PicMonkey- How to Create Mini Instagram Like Photos


Instagram is a very popular phone app that works either with android phones or iphones.  Using your mobile phone to take pictures, the photos can then be shared on social media and on the public website of your Instagram account.    It is very popular because, the Instagram photo app offers professional photo effects that enhance your everyday life photos into great memories.

Instagram also offers apps that allow you to download your photos or send them to online print shops which allow you to send the photos you have captured on your phone to be printed in hardcopy.  The instagram  images are usually in a standard mini instagram format of  2″ x 2″ square.  They are unique and popular products.  They have become so popular that they are often included in a variety of project life layouts as tiny photos that add additional , creative oomph, to memory keeping and digital scrapbooking.

All this is great, but the unique size of the Instagram photos poses a challenge for people who want the effect but don’t have the time and energy to invest in a photo editing program or additional software or phone apps they don’t use often.

Steps to Creating Mini Instagrams

Using Picmonkey, a free photo online editor, I have created this tutorial so that you can create your own Instagram like photos.  In a later tutorial, I will show you how to create a photostrip with 3 2 x2 photos.  The following steps will take you through the process of creating the 2” x 2” Instagram photo with vintage like effects.  Picmonkey provides a variety of vintage photo effects that you can apply to your photos.  In this tutorial, I am aiming for a 1970s throwback Polaroid look to my photos.

Caveat:  I have not been authorized by either Instagram or Picmonkey to provide this tutorial.  This is a tutorial that I developed using the Picmonkey’s free online editor and similar characteristics of Instagram photos.


Step 1 – Select Your Photo or Image

The first step is to upload a single photo from your computer, you might have stored this photo on your laptop’s  hard drive or a separate jump or thumb drive.  I usually work from my computer desktop, as it makes working with the photographs a lot faster and easier.

Using the Picmonkey “Edit a Photo”,  option upload the photo you want to work on.  (Tip:  I would suggest that you experiment with a free image from Microsoft’s free image databank or an image that you don’t mind experimenting with until you get the process right.)  Part of the trial and error process comes from the original quality of the photograph itself, for example, is it overexposed? Is there too much red, green or blue?


Step 2 – Cropping Your Photo Into A Square

Under the “Basic Edits” menu, select the “ Crop” function.  Under the drop down menu select the “square” function.  This step will make the cropping overlay grid into a perfect square. Expand the square, to the fullest extent possible and select the area best suited to the image you want to create and apply the crop.  In this photo, you will notice that the dimensions are quite large, but we will worry about the size later.  At this point, you want to get the best  square crop of your image, since most photos are in a rectangular format.


Step 3 – Resizing Your Image or Photo to Accurate Dimensions

Under the “Basic Edits menu, select resize photo .  Type in the dimensions of 575 pixels by 575 pixels and make sure the checkbox “Keep proportions” is checked.   Select apply.  Completing this step provides for a 50 pixel  allowance for the white framed border that you will be applying or adding in a later step.  This is only a rough approximation as Picmonkey does not allow for exact control of the units (inches, pixels, etc) like other professional photo editing programs.


Step 4 – Adding Vintage Like Photo Effects or Filters

Under the “Effects” Menu, select the “Tranquil” Effect.  I chose this effect because it provided a photo filter that best matches the 1970s faded photo look.  I adjusted the slider to reduce the fade slightly, always observing the effect on the photo itself to get the effect that I preferred.  You can adjust your settings , to what suits you.  After you have made the filter adjustments to your liking, you are ready to create the frame.  Make sure all your effects are added before adding the frame as an effects (other than labels or text) added after the fact, affect your photo as well as the frame


Step 5 – Adding A Frame to Your Image or Photo

To create the basic Instagram photo frame, select  the “Simple Edge” function under the “Frames”  menu of the PicMonkey photo editor.  Select the color white for the outer color as indicated in the screen shot, keep the slider at Picmonkey’s default of 20.    Choose any color you prefer, for  the inner border color.  I chose a light grey for this image with a line point size of 2 or 3.  As you get familiar with this process, you can invert the colors to your taste.


Step 6 – Selecting the Correct Frame Dimensions

As shown in the Picmonkey screenshot #6, make sure your frame selections follow the dimensions and selection shown.  Click on apply and your photo should have the appropriate frame.


Step 7 – Adjusting the Pixel  Dimensions of Your Image

Under the Basic Edits menu, select “Resize” in order to assure that your image is 600 pixels by 600 pixels.  Type in the numbers as shown and make sure the “keep proportions” check box is checked.  This assure that your final Instagram like photo will print out in a 2” x 2” image at 300 dpi.  This is a pretty good quality image.  So that’s why we are being a little OCD in our instructions, as Picmonkey is not like more professional photo editors where you can control pixel dimensions exactly from the get go.


Step 8 – Adding Text to Your Image, If You Prefer

In this case, I wanted to add a text layer to add a little pizzazz to this photo.  Select the “Text” function under the Picmonkey photo editor.   Select the font you want to use on the lefthand side menu.  Then click on “Add Text”.   A small dialog box will pop up to show you the text attributes of your text selection.  Add your text, and make your adjustments as needed.  Picmonkey provides a WSYWIG (what you see is what you get) view of your text enhancements.  When you are satisfied with your results, you are ready to save your Instagram like photo.

mini-instagram, picmonkey

Step 9 – Saving Your Image

Now as Picmonkey states, you are ready to save your masterpiece!  I have included this last screenshot so that you can see how the Picmonkey software provides the dimensions of the photo at 600 x 600, which is exactly what we want.  In addition, I also wanted to show you (and emphasize) that you change the name of your photo so that you DO NOT overwrite your original photo or image.  Picmonkey will give you the option of the original photo, I can’t stress enough that you change the name because once you click “Save” without changing the filename, your original photo will be gone.  Although the instructions in this tutorial seem  lengthy, the process actually goes faster once you are familiar with the Picmonkey interface and photo effects.  But, I just thought I would be as thorough as  I possibly could be for those folks who are not familiar with Picmonkey.

Here’s an example of an Instagram sized photo in a project life layout by Studio Calico, the link will take you to my Digi Scrapbooking board on Pinterest.


We will get to instructions on creating an Instagram photostrip and printing in a future blog post. 🙂

You Might Also Like:

How to Create an Instagram Like Photostrip in 5 Easy Steps

Getting Creative With PicMonkey’s New Overlays

Picmonkey – 5 New Photo Effects on Free Online Photo Editor

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