Crazy For Crust: How to Use Curves in Picmonkey

I’m so excited to have Dorothy from Crazy for Crust here at Something Swanky today! Normally, Dorothy blogs about desserts, like me. She makes the best stuff (like Chocolate Chip Turtle Cookies, Kiss my Cookie Bark, and Oreo Crust Mix)  — definitely check it out! 
But today, I’ve asked her to step out of her comfort zone and blog about something a little different: the tech side of blogging. That’s right. Dorothy’s put aside the apron and reese’s cups to hang out with me for a day and talk about Picmonkey and hyperlinks! She must really love me :)

I’ve been including weekly DIY Blog Design tutorials for the past couple of months, because I love getting the chance to share the tips and tricks I’ve learned for sprucing up a blog. I love that anyone can have a great looking blog– no matter your budget! It’s all about taking the time to reach out to other bloggers and learn something new. 
We all know that having great photos is a HUGE part of running a successful and great looking blog. So when Dorothy mentioned that she uses Curves in Picmonkey to edit her pictures, I just knew I had to have her guest post– because I haven’t the foggiest idea how to use that portion of my favorite online photo editing program!! 
(I’ve also asked her to include one other brief techy-blogging tutorial, but I’ll let her tell you about that)

The “designing” aspect of Something Swanky is all about sharing the blogging know-how, and I so appreciate Dorothy taking time out of her busy baking schedule to pencil in a post for me! Make sure to swing by her blog, Crazy for Crust, to say thanks!

Hi Everyone! Dorothy here, from Crazy for Crust. You know, where I’m crazy. For crust. And cookies. And cake. And pretty much everything with sugar.

I’m so excited Ashton asked me to guest post today! I’m totally honored to be here. See, I think Ashton and I may have been separated at birth. We are total dessert sisters. There have been so many times when I’ve posted something and she’s let me know that she has a similar post in the works, and vice versa.

We have dessert telepathy. It’s totally a true thing.

Anyway, I’m here to talk about two things non-dessert related. (I know, it threw me for a loop too.)

First, I wanted to give a little tutorial on how to add a link when you leave a comment. You know, when you want to say:

“Hi! Oh my goodness those cookies look totally fab, I want to eat 17 of them right this second. xo, Dorothy from Crazy for Crust.”

Not,

“Hi! Oh my goodness those cookies look totally fab, I want to eat 17 of them right this second. xo, Dorothy from http://www.crazyforcrust.com.”

It’s so easy you’re going to be shocked. All it requires is a little bit of html code (wait! don’t run screaming!)

Here is what you do:

Leave your comment. Write all sorts of fabulous things. Then, when you get to where you want to link, write this code:

URL YOU WANT TO LINK TO“>WORDS YOU WANT TO SHOW

Just fill in the red text with your URL and the blue text with your words. For example, here is how I would write that comment from above:

Hi! Oh my goodness those cookies look totally fab, I want to eat 17 of them right this second. xo, Dorothy from http://www.crazyforcrust.com“>Crazy for Crust

And it will show up with the “Crazy for Crust” as a link. That’s it! Easy peasy!

Notes:

*Be sure to copy the code exactly. Any missed quotes or backslashes and it won’t work.
*Be sure to include the http:// on the URL.
*I have the code written on my magnet board so I can just glance at it when I need it. When in doubt, preview your comment (you can do this on most blogger sites).

Now, onto the fun stuff. Photo editing!

I edit all my photos. Mostly because I’m anal. And I want them to look like I’m using a DSLR, which I’m not.

My go-to edits in Picmonkey are auto-exposure, color, sharpen, and curves, which is what I’m going to talk about today.

Curves are located in the second menu down, the one with the beaker. Scroll almost all the way to the bottom and you’ll find this:

This is what the curves section looks like in Picmonkey. Curves is used to adjust color balance. I’m no pro – so I just use it to tweak my photos to make them look the way I want. There’s way more functionality in it then I know how to use (like that paint dialogue box? I have no clue), so I’m just going to give you a basic overview of what I do with it today.

So curves allows you to adjust your highlights, midtones, and shadows. I always use the Default preset on the RGB channel (that’s the one it opens too). You can play around with the other settings if you want, it’s kind of fun, actually.

This is an example of making the shadows lighter. See on the graph how I moved the left point almost all the way up? It took out all the shadows.

Likewise, you can move the highlights (right side of the graph) down to make it darker.

Obviously, these are two extremes. I like to work more in the middle. I usually adjust the line into a “curve”.

Let’s look at this photo:

This is after I used auto-exposure. I always do that first. But I’m still not 100% happy. The color seems washed out a little, and the right side is dark.

So I opened the curves and adjust the straight line to make it more curved. I usually start with the dot where the #1 is. I played with it by moving it up a little. Then it was too bright, so I brought down the highlights in #2. It’s really (for me) just trial and error.

{Kind of like my baking.}

Here’s a side by side comparison:

See how the colors are a little sharper, and the photo is much brighter in the after?

Can you believe I’ve had no formal training in this? {Don’t laugh.}

Really, it’s all about trying new things – see what you’re comfortable with. And if you don’t like what you did, there is always the “cancel” button or the “undo” button.

Now go play!

Notes:

*Too much curve adjustment can harm your photo. Be sure to save it with a different name than the original or work in a copy to begin with.
*It might take you awhile to get comfortable with it. Keep trying!
*Don’t forget about the “undo” feature. It’s saved me many a time.

Thanks again for having me Ashton! It was a pleasure to be here today. I’d love for all of you to come by and say hi to me over at Crazy for Crust. I probably have some sort of chocolate-coconut-peanut butter concoction for you to try. :)

Please visit my Party Page for a more complete index of Link Parties.

Ashton Swank

Ashton is the owner and author of Something Swanky. Although first and foremost a wife and mother, she considers herself an online entrepreneur, freelance writer and photographer, and brand ambassador. Her focus is in food styling, food photography and recipe development.