VSCO is one of the best free photo editing apps for phones, especially for social media users that love Instagram. We recently talked about our 40 favorite apps to use with Instagram and VSCO ranked as one of the best editing apps because it’s very easy to use and comes packed with amazing features.
If you are new to the app, this tutorial will cover how to use VSCO along with all of the best VSCO editing tools and tricks to become a pro photo editor in no time.
Tutorial On How To Edit Instagram Photos Using VSCO:
- How To Get Started
- Skin Tone
- Shadows Tint
- Highlights Tint
- How To Export Finished Photos
How To Get Started In VSCO
VSCO app is available for download for both iPhones and Androids. Once you have the app downloaded on your phone and you are ready to upload your photos into VSCO for editing, simply open the app and press “+” to add photos to your collection. Select the photos you want to import and click on the checkmark.
Once all of your photos are imported, select the photo you want to edit and click on the sliding bars to get started.
One of the best things about this app is the filters that it comes with. VSCO filters are designed to make photos enhanced without distorting them or making them look too filtered.
Using VSCO filters is very simple. As soon as you click on the sliding bars, the app will automatically place you in the filter section. Slide your finger to the right to see all the preset previews and choose the filter that best fits your image.
The app comes with 13 free preset filters but additional free filters can be found under the “Shop” section along with many additional paid filter packages.
An annual membership called VSCO X is available for $19.99 for those who want access to all the latest preset filters and tools that are released but the filter packs can also be purchased individually without signing up for a membership.
Beyond the presets VSCO comes packed with many amazing editing features resembling those of professional editing software. The individual editing tools can always be accessed under the sliding bars and provide many more options for editing so next we’ll cover how to manually edit photos in VSCO by using these individual tools.
The first available editing tool is exposure. Exposure is a great and quick way to enhance a photo that came out too dark especially if the photo was shot in low light during a cloudy day, morning, or sunset. Just simply slide the exposure bar to the right to brighten up your photo and bring out colors from dull and dark to light and bright.
Contrast can be used to add a little punch to photos that look a bit monotone. By adding contrast to a photo the VSCO app will make the lights lighter and the dark areas of the photo darker to create a contrasting look. By doing so the colors and contrast will stand out more making the photo pop.
The straighten tool can be used to straighten the horizon on images that look tilted. Simply select the image you want to straighten and slide the bar to the right or left to change the position of the horizon.
If you use photos for social media you may need to crop the photos before uploading to fit the optimum size. For example, the optimal photo crop for Instagram is 4:5 vertically as this will create the largest possible image that captures your audience’s attention. Find the right size for your photo and simply use the VSCO crop tool to get it there.
X-Skew modifies and stretches the photo along the x-axis to change the angle of the photo. Move the x-skew to the left and right to switch the angle and focus of your photo. Notice as you move the cursor to the right that the right side of the photo will appear closer and as you move the cursor to the left, the left side of the photo will look closer.
The Y-skew is similar to the X-skew and modifies the photo focus point along the Y-axis. As you slide the cursor to the right of the photo, the top of the image will appear closer and as you slide the cursor to the left, the bottom of the image will look closer
The sharpen tool is helpful if an image looks a bit hazy or blurry. Slide the sharpen tool to the right to bring out more detail and sharpen the image.
Similar to the sharpen tool, the clarity tool can make an image look sharper and more clear. Slide the bar to the right to add details into your image and create more contrast between the dark and light areas. This tool is great to bring out detail in landscape images especially ones that have water features like rocks or logs that usually look less detailed under water.
Saturation can enhance colors in your photo or tone them down to black and white. Colorful photos have a tendency to shock people and can do well on Instagram when used in the right setting, so swipe the saturation bar to the right to bring life into your photos — just be cautious not to go overboard.
The highlights tool brings down the brightness of the light areas to bring out the natural color of the image. Increasing the highlights can make the image look more even and less harsh.
Shadows is a great tool to use if a photo came out a bit too dark and you want to brighten the dark areas. Simply slide the bar to the right and the shadowy dark areas of the photo will turn brighter to match the rest of the photo.
The temperature tool can change the color temperature of the photo. By sliding the temperature tool to the right the photo will become “warmer” or more yellow/orange. By sliding the tool to the left the photo will become “cooler” or bluer. This tool can be used to modify color temperature for sunrise, sunset, indoor photos, or just to create unique looks.
The tint tool can change the color tint of the photo. By swiping the tint tool to the left, the colors in the photo will turn more towards green tones and by swiping the tint slider to the right the colors will turn into purple tones.
If your image has an off looking skin tone color to a portrait or a selfie, this tool can fix that by targeting the tints of the colors that are usually found in skin tones. By sliding the tool to the left the image skin tones will have a more pink/purple tint to it and by sliding the tool to the right the skin tones will have a green/orange tint to it.
The vignette tool can be used to create a dark halo along the outer edges of the photo. Adding a vignette is a great way to manipulate an image and focus the attention on what’s found in the center.
Adding grain to a photo can give the picture a vintage, artistic film look by removing the pixel detail from the photo. Grain can look good in portrait photos but can also make landscape or nature photos look spotty so it doesn’t work well with every photo.
Fade is a great tool to add that cool, vintage look to your photos by fading out the dark areas of the image. By sliding the fade tool to the right the darks of the image will be lifted, giving it a more flat look. This look is very popular on Instagram right now but before using it make sure your image has enough dark areas to fade out otherwise it will just look super washed out instead.
The shadows tint function can add a certain color to the dark, shadowy areas of the photo. In this example, orange was added into the shadows to give it an earthy tone. The sliding bar can adjust the intensity of the color to make it less orange and more natural.
If your photo has a lot of light areas, highlights tint can add certain colors to those light areas. The photo used in this example was shot in the daylight so the sky and river were especially bright. A blue tint was added to the light areas by selecting the blue tint and sliding the bar to the right to control the intensity of the tint.
Borders is a paid feature that adds a colored border around the image. In order to use this feature, app users need to join the VSCO X membership. But adding borders to an image is not widely used in social media anymore so it might not be worth getting a $19.99 membership just for this tool.
How To Export Finished Photos
Once you’re finished with filtering and editing your photo and you are ready to upload it into Instagram, click on “Save” to apply all of the changes. Then click on the three dots “…” and select “Save to Camera Roll” to save the edited photo onto your phone.
If you are wanting to upload this image to Instagram or other social media, select “Actual size” when asked what size you would like to save the photo as. The other suggested sizes will save memory space on your phone but are inferior in quality than what’s allowed on Instagram.
Pro Tip: Instagram optimal size is 1080 wide x 1350 high which comes out to the 4:5 ratio we discussed earlier in the crop section.
From there the image will be saved on your phone and you can upload the image to the desired social media channels like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and more.
VSCO is a powerful photo editing app that allows users to edit phone photos in just a few minutes with a couple of simple swipes. VSCO is extremely easy to use, it is FREE, and with this tutorial, you can learn all the best tips to better edit your photos. Combine this with our guide to editing on Snapseed to instantly give your Instagram and social media photos that professional look you’ve been after.