Crop Tool

September 1, 2011

In the graphic design and photography industries, cropping refers to removing unwanted areas or part from a photographic or illustrated image. One of the most basic photo processing, it is performed in order to remove an unwanted subject or irrelevant detail from a photo, change its aspect ratio, or to improve the overall composition.

For this example, the before on the left and after result image on the right. After cropping, the viewer’s focus is directly of the subject, less background and space.

In telephoto photography, most commonly wildlife and in bird photography, an image is cropped to magnify the primary subject and further reduce the angle of view when a lens of sufficient focal length to achieve the desired magnification directly is not available. It is considered one of the few editing actions permissible in modern photojournalism along with tonal balance, color correction and sharpening. A crop made from the top and bottom of a photograph may produce an aspect which mimics the panoramic format (in photography) and the widescreen format in cinematography and broadcasting

If an image is properly cropped, it will add dramatic composition to the whole image.

Let’s start by opening Adobe Photoshop. I am using CS4 extended; you can use any version available for you.

Add an image, let’s use a common and available image from windows7, this is located in the picture folder. The photo we will be using is a sample from Microsoft, we will use this for our tutorial to make sure the photo is also available from your end aswell.

There are 3 ways in adding a photo in our Photoshop workspace.

  1. Assuming Photoshop is already open, just grab the image file to your Photoshop window or icon at the taskbar
  2. Opening the file from its source folder. Just click Photoshop File>Open>locate files. You can choose as many files as you want.
  3. Another is using Photoshop Bridge window, but this is not applicable in all Photoshop versions.


For this tutorial, let’s use method no.2


Now we have our image on our workspace, lets decide first what part should we retain and discard. Cropping can be undone by pressing ctrl+z, so if the desired format is not achieved, we can always do it again.

Click the image to enlarge. Opens in a new tab/window.

To crop this image, we will be using the Photoshop cropping tool located at the left side of our tools pallete.  Let the red arrow guide you where the Crop tool is located.

Click the image to enlarge. Opens in a new tab/window.

Click on the Crop tool or press “c” on your keyboard as a shortcut. Your pointer will change to the Crop tool icon, now you can start cropping your image. Just press and hold down the left button/clicker of your mouse and drag it to your desire dimension. You can expand or retract the dimensions or size of the crop area. In the image below, the outside area in black will be discarded after you press enter.

This is the manual method of cropping. One should have good eyes and view of the entire image to perfectly crop it!

Click the image to enlarge. Opens in a new tab/window.

Another method of cropping is to provide dimensions or measurement of the crop size you want. This is very useful for a task where you want all your photos will have the same dimensions.

In my example, the boxes labeled under A, is the width(horizontal measurement) and the height(vertical measurement). The box labeled B, it’s the resolution you want for the output. If you have a very big photo, just press ctrl+alt+I for windows to check the size image’s resolution. When cropping, you may want to input the same resolution of the entire image.

Click the image to enlarge. Opens in a new tab/window.

I will place there 6 inches x 6 inches and resolution is 100. Just drag and crop, you will notice that it will not go all through the way when you drag it, it will limit the crop area at 6×6 inches.

Click the image to enlarge. Opens in a new tab/window.

When I start dragging crop tool to crop the photo, you will see that you have controlled the crop area at 6×6 inches.  If you want to change your dimensions, just press clear button on the width, height and resolution area.

For this image, I will crop it according to my measurements which are 6×6 inches and resolution is 100.

Click the image to enlarge. Opens in a new tab/window.

After I have decided where to place my center point or usually photographers follow “the rule of the third” where your photo must have a very good composition after cropping. Remember, if you need to recrop, just undo the action and crop again.

This is the final size and composition of the photo after cropping. If you are satisfied, just save the picture on jpeg format by pressing ctrl+s or save as by ctrl+shift+s in widows.

Click the image to enlarge. Opens in a new tab/window.


Hope you enjoy this tutorial.

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