Friday, March 28, 2014

Why Handmade: Creating a Facebook Banner with PicMonkey, Part 1

by Lynn Mohney of Prunella’s Workshop

Does your business have a Facebook Page? If so, you may be looking for ways to utilize the banner up at the top. It is a fantastic place to provide a personalized touch. Facebook allows you to change the banner as often as you like. I have seen pages where the banner is static- much like a company logo, it becomes a part of the way customers identify you. Other businesses change the banner frequently, keeping everyone on their toes. In fact a jewelry artist I follow changes their banner with each new piece they begin.

Hiring a graphic designer to change your Facebook banner is not necessary, especially if you plan to change it often. There are many software packages out there that can help you, and some are free. These programs vary from very simple to use, to rather complex. The more complex programs give you more variety in what you can do, while the simpler ones can get you up and running in a matter
of minutes.

Today, I am going to show you how easily you can create a Facebook banner in a program called PicMonkey. It is free and very easy to use. (I will also run a tutorial on GIMP coming soon, which is the opposite end of the spectrum.) You don’t even need to download PicMonkey, as it is available online at Of note, some features of PicMonkey are only available if you upgrade to Royale. This is not necessary to complete this tutorial, but if you fall on love with the program, you may be interested. It is a relatively inexpensive fee for one year.

In the opening screen shot of PicMonkey, there are four icons at the top – Edit, Touch Up, Design, and Collage. These all provide different useful functions, and I encourage you to get to know all four areas.

Edit: The editing section gives you the opportunity to do simple editing to a photograph. It is not as sophisticated as a program such as GIMP or Adobe Photoshop, but you can crop, rotate or resize a photo. You can adjust the focus, colors, etc.

To the far most left there are gray icons, each of which attaches to it’s own menu. In the above screen shot, we are in the crop menu, which allows us to utilize crop, canvas color, rotate, exposure, colors, sharpen and resize. Each of these has it’s own window that will open and allow you to make adjustments accordingly. However, there are seven additional grey icons with their own menus.
  • Effects -The “wand” allows you to place a variety of overlays that change the overall appearance of the photo, including, but not limited to black and white or sepia tones.
  • Touch Up -The “lipstick” icon will allow you to touch up blemishes.
  • Text - The type menu is perhaps the most important in the edit section. This is the only place in PicMonkey where type can be added to your banner. Of note, you are restricted to the fonts available through PicMonkey, which may be a problem if your font is part of your business’ identity. However, you can upload your type as a photograph. I will go over this in a later lesson.
  • Overlays - The “butterfly” menu includes a variety of clip art that can be resized, rotated, and the color can be changed.
  • Frames – “Borders” can be added to your photo through the border menu.
  • Texture - The “grid” icon menu has a variety of textures you can apply over your photograph, which can have interesting effects depending on your goal.
  • Themes - The “apple” icon provides a variety of themes you can use to touch up your photographs, including witches and zombies. They can be a great amount of fun if you are working with a portrait.

I recommend playing in each and every menu, to become familiar with the options available to you. If you are working with product photos, I do not recommend utilizing tools that alter the appearance of the actual product. For example, I may adjust the colors of a photograph in which copper is looking more like silver (photography is a funny thing, and this has been known to happen) to bring the color back match the real piece of jewelry. I would not want the customer to buy my work with a misunderstanding of what it really looks like because of a less than perfect photo. At the same time, this is not the opportunity to correct actual flaws in your work. Instead, you should focus on correcting the actual product.

Over time, you will find that the majority of editing tools you will want to use will not be under Themes, Overlays, and Textures, and you want to be conservative in your use of the Touch Up menu. However, these tabs are a great deal of fun, and you may like playing with them for unrelated purposes.

Touch Up: The Second section of PicMonkey takes you back to the Editing section, but directly to the Touch Up Menu. Most of the tools in this section relate to utilizing a human model in your photograph. If you are creative, these tools can be used for other purposes as well. Of note, a good many of the tools require the Royale upgrade. If there is a crown icon on the tool, the upgrade is necessary.

Design – If you hover your mouse over the design tab, a menu pops up giving you the opportunity to choose a canvas size. Take note – one of the options is a Facebook banner. You can also custom size your canvas.

PicMonkey uses pixels as its preferred unit of measurement. As you are creating an image for the internet, you too should think in pixels. A Facebook banner happens to be 851 x 315 pixels.

Collage - I have utilized several different layout programs, and nothing, and I mean nothing, does this as quickly and neatly with no fuss as PicMonkey. You may give up a little flexibility, but these ease of use far outweighs anything lost. I have spent literally hours trying to size and crop electronic images, whereas this is a simple drag and drop. PicMonkey has several different layouts available. There are swatches if you prefer one block to be empty for type. You can also change the background color. Collages are particularly attractive if you wish to show more than one product in your banner.

This is an overview. Stay tuned to next week, and I will go step by step as I create a new Prunella’s Workshop banner for my Facebook Page. In the meantime, I highly recommend playing around with PicMonkey. It is really easy to use, and you may find you already can make your own!

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