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Refined Crop Tools

The Crop Tools in Photoshop CS6 have been improved and made more consistent with the Lightroom crop workflow. First, the Perspective Crop option has been moved into a separate tool so that you can find it and apply it more quickly.

With CS5 and earlier versions, it was necessary to invoke a special crop “mode” from the options bar, which was sometimes easy to miss. Moreover, the Crop Marquee did not provide enough feedback in some situations to create proper alignment. The new Perspective Crop tool in Photoshop CS6 puts the tool right in the Toolbar and offers a brand new marquee that makes it very easy to align straight edges in your photo to the marquee grid (Figure 8), so you need fewer retries to get the right result.

Figure 8: The new Perspective Crop tool makes it easier to quickly align your crop marquee and remove unwanted keystone effects in your image.

The standard Crop tool has also undergone some major changes, bringing Photoshop’s workflow in line with the crop workflow in Lightroom, as well as adding straightening capabilities that were previously only available with other tools.

First, the Crop Tool now uses the same type of “live overlay” marquee (called the Crop Shield) that you find in Lightroom. By default, the application now hides the cropped pixels rather than deleting them. That means at any time you can re-invoke the Photoshop CS6 Crop tool and immediately see the cropped pixels again, allowing you to reclaim some or all of them without stepping back in History. In effect, it is true non-destructive cropping. There are several new marquee grids as well, like Triangle, Golden Ratio and Golden Spiral (Figure 9).

Figure 9: The new Crop Tool offers improved marquee types, a non-destructive Crop Shield (like Lightroom), and options for controlling marquee and shield appearance.

Also worth mentioning is the new Crop Options menu (Figure 10) that provides the ability to return the Crop Tool to Classic Mode, should you prefer the old method. You can also manage how the marquee and image area are displayed (for example, whether the image is centered automatically and how dark or light the Crop Shield is when displayed).

Figure 10: The new Crop Options pop-up menu.

Finally, one of the most useful changes to the Photoshop Crop workflow

is that a Straighten tool has been added to the Options Bar. It works just like the Straighten tools found in ACR and Lightroom. Click and drag a line marquee across the horizon or a horizontal surface, and a rotated crop marquee will appear afterward. You can modify the angle if needed; when finished, press Enter to accept the rotated crop and straighten the horizon (Figure 11). This is quicker and more intuitive, in my opinion, than manually rotating a standard crop marquee or using the Ruler Tool to straighten horizons, as we did in Photoshop CS5.

Figure 11: You can now straighten horizons using new Crop tool options.

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