How To Edit Photos, Part 2: Adding Effects

How to Edit Photos, Part 2 (1280x1280) (800x800).jpg

Hello, my friends! 😀

I’m so happy that you guys liked the first part of this series! (If you missed Part 1 or would like to review it, click here.) Are you ready for Part 2? Today I’m going to show you how to use some beautiful and fun effects, along with a few tips and tricks as well.

Again, I’m going to be working with the PicMonkey editing site, so go ahead and open that up on your web browser and choose the photo you want to edit. Last time we used the Basic Edits section of PicMonkey, but today we’re going to use the Effects tab. It’s represented as a little sparkly wand symbol on the left hand sidebar of the PicMonkey Editor, just below the Basic Edits tab.

Alrighty, let’s do this!

How to Add Effects

To be honest, I don’t use effects that terribly much, but there are a few very helpful tools in the effects section of PicMonkey – and all of the effects are just so fun to play with! I’m going to edit a picture and walk you through the steps so you can do it too.

Here’s our starting picture. ♥


To begin with, I used the Focal /soften tool. This is a very useful effect, especially if you don’t have a DSLR or if your camera doesn’t allow you to adjust aperture. See, by adjusting the aperture to a smaller or lower f-stop, you can make the subject sharp and in focus while the background is beautifully soft and blurry. Personally, I LOVE this effect, and so do a lot of other people. It looks professional. But if you take photos with your phone or a little pocket camera, it’s not easy to get a blurred background. But that’s why you’re here, my friends! 😉 Let me show you how…

First, find the “Focal Soften” Tab. It’s toward the bottom.


If you’re a little overwhelmed by all the different sliders, don’t worry! Trust me, it’s not as complicated as it looks. I’m pretty sure you could all figure it out by just playing around with the sliders, but in case you want some more detailed information, here it is. 😉

The Blur slider simply adjusts how soft or blurry it is around your subject. Tip: Be careful not to add too much blur or the effect will look fake. Focal size adjusts the size of the part of the photo which is sharp, or in focus. Edge Harden determines how distinct the edge is between the blurry and non-blurry parts of the photo. Tip: I suggest normally sliding the edge hardness to zero or close to zero. This provides a smoother, more natural transition. And lastly, the Fade slider controls how much of the whole effect, Focal Soften, shows up on your picture.

Okay, next I used the “Boost” effect.


Tip: A little “Boost” can go a long way. You will quickly see this if you play with the slider. I used 8% boost for my picture, just to make the colors more vibrant.

I also added a teensy bit of the HDR effect.


This is yet another effect to use sparingly – although it’s really fun to play with the sliders and create weird and wonderful artistic effects. HDR is basically a more interesting, advanced form of the “Sharpen” tab in Basic Effects.

Lastly, I finished it off with another of my favorites: the Miniature effect.


Now, as you can see by that little yellow crown up there, this effect can only be used by Royale members. Like I mentioned in Part 1, Royale is an upgraded version of PicMonkey that gives you access to more effects, more graphics, and generally more features all around. I have Royale and I love it! You really get a lot of fun and useful stuff when you buy the package, including this Miniature effect. Tip: If you’re not sure whether to get Royale or not, you can always try out PicMonkey’s free trial!

Ahem, getting back to the effect… The Miniature effect is kind of like a combination of Focal Soften and Boost, but it’s a little different from either. For one thing, you can choose whether to make the focal shape linear or circular – in other words, make the in-focus part of the picture a rectangular section or a circular section. For landscapes and such, it works best to use the linear option, but for close-ups and individual objects, use circular. Adjust the Boost and Impact sliders to control the saturation and blur of the effect respectively.

Alright, I’m finished! Here’s the before and after photo: (before on the left and right on the right side)

So pretty!

I’m going to go through these next photos a little faster now that you know basically how the effects work.

Black and White

The classic B&W. 🙂 I like to use this effect when 1.) my photos are cluttered or have a distracting background, and 2.) when I want the photo to have a special, nostalgic feel. PicMonkey seriously has like 7 different black and white effects, and they’re all a bit different. Tip: Start with classic Black and White, then add some toned-down Super B&W or Tri-X to make your photo pop. If you use the Fade slider on Super B&W or Tri-X without first making the photo black and white, you’ll end up with a bunch of washed out colors instead of true black and white. Which, incidentally, is another neat editing technique of its own.

Here are some black and white photos I edited.


As you can tell, this isn’t completely black and white. If you click the little paintbrush symbol on the Black and White tab, a little menu with even more sliders pops up! Choose “Effect” at the top of the menu to paint on the effect you’re using, and “Original” to erase it off. I erased the black and white effect off of only the cupcakes here, for a fun pop of color.


This is an example of B&W used to create a nostalgic or special atmosphere. Black and white is great for preserving special memories or sweet moments like this. Isn’t is adorable? ♥ (By the way, the original picture was from this post.)



This is a VERY useful tool, but sadly, it is a Royale feature. 😦 Clone can be used to erase unwanted items right out of a picture – from power lines to trash – as long as the unwanted object is fairly small. Simply click on the part of the photo close to the unwanted object, and start erasing. This tool takes a bit of practice to master, but it is quite helpful once you do. Take this photo, for example:


Gorgeous Niagara Falls, right? And annoying blue people, huh? Well we can whisk those people far, far away with the Clone tool. Ta-daa!


Isn’t that amazing? I simply copied the bushes and rocks from around the people and painted over all that blue.

Other Tools and Tips

  • Two other very useful tools which I didn’t show are “Dodge” and “Burn.” Both are located at the bottom of the Effects page, and both require Royale membership to use. Use Dodge to brighten specific areas of your photo; use Burn to darken specific areas of your photo. Tip: Dodge is helpful when the face of your subject is dark or cast in shadow.
  • A really neat feature which PicMonkey added recently is the ability to create your own effect by layering other effects together. It’s a little button labeled “Save custom effect” up at the top of the Effects tab. But… you guessed it, it’s a Royale feature too. I actually don’t use it that much anymore, but it’s really fun to play with. 🙂 Tip: Mix up your own custom effect to provide the photos for your blog or business with one cohesive (and personalized) look.
  • Be creative! I encourage you to try out all the effects in the tab and play around with the sliders. Even if you don’t have Royale, PicMonkey at least lets you preview the Royale effects.
  • One last tip: have fun with editing, but don’t go overboard! Sometimes over-edited photos are much worse than the original. Think of the effects like make-up – use them to enhance your photo’s natural beauty, not plaster them on until your photo is unrecognizable and fake-looking. Unless, of course, you’re doing an artistic effect on purpose.

Phew! That was a lot to take in, but I hope you guys found it helpful! Let me know if you have any questions about that, and I’ll do my best to answer them. 🙂

Have fun editing!


17 thoughts on “How To Edit Photos, Part 2: Adding Effects

  1. I took your advice at the beginning and took out a photo to edit. It was pretty fun, and I think it looks quite a bit nicer than before! You had some great tips! (Now I kind of want Royale… that Dodge effect is really nice XD ) I need to remember that B&W paint brush, because I remember wanting to do something with a little color pop out of the B&W a while ago, but couldn’t figure it out! I also think the HDR setting is interesting. I didn’t know it had any use to improve pictures, but it really seemed to improve the photo when I toned it down like you suggested!


Your comments make my day! Please keep them clean and respectful so everyone can enjoy this blog. :) Thank you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s