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Cropping into a Shape

Elements 4.0 has a cool feature that lets you crop your photo into a pre-designed shape (like putting a wedding photo into a heart shape), but even cooler are the edge effects you can create by cropping into one of the pre-designed edge effects that look like old Polaroid transfers. Here's how to put this feature to use to add visual interest to your own photos (of course, you can use the Heart Shape and do the whole wedding photo thing, but that's so “five-minutes-ago”).

Step One

In the Elements Editor, open the photo you want to crop into a pre-designed shape, and press the letter Q to get the Cookie Cutter tool.

Step Two

Now, go up to the Options Bar and click on the down-facing arrow to the right of the word “Shape.” This brings up the Custom Shape Picker, which contains the default set of 30 shapes. To load more shapes, click on the right-facing arrow at the top right of the Picker and a list of built-in shape sets will appear. From this list, choose Crop Shapes to load the edge-effect shapes, which automatically crop away areas outside your custom edges.

Step Three

Once you find the custom edge shape you want to use from the Custom Shape Picker, just click-and-drag it over your image to the size you want it. When you release the mouse button, your photo is cropped to fit within the shape. Note: I like Crop Shape 10 (which is shown here) for something simple, and Crop Shape 21 for something a little wilder. The key thing here is to experiment and try different crop shapes to find your favorite.

Step Four

You'll see a bounding box around the shape, which you can use to resize, rotate, or otherwise mess with your shape. To resize your shape, hold the Shift key to keep it proportional while you drag a corner point. To rotate the shape, move your cursor outside the bounding box until your cursor becomes a double-sided arrow, and then click-and-drag. As long as you see that bounding box, you can still edit the shape. When it looks good to you, press Enter and the parts of your photo outside that shape will be permanently cropped away.

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