Monday, November 9, 2015

my editing process // how to use picmonkey to edit photos of artwork // notebook sketch

Hey guys!

   This is a new type of post for me. I wouldn't call this a tutorial, more like my own process that I explain to you in a tutorialish sort of way. If you've got a different way of doing things, I'd love to hear it! Tips are very much welcome :)

   This is specifically for successfully shooting and editing artwork online, which can be difficult for beginners. I know it was for me.

   If you don't want to be walked through the whole thing, just read the emboldened words in each paragraph.

   Okay, right off of the bat, the first thing to do is clean up your piece. There's nothing worse then realizing in the editing process that you've left eraser bits or dog hairs on your beautiful sketch. There are tricks to remove them digitally that I'll discuss later on, but you want to have a nice clean piece to begin with. Wipe up unwanted pencil marks with an eraser, give the paper a good brush, then find a good source of light.

   The best lighting for this would be window light, more specifically, cloud light, which gives off a soft grey lighting. It's best not to take the photo with the common home lighting, the warm orange type. It can color your paper weirdly and isn't the best quality wise.

   Make sure you take the photo directly over your art piece. No tilting to the side for this one (we'll get to the artistically angled photo later on). Often, the problem that I see when editing is that I can't change the angle it was shot from. Make sure it's straight on in your viewfinder. Shoot with the best camera you have, and just because all you have is a phone don't mean you can't shoot with it. Use what you've got, and download it onto your computer.

   Just a side note, I share a Canon Rebel with my sister. All of my drawings are shot with that camera.

   First step: the editing process may take a while the first time, so find some good music to listen to while you work. Instrumental music is good if you're concentrating (here's some of my favorites... happy music, Jurassic Park theme, Story of My Life, and This is Your Fight Song). I listen to songs with lyrics if I don't need to give too much attention to the editing process, my favorite being Yellow Boxes (and here's some more links... Fight Song cover, Better, Make It Up, and #Unlimited).

   The editing software site I use most is PicMonkey ( It's easy, and most edits are free. We've upgraded to the 'royale' feature (which really helps me while editing), so if any of the following edits are exclusively royale, I'll note them.

   And yes, I do have Photoshop, though I don't use it to edit these photos. I'm rather unfamiliar with it, and at this point only use it for digital art. Picmonkey is simple and easy for me.

Once onto the site, move your mouse onto the edit icon (circled above in red).

A window will come down and ask you to choose a photo to edit. Pick your photo off of whatever site you've downloaded it onto, or straight off of your computer like I do.

On your left, a column will appear with various edits you can use. All of the edits on this bar are free. The edits encircled in red are the ones we'll be using right now; rotate and exposure.

   You'll want a straight image, with all four sides of the paper lining up as much as possible with the edges of the photo. To do that, click on the rotate tool and a new window will open up, as seen above. There will be a grey bar with a little white circle in the center, and the word straighten over it. Move the white circle right or left to straighten out your image. Click apply once you're finished.

   In exposure, the first thing to do when your image is too dark (above) is to go to the highlights bar in the exposure window. Just like with the rotate tool, move the white circle to the right to make what's bright brighter, and to the left to make what's bright darker. I don't usually use brightness (circled in blue above), unless the entire image is too dark. The difference between highlights and brightness is that highlights only brightens what's already bright, like the white page, while brightness will brighten everything, including the shadows around the notebook.

   If you want to make the dark things darker (around the notebook), move the bar marked shadows, which is circled in blue above.

    After applying the lighter image, click on the sharpen tool. It's the one with the flower on it. In this window, there are two bars. To make a fuzzy image sharper and more clear, move the white circle in the bar marked clarity, then click apply. It may not be very noticeable at first, but if you zoom in, your image will look much more clear. It especially helps when your piece is done in pen.

    On the far left, there's a long window of little symbols. The one we were on is the top square. Click the magic wand directly below it and scroll down to the bottom. If you do choose to purchase the 'royale' feature, the edit labeled Dodge will be very helpful. The brush lightens specific areas of your picture, which is extremely helpful to me. I use it all of the time. Burn does the exact opposite, making pinpointed areas darker.

   On that same outside bar, click the Tt symbol. That's where the text will be. There's going to be a lot of different fonts you can pick, so scroll through them to find one that speaks you. A word of caution... try to pick a font that can be easily read, not the super fancy cursive that a viewer can't easily read at first glance. This is for your social media link, and you want people to be able to find you from your artwork. It should already be signed with your name or initials, but it's actually pretty hard to find someone on social media with just their initials.

   A little rectangle will show up on your image when you click the font of your choice. Type your social media link in the box. If your link splits up into two lines (above), drag the side of the rectangle out with your mouse to put all the words on the same line.

   To make the text larger or smaller, grab the white circles on the edge of the rectangle and drag it in or out. Don't make the text isn't too small for a viewer to read, and be careful not to make it too large, either. Find a balance and go with your gut.

   Circled in red above is a bar titled fade. This fades the color of your text. I don't like how stark the text comes out as, and fading it out makes it not as noticeable. You don't want the link to be the first thing people notice. I want them to see my artwork, not my Pinterest page.

   Also, when choosing what account to direct people to, think of what social media site most people will be able to view (and share) it on. Almost everyone uses Gmail or Google+, so almost everyone has a blogger account. That's why I use my blog link. Instagram would be a good one, if you have it.

   It's all personal preference on what color your text is, and I used black for the text color (it's not so prominent that way). If it's a rather dark image, I use white.

   Grab the text with your mouse and move it to a discrete place, like the bottom of the page. If you have problems with a thief who takes your image and calls it theirs, cropping your link away, place your link over something important they can't edit out (like a face or focal point). It's less appealing for people to view your image like that, but if you have a problem with them, you've got to do something to keep the thieves away.

    Finally, your edited image is complete. You're happy with it, and can now call it done. There's a bar directly above your image. Circled in red is the save key.

   Under file name, rename your image. I usually call it something simple so I can find it easily later. In this case, because I have multiple views of this piece, I called it jumpwideview and left in under jpg.

   Right below that is quality control. You can choose Roger, Pierce, or Sean (don't ask me why they're called that, I have no clue. Some girl's love square, I guess). Roger doesn't have great quality, and has a tiny file size. Pierce has great quality, and a good file size (sorry Roger, it's not you, it's me). And then there's Sean, who's gorgeous, only he's got a big file and takes up a lot of space. I'd only use him if I was going to have my image printed or blown up. For this image, I picked Pierce because he's going on the internet, but I still want a good image.

As you stare at your final image in your Instagram account, you may think all your effort was for naught. Well, take a look at the image above. See, the objective is not to radically change your artwork, or make it 'look better', but to edit it so it is the truest representation of your piece in real life. It looks much better when you put some work into it. Trust me.


(cut that reference photo on the left from mom's magazine. hehe!)

Well, that was a lot longer than I expected! I hope it wasn't too confusing. If you have any questions, feel free to ask below. I'd love to see what you guys do with Picmonkey, not only for artwork, but also for photography in general.

Keeping watching for another post I'm going to work on with an artistically angled image, where I deal with cropping, sharpening, and coloring. Do you think I should do another one of this kind of post, maybe about editing photos that aren't of artwork? I'd love to know!

Have a good one, guys :)