collage function, which gives users the ability to edit several photos together to make a single larger photo. Once you’ve chosen the layout, you can also choose to go into the Edit functions, where you can further manipulated your images.
Let’s take a close look at these functions, along with some pros and cons of each:
The Edit function is split into eight categories of options (one of which is Touch Up – if you choose the Touch Up option on the home page, you’ll simply be take to this group of options first). If you pay for a premium account, you’ll have more options, but even with just a basic account, there are hundreds of ways to manipulate your photos. Here’s a quick overview of what’s available:
- Basic Edits give you the abilities to crop, change the canvas color, rotate the image, affect the exposure, manipulate the color, sharpen, and resize.
- Effects allows you to easy change an image, similar to the options available on Instagram. However, on PicMonkey, you have TONS of other options and a lot more control. You can fade effects to be extremely minimal and choose other options based on the effect.
- Touch Up effects are specifically for portraits. This group of effects includes blemish fix, teeth whitening, and lip tint.
- Text options allow you to add words to your image. There are dozens of font options, and you can change the color and size. You can also use any font installed on your computer.
- Overlays are shapes that you can add to your images. You can also add your own here.
- Frames are exactly what they sound like – different frames you can add to your photos, including drop shadows and simple edges.
- Textures add entire new looks to your images. Most are premium, but there are some simple free textures to play around with as well.
There’s a tab for Themes as well. These aren’t really different options, but rather compilations of options found on other lists. For example, the “Winterland” theme collects effects like snowfall, overlays like holly, and more all in one place so if you’re editing holiday pictures, you have all the relevant options in one place.
Lastly, you can also access the Templates function from this screen. It’s the final tab on the left-hand sidebar.
What I love most about the Edit options is the sheer number available. Unless you’re doing extremely advanced photo editing, you don’t need a high-priced option like Photoshop. PicMonkey has almost everything you need! On top of that, PicMonkey is extremely easy to use. Even if you have no experience editing photos at all, PicMonkey makes it easy. Even the premium version is only $33 per year, which hardly breaks the bank.
PicMonkey has so many options, it can actually take some time to find them all. This post on the PicMonkey blog is filled with tips for some not-so-obvious ways to use the different options.
While I do LOVE PicMonkey, nothing is without its flaws. The biggest one, in my opinion, is the lack of more options for text. PicMonkey has begun to remedy this. If you are a pro user, you can create simple drop shadows and other effects. This feature alone is worth the price of premium.
The other major flaw is that some of the pre-built overlays do not give you the option to choose colors easily. Instead of being able to simply pick the colors you want, you have a slider, which only allows you to pick a color theme. I like having complete control.
The design function allows you to start with a blank slate instead of starting with a photograph of your own. After that, all of the options are exactly the same, so no need to go through them again!
One additional “pro” that I’ll add here, though, is that when you hover on the design button, it brings up a few of the most commonly used options, like the size you need for a Facebook cover photo.
The design function now also gives you several pre-built template options, which are great if you are designing a poster, invitation, business card, etc. I especially love that they have some templates for digital graphics, like Facebook covers. Most of the templates are only available for premium users, but there are a few free options as well.
Lastly, Collage is for mashing pictures together, which is extremely useful. You don’t have to worry about getting the spacing right, and PicMonkey has tons of options for pre-made collage templates. You can also choose to edit a template as you go by adding more photos or playing with the sizing.
When you go into Collage, it will automatically ask you to upload some photos. If you just want to play with the function, they have some test photos to use as well. You can always add more photos later. You’ll see a basic template to start, but you can easily change that by choosing one of the other templates, which are organized into categories. Here’s where I’ve found that having a premium account comes in really handy, since there are lots more templates available. PicMonkey also has “swatches” (i.e. background patterns) you can use if you don’t want to use a picture in every spot.
Want to change the dimensions of any of the template’s spots for pictures? Simply position along the border until you get the little arrows and then drag left, right, up, or down. The template will change (and your pictures with it).
Lastly, you can choose the spacing and color for the background. If you change the overall size of your collage to be bigger or smaller, you may want to change this spacing, since these won’t change relatively. You can also move the spacing to zero, which puts the images directly next to one another, or you can choose a transparent background.
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of the Collage feature:
I love, love, love that this is a simple drag and drop. It’s so freaking easy! You can also make basic edits to each individual photo (resizing, rotating, exposure) without leaving Collage mode. The ability to zoom (which is effectively resizing the image) directly within Collage mode with the images exactly how you want them, is especially helpful!
Actually…there’s not much I can say here as a con. I do think they could stand to add a few more template options, especially to the jigsaw category, because if you’re not skilled and making your own layouts, the choices are limited. But really, I’m nit-picking. I think it’s much more urgent for them to add better functionality to the text feature than it is to worry about adding more collage templates.
PicMonkey recently introduced a feature called “the hub” which is AH-MAZ-ING. The Hub is only available to premium users, but it allows you to save your images within the PicMonkey application so you can work on them again later. This was one of the MAJOR complaints I used to have with PicMonkey. Once you save a file to your computer, it is a flat image, which means that you can’t edit the layers anymore. There is no “PicMonkey” file format, like there is with Photoshop.
But, if you save in the Hub, you can come back to it later, and your layers will be there as though you never left. This feature is AWESOME. I’m not sure how much space you get with the Hub, but I haven’t run out of space yet.
PicMonkey recently released a mobile app, which is free. If you have a premium PicMonkey account, you can log into your Hub from the mobile app. The mobile app does not have all of the options you get with the browser version (not even close), but it does give you pretty much everything you need to edit a photo on the go for posting to Instagram, Facebook, etc.
From the mobile app, you can access:
- Adjust (brightness, contrast, clarity, levels, saturation, temp, and blur)
- Effects (there are 17 options)
Stickers are fun little graphics you can add, and they switch them out all the time. As of writing this review, there are a bunch of winter stickers, for example. The text option allows you to choose from one of their 24 most popular fonts, and you can also justify the text, change the color, and add a drop shadow if you want.
All in all, the mobile app is bare bones compared to the desktop version, but it has everything most people need when on the go. They didn’t have a mobile app at all for a LONG time, so developing one was a huge step forward.
If you are only going to use the mobile app, I still recommend premium so you can save things to your hub and access your hub. That way, you can save work and come back to it later, instead of being forced to do all your image editing in one sitting.
If you aren’t using PicMonkey already, you don’t know what you’re missing. This is hands down the tool I use most often. I would give up just about any other online tool to continue having access to PicMonkey. Adding images to my blog posts isn’t my favorite task (understatement of the year), but PicMonkey makes it 100 times more pleasurable. And if you’re tech-challenged, it is amazingly easy to learn how to use.
While free PicMonkey is awesome, I highly recommend upgrading. Seriously, I would gladly pay twice as much…even three times as much…for an annual subscription. Shhh…don’t tell the PicMonkey people! My point it, I get so much value out of my premium account that it is, to me, worth much more. And while I am an affiliate, I would promote PicMonkey even if they didn’t have an affiliate program.
Here’s the link to sign up for an account – either free or paid. I hope you check it out and leave a comment below with your thoughts!