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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

The Crop tool


The Crop tool is not a selection tool, but it is one you will use very often in combination with selecting.

You can crop an image in two quick steps without the Crop tool if all you want to do is get rid of an unnecessary part of an image:

  1. With the Rectangular Marquee tool, select an area that contains the element you want to keep (make sure there is no feather on the selection; see page 76).
  2. From the Image menu, choose “Crop.” Ta da.

For more specific cropping, the Crop tool provides much more control. You can set the specific dimensions and resolution of the cropped area, and you can see a preview of the results.

  1. Choose the Crop tool from the Tools panel.
  2. In the Options bar, set the “Width” and “Height” that you want the finished image to be (or see the tip below).
    • For a measurement in inches, type “in” after the number.
    • For a measurement in pixels, type “px” after the number.
  3. You can set the “Resolution” if you understand clearly how it might affect the image. If not, leave it blank.
    • Set 300 pixels/inch if the image is to be printed in high-quality; set 72 pixels/inch for screen viewing.
  4. Drag a rectangle around the area you want to crop, as shown below. If you have set a width and height, your rectangle will be limited to proportions matching that shape.
  5. Once the crop area is drawn, the Options bar changes, as shown.

    If you are on a regular layer, not a Background layer, you can choose to Delete or Hide. The Hide option allows you to later reposition the image within the cropped area: just move the image with the Move tool. (To convert a Background layer to a regular layer before you crop, double-click “Background” in the Layers panel, then click OK.)

  6. Set the “Crop Guide Overlay” pop-up menu to None, Rule of Thirds, or Grid. The Rule of Thirds, a design theory that says compositional elements should fall within a grid of thirds, visually divides the crop area into thirds.
  7. Check “Shield” if you want to shade the part of the image that will be deleted or hidden, as you can see above. Set a shield Color (default black works best), and set the Opacity of the shield to your taste.
  8. To commit the current crop operation, hit the Enter key (or click the checkmark icon you see farther to the right in the Options bar).

    To cancel, hit the Esc key (or click the Cancel icon next to the checkmark, as mentioned above).

    To make the selection marquee disappear, click anywhere.

Crop based on another image

This is very useful when you have a number of photographs in a project that all need to be the same size. For instance, perhaps you have a number of staff member photos, and you want all their heads to be positioned in approximately the same area of the photo and about the same size.

  1. Select the Crop tool in the Tools panel, then crop and size an image as you want.
  2. Single-click the “Front Image” button in the Options bar.
  3. Open another image, then drag the Crop tool, which is now constrained to the previous image’s dimensions and resolution, to encompass the part of the image you want to preserve. It’s up to you to position the cropping box to set someone’s head, for instance, in the same position as the first image.
  4. To commit the operation, click the Commit button in the Options bar (the checkmark), or press Return (PC: Enter). commit-transform.jpg

    To cancel the operation, click the Cancel icon in the Options bar (shown on the left), or hit the Escape key.

Crop in perspective

The “Perspective” checkbox used with the Crop tool not only allows you to crop the image, but make lens corrections at the same time. This is useful, for instance, when an image is distorted in the camera or because it was shot at an extreme angle. We often ignore lens distortion, especially when it occurs in personal photos, but occasionally you may want to fix it. If you don’t adjust the lens distortion as you crop the image, you can adjust it later using one of the Transform tools, Distort or Perspective (see page 89). The Transform tools are a better choice for some images, because the Perspective Crop tool may crop away more of the image than you want (as shown below-right).

  1. Open an image in which there is lens distortion.
  2. Select the Crop tool.
  3. Drag a rectangle around the image.
  4. Check the “Perspective” box in the Options bar. 04fig26.jpg

    Drag the corners of the cropping area to align with the image perspective, as shown below-left.

  5. To commit the crop operation, click the Commit button (the checkmark) in the Options bar, or hit Return (PC: Enter). cancel-and-commit.jpg

    To cancel the operation, click the Cancel icon in the Options bar (shown on the left), or hit the Escape key.

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