Monday, July 22, 2013

Memes, Monkeys, and Me: Photo Editing and Graphics Design for Amateurs

Background photo taken in Natchez, MS

What’s a meme, you ask?

Our current society considers a meme as an image or video that is passed electronically from one internet user to another. All those cute little pictures with captions that you see on facebook and Pinterest? They’re being dubbed as memes. We’ll get to the monkeys in a minute, but first, my graphics design credentials.

I became an amateur graphics designer many, many years ago. And I do mean amateur. My first foray into design was of the cut-and-paste nature. A co-worker’s son was having his 3rd or 4th birthday party and his mother found cute action figure plates, cups, and napkins for the party. We designed invitations, cut out the action figure from one of the plates, and taped it to the invitation and made copies on a black and white copy machine. Hey, this was the dark ages, but the invitations were still cute as a button and his son loved them, so that was what counted.

One thing led to another, and I started a cottage business called Celebrations, DTP (desktop publishing). I created logos, business cards, and letterheads for small businesses. Since the internet was unheard of (yes, there was such a time), I ordered font packages, clip art, and software to install on my computer. I also begged the local newspaper for all their old clipart books that they were going to throw away. HUGE books with tons of clip art that could be used in all manner of advertisements.

Okay, enough about that. Fast forward to today….

We’ve come a long way. Professional graphics designers wouldn’t be caught without the latest digital software, graphics, and fonts at their disposal. I’m not a professional, but I still need promotional pieces here and there, and usually too quickly to contact a professional designer. I don’t want to buy new software that has a huge learning curve when I’ll only use it half a dozen times a year. I want something easy, fun, and cheap!

So today isn’t about buying anything fancy. It’s just a few quick, easy examples that you can implement to promote your books, yourself, your brand, etc. I’m going to use the *free picture editing software called picMonkey to show you what you can do in a few minutes. You really can’t mess this up!

My interests lean toward cowboys, sepia-toned pictures, country, rural areas, horses, steeples, churches, rustic barns, cattle, etc. So we’re going to use a picture I took of my home church the other night. This particular picture was taken with my iPhone. I prefer my digital camera, but I worked with what I had at the moment. I took several shots at different angles, and at first glance, this one might not be the best choice to use, but it appealed to me. I could already visualize the type of design I wanted if the pictures turned out okay. See the Tahoe in the bottom left-hand corner of this picture?

Steeple In Shadow Original Photo - Taken with an iPhone at Dusk
White Plains Holiness Assembly

Pam Hillman 2013
After uploading my original picture Steeple in Shadow to picMonkey (just click “Edit a Photo” and follow the directions. It’s easy!), I started playing with it.

If you just want to add text, click on the “P”, pick a font and type your text. You can change fonts, sizes, colors. Just play with it until you're satisfied with the results. Obviously, since this picture was dark with a lot of shadow, I needed to use a contrasting white/cream-colored font.

Wait!! Stop the Monkey!! The sky is blue…ooohh, blue font… Be right back. I’m playing in picMonkey as I type this. What fun!!! And…more playing. Visually, this font needs to be right-adjusted because of the shape of the pink crepe myrtle bushes that are in shadow… Let’s see how this looks…

Steeple in Shadow - Blue Text Only Change
I haven’t done anything to the picture itself at this point. Just added the text, decided it needed to be pale blue, and right-adjusted. That’s it. Then I saved it. You could run with that. But let’s play just a bit more and see what we can come up with. I’d like to get rid of that Tahoe. lol

I could crop the picture, but I don’t want to. I like where the steeple is, just off center, so I’m not going to do that. Some kind of soft edging appeals to me for this pic. Let’s try that first...

Steeple in Shadow - Blue Text and Faded Edges. Nice!

Yep, that works! Simply select Dark Edges under the Effects tool BUT move to white (or a creamy color) on the color wheel. Again, with all these shadows, I don’t want to make it more dark. The Tahoe is almost completely gone. In some cases you can use the Clone tool to get rid of something, but in this case, I chose the soft edges option instead. Worked okay, and makes a nice enough meme.

One final picture of my Steeple In Shadow because I simply can’t resist, and the final result is exactly what I had in mind when I took this picture...

White Plains Holiness Assembly
In the Shadow of the Steeple
To achieve the meme above, I used Daguerreotype frame with Effects / Sunglow applied. Notice that since this version fits my personal style of old-fashioned photos with an antique flair, I’ve added my website in PicMonkey’s Bleeding Cowboys font. Small, understated, and unobtrusive.

~ ~ ~ 

Here are some more before and after examples I’ve created with picMonkey. I wanted to show you these pictures side-by-side, but the blog feed is too narrow for that. 

ACFW is having a sale on all their conference CDs until the conference. So, I went into action. I grabbed my CDs, my pink iphone, pink earbuds, made a glass of raspberry tea and staged it all on my front porch. I took about 15 digital pictures, then uploaded them to my laptop. I jotted down 2-3 that I thought would be perfect to promote the sale. I needed a good sharp picture that showed the CD case, but also left room for text. I’ll try to point out all the options I used.

ACFW Original Photo
Taken mid-day with Kodak DX6490
Uh...My Front Porch

First, I decided where I wanted the text to be, placing it where it was visually the most appealing. I rotated the price just a bit clockwise. Then, thinking about the pink earbuds, I decided to use that to give some eye-popping color. Fun, flirty pink font at the bottom and at the top for the price. Next, I used the contrast and clarity tools to brighten the picture. I found the sunglasses in Overlays, made them pink and faded them out. The coup de grace was when I discovered the bright sunlight feature in Effects. I popped it over the top left-hand corner and added even more color with the yellow Summer Sale text. Use color and contrast to achieve the effect you want.

Final version of ACFW CD Sale Advertisement

I’m going to share a SECRET TIP with those of you who want something just a little more advanced. Sometimes you want a shadowed font, but oftentimes free software doesn’t give you that option. I haven’t found shadowed fonts in picMonkey, but you’ll see that I have some in the ACFW CD sale. The words “Summer Sale” and the “$89.95” have a dark gray shadow behind them. Here’s how I created that.

First add your text to your photo, formatting it as you would like it to appear.

Next, create a new text box and copy/paste the original font into the new text box. Make sure it’s the exact same size and shape as the original. The tool box will help you with this.

Reverse the font color so that it contrasts with the original, but also doesn’t blend into the background too much. If your reverse/shadow text box is in front of your primary color, right-click on your mouse, and select Send Backward.

And then shift your shadowed text box off-center just a little. Not much. You want the illusion of shadow, not something that jumps out at the viewer. That should give you a shadowed text. But don’t use shadows in long strings of text, only for emphasis and for contrast.

 ~  ~  ~

I mentioned clarity earlier. 

Sharpen and clarity are your friends.

Just be aware of what happens when you use these features, so work to get the mix just right. In some cases, too much can be ...uh... too much. Check out this picture that I posted on July 4th. I cropped out the date, of course. Used the Effects / Sharpen and Clarity tools to create eye-popping color.

Original Photo taken on perfectly windy
morning in June 2009
Hardy Manufacturing, Philadelphia, MS
Pam Hillman, Kodak DX6490

American Flag - God Bless America!
Can you see the difference?

You might have to click on the pictures to see. The white is brighter, the red deeper, and there is a slight glow all around the flag. This is a good example of what a difference sharpen and clarity can make. I ended up putting a basic picture “frame” around this.

~  ~  ~

Sometimes it doesn’t take much to create a picMonkey masterpiece….

Black Angus Bull - iPhone
Broken Ended Farms

Pam Hillman
I took this shot with my iPhone while helping My Cowboy work cows. I was standing inches away, and the big guy was in the chute, so it wasn’t like he could get me. And he’s pretty gentle anyway...most of the time.

I used Daguerreotype / Shiro and the picture needed no other work. I popped my website in the spot at the top where that piece of treated lumber was, and the words “I’ve got My Eye on You, Cowboy!” along the side. Pink font just felt right for some reason. Again, contrast.

Black Angus Bull - Broken Ended Farms
Bull's Eye!
 426 people have viewed Bull's Eye
on my facebook author page!

~ ~ ~

Final tips:

Make sure you RENAME your creation when you’re done. You don’t want to override your original picture, and then have nothing to work with if you goof up.

Take your own pictures, purchase them, or at least make sure they are in creative commons. Get creative with your own shots. If you can shoot it, do it, then you can add your own website or name without concern.

Make sure you use proper grammer, check your speling, and don’t leave word out. Nothing is more frustrating than seeing a meme on the internet with errors. No matter how cute or catchy, I will not share it.

Don’t just upload your masterpieces to facebook and Pinterest. Sometimes this is okay, but even better, upload them to your blog and then pin them to Pinterest from your webpage or blog. That way it’s linked back to you.

While picMonkey is a quick, free way to create a little buzz, once you edit your photo, then save it and close the picMonkey browser, you can’t go back and unedit your creation. If you discover at that point that you misspelled a word, or don’t like something you did, you’ll have to start over from scratch with your original picture. However, if you want to add something new to the picture you just edited and saved, you can upload it to picMonkey and make changes. I know that sounds confusing, but if you play with the software for any length of time, you’ll grasp what I mean.

*picMonkey has a free version, but there is also a $33 yearly paid membership that gives more options. Some of the tools that I've used in these pictures come with the paid membership. If you're unsure of how much you might use the site, then opt for the free version until you're sure.

Me? I knew I was going to enjoy it and signed up after about thirty minutes of playing. I hope you've enjoyed today's post as much as I enjoyed putting it together for you. Now, go out and have some fun with monkeys!

Pam Hillman


Tina Radcliffe said...

Love it, love it, love it, Pam!!!

Great information and totally DIY dooable.

Helen Gray said...

Looks like a fun program. Thanks for sharing.

Grab a cuppa from the coffee pot and go at it!


P. S. Been visiting kids. Heading home tomorrow.

Terri said...

Very interesting Pam, but I have a feeling I could get really confused doing it. However, now I know who to call for help!

Carla Olson Gade said...

I've worked as a web designer and graphic designer for many years, and have found that those skills come in very handy as an author. Your work is fantastic!! Great post!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Pam, that's totally awesome! I'm so impressed by that because we know I'm technically inept.

You make it look easy and I just love what you did with the montage of your covers and pic!

Well done!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Helen, have a safe trip and isn't it good to come home????

Mary Curry said...

Pam, thank you SO much for this. I have to run off to a workshop for school (talk about a post-conference letdown) but I'm going to study this. I've been wanting to be able to do it.

Jackie said...

What a fun post. I'm so excited to learn about picmonkey.

Thanks for sharing these great tips.


kaybee said...

Pam, thanks! That looks like fun and I intend to sign up for the free version. A writer has to be EVERYTHING these days. But it's okay, we have the tools to do it.
Something general I want to share with my unpubbed colleagues...We had a guest preacher at my church yesterday, and she spoke on integrity. Boy do we need that in this modern world, and I have been guilty in the past of not having enough. But one thing she said grabbed me. "You may have a God-given dream He has put on your heart. If it is not fulfilled, DON'T take matters into your own hands." That touched me deeply. God has put this dream on our hearts, and we need to wait on Him.
For what it's worth...I was blessed. Hope you are too, my unpubbed sisters and brothers.
Kathy Bailey
Hopeful in New Hampshire

Pam Hillman said...

Helen, thank you for the coffee!

I stayed up late, then got up early, so I'm meeting myself in the middle.

Need coffeeeeeeeee....

Jan Drexler said...

A new toy to play with! This looks like so much fun, and what a great way to promote our books or facebook pages, or, the possibilities are endless!

And we don't have to wait for someone else to come up with the perfect meme!

I love that :)

Pam Hillman said...

Terri, after I published this, I started second-guessing myself that I had given too much details for a beginner.

But, as you can see, I tend to get carried away when playing with pictures! :)

Pam Hillman said...

Carla, thank you. :)

Like I said, I wouldn't try to pass myself off as a professional, mainly because I don't have the software (or the time) needed to produce a well-rounded product for others.

For now, I'll just be a weekend designer drawing on the skills I've gathered over the years when I did have access to better software.

Cozy in Texas said...

Great post. I'm going to try using this for the cover of my next novel.

Pam Hillman said...

Ruthy, I'm laughing and yawning over here. There's a story behind that montage...

I had my post all ready to go up, but of course I wanted to check over it one last time, add my name, bio, latest cover, etc.

Well, last night at church, I realized that since this post is about creating something fresh and new with our photos, why just stick the same old author photo up there?

But I knew that what I had in mind would take a little finagling with picMonkey. Again, picMonkey is free and doesn't come with all the bells and whistles that you'd get with expensive software. You just have to be even more creative. :)

I'll explain what I did for my book cover montage in my next comment for those who want to use picMonkey for a little more advanced design work.

Pam Hillman said...

Mary Curry, enjoy your workshop. But, ugh, I remember those days of having to rush off to work the Monday after conference. Ugh

Can't wait for you to get to play in the picMonkey playhouse. You're gonna love it! :)

Audra Harders said...

Pam! Your creations are magnificent! What an artist.

I'm heading over to picMonkey and check it out.

I'm ultra saving this post and will study it until I wear out my cyber copy : )

I will play, create and enjoy.

What a great post. Thanks, Pammy!!

Pam Hillman said...

Spot on, Kathy!!! One of our sermons this weekend (I'm blank on which one!) touched briefly on this too.

Okay, late nights and rainy mornings don't do much for the ol' brain fog...

But putting your comment and whatever I heard over the weekend together, I'm reminded of the verse about putting your hand to the plow. alert!!! I need a picture of an old plow...

Sorry. Carry on!

Sherri Shackelford said...

I am definitely bookmarking this page for future reference! Thank you, Pam :)

Kav said...

Pam, this is waaaayyyyyy cooooollll!!!!! When I read about what you were going to blog about in the WE I hopped over to the site to check it out. I'm a techno klutz but I actually got some good results without reading any instructions anywhere! Now that I have your steps by steps I bet I can do better.

The one thing I couldn't figure out was how to change the font colour. I was trying to write something over black and it kept disappearing LOL. Maybe the colour option is part of the paid package. I'll try again later.

This info comes at a great time because I want to do something clever with a Simba (my dog) picture this week. Plus I'm starting a blog for a school library and I know I can use this for spiffy results. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Mary Hicks said...

Pam, thanks for a fun and informative post. Art is my second occupation. I love playing with images. I've used The Print Shop for years and dabble in photoshop. I'm checking out picMonkey right away!

What kind of old plow do you need? I live in 'old plow' country! :-D Be happy to share.

Pam Hillman said...

Jan, you hit the meme on the head.

Facebook and Pinterest are two of the hottest trends out there. And what catches my attention most: pictures.

Especially pictures with words.

Just spotted a meme on facebook with "you're" spelled "your". Sitting on my hands and biting my tongue.

Bridgett Henson said...

Pam, Thanks for the great tips.
I've never used picmonkey but I will definitely give it a try. I've been using adobe photoshop's free 30 day trial. Do you know if picmonkey is similar?

Pam Hillman said...

Ann, your comment reminded me of something I meant to put in the post.

If you're going to use picMonkey or any free software for a book cover, or anything that might be printed, make sure you check the resolution and colors before you launch. And for some projects, a printed color proof would be a good idea.

When my son and dil got married (outside, in August, in humidity-laden MS!) I designed some hand-held fans for the wedding. Under a time-crunch, I emailed the final design to the printer. He did a rush job for me, and someone else picked them up the day before the wedding.

The fans were adorable, thank goodness, but the colors weren't an exact match to what I could see on my screen. Still, I was a bit worried until I saw the fans with my own eyes. :)

Janet Sketchley said...

Thanks for such a detailed post, Pam. I've played a bit with PicMonkey before, but never did much more than add text. Looking forward to seeing what I can learn now!

Pam Hillman said...

Hey, if anybody takes the plunge and creates and posts a picMonkey masterpiece on facebook or Pinterest today, give us a shout-out.

I'd love to see your creations. :)

Janet Sketchley said...

Thanks for such a detailed post, Pam. I've played a bit with PicMonkey before, but never did much more than add text. Looking forward to seeing what I can learn now!

Glynna Kaye said...

WOW, PAM! You're really good at this--and having WAY TOO MUCH FUN doing it, too! :)

Julie Hilton Steele said...

Oh, this is dangerous! Thanks, Pam.

Pam Hillman said...

Kav, you don't need the paid version to change the text color.

After you add text, click ON the text, and a square white tool-line "box" will appear around the text. There will be circles on each corner for adjusting. The top/center circle lets you rotate the text. The text is now selected and you can make changes.

Note: If you click on your text box twice, the text will be selected, and you can change it. You can also change the color, and other options at this point.

Click within your text box a THIRD time and your cursor is blinking (black vertical line) within the text box so that you can edit one character at a time. Kav, it's possible you were on your text box in this stage and that's why you couldn't change the color.

If this happens, just click off your text box, and click right back on it one time to be able to edit the color, etc.

If you want to change the font or text itself, click on your text box once, then again. The entire text will be selected and you can retype your text and/or choose a different font.

You'll also see the "Text" dialogue option box on the screen. Click off YOUR text and the box around your text disappears, and text option box disappears as well. Click back on your text and both pop back up.

Try it. :)

Now, with your text selected (boxed in) there's a little circle on the rainbow colored section in the TEXT dialogue box. Click on that little circle, and move it all around, and you'll see the color change in your text box.

Another tip: if the BOLD option and ITALIC option boxes are gray, that just means those options aren't available for that font.

Paid features (Royale) have the little crowns beside them. Easy and kinda cool to distinguish.

Well, that was a lot of sugar for a dime, and I'm sure your head is spinning. The best way to learn this is just to point and click. :)

Terri said...

Oh, you didn't give too much info. I found is very interesting. I'd love to try it out on a few photos.

Ane Mulligan said...

This is terrific stuff, Pam! I play with graphics and have a publishing software, but I'm not very apt with it yet. LOL I'll probably pick your brain at conference!

Pam Hillman said...

Mary H, are Print Shop and photoshop still the go-to programs for designers?

I used to do most of my work in Pagemaker, Publisher, and Photodraw.

I think Photodraw is discontinued now, but I used the old version for years on my computer at the day job because I knew all the bells and whistles and didn't want to have to learn something new. lol

When I heard someone mention picMonkey in a workshop a couple of months ago, I thought I'd give it a try.

Overall, it does a LOT of what I need.

The only cons I've found is that you can't save your work in layers and go back and edit it later, which is understandable since you're working in an open browser in their space and not on software on your own hard drive. I'd say this is the biggest con.

And unless I've missed it, there is no way to make arched, curved, or bubble text. Hope that makes sense. :)

Biggest pro: Learning curve is NIL.

Kav said...

Ohhh, thanks Pam, I'll try that later. I was dragging on that colour box before clicking on the text box. :-) But I did manage to complete a collage for my Wednesday book review blog. Nothing too fancy but I managed to round the corners, add text, drag it to a lighter section of the page and get Simba and May the K-9 Spy on the same page. Simba is swooning as I type. He's crushing on May. :-) I'll go back later and see if I can create a new one with coloured font!!!! This is way too distracting! I have to mow the lawn and write!!!!!!!!!

Janet Dean said...

Pam, your post is amazing!! I'm a techo dummie but have an urge to play with monkeys. Cage me now, I'm going to need it! LOL

Your church photo is beautiful. I'm totally impressed with how you upped the impact!

One thing I noticed in Atlanta when we were wandered outside the conference hotel was the crepe myrtle. Gorgeous trees with blooms in shades of pink and red. Wanted to dig one up and head north.


Pam Hillman said...

Mary H, I haven't used Photoshop in years, and like I said in a comment above, I never really got comfortable with Photoshop. By the time it came out, I was already a hard-core Photodraw user and just couldn't wrap my brain around Photoshop. I always let TJ the IT guy at work drive Photoshop when we were working. lol

What picMonkey does, it does well, but, again, the biggest drawback for someone wanting a profession program is going to be not being able to save your work in stages and play with it over a long period of time.

Maybe Mary Hicks (or anyone else who uses Photoshop) can chime in here, but the benefit of that type program is that it's installed on your computer and your projects are developed in stages and save in layers. You can then peel the layers off if you find out...say next week...that you want to change something.

For instance, on my book cover/author photo montage, let's say that this morning I discovered that I had spelled my website wrong, or the that I wanted to move my photo to the left a bit.

I can't. It's done. I have the final jpg, but I don't have a Photodraw or Photoshop file for a do-over.

Does that make sense?

I still have all the "pieces" of the montage though: my author photo in daguerreotype with ragged edges, the original background pic, the book covers, so I could easily recreate that if I needed to.

Here's the main reason I like picMonkey:

It's a good place to start for the total newbie who wants to test their design moxy...If you find that you don't have a flair for photo editing and you'd rather do anything other than fiddle with photos, text and graphics, you haven't wasted a lot of time and money on software. :)

CatMom said...

Thanks for this super helpful info., Pam - - I think I might give this a try. Loved your examples you shared with us - - you are definitely talented!

Still have unpacking to do and litter boxes to clean, LOL. But I did go ahead and bake some Peach Muffins this morning---ENJOY!
Hugs, Patti Jo

Pam Hillman said...

Have fun, Janet! :)

Pam Hillman said...

Glynna, I'm embarrassed to say how much time I've spent playing with picMonkey.

Now, must go log in to Pinterest and pin some of this to my Seekerville page so that I can justify all the time spent creating this stuff! ha!

Pam Hillman said...

Julie make me laugh!!!

I do believe me and the monkeys have sucked you into our world of fun.


Melanie Dickerson said...

Pam, you actually made this look fun! Stuff like this usually scares me to death. I even have a hard time just loading my pictures onto my computer and saving them. (I don't want to tell you how many times I've cried in frustration just trying to figure out how to transfer my pictures from my camera to my computer!) But I might give this a try some day when I'm feeling really brave--and I have one of my daughter nearby to help me! LOL

Pam Hillman said...

Oh, good, Terri. I was worried that it was too much and too scattered to be helpful to someone just starting out.

Ane M, you'll get the hang of it. Keep it up. :)

Pam Hillman said...

So, KAV, we get to see your picMonkey masterpiece on Wednesday? Cool!!

Pam Hillman said...

Oh, Kav mentioned collages. I didn't even give much info about the collage option on picMonkey.

Check it out. You can design Facebook banners, Pinterest pics. Tons of stuff.

Just don't become addicted. I think we've already lost JHS to picMonkey. lol

Susan Anne Mason said...

This looks like a lot of fun, Pam. Thanks for the info. I'm like Melanie and have a problem just getting photos on my computer. I usually get my daughter to do it for me!

I really must get more tech savy!


Pam Hillman said...


Oh my goodness, I completely forgot the food. See what the monkeys have done to me????

Thank you for the peach muffins. They are SO yummy and are perfect for brunch. Hope you tripled your recipe! Seekerville is hopping today.

And the monkeys are hungry.

Pam Hillman said...

Melanie, don't laugh, but my Kodak DX6490 has its own memory card, and my laptop has its own memory card slot.

Uh...but I didn't KNOW that. For about 2 years, I went through the whole process of connecting cords and trying to transfer pictures from my camera to my laptop. Very frustrating.

Suddenly, I had V8 moment and saw that card slot on the side of my laptop. Huh??? What's THAT for, I wondered???

Memory card slot on my laptop????!!!! Who would have thunk it???


No more trying to transfer photos from my camera to my laptop. I use the card slot instead. Much easier.

Granted, everyone's computer might not have a memory card slot. Everyone's camera might not, but if you're looking to buy either one any time soon and take lots of pictures, it might be looking in to.

Courtney Faith said...

Oh, loved this topic! One day, I'm going to buy myself a nice digital camera lol! Thanks for sharing these tips.

Jan Drexler said...

I just tried picMonkey for myself! Fun, fun, fun. It took me about 20 minutes for my first try.

It's up on Facebook if anyone wants to take a peek -

Debby Giusti said...

Pam, you're a genius!

Thanks for introducing us to Monkey! Oh my gosh! A whole new world is opening.

Can't wait to try it out...

But first I need to write my blog for tomorrow.

Waving to all my RWA 2013 peeps! Anyone as tired as I am today?

kaybee said...

KAV, JANET and MELANIE, it doesn't come easy to me either. (I started my journalism career on a MANUAL typewriter, but that's no excuse.) I really feel good when I nail something technological, like when I designed my Web site update WITHOUT CALLING EITHER OF MY DAUGHTERS. TGIW (Thank God for Weebly). I am going to this when I'm off deadline. I will PicMonkey a photo so I can Facebook it. Wow, such a lot of cool new verbs!
Kathy Bailey
Willing to Try in New Hampshire

kaybee said...

KAV, JANET and MELANIE, it doesn't come easy to me either. (I started my journalism career on a MANUAL typewriter, but that's no excuse.) I really feel good when I nail something technological, like when I designed my Web site update WITHOUT CALLING EITHER OF MY DAUGHTERS. TGIW (Thank God for Weebly). I am going to this when I'm off deadline. I will PicMonkey a photo so I can Facebook it. Wow, such a lot of cool new verbs!
Kathy Bailey
Willing to Try in New Hampshire

Pam Hillman said...

Courtney, as you'll see, the bull and the steeple in shadow were taken with an iPhone. And my Kodak is a good camera for zoom, but it's by no means a professional grade camera.

Jan, tag me if you upload your masterpiece to facebook. I'd love to see it! :)

Pam Hillman said...

Jan!!! I just saw your masterpiece on facebook. Here's the link:

Jan’s Masterpiece

My first "student" has created a masterpiece.

I'm so proud! :)

Pam Hillman said...

Debby, I don't even want to think about how tired I am after conference. Takes me a month to recuperate!

Can't wait to see your blog post tomorrow.

May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...

This is so fantastic, Pam.

Thank you.
I'd sure been wondering these very things and voila, Seekerville again to the rescue.

You ladies RAWK!

(May says you're pawsome!)

Mary Connealy said...

Wow, Pammy.
I love this so much it makes me want to try and learn a new thing.
That is almost always (with me) a MISTAKE.

But I may do it anyway.

Pam Hillman said...

Oooh, May, you MUST learn how to do this and teach KC! You guys could create all kinds of pawsome memes.

Mary Connealy said...

I did one!!!
What font are you using in your first (top) picture. Love the Western look of it. Is it the same as on the bull? Which I also love!!!

Mary Connealy said...

PAM I DID THAT TOO WITH THE COMPUTER CARD SLOT. IT'S WORSE WITH ME THOUGH...I even hunted for that card slot. I even FOUND it, but it wouldn't fit. I complained, "What kidn of stupid computer doesn't have a card slot for such a standard Photo Card!!!???"
Until one day my sister so calmly said, "It's got to fit Mary, sometimes it's a little hard but just shove it in there." (she wasn't looking at my computer, she just 'knew')
Well, I did and she was right. I think I thought I needed to shove it all the way in, like on my laptop, but it just barely sticks in a little, and voila, It works!!!

Mary Connealy said...

PS, this took me THREE YEARS to find that slot. I've been using my laptop for pictures all this time because the card fit perfectly.

Pam Hillman said...

Mary, that font is called



Pam Hillman said...

Glad to know I'm not the only one, Mary! lol

When you get your picMonkey masterpiece done, let us know. We want to see!!!

What's for lunch???

BBQ pulled pork and grilled chicken on the sideboard. Fresh corn-on-the-cob and beans, and cole slaw.

Sweet and unsweet tea on the side.

Dig in before the monkeys eat it all!

Kav said...

Pam!!!!! You've created a monster!!!!!!!!!! I just did a speech bubble overlay! And I made another collage. I fear my whole May the K9 Spy review will be in pictures! LOL. Still can't change the font colour. Grrrrr. I'll tackle it again in a bit. Back to hacking away at my overgrown lawn now that it isn't so hot and humid.

WOTS - The Woodlands, ACFW Chapter said...

Pam, this post was AWESOME!!!
Totally awesome. Thank you. =)

Nancy Kimball said...

Haha, SORRY! I was working on Cat5 contest stuff and didn't realized I was still signed in that way.
So again,

DebH said...

You could probably say I'm a professional graphic artist and yes, the greatest thing about Photoshop is the layer factor. For "weekend warrior" graphics people, picMonkey looks more than sufficient to pop something up to the 'Net quickly.

It used to be those "free" programs weren't all that stellar for creating things. Advances in technology have made those "free" programs worth the effort to figure them out. If you want to be sort of a jack of all trades, you can be.

And I guess leave the fancy, schmancy, uber cool effects to us "masters" *heh*

Awesome post, btw. I think you nailed the instructions. Not too much info at all. Very cool!

Pam Hillman said...

Kav, I feel so much better now. And the monkeys are howling with glee!

And don't mention the overgrown yard. I'm ignoring mine...

Pam Hillman said...

Ha! Nancy aka WOTS... I was trying to figure out how to address our new guest... lol

The good news is that Nancy said my post was AWESOME, not once, but THREE times in a row.

So there! Take that, monkey-see-monkey-do!

Pam Hillman said...

DebH, thank you for popping in and giving us the skinny from a professional viewpoint.

I admit I had my doubts about picMonkey when I first heard about it. But I was impressed when I checked it out.

Carol Moncado said...

LOVE! Will have to play with this when I do/update my onesheets ;). I do have PhotoShop but sometimes I have a hard time making it do what I want to...

I did put Ruthy puppies into an 1876 pic set in rural Missouri last year though. ;)

Mary Connealy said...

The Good Life

Myra Johnson said...

Fun post, Pam! I love playing with photos. I have Adobe Photoshop Elements and also PrintShop on my Mac, so I've been known to get carried away and can waste--excuse me, SPEND--many hours tweaking photos and creating projects. (How do you think I make GQ look so good?)

Will definitely have to check out picMonkey one of these days.

Oh, my. Trying to get back into the groove after returning from Atlanta yesterday! Number one--catch up on sleep! Not easy when hubby forgot to turn off the 6:35 a.m. alarm he needed for getting up for church yesterday! Puh-leeeeeeeeze!!!!

And . . . we have family from Texas arriving shortly for three days!!!! Thank goodness hubby took care of the housecleaning while I was at RWA! Good men like him are hard to find!

Pam Hillman said...

Carol, Ruthy is our go-to gal for cute puppies! :)

Mary, love your The Good Life meme! See how painless this is???

Piper Huguley said...


This is awesome! You make it sound so easy! I look forward to giving it a try. Thanks!


Melanie Dickerson said...

Pam, yeah the tears of frustration were when I used to try doing it with the cord. Then I started just using the memory card slot too, and now it is much smoother. :-) But anything new, technology-wise, always scares me. I always assume I will have an emotional meltdown at least once before I figure it out.

Melanie Dickerson said...

Mary said: I love this so much it makes me want to try and learn a new thing.
That is almost always (with me) a MISTAKE.

Yeah, that's me too, Mary!!!!!!!

Pam Hillman said...

Go Piper and Mel! :)

Mel, my meltdowns with technology usually involve needing to get something done within an extremely SHORT time span. Mostly because of my own procrastination...

Seeker blog is due and the internet is out. It never fails, does it?

Contest entry due and printer won't work.

Must DVR wedding for friend and I haven't burned CDs from the LAST event I recorded.

Lyndee H said...

Very cool tips, Pam. I love taking photos and maybe someday I'll figure out how to add those unique touches you describe!

Sherida Stewart said...

I just did this....and tweeted to you, Pam. SO COOL! THANK YOU! And it was easy. Amazing!

Sherida Stewart said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pam Hillman said...

Lyndee, you'll get there!

Sherida, whoo-hoo! I saw your tweet, but no link. Where did you post your pic? On facebook or Pinterest or... I'd love to see it.

Ruth Blodgett said...

IT'S A BOY!!!!!

A baby prince.

Oh my stars, I'm lovin' me some babies!!!!

Sherida Stewart said...

Pam, I don't know how to do links! But I also posted it on my Facebook page...Sherida Stewart. This was just amazing. THANK YOU!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Oh, I love using my real name!!!! ` :)

I only use it when announcing things like Baby princes being born!!!

It's so BAMBI!!!!!

Jan Drexler said...

Ruthy - LOL! Do you think they'll name him Bambi? That would be...interesting!

Pam Hillman said...

Check out Sherida Stewart’s picMonkey Masterpiece!


Jan Drexler said...

You know that card slot thingy? You guys got me thinking, so I looked around, and guess what I found on my computer?

And here I thought it was for a mini 1/2" floppy disk....

Pam Hillman said...

Ruthy, they named the baby Bambi?

How adorable! :)

I love Bambi.

Helen Gray said...

Home, sweet home!

It's great to go see the kids--and hang out with the writer gals in Springfield--but there's still no place like home.

AC died on the way, though. Drove the last 100 miles without it. We're well done. :)

Sherida Stewart said...

Thank you for linking my picture. Very fun!

Connie Queen said...

Pam, you're one talented lady.

The only thing I've worked on is Publisher. I have fun but am limited to what I can do.

I will have to try this later when I can devote the time.

Pam Hillman said...

High five, Jan! That card slot makes sharing pics a breeze.

Wal Mart, here I come with my little memory card. :)

Helen, you POOR lady. Here, have a big ol' glass of ice tea and cool OFF!!!

Pam Hillman said...

Connie, I think you'll enjoy this. Mary, Jan, and Sherida have taken the plunge today and created some very eye-catching memes in minutes.

Helen Gray said...

I used to use Publisher and PhotoDraw a lot, but have drifted away from such projects. Need to get in gear.

Tina Pinson said...

Wow, Pam,

your foray into graphic designs sounds so much like mine it's uncanny. I did layouts for newspaper, on a light board with tapes and fillers. Then I graduated to the computer with clip art and scanning and such.

I shall have to try the Monkey program. Usually I just use my photo shop. I'm sure my editors love it when I send in ideas for covers. Although my ideas have been used, not my attempt per se, but the idea. Which is awesome.

I have done a couple of my own videos too. Does the program you suggested allow for that as well?

Vince said...

Hi Pam:

I want to try PicMonkey. I have a few questions.

1. Can you load up two photos and make them into one? I’d buy the $33 version if I could do that.

2. I have no idea what a Tahoe is and I could not find it in the photo. What is it?

3. Did you misspell ‘speling’ on purpose? I kept reading for a reference to it but none came.

If I can combine photos and crop photos, then this will be a very good program for me to learn.

I used to be able to do a lot of graphics but I have long since been without a photo program. Great post.


Mary Hicks said...

Pam, sorry I didn't reply sooner. I've been in the yard all day! My yard looks beautiful—but I'm wiped out! :-)

I believe Photoshop is still the industry standard or at least one of them. I don't know enough about it to help anyone. I mostly take unwanted people and things out of photographs. :-) And I have done the trick where you make a photograph look like a watercolor painting—that's neat.

Print Shop is much easier in my opinion, but there's still a learning curve.

Chill N said...

Pam, your creativity comes shining through! What fun to watch you morph the steeple picture.

I worked with PhotoShop for years at a newspaper and later a magazine. Print Shop is my go-to now on my home computers, but I just found out it doesn't work with the newest Mac OS ... gotta look into that. Also want to look into picMonkey. Thanks for the tip and for sharing your experience.

Nancy C

Pam Hillman said...

Tina, as for as I know, picMonkey is just photo editing software. I haven't seen anything about videos.

Chill N said...

>>Pam Hillman said...
The only cons I've found is that you can't save your work in layers and go back and edit it later, which is understandable since you're working in an open browser in their space and not on software on your own hard drive. I'd say this is the biggest con.<<

Thanks for that info, Pam -- could save a lot of headaches :-)

Nancy C

Pam Hillman said...

Vince asked....

1. Can you load up two photos and make them into one? I’d buy the $33 version if I could do that.

This might be over picMonkey's paygrade. There is a cropping tool, and a cloning tool, so I'm not saying it can't be done. But if you have the skills to combine two pictures, picMonkey might not satisfy.

2. I have no idea what a Tahoe is and I could not find it in the photo. What is it?

It's an SUV. Chevrolet Tahoe. It was black and in the bottom left-hand corner of the original pic. Very small, but still there. :)

3. Did you misspell ‘speling’ on purpose? I kept reading for a reference to it but none came.

Yes. And grammer and word (should have been words) in that sentence. lol

Pam Hillman said...

Nancy, PrintShop was the other one I couldn't think of. I believe it was installed on some of the computers at work.

I worked at a small manufacturing company, and we didn't really have a advertising department per se. The IT guy and I just grew into it over the years. What we couldn't do ourselves, we outsourced.

Christina Rich said...

I love messing around with pictures and graphics. Thank you for sharing picmonkey. I haven't heard of that one. I used to use photobucket a lot but then they changed so much of it and it's not the same.

One day, I'm going to buy a fancy dancy program, just because I love messing with graphics and creating things.

Missy Tippens said...

Great examples, Pam! Thanks for sharing. I've played with PicMonkey as well and had a great time simply adding text. But I want to try some of these other things! Excellent post!!

Anna R. Weaver said...

Ooh, fun! Thanks for the tips and ideas! 😃

DebH said...

Photoshop is definitely industry standard for most graphics based business. Most of the Adobe products are widely used for anything visual. They're also a bit pricey - although Adobe has gone to a Cloud subscription that makes things a lot less expensive for normal folks. I'm not fully versed on that because its a newer development - but if you go to the Adobe website, there's probably a lot of info there.

As for anyone who has photoshop and has forgotten how do do things, or wants to know how to do something - feel free to hit me up for a quick 'how to'. It's the least I can do for all the peeps of Seekerville helping me with my "newbie" lack of knowledge of the craft.

Kav said...

I MADE COLOUR LETTERS!!!!!!!!! Yes, I'm shouting but in the nicest way. :-) and I actually made two uber cool (for me anyway) collages for my book review tomorrow too. I'm sooooo jazzed! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

Jenny Blake said...

oh thanks for a new graphics site to play with. I have Paint shop Pro one of the earlier programs but this looks so much more fun. Will have to go investigate.
I am hoping to get into blog design and building etc and this could be a great help.

Im late I was so tired yesterday (we are not mentioning anything about sport and england! which was part of the cause). Today I have been working sort of.

Playground Monitor said...

Thanks for sharing this info! I've bookmarked picMonkey for future reference. Or maybe I shouldn't. I could totally spend a whole night playing with something like that -- especially with photos of my granddaughters.

I got back from Atlanta yesterday afternoon and despite a good night's sleep, I'm in conference hangover mode. It's a real bummer to go from 2000 people totally hung up on HEA to a job where you deal with divorce and custody and subpoenas and depositions and interrogatories and discovery. It's great, though, I have places like Seekerville to visit as well as my local writing pals.

I love, love, loved meeting the Seekerville ladies at their workshop. I already knew Debby and Missy, but now I have more friends!


P.S. While I didn't win the overall novella contest, I did get the highest number of popular votes and in addition to having my novella published (that came with being a finalist), I also get to submit a full manuscript to them. Woot!

Sandra Leesmith said...

PAMMERS Love this so much. What a great tool. I am going to like this on my Facebook. This will be fun for everyone.

Pam Hillman said...

Hmmm, looks like my last post disappeared. Then I took a break...had to brave the crowds at the grocery store, then I took an hour long walk.

Go me! :)

Christina, Missy, and Anna, you'll have fun playing with it. It's amazing what the editing tools will do.

Chill N said...

MARILYN, congrats on that accomplishment!

Nancy C

Pam Hillman said...

DebH, thanks for the offer to help folks with Photoshop. I think you can opt for the Cloud Option with Photoshop or storing everything on your computer.

You know, there's just something fun and hands on about picMonkey that I never felt when using any of the other programs that seemed more utilitarian. Is that just weird or what?

Pam Hillman said...

Kav, I can't wait to see what you've done. Please remind me tomorrow!

Pam Hillman said...

Jenny, have fun with it!

Marilyn, congrats on your accomplishments with the novella. The next stage sounds exciting!!!

All of you have fun playing with the monkeys. I hope to see some great meme masterpieces from everyone soon. :)

Julie Lessman said...

OH. MY. GOODNESS!! I am SOOOO sorry I am late to the party, but HOLY COW, what a FABULOUS post, Pammy!!! I am not just printing this puppy off, but I am saving it in a document because this is just TOO valuable not to!!

LOVE your before and afters, and you have SUCH an artist's touch, my friend, especially for someone SO good with numbers ... :)


Pam Hillman said...

Julie, I'm just a shotgun. I dabble in a bit of everything.

I'm not a musician, but I can chord.
I'm not an artist, but I have a few paintings that I've done-oil.
I'm not a soloist, but I do it--badly.

Oh...I am NOT, NOT, NOT a performer/actress (blech) or a wanna-be doctor or nurse, so that means I don't play one on tv, either.


Debra E. Marvin said...

This is so helpful! wow.
Great for marketing and for fun stuff too. I want to go play now!

(okay back to work. sniff sniff)

Pam Hillman said...

Debra, thanks for stopping by. Get your work done, then you can play! :)

Kayleen said...

This is really helpful. Thanks! I'm sure I'll use it often.

Pam Hillman said...

Enjoy, Kayleen. And feel free to pop back here and let me know when you create something fantabulous! :)