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. This tools is a newer addition, and definitely a welcomed one, since you can now easily create images from scratch.
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.
- 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.
Lastly, there’s a tab for Themes. 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.
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. If you want to create a drop shadow, for example, you have to create a duplicate layer and slightly offset it. There’s no option for a stroke (outline) or any kind of gradient. This means that you have far fewer good options for text if your background isn’t a solid color than if you use a more expensive editing program. I talk a little about how to overcome these problems in this post about image creation, but really, I would just like PicMonkey to add these options. It’s really weird that these aren’t options already, given how many other options available. Dear PicMonkey: Stop adding new fonts! Give us better options for text!
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.
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 templates. You can also choose to edit a template or made your own from scratch.
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 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) instead of having to come into 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.
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!