For those of you who joined us for Class #9, Flickr, you know how to share your digital images with just your friends or even the whole darn world if you want to. But what if you want to change, improve, or perfect those photos? Maybe just to take out Uncle Charlie’s redeye (it ain’t just from the flash, if you catch our drift) or even to turn an otherwise ordinary image into a master work of art? We can show you how to do that. In this class, we’ll be using a program called Picnik to help you change your favorite images from geek to chic. Unless you’re into geek chic. In which case you can probably just leave your photos the way they are and go on to Class #13 (creating websites, which is both geek and chic).
Anywho. The software we’ll be using is Picnik, a fun, free image editing tool. Part of what makes Picnik so easy to use is that you can do all of your editing online, without ever having to install software onto your computer. What kinds of things can you do? Let’s see:
Remember Michael’s sister in Bulgaria? She’s living there with her husband and their new baby boy. Michael wants to do something nice for her first Mother’s Day, so he’s going to pick out the best photos of the baby and use Picnik to turn them into a collage and then create high-quality framable prints. He can also clean up the photo backgrounds, sharpen up some almost-perfect shots, and put cute little artwork and funny text on the photos to make Junior even more adorable than even his mom thought possible. All it costs Michael is time, plus he scores major points for being an awesome uncle.
Erin’s cousin Lurlene just announced she’s getting married! And while it’s true that Lurlene’s been engaged twice before (she left groom #1 at the altar and broke up with #2 for having “strange toes”), we feel sure this one is going to stick. As her present, Erin offered to use Picnik to make Lurlene save-the-date cards, announcement cards, invitations, thank you cards, and then afterward to make a Lurlene a lovely photo album. It’s not too hard to do, but it looks professional and is completely affordable, assuming you can afford free. And the best part is, by doing the photos, Erin is spared having to spend endless hours dragging around town helping Lurlene shop for a dress. (Really, the whole process would go a lot faster if Lurlene would just admit she’s not a size 4 anymore.)
Sean’s happy to leave the family photo stuff to his mom, but he does have a lot of architecture shots from his backpacking trip across Asia. His classmate Emma saw the pictures and thought they would be perfect for her art project. She asked Sean if she could use his pictures and also if he would help her out with the project. Sean’s had a crush on her all semester, so it was easy for him to say yes. However, what he probably should not have done is gotten flustered and told her he already knew how to use Picnik when he really didn’t. Fortunately, Picnik is so easy to learn that he can teach himself in a couple of hours and she never has to know he was trying way too hard to impress her.
What you’re about to click on is a link to a Prezi presentation. What’s a Prezi? It’s a presentation tool that allows you to follow the text as it moves, turns, and zooms. If you haven’t used it before, here’s what you do:
- Click on the Play button (in the box below) to start it.
- Once the Prezi is loaded, click again on the “Play” button each time you want to move forward through the slides.
- When you get to the end and the Play button disappears, scroll down to the “Discovery Exercise” below the Prezi to get back to the class. That’s it! No, really, that’s all there is to it. Enjoy.
Not working for you? Here are some Prezi alternatives:
- Are you using an iPhone, iPod or iPad? Download the free Prezi Viewer app and go to the Picnik Prezi online, then return to this blog when you’re finished.
- Is the Prezi too zoom-y? You can also view the Picnik Prezi as a PDF, which has no motion.
We’re going to walk you through how to get started with Picnik. It’s the kind of program that rewards experimentation, though, so once you get the hang of things, you may want to start just playing around and testing out the different buttons. You can’t break anything, so step on up and don’t be shy.
- To get started, open your Internet browser and type www.picnik.com into the address bar. Once the Picnik website loads, click on the “Get started now!” button. (You can register if you want, but it’s not required.)
- Upload: You’re probably eager to get going right away, so let’s just jump right in. Click on the “Upload” button on the left.
- Now you can either upload a photo from your computer, your flash drive, or your camera. When the pop-up box appears, select “Computer” or “My Computer.”
- If the photo you want to edit is on your computer, navigate to where the image is and click “Open.”
- If you want to upload an image from your flash drive, go to “Computer” or “My Computer,” then select “Removable Disk” (for a a flash drive) or find the icon for your camera if you are uploading photos directly from your camera. Then click “Open.”
- Now you should see all of your photos listed in the pop-up box. If you don’t, ask a buddy to help you. After all, it’s not like we can see what you’re doing from way over here.
- Select the photo you would like to edit and click “Open.”
- Wait a moment for Picnik to upload your photo.
Still waiting? Huh. Weird. We’re going to go get a sandwich. Do you want anything? Ok, we’ll be right back.
And we’re ready now? Fantastic.
Once Picnik uploads your photo, your screen will be on the main editing page. Your main editing options are on the menu bar for the Edit tab.
Is it sideways?
If your photo appears sideways, you can rotate your photo before you do any other edits. Click on the “Rotate” button. Select the “Left” or “Right” button to rotate your photo, then click “OK.”
Do you want to cut part out?
Do you want to cut your picture down to another size, or cut something out that is distracting? Select “Crop.” You can select the section of your photo that you would like to keep. Move your mouse to the light gray circles that appear on the edges of your photo. Click with your left mouse button and drag (meaning keep your finger down) the light gray lines to create new margins for your photo.
Change it back! Change it back!
If you decide that you don’t like how you cropped the photo, click “Undo” to (guess what?) undo the most recent edit that you made.
Is it the wrong size?
If you would like to change the overall size of your photo, you can use the “Resize” button. So, say if you want the image to be half the original size, click “Use Percentages” and then put 75 in for the new dimensions. Fun tip: If the “Keep Proportions” box is check, Picnik will automatically keep the image at the right size so you don’t accidentally stretch or squash your pic.
Too muddy? Too light?
“Exposure” allows you to adjust the colors and brightness of your photo. By moving the “Exposure” and “Contrast” sliders at the top of the page, you can make changes to your photo. Try it—it’s fun!
Is the color wrong?
Next is the “Colors” tab, which allows you to make even more adjustments to the colors of your photo. Holy cow. Try using the “Temperature” slider to add more blue or orange to your photo. Try out “Auto Colors” and “Neutral Picker” to see what they do, too.
Waaaaay too fuzzy?
“Sharpen” allows you to make the details of your photo sharper or softer than the details in the original.
The dreaded “Red-Eye”
And last but not least, we get back to good ol’ Uncle Charlie: the Red-Eye tab. Use the crosshairs to center in on the eye, and click to banish that red-eye. You can do this for people or for pets—note the handy selection box to the left. And we would hope it goes without saying, but this option only really works when you have a picture with people or pets in it.
Ta-da! Now you know the basics of Picnik. We bet you’re feeling pretty good about yourself right now. If you’re ready to hone your expertise, we’ve put even more tips and tricks in the “More Information for the Curious” section, which is coming up next.
More Information for the Curious
What did we tell you? We’re right back with even more fun things to try with Picnik.
So you’ve made basic edits to your photo, but now you’re ready to kick your photo-editing skills up a notch. Bam!
Advanced editing in Picnik
In addition to making basic edits to your photo, you can also use Picnik to make more creative changes to your photo. We’ve been using the “Edit” tab (look up at the top to see it), but now we want the “Create” tab, just to the right of “Edit.”
Whoa, hold on there. Don’t just start clicking all over the place. We can’t be held responsible if you do. Let’s start with the “Featured” tab (all the way to the left). With any luck, this should already be automatically opened for you.
The first thing you might notice is that some of the featured editing options say “Premium” on the side. That means, alas, that you have to be a premium ($$ paid) member to use these options. All the others are fair game, though.
Scroll down the “Featured” list and take a minute (we’ll be timing you) to check out some of the options. When you pick one, you’ll notice you get some options pop up, usually with slider bars. Play around with these; if you find something you like, click “Apply;” if you don’t like what you’ve done, click “Cancel.”
Once you’re bored with “Featured,” click the next tab, which is “Effects.” One fun option is “Vignette.” Use this to darken the edges of your photograph to give it an artistic, old-fashioned look. “Vignette” automatically uses black to darken the edges, but you can choose any color!
These really are a blast, so have fun trying all of the different options! “Focal B&W” allows you to focus on one section of your photo to leave in color, while changing the unselected areas of your photo to black and white. “Focal Zoom” allows you to choose one section of the photo while making the rest of the photo out of focus. How about “Pencil Sketch?” That makes your photo look like it is a hand-drawn pencil sketch. Hence the name, presumably. “Neon,” “Gooify,” and “Invert” are also staff favorites.
The next tab, “Text,” allows you to put text on your image, in one of many attractive fonts. With the “Stickers” tab you can put line drawings and clip art on your images, changing the size and color to suit your taste. The “Touch-Up” tab is worth looking at just for the frog art on the side.
Once you’ve thrown all the special effects on that you care to, go to the “Frames” option under the “Create” tab. Here, you can look at a before and after version of your photo. Check out what an awesome artiste you are!
Once you’re all done, be sure to save your photo! Click on the “Save&Share” tab (the last one on the right) and name your photo before you click on “Save Photo.” The other tabs across the top let you share your photos with just a few easy clicks. It really is that simple.
Just one more to go! How many of you have done all 12 so far? Show of hands? Wow, that many? Fantastic! Well, you’re just one class away from the end of Baker’s Dozen. Our final class is website construction. We make it as easy as we can, so don’t be intimidated. Ta ta for now!
Questions, comments, & suggestions welcome: Jenn and I welcome your comments about these classes! Comment in the “leave a Reply” form below or via the tech help comment form at: http://www.library.pima.gov/contact/tech.php