Learn Basic Photo Editing

Photo Editing 101: Mastering The 5 Essential Tools

By Melanie Doncas | Basic Photo Editing Photo Editor Tutorials

We all enjoy taking photos of the things we love, but how do you turn those everyday memories into professional-quality photos you can admire for years to come? Thankfully, BeFunky’s Photo Editor makes this simple. With its wide range of easy-to-use photo editing tools, anyone can create beautiful images without special skills or technical expertise.

The most common hurdle is knowing exactly where to start though. With so many photo editing tools at your fingertips, which ones should you use and in what order? It’s easy to become overwhelmed.

Before you break out in a cold sweat, don’t fret. Today I’ll be walking you through the fool-proof steps for turning any photo into a masterpiece, along with the five essential editing tools you should use to achieve this. We'll be using this photo as an example:




Step 1: Crop Photo

The first step is always to crop photos, because you don’t want to waste time editing parts of your image that you won’t even keep. But what exactly is cropping? Think of it this way: when you want to put a photo of your loved one in your wallet, you often trim the photo down so the most important part of the photo is on display. You remove the unwanted parts of the image to ensure it looks its best!

There are many reasons why you would want to crop an image. Cropping can remove an unwelcome detail from a photo, improve the image’s overall composition, or change its aspect ratio. Unwelcome detail in an image is anything you don’t want featured in your photo. It can also be something that might distract the viewer (i.e. a person who wandered into the corner of your shot). Simply use the crop tool to trim these out of your image!

Composition, on the other hand, refers to the way you framed or positioned your shot. What did you capture in the foreground, middle ground, or background? Is your subject in the center of your image, or off to one side? Think of the crop tool as an invisible frame drawing the viewer’s gaze to what is most important. Do this and your composition will be on-point!

Cropping can also be used to change an image’s aspect ratio. Put simply, the aspect ratio refers to the image proportions. For example, what the image’s width is in relation to its height. Thankfully, BeFunky’s Photo Editor offers a range of different presets to help take the guesswork out of getting your crop dimensions and aspect ratios right. Want the perfect Instagram grid? The square crop will create perfectly square images, every time. Need to turn your favorite holiday snap into a Facebook cover photo? Simply select Facebook Cover from the Aspect Ratio dropdown menu. Ta-da!


Step 2: Resize Image

The option to resize images is another essential, yet powerful, photo editing tool. You might be wondering though, why would I want to resize my photo? Cameras are advanced tools and they capture images containing millions of pixels. This can send the file size through the roof, so if you wish to use your image on the web, chances are it’ll need to be made smaller to upload successfully. Platforms like Facebook will automatically adjust images to their preferred size, lowering both the resolution (the detail an image holds) and quality of your photo. To be in control of how your image looks, it’s a good idea to do the resizing yourself using our Photo Editor.

Here’s the thing though: people often confuse resizing with cropping and don’t know which one to use and when. While cropping removes parts of your image, resizing doesn’t. It simply alters the dimensions of your photo to make it larger or smaller. Cropping can be used in combination with resizing images to help you achieve the exact print size you’re looking for.

Want to print a tiny photo to place in your locket? Cut off any unimportant details using the crop tool, then shrink your image down using the resize tool. Too easy! Alternatively, you can resize images into the perfect dimensions for printing and framing using our clever chart. It lists the most common photo-printing sizes, along with their corresponding dimensions in pixels.

Tip: Need to trim your photo to get the aspect ratio just right? That’s where the crop tool comes in handy!

You should always err on the side of caution when you resize images. Adjusting your photo’s height and width in a freehand way could lead to it becoming stretched or losing detail. The best way to combat any resizing blunders is to lock the aspect ratio. This’ll keep the dimensions in your photograph in proportion to one another. In other words, if you adjust the height of your photo, the width will adjust accordingly, keeping the whole image balanced. High-five!

Another resizing mishap to avoid is known as upresing. This is when you increase the size of a low-resolution image beyond its capabilities, resulting in blurring and distortion. Yuck!


Step 3: Understanding Exposure

The term exposure gets thrown around a lot in photography, but what does it mean? Put simply, it’s how dark or light your image appears once it’s been captured by your camera. Getting this right from the get-go can be tricky though. It comes down to the perfect harmony between aperture, ISO, and shutter speed. In other words, how much light your camera lets in, the sensitivity of your camera’s sensor to this light, and the duration of the exposure. Here’s the good news: if you’re not happy with this, you can easily adjust it using the Exposure tool in BeFunky’s Photo Editor. It allows you to alter 5 exposure-related elements, including Brightness, Contrast, Highlights, and Shadows. If you want to learn more about those, check out this article!

You can apply these settings to your entire photo, or the Paint feature allows you to apply them to certain parts of the image only. This is a great way to add drama to the areas that need it most!


Step 4: Sharpen Image

When you sharpen photos, it gives them the clarity and contrast they need to look amazing. BeFunky’s sharpen tool enhances contrast along the edges in your image to really make them pop. Alternatively, we also offer a Smart Sharpen tool. This is built on a 'smarter' algorithm, allowing it to only enhance certain edges within the photo that need it most. Clever!

A word of warning though: The tip to achieving the perfectly sharp photo is to not overdo it! Increasing your sharpness too much can cause pixelation and unwanted graininess. It’s also important you view your image at its exact (100%) size when adjusting the sharpness. You want to ensure you’re getting it just right.


Step 5: Saturated Color

If you’re not aware of what saturation is, it basically defines how intense the colors are. When you increase the saturation, higher tones of the color spectrum are added, making the colors appear more vivid. On the other hand, decreasing saturation adds lower colors of the spectrum to your image, making its colors appear duller.

While increasing the saturation of an image can really make it pop, you must be careful to avoid one of the biggest mistakes of photo editing: oversaturation. After all, Cheeto skin, unnaturally blue skies, and neon green grass aren’t a good (or natural) look! When you add the appropriate amount of saturation to your photo, it creates a more beautiful and eye-catching image that still appears realistic.


Photo Editing Made Easy

There you have it – the fool-proof steps for turning any photo into a masterpiece, along with the five essential editing tools you should use in BeFunky’s Photo Editor to turn your snaps into photographic works of art!

Our new Photo Enhancer options also offer one-click solutions to many of the tools above. They’re so smart you won't have to worry about overexposure, oversaturation, or over-sharpening again - just set it and forget it!

Photo Editing, Simplified.

Photo Editing. Simplified