How to make Subway Art using Picmonkey!

You all know my love affair with Subway Art!   

Since learning how to do it myself I have made countless artwork for our house, as well as giving them as gifts to family and friends!  I love it!  They can be as simple or elaborate as you want, but I would have to say that most that I see, or make, are modern designs that have clean/simple lines!  The #1 thing that I love…..the price tag!! 

Tempting Thyme Subway Art

You can create anything you want from your computer, and then either print it out from home….OR…..if you are wanting something large, bring it to Staples (or your favorite copy shop) and have them print it off as an Engineering copy for under $10!  Now you get it!  LOL!  Sometimes it is all about the price tag with me!  Allows me to be creative, bringing in something new to the house without robbing the bank and making me feel like I am stuck with it for the long term.  Seriously, have you seen the price tag of Subway Art online?  Upwards of $200….no joke!  Let me show you how to make your own!  Will save you money and you will feel pride that you did it on your own…..

Subway Art

Do you remember seeing the two pictures above?  I made these almost a year ago, and you can read all about it here.  This post will take you beyond today’s tutorial and show you how to finish off your new Subway Art using a wood mount.  But don’t take too long, I can’t wait to show you how to use one of my favorite photo editing sites….. Picmonkey!

My latest Subway Art was a sweet little baby gift for my neighbor!  Yes, she was already 8 months old when I finally gave it to her…..but I am positive she didn’t know the tardiness/difference! 

Subway Art

I have had so much fun with Picmonkey this past year.  It was one of the replacements when Picnik closed its online doors.  I know, some of you are still sad over its fate =(   Cheer up……from what I have been told, Picmonkey was created by some of the old Picnik geniuses!

Ironically, even though Picmonkey is primarily used for photo editing I have only used it to create Subway Art!  Ok, that is not exactly true….I have also used it to create cute social buttons, headers, transparent watermarks and side widgets for this blog.  I will eventually share my adventures, with plenty of mistakes…… sigh!!……but for now I really want to show you how to create Subway Art!  Really, this information will change your life.  IT IS SO EASY TO DO!!!!!  You will be thinking of all the gifts you can make scrolling thru this tutorial!

What you will need:  1 high resolution photograph (you will be blacking this out once you upload it to Picmonkey)

That’s right…..that is the only thing you will need to get this project started!  Yep, told you it was easy.

Tempting Thyme Watermark

Open up Picmonkey, and click ‘Edit a Photo’!  Lord that dog is so stinkin’ cute…..

Subway ArtI uploaded a picture of a jersey.  This was a spare baseball jersey that was given to me on my birthday last summer.  K had an All Star game that day and they thought it was so ironic and fitting that this jersey was #44 and I turned 44 that day.  Did I wear it to the game?  No way…I think it was 100 degrees that day.  I am not a fool! 

Make sure that you upload a picture that is appropriate to the direction you want your finished product to be.  I used a vertical picture in the 2 examples at the top, but if you are wanting the finished product to be horizontal in nature then upload a picture in the landscape mode.  For the Jenna project it really didn’t matter as I was wanting a square! 

Anyway, I know that the red circles are faint, but you need to click on the icon underneath the ‘P’, with the 3 stickers.  This opens up a lot of different editing tools.  Skip all of those and click the button at the top that says ‘Your Own’.  At this stage, I uploaded a chalkboard background that I have saved onto my computer.  BTW… can get some free chalkboard files from Nest of Posies and The Gunny Sack.  If you just want a black background then click Geometric in the sticker section (first one under ‘Your Own’).  Pull the corners of the black/chalkboard image to cover the picture entirely.  

Subway Art

Once you have your image completely blacked out, you are going to want to crop it.  When I made my very first Subway Art project, I followed someone else’s instructions and they stated to crop it to be 4×6.  That didn’t give me the desired dimension of 24 x 36 when printed out at Staples.  The technician advised me to crop it at 11 x 14, but not any smaller than 8 x 10.  This will allow a larger ‘blueprint’ to be printed without becoming distorted.  The proportions will stay intact.

Subway Art

Now you are ready to begin the fun stuff!  Click on the ‘P’, scroll down and pick a font.  I like to use 3 different fonts in each project.  Drag the corners and make it as big or as small as you want.  This is also the time to drag it into the location you want.  I wanted her name bold and bright at the top.  You can also use the Text box on the left to enlarge/shrink the image.  Your choice! That text box also is where you can fade the words it you want.  I use that feature on occasion. You can also choose different colors if you want.  WARNING…..if you choose to use colors then you will not get the Engineering price at Staples.  You will pay a premium price.  If you really want some color, why not print the whole thing out in black and white, and then using markers/colored pencils/paint you can fill in the word that you are wanting to stand out!  This is what I will be doing next time.

Subway Art

Keep filling in your project using the steps above.  Add some variety by changing the direction of some of your words or numbers.  Do this by putting your cursor on the circle above your word and drag it to the right or left.  Play around with it, take it slow and have some patience on this one.  Once you have it going in the direction you are wanting, drag it where you want it to go.

Subway Art

Once you are done, click the ‘merge’ button at the top right and then click ‘save’ to save it to your computer.  If you are wanting a large print then save your image onto a flashdrive and take it into your local copy shop.  I prefer Staples, but for this project I was able to have it printed out cheaper at a copy shop in Oxford.  They printed this 20×20 for $26.  I know, I know….a little more than the engineering copy, but I was stuck {me shrugging my shoulders}.  Live and learn…black and white is where it’s at!!!

Subway Art

Here is a look at my finished project before mounting on a canvas board.  Can I be honest here?  I wish I had put this on a wood board, as I found working with the canvas difficult, but it was a pretty big square that I was working with, 20 x 20.  This canvas hit me in the head at my local Hobby Lobby, and I thought I would take the easy way out.  I just about gave up and had a new print made just so I could put it on a board, but then said screw it!  I was going to make it work.  Anyway, I painted the sides and a little bit of the top before Mod Podging it to the canvas.

Subway Art

Remember that blank space in the center?  Scroll up, I will wait……  I left that blank so that the family could put a 5×7 baby picture on it.  I sweated bullets trying to figure out how to get this done.  Months after starting this I finally settled on some scrapbooking clips that I found at Hobby Lobby.  Above is a picture of the clip and then the backside showing how it was attached.  If you want to mount it using the board method go here for instructions.

Subway Art

What do you think?  Makes you want to jump onto your computer and play around with Picmonkey….doesn’t it?  Yep, me too!!

Until next time……


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Subway Art~yes you really can make your own!
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72 thoughts on “How to make Subway Art using Picmonkey!

    • I am sure you could use a powerpoint slide as your base, but change the resolution so that it is a very large file. This way you will be able to print a larger “blueprint”. The higher the resolution you start with, the larger the print you can create.

  1. This is my very first time using Pinterest and this is EXACTLY what I was looking for!!
    For my birthday, my daughter had a bunch of people send what I meant to them. I wanted to take a couple sentences from each and put them on a collage or poster or in some way to frame and mount it. I was thinking subway art, or maybe a chalkboard background with sentiments written on it in white or a canvas background with yellow ‘sticky notes’ with sentiments on each. I would welcome any ideas. But however I do it, I couldn’t find anything that explained how to start, much less donor with Microsoft word tools and make it larger than 11×7. I passed up Pic Monkey because I didn’t plan to use photos. So thank you so, so much for taking the time! I can’t wait to get started!!

    • So glad that you found the instructions. Just finished another one for my sons 19th birthday….can’t wait to give it to him tomorrow. I love the idea of the chalkboard background with the sentiments in white. You can either frame it (once printed), or add it to a large board like I generally do, or modpodge it to canvas. That is totally your preference. Would LOVE to see a picture of it when it has been completed. BTW……what an AMAZING birthday present from your daughter. I can only hope that my 2 boys think of this for one of my upcoming birthdays. 😉

    • I have it printed on engineering paper at the local copy shop and I use a spray adhesive or mod podge to apply it to the boards or canvas.

  2. I’m excited to find this page. I need to to thank you for ones time for this wonderful read!!

    I definitely appreciated every bit of it and I have
    you saved as a favorite to see new things on your site.

  3. Hi! I’m so excited to come across this tutorial! I wanted to make a “pool rules” sign and wasn’t wanting to spend $80+. I have a piece of wood that is about 24″ x 48″ that I was wanting to do my project on. It will just be a bunch of words, but I don’t want it distorted since some of the letters will be large. Do you think there will be any issues with printing at Staples (engineering copy like you suggested)? Also, I’m not sure I fully understand what you were saying about the dimensions and cropping. If my board is 24″ x 48″ and I want the words/letters fairly close to the edge, suggestions what size should I request at Staples? Thanks!
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    • You are going to love your pool sign, especially for under $10!! I know that picmonkey has the option to “design” right from their home page, but for an engineering print I would still upload your own high resolution photo and then resize it to an 11×14 option. The high resolution photo will allow you to enlarge this engineering print at Staples to the 24″ x 48″ (although the size options at Staples are: 18 x 24, 24 x 36, and 36 x 48) without the words becoming distorted. You will need to make an adjustment when you are creating your sign in picmonkey, allowing for the 48″ length but only 24″ width. I would suggest leaving some space on either side, maybe an inch, which would allow you to cut off that space after you printed it at Staples, fitting it to the 24″ wood. Either that or cut the wood down so that the height is only 36″. Does this make sense, I know that I can be long winded sometimes??

      Would love to see a photo of the finished project and to do a feature on it. Email it to me at!!!!

  4. Hi say how would I make a lost dog poster on Picmonkey? I’m helping someone make posters trying to find their lost dog. Thanks so much, I don’t want it to be distorted, and I also need to use the picture of the dog at the top of the poster. 🙂

    • I would use their ‘design’ option which allows you to choose the size that you are wanting. For this poster you will need at least an 8×10. You can add the dogs photo by choosing the butterfly overlay, and then go to the top where it says “upload your own”. Find a photo of the dog from your computer and upload it. You will be able to play around with the size of the photo, and move it to the location you desire. After the photo is in place, then use the Tt overlay to pick a font and add in the verbiage that you want the poster to convey. So sad!!! I hope your friend finds their dog!!!! Keep us posted….

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    • I didn’t realize that Ribbet was the old Picnik, that is what I first used when I started to do the photo editing online. I use Ribbet some, but not as often as I use Picmonkey. Thanks for the information Holly!

  6. I did it! HOOORAY!! I’ve been wanting to edit other subway art, but couldn’t figure out how to do so…to tailor to my needs, style, colors, etc. THANKS for the tutorial! I have now pinned my created subway art, who knows, maybe someone else is into my style? Just one note; there was no need to upload a photo, just chose canvas color and went on to add text etc (perhaps this is a new feature?).

    • YEAH!!!! Picmonkey added that option after I posted this tutorial. I use it for items that are 11×14 (finished product) or under, but for the largest subway art projects I still upload a large resolution photo so that it doesn’t become pixelated and jaded once blown up. Would love to see a picture of your project……upload a picture if you can. Shaunna

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  8. I have a question and I feel like I have a dunce cap on my head….but I read through all of the instructions, btw, I am addicted to the did a great job!, ok my question..why do you upload a photo to edit? what is the reason for that? the red jersey? then black it out? which im sure ill understand when I try to do this…but if you have just a moment could you answer my dunce question? patty btw if its easier you can just send me a text with the reason..patty thanks sweetie

    • Hi Patty, It is all about the pixels, and if you start out with the highest possible resolution then you will be able to print out a 36″x48″ engineering print and the print will look great versus distorted and fuzzy. BTW….I am so happy that I was able to text your answer last night, but now I am going to edit your original question above and get rid of you cell #, as I don’t think you want to take any chances with that floating around. Take care and let me know how everything worked out!! Shaunna

  9. This is outstanding! It is exactly what I came online looking to find. Thank you for sharing! I also see in the comments that you are one of the few awesome bloggers who respond to questions. LOVE that! Thank you again!
    Now off to pic monkey… I have a feeling I’ll be making more than one of these… 😉

  10. Brilliant..of course I should have been doing something else besides this while I could…it’s addictive! Thanks for sharing it!

  11. I am wondering how do you get them to be in high enough resolution to be able to print it in a poster size. I made one last night and I went to up load it to snap fish and to order it. It told me the resolution was to low for it to even be printed out on a 8×10. Any advice would be great. TIA

    • This is done thru your camara. Go to the menu feature on your camara and click on the ‘quality’ feature. From here you will choose the highest setting for your photo. You will not get as many photos for each memory card, but you will get quality photos that can be blown up to just about any size that you want. Unfortunately, you will have to redo your art project.

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  14. I love this post and just created my first subway art on Picmonkey! I want to use it for my wedding and would love to have it on wood board. Do you have any tutorials on how to do that or any suggestions?



      • Thank you! Yes, it will more then likely be in the reception hall. 🙂
        So, after I get my print from Staples, do you use modge podge on the wood first, then lay the print on top? Is there anything you put over the print? I read something about a sealant…



        • I do it 2 different ways, depending on the desired finished product. If you are wanting it ‘distressed’ with lots of ripples and character, then use mod podge to adhere it. Brush your board with mod podge and then lay out your subway art smoothing it down with your fingers and a little tool (I use a Pampered Chef pot scraper). You will have some of the paper bunching up, giving you a scare and shouting at it … and me. Don’t fret! Once it dries, you will take some sandpaper and lightly sand the entire artwork and those bumps and ridges will get sanded down giving the piece character. You shouldn’t need to seal the top with a poly spray if you mod podge. If you want a more tailored, polished and smooth finish then use a spray adhesive (I use Treehouse Spray Adhesive), spray the board completely, as well as the back of the paper, let them both sit for a few minutes and then lay your paper over the board and smooth everything out. It will be your choice whether you want to poly seal it after or not. I have a 3′ x 4′ board in my den that I did with this method and I have not put any sealant on top and it is still going strong 18 months later. Send me a picture when it is done. I would love to feature it!

  15. Hi I was wondering when you go to your printing shop what type of print paper was it? Was it photo print paper? If so would that work to put on canvas? Im pretty clueless on how to ask for my print! I would like to put it on a canvas. Im pretty sure Ill be printing at costco if that helps. Hopefully I’m making myself clear here!!

    • Hi Claudia! Staples prints it on regular (engineering) paper for me. I have not used photo paper for any of the subway art projects. I have used photo paper when I am making the ‘photo coasters’ though! I have never had Costco print anything of mine. They are too far away from where I live. Go online and see if they offer an engineering print. If they don’t then I would think that the photo paper would be okay. You just may need to adhere it with the mod podge versus the spray sealant. This is what I would suggest if I was using photo paper……. Coat the canvas with mod podge, lay your photo paper down going over it with your fingers (you might want to wear a cotton glove) to get rid of any creases and bubbles. Once it has dried, go over it again paying close attention to the edges, with the mod podge. Let it completely dry for 24 hours! Let me know how it turns out. Have a great weekend!!

  16. Hi There,
    I am trying to make one of these subway art prints and I’ve seen some online that include pictures on them. Do you know if you can add a picture of your own onto the art before you print it out, when using PicMonkey?

    • Yes, you can add a photo into your subway art project. Go into the layers icon (butterfly) on the left hand side. Once opened go to the top and you will see a button that says something like ‘add your own’. This is where you will add in your own photograph. You will even be able to fad it in and out and resize it. Send me a picture of your finished project, would love to see it!

  17. Trying to get a subway art project I made to print larger than 4×6. Any suggestions? I am wanting just to print up on photo paper at Costco in a 8×10.

    • Are you bringing the print to Costco via a flashdrive? If yes, they should be able to guide you on choosing a print size. If you are uploading it to their website for later pickup, there should be a dropdown menu that you can choose the size. Let me know if you are still having issues. Good luck!

  18. Thanks for sharing all of your tips. I have recently been searching for a photo editing site, with no luck. Until now, I love PicMonkey!! I do have a question on your subway art though. How do you get the finished look to be distressed if it is just paper printed and mod podged? And where did you get the chalkboard background from? Thanks!

    • Hi April, After making hundreds of these (not really, but it feels that way) I would suggest just blacking out your photograph. When you go to enlarge it into an engineering print it becomes even more distressed and ‘greyish’. After getting it onto the wood board or canvas I roughen it up even more with sandpaper….gently roughen it up as it is just paper. If you want to start off with chalkboard then go to Nest of Posies and download the graphic from there. With the Jenna print I used one of these, but after looking at it long enough, I feel that it is too grey. I like the distressed black!! Shaunna

    • Hi Shaunna, again lol. I have printed a print and just putting this one a canvas. However, when I mod podged it, it isn’t sticking around the edge. It stuck pretty good along the sides, but top and bottom, not really at all. It also got very bubbly all over. Any suggestions on how to fix or what I did wrong? I first used spray adhesive so that it wouldn’t move around. Thanks for your help 🙂

      • Hi April, You are living through my angst of working with canvas. I have a few canvas’ left, but once they are gone, I will only do the these projects on wood boards. Personal preference, but I find the canvas a pain in the rear to work with. I had the same trouble you are describing when I sprayed the sealer down to adhere the print to the canvas. Lots and Lots of bubbling when I then went over it with the mod podge. My recommendation: If you are going to use the spray sealer do not put the mod podge on top. If you need to put a little extra on the sides and edges go ahead. Personally, I only use the mod podge when working with the canvas. I put a layer on the canvas, lay the print down, smoothing any wrinkles and bubbles with a small little plastic scraper. Put your other hand underneath (or use a book) to give the canvas support while you are working the bubbles out. If you don’t, the canvas will stretch. Long winded……sorry. Let me know how it goes?

        • So, what you are saying is I should scrap the canvas and retry on wood lol. If it is that cheap, I am ok with that. This is annoying!! I am going to head to Lowe’s tomorrow and even already have an extra print because they goofed so I got two for free 🙂 Thanks again!

          • Actually, if you received a second print for free…..then I say start over. If you want to try and salvage the canvas, then wait for everything to dry and sand the entire thing down so that you have a smooth area to work on. Then adhere the print with mod podge and then if you want to put an extra layer on top go for it. You can only be the judge on that extra layer on top. I have some with a bottom and top layer and some with just the bottom layer (putting the mod podge on the canvas/wood and laying the sheet on top of it). You will still have bubbles and ripples. This is what gives me that extra ‘distressed’ look when I lightly sand over it when it is dry.

          • One more post!!! I redid this on wood and I am ABSOLUTELY addicted. It turned out awesome, and I can’t wait to make another 🙂 I also did one with an actual photo and I loved it as well! Thanks again.

          • I am so happy April, I was getting a little nervous that I was steering you in the wrong direction. Wood is so much better than the canvas, wouldn’t you agree? Send me a picture, I would love to do a feature on it!!

  19. Thanks this is helpful. I’m working on a piece right now (birth stats) and I’m having trouble in regards to certain words being the length I need (so it’s all lined up properly around the edges) without the words increasing in font size. For example, I want the first name at the top to be larger than the second name and middle name below it, but want the length of both ‘lines’ to be the same length. Make sense? Hope you can help! Thanks!!
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    • Hi Ashley, I just sent you an email. Bottom line, I don’t have an answer for you. Sometimes it seems like I can extend the box and the word without increasing the overall font, but most of the time I also increase the size of the font. =( This is when I generally use different styles of font to achieve the look I want. I went on to picmonkeys blog and help center to see if I could actually find some directions, and they didn’t have anything either. If someone knows this answer, please give us a shout out! Shaunna

  20. Thanks for the tutorial. This has been helpful. I’m trying to work on a birth stats/announcement piece and I’m having difficulty figuring out how to make the words line up properly so there are clean lines all around the sides. For example I put the first name on the very top and than in smaller font the middle and last names on the next line down…but when I try to make the middle and last names the same length across as the first name (which is larger) it just increases the font size. Sorry if this is confusing…but hoping you can help.

    • Thanks Ann! I learned on picnik before they shut down their ‘doors’, so moving to picmonkey was an easy transition. The very few times I have worked with photoshop I struggled and lost my patience….probably way too quickly as people seem to love it….including my sister! Oh well, every avenue is not for everyone, which is why there are so many choices on the market, right?

    • I will definitely check out the site, thanks for the tip Michelle! It is pretty addicting. I have to give so many of them away or my walls would be filled too!

    • Thanks Karmen, I can’t wait to see what kind of Subway Art you create! I hope you show it off to all of us when you are done.

  21. I have never used picmonkey before. I love your art “God made you”!!! can you tell me what fonts you used for the God made you? I just really like those and i can’t seem to find them by trial and error! i’ve started over a couple of times. i can’t seem to get the hang of editing my text boxes? i will persevere!!!
    Thanks for the inspiration!!!

    • Omg….this is a tough one, as this was one of my first one’s that I created and I had no clue what I was doing. LOL! This one took me FOREVER, as I was figuring out the different fonts and moving them around into the various positions. Don’t get frustrated on the text boxes. The more you practice the easier it gets. What are you struggling with, maybe I can help? I used the ‘Special Elite’ for God, but I cannot figure out the other 2. I just went through my favorites, testing them out again, and none of them seem to be a match. Sorry! These are the ones I use most often: Special Elite, Brushtip Travis, Brush Tip Texe, Marccelle Script, Bleeding Cowboys, Stampete, De Walpergen Pica, Times New Yorker and Roman Antique.

      I tend to create these while sitting in front of the tv at night, and it is my doodle pad…..playing around and seeing how different words will work in various spaces, and most of the time the fonts come into play because of the designated space that I have left for a word.

      I hope this helps a little! Let me know if I can answer anything else. Here is my email…..

  22. I just finished my own subway art project on picmonkey and it took me about one hour! I can’t wait to take it to Staples tomorrow. Do you have any tips on putting it on canvas?
    Thanks for the instructions!

    • Your welcome Mary. I find it easier to work with the wood boards, but have a stockpile of canvas boards in a closet so I will need to use them up eventually. Here is what I do when using canvas: Paint the top and sides whatever color your subway art ‘base’ color is. For me that normally tends to be black or a deep charcoal (washed chalkboard). I always do the sides 2-3 coats of paint, but only do the top with 1 light coat. You don’t even need to do the top, but I don’t want to take any chances that the engineering copy is not true to size and if it is a little shorter the paint will blend it in better. It also allows me to give the subway art a light sanding to roughen things up a bit more. The biggest tip is to put some books under your canvas (in between the wood rim) so that you have a level surface when laying out the print and smoothing things out. If nothing is supporting it you can stretch out the canvas when pressing it down and working out the air bubbles. Let me know if you have any other questions. Can’t wait to see it!! Post a copy here for us to see….please!! Shaunna

    • I cropped this particular project down to a square as I wanted to try something new with the Jenna project. You need to have the appropriate dimensions for the artwork. You technically aren’t cropping it as you have a solid color background, but you are giving it distinct definition. The higher the dimensions, the larger you will be able to do the engineering print without it being grainy or distorted. Let me know if this helps or not. Remember, to start with the highest resolution photo you can find on your computer

    • Thank you Vashti! I am convinced it is the easiest and cheapest artwork to create yourself. Get tired of one, just make a new one and lay it right on top of the old one. Link up a picture after you get yours done….

  23. Thanks for these great tips! I too don’t want to use photoshop. I already taught myself enough just making my blog!!

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