How to Edit Pictures

In a sea of photo editing software and in-depth guides, there’s no clear path for learning how to edit pictures. We recommend you start with the basics — cropping, filters, and simple effects — before moving on to advanced programs like Photoshop. Below, we’ve showcased a few essential features that will foster your editing knowledge.


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Shutterstock Editor
With Shutterstock’s new Editor tool, quick photo customization has never been easier. Before downloading a stock image, you now have the choice of selecting “Custom Size”, which allows you to tweak the photo in Editor before downloading. From there, you have the option to set custom dimensions, choose preset sizes that are catered to popular social networks, and add special filters. 

How to Crop Images

  1. First, click on the “Preset Sizes” icon to open a sidebar filled with different image dimensions. These include posts and headers for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and much more. 

  2. After selecting a preset, you’ll see the stock photo at its new size, with the cropped-out sections also visible. 

  3. If you’re not happy with the crop placement, you can drag the green box to a different section of the photo. When you’re finished, click Download to save your version of the image.

Adding a Stylish Filter

  1. Click on the “Filters” icon to bring up another sidebar, with 10 distinct filters to choose from. These include the brash and colorful “Nickel”, the black-and-white “Carbon”, and the muted “Titanium”. 

  2. If you’re pleased with photo’s size and coloration, click on the Download button to access your custom image. You’ll also have the option to download the original image for later use. 


Adobe Photoshop
When it comes to advanced editing software, Photoshop is hard to beat. By employing the rich toolbar, layering features, effects, and integration with other Adobe programs, there’s really no limit to the creative possibilities. However, the program does come with a fairly steep learning curve, so it’s best to start with the fundamentals. Learning how to edit pictures will not happen overnight, but by mastering one skill at a time, you can quickly build up your repertoire.

Cropping, Rotating, and Resizing

  1. Once you’ve opened an image file, you can crop it by selecting the Crop icon from the toolbar (it looks like two overlapping corners). Then, click and drag the dashed line around the area of the photo you’d like to keep. Release the mouse, and then press Enter to crop the image.  

  2. Rotating an image only takes a few seconds. Open the Image menu tab, go to “Image Rotation”, and then select which direction you’d like to rotate. The main options are 180º, 90º CW (clockwise), 90º CCW (counterclockwise), and Arbitrary. 

  3. Finally, resizing a photo is as simple as opening the Image menu tab, and then selecting “Image Size…” You will be presented with a smaller box that has settings for Width, Height, Resolution, and more. Make sure to turn the Resample box and Lock icon on, so that your image dimensions stay the same. Then, click OK to finalize the sizing. 

Using Layers

  1. Layers are probably Photoshop’s most important concept. Think of them as different images stacked on top of each other, creating a final image from their summation. There are two main types of layers: content layers (i.e. photos and text) and adjustment layers (tweaks in color/texture to the layers below). When used to their full potential, layers provide an immense level of control over how a final image looks. 

  2. Most of your work with layers will be handled in the Layers panel. To create a blank layer, click the New Layer button at the bottom-right corner of the panel. To duplicate a layer and add some subtle changes (without affecting the original), right-click the layer from the panel’s list and then select “Duplicate Layer…” Then, click OK. If you find that a particular layer is no longer necessary, you can delete it by clicking the trash can icon at the bottom-right corner of the panel. 

  3. Finally, when playing around with layers, you might want to show and hide certain elements until you’ve achieved an attractive composition. Just click on the Eye icon next to the layer you want to hide, and it will disappear. Reordering layers on the panel will also change the final image. They’re quite literally in a “stacking order”, which means that the top layer in the list is stacked above the others. To rearrange the order, simply click and drag a layer to a new place on the list. 

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