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Crop Tool

Lesson 2 from: Canvas Size and Cropping in Photoshop CC

Khara Plicanic

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Lesson Info

2. Crop Tool

Next Lesson: Reverse Cropping

Lesson Info

Crop Tool

So I've got this image here where the subject is in the center. So let's talk briefly before we actually recompose the scene. Let's just talk about the crop tool itself so the crop tool can be found here. It's the fifth tool down from the top. And if I click and hold on the tool, you'll see that it is a family of four crop tool perspective crop. We have a slice in the slice select tool, which we are not going to talk about today. But we are gonna focus right here on the crop tool for now, and the crop tool has changed. If you are somehow still using a really older, non creative cloud version of photo shop, the crop tools a little bit different. It got a bit of a face lift with. I think it was with Creative Cloud or one of the creative cloud updates, but it behaves a little bit different. And if you have been a long time user of Photoshopped, that really threw me for a loop for some reason, because it was like basically backwards as to how it used to be. So this is how it is now, If you...

are a die hard fan of the old crop tool, there is the option to click this little gear setting icon right here, and you can use what's called classic mode. So if you although I have to say, I don't recommend it because I think we need to try to embrace the change, it's made a number of years now. So some people are like, Why are you still considering a change? But it just threw me for such a huge loop. But, um yeah, it's there. If you need it or want it for some reason, you can go back to classic mode. Okay. Ah, couple things before we get started. My favorite sort of supplement to the crop tool when I'm using the crop tool is down here at the bottom of the workspace. There's this little info bar, and I don't know. I think this goes unnoticed by a lot of people, but it's like my favorite little thing, typically what this displays by default. If you've never changed, it is, it shows you the size of your image on disk. So 57.1 Meg's and it has a slash, and then another 57.1 mag because it's showing you the size of your image on disk with and without layers, which right now this is just a flat image, so they're the same. But if we added a bunch of layers to this, one side of this equation at the bottom would grow so you can only see what you're what you're working with. But I don't find this terribly helpful when I'm working in photo shop. I think maybe in the earlier days that was a more useful thing to have right here. So what we can dio is if we click the little arrow right here, we can change that from documents size. I like personally to have it set to document dimensions. So this will now show us the size of the image in whatever your units of measure arm. So I happen to have mindset two inches because as the portrait photographer, I work in inches. My husband is ah, Web developer and a Web designer. For years on, his photo shop was always set to pick full, so we were very much like you have your computer and I have mine, but, um, you can change the units that you work in. If you need to, you can go up to your preferences. So on a Mac it's under Photoshopped Preferences and then units and rulers on a PC. It's under edit the edit menu, Edit preferences, and then you can change that here, so I'm gonna leave it two inches. Another easier way of changing it is to actually just right click or control. Click on the rulers themselves, and then you can change it. So so, whatever you have your ruler set to, that's what it will display down here. So it's going to show us the witch and the length of the with are the within the height, whatever on Bennett's showing us the current resolution and why this is important. Um, we'll get to, I think in a little bit. But I like to know what I'm where my bearings are because the crop tool, if you are not conscious of what you're doing, you can really do some damage. Teoh. So you can do what I call death by cropping where you unwittingly crop very far in on your image and depending what your settings are here and how far you're cropping. You can actually really throw a pixels and end up with a very small image, which may or may not suit your purposes, but anyway, so I like to have this here. So I always know where I am in terms of size and the resolution time and a quick little lesson for people on resolution. I have a whole other course in the Creative Life catalog about size, image, size and resolution. But just a quick little thing is we have this huge 75 inch by 51 inch image. That's how it's currently set up, right, and it's got 72 pixels per inch. And that's pretty much how it comes straight out of camera, right? If you take your images, you download them, you open them in photo shop and you change this like I showed you. All of your images are going to be like giant by huge by 72 pixels bridge, and that's OK. That's just how it spills out. And we can use the crop tool to affect that as we'll see shortly so we will see how that comes into play shortly. But I like to just have it so we know what we're doing. Time. All right. So let's talk now about the crop tool itself. So up here in the settings, we have a number of presets, and something's a preset that I've created as well. I think by default it's set to ratio our original ratio. So this is one of the things that changed. I think pretty dramatically when they overhauled. The crop tool is that unless you specify a size, you're just cropping to a ratio. So in this case, if we just wanted to recompose this image and maintain the original ratio and not invent any new pixels and not do any weird resolution mumbo jumbo then will choose the original ratio setting. We'll leave everything up here blank, and then I can just drag, um, from the corner here and just drag inwards until my subject is now on the right hand side of the composition. So we are cutting off part of it, and this would be our new composition. So if I'm happy with that, I would go ahead and click. OK, and now we see that the numbers have changed here, so it's not quite as huge by not quite as gigantic, but the resolution is the same. We didn't invent any new pixels. We just cut the image into a different composition. Okay, so that's a basic use. Like that's what you're doing in light room. Often if you're just quickly re composing your images. Um, generally, unless you tell it otherwise, you're just keeping that same ratio and making a new composition. Okay, so that's a simple, um, a simple look at that. Let's look at how we would then use the crop tool to change the shape of an image. So here we have a horizontal image. Now, if we keep the original ratio, we can't crop this into a square because a square in the rectangle are not the same. Saying anyone who remembers geometry, That's really simple, right? Even my two year old nose up. Okay, so if we want to make this a square, we have two choices. We can come up here and choose the to 1 ratio. So these numbers here, when you see this colon that's representing a ratio. Okay, so this is a 1 to 1 ratio means the length toe wish ratio of 1 to 1 and which means they're equal. So that's a square. So here we have a four by 54 to 5, I should say 4 to 5 ratio, which is the same as an 8 to or 572 to 3, which is famous for its six and 16 tonight. So let's go ahead and just do the 1 to 1 square and we can drag this around. So this is another thing that changed with the update is you are dragging the image within the crop frame, and that used to make me so almost like dizzy for a second. When they first changed that, because it used to be, you dragged the frame. Now you drag the image so we'll drag this around. Maybe something about like that. And when I'm happy with it, we will click the commit button up here. But before we do that, let's look at these numbers. So we have a 68 inch image by 45 inch image. So now we'll go ahead and commit the crop, and now it's in 1/3 by 45 a third. Okay, so we made it into a square but we didn't specify the size of the square. We just specified the ratio. Okay, so we've crop this now into a square. So when we are choosing these ratio settings, anything in this little subdivision, you can see that there's these little lines that divide the presets here. This little subdivision, whenever we choose something in here we're not specifying a size were only specifying a ratio. So this this image is not a certain number of pixels by a certain number of pixels, or it's not a five by five. It's US Square, so it can be made to be a five by five. It could be made to be whatever we need, but right now it's just a square, so it's keeping its huge original size. I call this the bath, the bath tub distribution, because when I teach about resolution, um, and the way that resolution works is like water in a bathtub. So if you think of the pixels in resolution as water and when you put it into a bathtub, it's going to spread out to fill whatever shape it's in, right, And so bathtub is a big shape. So that's how the images spill out of your cameras. They spill out into this big like 65 inch by a inch bathtub, and the resolution is very low, like 72 pixels per inch. That's low for print, right? That wouldn't be a good print. So it's low, shallow water, low resolution. But it's a big bathtub. So right now we have this big bathtub that happens to be a square shape now. Okay, so that is the cropping by a ratio. But what if we want now to make this actually a size? Like what? If we're getting ready, Maybe we're going to design like a little mailer or I don't know what. But we weren't like a specific size. Let's see how we would do this differently. I'm gonna undo this. So under that. All right, so we're back to our 68 inch by 45 inch big bathtub with shallow water. But now we don't just want a generic square. We want an actual size. So and this was how the old crop tool used to work like by default. So for that, I'm going to go up here to where it says with in height and resolution. So this is where you can actually specify a size. And that's I think, how most of our minds work. Like, I know when I'm working with with Crop and I'm making, you know, a print or ah, design piece or something. I want to know the size. And so it really freaked me out when all this changed. And I was like, Why can't I just crop to a size anymore? But you can't. It's just it's just up here with and height and resolution. So now we're gonna put a number into this box. So let's say that we want to make a 10 by 10 inch square for whatever reason. So I'm gonna type in 10. I end for inches because you can type PX for pixels or MM for millimeters or whatever you need it to be. So I'll type 10. I end for inches by 10 I n for inches and in this box here. This is where you would type in the resolution. We're gonna leave it blank for right now so you can see how that actually works. Because this can be trouble for people. Sometimes if you're not careful. Okay, so I'm gonna drag this over here, and we're gonna now crop it to a specific size. So I'll leave. Resolution, blink, and I'll come up and click the check, Mark, or just press enter on the keyboard. And today we now have. If we look down here a 10 by 10 inch square and look what the resolution dead. It was 70 to write. It was so are our water, our pixels of this image. The whole image itself was poured out into that big bathtub with really shallow water. And then we came along and scraped up all the water and put it into a little 10 by 10 inch bowl, I guess. And so the water is now deeper because it's in a smaller container. So the resolution went up so awesome. That's great. So again, when we used to the crop tool, we left the setting for a resolution. Blink and photo shop organically managed the resolution for us. Okay, so that's excellent. Let me do that again. And this time we're gonna go ahead and put a number in here like 300 because that's what we know to be a professional, high quality, good resolution So let's type that in. Now we know that if we crop just like this, we have enough pixels to get 300 because organically A minute ago we had, what, 3 24 or something, So we would be fine? What's not fine is if we do death by cropping. So let me show you what that IHS. That's when people go Oh, I love this image on I'm going to crop in and I'm just going to get, like, this little scene right here, Okay, So let's think about let me come up here. One of the things weaken Dio is change the opacity of the overlay and for some reason, mine keeps going to 100%. Despite that, I keep changing it back. But I think by default it's like 50% or 60 so you can actually see your image. So here's what we're doing. We're taking this big bathtub image, and now we're saying we want not all the water in the bathtub to be poured into a little bowl. Now we're just like taking a little piece of it, and it's like we took a little shot glass and scooped up some water and now we're going to try to pour that and Phil a bowl with a tiny bit of water. So let's see what happens. So we've typed in 300 for the resolution and will press enter. Well, look at that photo shop. It gave it to us pixels per inch. So that's all good, right? No. Where did all those pixels come from? Because if we do it organically, let's undo this and let's do it again. But not put 300 there and will commit the same death by cropping. Didn't didn't so about like that. I guess it was like so if we don't put a number there, we end up with only 82 pixels per inch. You see that? See where I'm going. But if we type in number, their photo shop is like so eager to please. It will give us whatever we tell it. We want for the resolution, but we can see by leaving it blank that organically. If we were to do that without specifying a resolution, you can see that we don't have enough pixels in the image to be able to crop that far in and make a 10 by 10 out of that and still have enough pixels for print something, since that's what I call death by cropping. So this is why it's important. I think to have this on down here. I just always love that, cause I just like to know, Where am I? What am I dealing with? Oh, yes, we have a question. So let's suppose that doesn't have enough pixels and it's only 92 are 82 versus 300. So what? So what? Good question. So what? Maybe it doesn't matter. Depends what you're trying to do with this image. In this case, if we were gonna print this as a 10 by 10 it would look pixel e so you would actually see, like if we zoom in on the pixels, we can see them, right? And the The thing is that we wanna have ideally, in a perfect world, we would have 300 pixels per inch when you make a print. Because that way the pixels are crowded together enough and small enough that we don't see them. We just see the picture. But as the number of pixels go down and they have to cover a larger space. They enlarged to fill that area and then you can eventually see them. So once you get there is some wiggle room there. So is like the ideal. But, you know, if your printing something like on your home printer, maybe you're just gonna make, like, a little I don't know, like a card for some, baby. For something on your home printer, you could get away with 150 you wouldn't need 300 but as you straight below 150 it starts to get worse. And it depends like whatever machine is doing, the printing might look worse than another at the same resolution, but a follow up. Could you say the reverse then? So if I really wanted that picture, that close cropped picture and I saw that I was on Lee at 82.3, could I then tell the client this is not a good idea to print this picture? It's not gonna look right. So that's the That is what you would dio. Yes, Yes. You mean your options would be You could, you know, make photo shop, put the extra pixels in there. But as I asked earlier, where is it coming from? We didn't really answer. It was sort of a weird rhetorical question, and I left everyone hanging. But, um, where are those picks it was coming from? The answer is thin air. They're coming from a mathematical formula, I guess if we want to be technical about it. I like to say that it coming from the pixel ferry who just sort of waved her magic wand and said, Poof, there's a bunch more pixels So they are made up and they don't look as good as if they were for real. So when you run into these situations, you know there are, I mean, people just I guess people just have a hard time acknowledging that, like some things you have to say no to or you, you know you should. I mean, you could do it. I mean, gosh knows, I have seen clients take pictures like from my Blawg and then take them to like, Kinko's or whatever and make prints and then put them on their guests. Sign in table and I walk in at the day of the wedding and I'm like, on I know exactly what they've done because I know they didn't order it for me and they didn't have the file in any way. And it's just horrifying because I can see the pixels And it's, you know, I feel like there needs to be a disclaimer that I was like, I didn't make that, um but they apparently didn't care like it's so weird. So I guess they didn't mind it. But obviously, if they had, you know, asked me if that was okay. Aside from like the copyright issues and that like, no, that's not acceptable quality. Right? So said sometimes, too, I think people working like an office environment. Maybe you maybe you're in charge of, you know, putting together your company newsletter or something, and you have to deal with. I'll get you on one side. You have to deal with submissions from people. Oftentimes they'll give you like Facebook images and they'll say, Oh, here, this could be on the cover of the next in House magazine Whatever, and it's like I need the rial file. This is why. So it's okay to go back and say I need the high rez file or No, that's not gonna work. Let's figure out something else. Have a question. Okay, So I'm just wondering, like, how far can you crop into, like one of these photos? Like is there is can you go too far with going in? If it's creating new pixels with, like, the pixel dust, Very. You can go as far of you think you can get away with. I mean, if you want to crop in. So here's what you want to dio when you're like Oh, I have this great image and I want to use it for X. I don't know if I have got enough pixels. What you would do is choose the width and height resolution setting, because then you can specify. You know, maybe you want to use this for, um, I don't know. Let's say like a little business card, right? So let's say you want to make a vertical business card. What are they like? 2.5 inches? I don't remember. I should remember. I never remember. That's not right to to buy free. I don't know. To my 3.5. Yes, thank you. I was like, I'll get it eventually. All right, So let's say we want to make this this little tiny Whoa! What am I doing? Little tiny scene into a business card? So I would leave this blank so that we don't invite the pixel Ferry. We'll just see what happens and I'll press enter and we see 292 pixels. That's fine, right? That's essentially 300. No problem. So that's how you find out you do the crop, leave the resolution blank, and then you can evaluate it for yourself. It's a good question. Okay, Awesome. I feel like you guys are like, resonating with this. That's great. So when you are in the situations, just remember this, I think, is the most useful setting because this is where you actually get a size that you you know, you can specify.

Ratings and Reviews


Something that seems so basic, but so important! Big help & tips on gallery wraps, ratio vs size cropping and when to specify resolution or when you need to delete those pixels! Super fun technique to 'crop to shape' great ideal for web & social media. I appreciate that Khara covered the change from 'old crop' panel (previous versions) to 'new crop' (more recent CC versions), every time the interface changes it hard to switch the brain over ;)

a Creativelive Student

I just bought this class based on the previous reviews. I am so glad that I did, as I learned some new tricks to do in Photoshop! Thank you Khara for sharing this great information!

Amy Vaughn

I didn't think I'd learn much in a class about cropping, but Khara went over a few things I didn't know. I'm a Photoshop dinosaur that hasn't been keeping up with all the changes to the tools that came along in the CC version, and turns out there are a few new goodies for cropping. She also had some good tips for gallery wraps.

Student Work