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Picnick Photo Editing Tutorial – Part 2 – Preparing your picture

January 16th, 2008 4 Comments

The tools available under the ‘Edit’ button in online photo editing program Picnik are deceptively simple. However, in today’s tutorial we are going to show you the options available to help you make a fantastic image to use for more advanced editing. We will taking a detour through some basic photographic theory as well.

The Menu Bar

We will take a look at each option separately


Auto-fix is the sledge-hammer approach to photo-editing. It means that the picnik software will attempt to determine the ideal lighting/contrast levels. Depending on  your image it can work surprisingly well. Other times it can be a little hit and miss.


For anyone prone uneven horizons in your photos – this toolis the perfect antidote.

If we take a look at each of the numbered options – we can see that we can:

1. Rotate the image left or right

2. Straighten the image. Simply click on the central straighten ruler – and a grid will appear to assist you lining up the lines of your image. Try it out to begin with and you will soon get the hang of the process.

3. The third button allows you to flip your image horizontally or vertically.

At any point you can press reset to reverse any changes you’ve made. Pressing ok will save the changes and take you back to the main editing menu.


Cropping your image is an important part of creating an effective photographic composition. We looked at some of the theory in the article from our learning centre on composition and symmetry.

To summarise:

(1) The use of space can determine the mood of the photograph. If you choose not to crop a photo and the main subject is only a small part of the overall frame it will communicate to a particular kind of mood. Cropping out the background to focus on the subject conveys an entirely different message.

(2) When cropping your picture – you should always leave enough space to allow the eye to naturally follow the movement within the frame. Check out the article from our learning centre for more information.

The options available in Picnik are as outlined in the following picture:

To crop your image simply move the 4 sides of the crop window until you end up with a selection that is aesthetically pleasing. When you are ready press ok and it will save your changes. 

The option labelled ‘1’ in the picture allows you to preselect a particular size or ratio. It’s particularly useful if you are trying to get your file into a particular format.  


In the resize window you can alter the size your picture using both pixel dimensions or a percentage proportional increase.


The exposure window gives you three options:

1) Auto-fix: it will attempt to determine the best ratio between exposure and constrast

2) Exposure: Increasing this value will increase the overall brightness in your image

3) Contrast: The contrast determines the degree of difference betweeen absolute black and absolute white in the print.

We will take a look at the advanced options in our next tutorial.


The colour window gives you three options:

Saturation: The saturation tool determines the intensity of colours in the photo. Use it wisely as too large a value can make images seem unrealistic

Warmth: The warmth allows you slide from an overall cool (blue) tone to an overall warm (reddish) tone in your images.

The neutral picker attempts to determine the colour balance automatically. Once you’ve clicked on the button try to find a point of gray or white on the image. It’s worth noting that the results of this can be very uneven – therefore you might prefer to do it manually.


The sharpen button allows you to increase the edge constrast in your image – this can help blurry image seem more effective but should not be pushed too far.

The premium version of picnik allows you to exercise finer control over your images.

Red Eye Fix

The red eye feature in Picnik is simple, intuitive and surprisingly effectively. Simply click on the centre of each eye in the photo and all your problems shuold be solved!

You can see the results of a simple trial below:



Picnik has a fantastic undo feature that allows you to reverse almost any action you take. Simply look for the undo button on the right hand side of the screen.

Tomorrow: We take a look at some of the advanced features of picnik and try editing our first image.

Take a look at the other parts of the series:

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