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Adobe Photoshop CC Bootcamp

Lesson 18 of 118

Cropping for Composition in Photoshop


Adobe Photoshop CC Bootcamp

Lesson 18 of 118

Cropping for Composition in Photoshop


Lesson Info

Cropping for Composition in Photoshop

Let's talk about cropping in Photoshop, and more specifically, let's talk about cropping as it pertains to composition specifically. So let's go ahead and open up these images. So when we talk about the crop tool in Photoshop, it gives us a lot more capabilities than it did in Lightroom. The crop tool, and we can find it right over here, you can see that I have my perspective crop over there. But here's my crop tool. It's got a lot of different variables in it. Now, we talked about menus. Let's talk about what happens within a tool once you select that tool. So once I select the crop tool, you can see along the top, it's gonna ask me what my ratio is. And I have the ability to select this ratio just like I did in Adobe Camera Raw. So if I wanted to set this to one to one, it's gonna go ahead and change my crop area to a one to one. If I change this to four by five, now we've got an eight by ten look. This is set to four by five, see that? If I wanna switch those, I can either type this...

in manually to be five here and four here, or I just click this little button right here and it'll automatically do it for me and keep it within the constraints of my image. I have a clear button here, which will clear out anything that I had in these ratio settings. I also have the straighten tool. So the straighten tool is right here and this image would definitely be one that I would probably straighten right along the back here. And then I also have the different types of grids that come with that tool. So just like the grids that you saw in the presentation before this, we now have those grids available to us when we're making our decisions on cropping. So if I were to go ahead and change this to, let's say, let's just keep it at the rule of thirds for now. And I click on my image, you'll see that I have the rule of thirds guide here. If I click and hold on this, I can have a grid. I can also have a diagonal. I can also have triangles, just like we saw in the presentation. If at any time I wanna change that on the fly, I've got the O key. Press O, and O will change that on the fly. Some of these, like the golden ratio, if it's not turning in the right direction, if I press shift O, it will rotate around so I can get it in the right direction that I want it to be. Again, these are all hot keys, but if you look up here you can see cycle overlay, set to O, that cycles that overlay. Or shift O allows me to cycle the overlay's rotation around that image. For this photograph let's just keep it right at the rule of thirds, and if I take my straighten tool, I can straighten right along here. So I said straightening and cropping work hand in hand, right? 'Cause when I straighten this, we're also gonna crop some of our image out. And if I press enter, I have a couple options up here also. Let me just go over this before we press enter. You see delete cropped pixels here? If I have that checked, it's going to make sure that everything that I have outside of that crop goes away. It's gone, it's been deleted. If I leave that unchecked, it will allow me to still be able to go back to that at any time. Now notice what happens if you can see it in this layer down there, we'll see what happens when we leave deleted cropped pixels unchecked. The next thing is content aware. And this is a really important one. In Adobe Camera Raw, or Lightroom, you don't have the ability to go outside of the image. Here, if I go outside of this image with this crop, I'm selecting some of that area up there. See that? And it's transparent. If I press enter and commit to this, that's still gonna remain transparent. But if I hit this button right here, that says content aware, and then I commit to this, all I have to do is press this little check box, or press enter, Photoshop's gonna look at that area and say, that area shouldn't be transparent. Let me look at all the other areas around it, and I'll fill it in for you. And that's awesome. Because that has saved my butt in so many images it's not even funny. There's one moment, one of my favorite photographs of Olympic National Park. I was just about to leave, blue hour was set and almost over, and there was some water coming up on the rocks, and I was about to run away, and I saw this shot, and I had to take it. So I turned around and just put my camera down, took the shot, and I was tilted like this. You know, it's like I didn't have time to think about that, it was just shoot and see what you get. So I brought it back in post, brought it into Adobe Camera Raw, straightened it, I was like, ah, I cut the top of that off, I'll just dump it. But it was the best photo of the entire night. So if I were to just throw that away, not knowing that I could fill in those extra areas with that content aware, I would've lost one of my favorite images, it was my best image of the entire trip in Olympic National Park. It could've been thrown away. But because we have that ability to content aware fill, to see the areas around it, assess what's happening all over that image, and replace that with a really good proper color that if we even zoom in there, we can't even tell the difference. Look at that. Pretty incredible stuff. So now along with that, we're talking about cropping for composition here. So I'm gonna leave this at the rule of thirds. And I'm gonna just look at some of the ways that this image can be cropped for composition here. If I press and hold shift on this, you see what it's doing when I press and hold shift? It's keeping the constraints of that ratio that I want, all in that crop. If I unhold shift, I get to move it around freely. So I often will press shift while I crop, so that it crops in right from the side. Now another hot key is shift and alt. If I press shift and alt when I'm cropping, notice how it pulls in from the center of the image, and allows me to go into the center. Now you can't feel what I'm feeling here behind the computer obviously unless you're working right along with me, but that will not let me go outside of this central area. If I press control, or if I press alt actually, and click on one of the sides, without pressing shift, it crops in just from side to side equally, or top to bottom equally. So those are all hot keys. Anytime you're using any tool in Photoshop, you can't hurt it. Try pressing control when you use that tool. Try pressing alt when you use that tool. Try pressing control shift, I'm telling you, these hot keys are things that I've figured out just by doing that. Not by actually reading anything, or being told right there in Photoshop, it's all been trial and error. Let me press alt while I press this tool and see what it does. So, I'll press and hold shift while I drag this in from the top, to constrain those proportions. And there, I really like how this image just comes in from that lower corner and wraps around into the image, almost as if we've got ourselves a golden ratio type of look here. If I went a little bit tighter with this by pressing shift and alt, you can see how I'm really forcing that by doing something like that. Cycle that O key. Shift and O, to cycle that around. To get the viewer to kind of wrap in around that image. Let's just change that back to the rule of thirds. So I'm cropping specifically for composition here, I'm cropping to see exactly what my image is gonna look like when I just pull in, and I wanna keep those people over there on the left hand side just a little bit. And I would say compositionally, this image is better than what we had when we first started. It was taken with a wide angle lens. Now I know when I'm shooting with a wide angle lens, that it has its drawbacks. It's gonna give me everything, especially when it's super wide, like 10 millimeters, I'm gonna get everything. And I'm gonna have to be the one to decide how much needs to come off of that image. And for this photograph I would say that this one needs to come off, little bit, about right there. So if we look in our history palette here, notice how I'm going back and forth within our history palette. The history allows me to go back to the most open state of this image, allows me to go to any of the crops that I've done on this image as well, just by cycling back through there. But just note that if I were to go back to that open image, and then straighten this again, all of those other history states are gonna go away. And it's just gonna default right back to that. So if you go back in history and try to re-do history, you're starting over again. Maybe that's the downfall of us doing time travel, we'll see. So the next one, this would be where I'm cropping specifically for symmetry. And I wanna force the symmetry. So with an image like this, what I'm looking at here is I need to use my rulers and my guides. So there's a hot key, it's command or control R. Command or control R is gonna open up rulers on the top and the bottom of our image. Now, I really don't care to see how many inches my image is, but what this does allow me to do is it allows me to pull in guides. And guides are awesome and they're your best friend when it comes to cropping. So if I click and hold somewhere within this ruler, and drag this down, that is gonna be a guide for me to show me what is straight in the image. If I bring this down to height, put it right here, I've got a guide that is cyan, that shows me what could possibly be straight in this image. If I press V for the move tool, I can move these guides. Now these guides are temporary. If you printed this image you'd never see it. If you press command or control H, they disappear. H for hide, is what I'm assuming. Which I believe it is actually, if you go up to the view, control H is right there. The guide is considered an extra, command or control H will hide. Control H again will bring it back. I can bring in multiple guides. I can bring in another guide that comes right here. Another guide that comes in down here. I could come down to the bottom of this and bring a guide that comes in down here. Now, because this is so far away, that's actually the least important to me. What's important to me is actually what's happening down here at the bottom of this image. So I'm gonna bring a guide down, right to here. So I want the bottom of this image right here, the bottom corner of this to go right to the bottom corner of this. And I can do that if I press C for the crop tool, get my straighten image tool, I can click right here at the bottom of this, and if I drag it over watch what happens. It magnetizes to those guides. So I can magnetize right to that guide, right to that corner, and that's exactly where this would be considered straight. Now if I have content aware selected, it's gonna automatically fill in any of those areas on the outside. Let's just put it to the test and see what it's gonna do. Press enter to commit. And it didn't do a very good job. So if it doesn't do a very good job, you can just press control Z, or command Z to go back, and for this instance, I probably wouldn't end up using that content aware because it didn't work out quite as well as I wanted it to. I'll just come here. Make sure that is unchecked. And when you uncheck it, notice how it automatically goes in and constrains itself to the image and where it can actually crop without showing you any transparency. You could manually do it by pulling in and pulling out on the handles on the sides, or you could just tell Photoshop to do it for you. So with this, I could also press shift and alt to really start forcing that perspective a little bit more in, and get just the edge of this, and just the edge of that there, and then maybe bring this up just a little bit. Again, forcing that perspective of the viewer. If I press command or control H, there we go, this is actually the original of the composite one that we saw within the presentation, but here's the before, here's the after. It's forcing that perspective and the symmetry even a little bit more. So if I press command or control H to look at those guides again, I'm gonna go back here and press, back to my crop here. Control H looking at those guides, if I press V for the move tool, it does offset the back a little bit. But it's not enough for the viewer to really be too picky about. What's most important ended up happening in the front of the image, and not necessarily the back of the image. So here's another image where we are forcing our image for, we're cropping for composition as well. So if I press C for the crop tool, and then I press O for my overlays, actually I'm gonna make a selection here. Press O for my overlays. I'm gonna overlay this one to be more of the golden ratio. To really force the golden ratio look of this image. It's an image that I can actually do that pretty well with. If I press shift and alt, I can start forcing that in to wrap the viewer from the edge of the canvas up and around that tree, and then into that rock there that I find attractive. So we have before with our wider angle, cutting out some of the stuff that we just don't need in the image. It's not that important. If it's not adding value to the photograph, we shouldn't be afraid to crop it. And that's how I'd crop that in, just to get that look.

Class Description

Adobe® Photoshop CC® is a valuable tool for photographers, but it can also be intimidating. In this all-inclusive 20 lesson course, you’ll go from opening the program for the first time to creating images that really stand out. Join Blake Rudis, Photoshop expert and founder of f64 Academy, as he shows you how to maximize your use of Photoshop. 

Topics covered will include:

  • Class Introduction & Bridge, Adobe Camera Raw, Setup Interface, Cropping and Layers
  • Layer Tools, Masks, Selections, Clean-Up Tools and Shapes & Text
  • Smart Objects, Transforming, Actions, Filters, and Editing Video
  • Custom Creative Effects, Natural Retouching, Portrait Workflow, Landscape Workflow, and Composite Workflow

Don’t let the many aspects of Photoshop prevent you from maximizing your use of this amazing app. Blake will help you develop the confidence to use your imagination and create the images that you will be proud to share with your clients.


Adobe Photoshop CC 2018


  1. Bootcamp Introduction
  2. The Bridge Interface
  3. Setting up Bridge
  4. Overview of Bridge
  5. Practical Application of Bridge
  6. Introduction to Raw Editing
  7. Setting up ACR Preferences & Interface
  8. Global Tools Part 1
  9. Global Tools Part 2
  10. Local Tools
  11. Introduction to the Photoshop Interface
  12. Toolbars, Menus and Windows
  13. Setup and Interface
  14. Adobe Libraries
  15. Saving Files
  16. Introduction to Cropping
  17. Cropping for Composition in ACR
  18. Cropping for Composition in Photoshop
  19. Cropping for the Subject in Post
  20. Cropping for Print
  21. Perspective Cropping in Photoshop
  22. Introduction to Layers
  23. Vector & Raster Layers Basics
  24. Adjustment Layers in Photoshop
  25. Organizing and Managing Layers
  26. Introduction to Layer Tools and Blend Modes
  27. Screen and Multiply and Overlay
  28. Soft Light Blend Mode
  29. Color and Luminosity Blend Modes
  30. Color Burn and Color Dodge Blend Modes
  31. Introduction to Layer Styles
  32. Practical Application: Layer Tools
  33. Introduction to Masks and Brushes
  34. Brush Basics
  35. Custom Brushes
  36. Brush Mask: Vignettes
  37. Brush Mask: Curves Dodge & Burn
  38. Brush Mask: Hue & Saturation
  39. Mask Groups
  40. Clipping Masks
  41. Masking in Adobe Camera Raw
  42. Practical Applications: Masks
  43. Introduction to Selections
  44. Basic Selection Tools
  45. The Pen Tool
  46. Masks from Selections
  47. Selecting Subjects and Masking
  48. Color Range Mask
  49. Luminosity Masks Basics
  50. Introduction to Cleanup Tools
  51. Adobe Camera Raw
  52. Healing and Spot Healing Brush
  53. The Clone Stamp Tool
  54. The Patch Tool
  55. Content Aware Move Tool
  56. Content Aware Fill
  57. Custom Cleanup Selections
  58. Introduction to Shapes and Text
  59. Text Basics
  60. Shape Basics
  61. Adding Text to Pictures
  62. Custom Water Marks
  63. Introduction to Smart Objects
  64. Smart Object Basics
  65. Smart Objects and Filters
  66. Smart Objects and Image Transformation
  67. Smart Objects and Album Layouts
  68. Smart Objects and Composites
  69. Introduction to Image Transforming
  70. ACR and Lens Correction
  71. Photoshop and Lens Correction
  72. The Warp Tool
  73. Perspective Transformations
  74. Introduction to Actions in Photoshop
  75. Introduction to the Actions Panel Interface
  76. Making Your First Action
  77. Modifying Actions After You Record Them
  78. Adding Stops to Actions
  79. Conditional Actions
  80. Actions that Communicate
  81. Introduction to Filters
  82. ACR as a Filter
  83. Helpful Artistic Filters
  84. Helpful Practical Filters
  85. Sharpening with Filters
  86. Rendering Trees
  87. The Oil Paint and Add Noise Filters
  88. Introduction to Editing Video
  89. Timeline for Video
  90. Cropping Video
  91. Adjustment Layers and Video
  92. Building Lookup Tables
  93. Layers, Masking Video & Working with Type
  94. ACR to Edit Video
  95. Animated Gifs
  96. Introduction to Creative Effects
  97. Black, White, and Monochrome
  98. Matte and Cinematic Effects
  99. Gradient Maps and Solid Color Grades
  100. Gradients
  101. Glow and Haze
  102. Introduction to Natural Retouching
  103. Brightening Teeth
  104. Clean Up with the Clone Stamp Tool
  105. Cleaning and Brightening Eyes
  106. Advanced Clean Up Techniques
  107. Introduction to Portrait Workflow & Bridge Organization
  108. ACR for Portraits Pre-Edits
  109. Portrait Workflow Techniques
  110. Introduction to Landscape Workflow & Bridge Organization
  111. Landscape Workflow Techniques
  112. Introduction to Compositing & Bridge
  113. Composite Workflow Techniques
  114. Landscape Composite Projects
  115. Bonus: Rothko and Workspace
  116. Bonus: Adding Textures to Photos
  117. Bonus: The Mask (Extras)
  118. Bonus: The Color Range Mask in ACR


a Creativelive Student

Amazing course, but don't be fooled into thinking this is a beginner's course for photographers. The problem isn't Blake's explanations; they're top. The problem is the vast scope of this course and the order in which the topics are presented. Take layers for example. When I was first learning Photoshop (back when we learned from books), I found I learned little or nothing from, for example, books that covered layers before they covered how to improve/process photographs. These books taught me how to organize, move, and link layers before they showed me what a layer was actually for. Those books tended to teach me everything there is to know about layers (types of layers, how to organize them, how to move them, how to move them two at a time, how to move them two at a time even if there are other layers between the two you're interested in, useful troubleshooting tips, etc. ) all before I even know (from a photographer's point of view) what it is the things actually do. The examples of organizing, linking, and moving mean everything for graphic designers from Day One, but for photographers not so much. Blake does the same thing as those books. Topics he covers extremely early demand a lot of theoretical imagination for a photographer who doesn't already know quite a bit about what he is talking about. Learning about abstract things first and concrete things later only makes PS that much harder to understand. If you AREN'T a beginner, however, this course is amazing. I thought it would be like an Army Bootcamp, taking you from zero and building you into a fit, competent Photoshop grunt. Now I think it's more like Army Bootcamp for high school varsity jocks. It isn't going to take you from the beginning, but the amount you'll get out of it is nonetheless more than your brain can imagine. I've been using PS for years to improve my photographs, and even to create the odd artistic composite or two. The amount I've learned in the first week is amazing, and every day I learn something -- more like many things -- which I immediately implement to improve my productivity and/or widen the horizons of what I can achieve. If you ARE a photographer who's a Photoshop beginner, I'd take very seriously the advice Blake gives in the introduction: Watch one lesson, and practice the skills and principles you learn in that one lesson for two weeks. THEN watch the next lesson. You can't do that of course without buying the course, so it's up to you to decide whether you'd like to learn Photoshop and master Photoshop all from the same course. Learning it first and mastering it later will cost more money, but I think you'll understand everything better and have a much more enjoyable ride in the process. As for me? I'm going to have to find the money to buy this course. There is simply way too much content in each lesson for me to try to take on all at once, but on the other hand I don't want to miss anything at all that he has to share.

Robert Andrews

Blake Rudis is the absolute best in teaching photoshop. His knowledge and how he presents the instruction is clear and concise - there is NO ONE BETTER. Yes, his classes require some basic skills, and maybe I'd organize the order of (or group) the classes in a different order, but, let me be clear - if anyone is to be successful or famous in the Photoshop world, it should be Blake Rudis. I strongly recommend his teaching. I started photography and post processing in 2018, and because of this class, I'm know what Im doing. The energy you get when you create something beautiful is profound, it makes you bounce out of bed (at 4AM) like a 5 year old, to go create. It's a great ride! Thanks Blake, & Thanks Creative live.

Esther Gambrell

WOW!!! I've been purchasing CL classes for several years now and have watched HOURS of "How-To Photoshop" classes, but this is the first one I've actually purchased because of the AWESOME BONUS content!!! SERIOUSLY??!!?!? A PLUG-IN??? But not only that, Blake is SO easy to understand, and he breaks down concepts in different ways to connect with different people's learning styles. I REALLY appreciated this approach because I am a LEFT-BRAINED creative that has an engineering background, so I really connected to what Blake was saying. THANK YOU FOR THAT! There are TONS of Photoshop courses out there, but I found this one to be the most helpful in they way Blake teaches concepts so that you know WHY you're doing what your doing. I feel like he taught me how to fish with Photoshop to feed me for a lifetime instead of just giving me a fish to feed me for one day. This is the BEST overall PS course out there!!! Thank you!!!!