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Tools Panel in Adobe Photoshop

Lesson 1 of 8

Class Introduction: Crop Tool

Ben Willmore

Tools Panel in Adobe Photoshop

Ben Willmore

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Lesson Info

1. Class Introduction: Crop Tool

Lesson Info

Class Introduction: Crop Tool

This time we are heading in to looking at tools and panels in Photoshop. That means if you look in the left side of your screen you see your Tools Panel. There are all sorts of tools hidden in there. We are going to take a tour of what's found there and then each tool has settings that show up in a panel that spans the top of your screen known as the Options Bar. And we'll take a look at some of the settings that are there. And then we'll look at what are all the panels that can show up on your screen. So let's dive in so we can take as much time as possible here in Photoshop. So if we look at our Tools Panel in the left side of my screen at the very top we have our Move Tool. The Move Tool we covered in a separate lesson that covered layers and so we are going to skip over it here. Below that we have the Marquee Tool and the Lasso Tool and below that some more automated selection tools. We had a whole separate lesson on selections so we covered those. Then the first tool we really hav...

en't talked about would be the Crop Tool. When I choose the Crop Tool, this is what I see. It just highlights the edge of my image and then I can grab the sides or corners and pull this in if I would like to limit how much of the image I am using. And I find most images can be improved through cropping. In this image, I think I can really clean this up if I get rid of some of these elements off on the side and get this in so it just kind of has a nice framing around him. I might also crop down on the ceiling that's there to just bring it down to the grid that is behind him. It's a matter of deciding then what should be included and excluded and most of the time I'm going to try to simplify as much as I can. Once I get into something about like that I think I'll have a nice image but before I press Return or Enter to indicate I am done, you could also click this little check box at the top to indicate you are done, you should pay attention to a setting in your Options Bar. In your Options Bar up here at the top of your screen is a setting called Delete Cropped Pixels. And by default I believe it has that turned on. And what that means, is when I'm done cropping this image, whatever is outside of the cropping rectangle will be discarded. So if I save and close my image, open it up a month later, I will not be able to get back that information that has been cropped. That will make my file size smaller which would be nice, but if I'm just not certain that the client I'm doing this for is going to like this cropping, I might want to turn that off. When I turn that off, now the information outside the cropping rectangle will be retained, so if I press Return or Enter to actually crop the image and I later return to the Crop Tool again, I will be able to grab the edge and pull it back out and I'll see all that original content beyond the edge and I could readjust. Just know, that that's going to do a couple things. It is going to make it so your file size remains just as large as it was previously and if you happen to have had a layer that was called Background it will no longer be called Background and that's because the Background layer cannot contain what is known as Big Data. Big Data is information that extends beyond the bounds of your document. And therefore, I won't be able to save this image as a .jpg file or any other file format that does not understand layers without degrading or without throwing away the information that goes beyond the edge. So you should just be aware of the limitations of it. But most of the time I find that I have Delete Crop Pixels turned off because I like the versatility of being able to bring those areas back in later. Then, when you are using the Crop Tool, there is more you can do than just crop an image. You can also add space to a document. So if I go find a different document to work with in this case I wish this was a vertical let's say. Maybe a magazine article wants to use it and they need a little extra space in the height. Well, it could be that I end up bringing this over to make it a little bit more of a vertical image but I just wish it was a bit taller so we could fit the name of the publication up here at the top. Well, we can just drag that up. Now if we do just drag it up like that, then it's going to end up just adding empty space at the top and that's what the checker board represents. But if you look in the Options Bar for the Crop Tool you'll find there's a check box called Content-Aware and if I turn on the Content-Aware check box any empty areas that we end up with by expanding space using the Crop Tool should be filled in for us automatically. And if it's a simple area like a blue sky we might be able to get away with that. So here I'll press Return or Enter and when I do it thinks a little bit and attempts to fill the sky. In this case it did a terrible job because it left just a big chunk up in the corner but you could come in here and use the techniques we talked about during the session on retouching which would be things like using the Spot Healing Brush and painting over those areas where it messed up to see if you can get it to put something else in there. In this case, I usually give it three strikes and then it's out. In this case it might get about six strikes. Come on. So you might have to do some manual work. But most of the time when it is a simple blue sky it's able to extend it and it looks very nice. In this case, I'm going to come in and use the Clone Stamp Tool, copy a little bit and put it over there, and then use the Spot Healing Brush to blend it in. Of course it messes up. So I would need to do that manually. I'm actually not going to do that now because we have a whole separate session on retouching. But know that much of the time it is able to extend things. And here I'll grab the crop tool and see what happens if I try to extend it out this way where we had different information. And you see how it's attempting to mimic what was there but the more it needs to be precise information, where only certain exacting shapes could work, the more it's going to mess up. If it was just something simple like gravel in that area, or blue sky, most of the time it does a fine job of just extending it and filling it in for you. But that was a check box called Content-Aware that we end up finding in the Options Bar for the Crop Tool. Then there's another version of the Crop Tool. And if you ever take a photograph and you tilt your camera up a little bit and you photograph a building, usually the top edge of the building will end up looking smaller than the bottom. And there is a version of the Crop Tool that can help fix that. If I click and hold on the Crop Tool you'll find that there's more than one tool in that slot. One of them is called the Prospective Crop Tool. When I choose that now it expects me to click on the four corners of a rectangle and I could go to the upper left of this building and click, go to the upper right of this building, click, go where I think the bottom of the building is, click, and then go on the left side as well, needing to get the bottom. I've clicked now on all four corners of the building and if I were to press Return or Enter, to say I'd like to finish my crop, it will straighten that so if any of the sides were bowed in towards the top they will be straightened. The problem was it cropped everything else out of the image. It might be that I want to keep the surroundings on the image and just fix the amount due to the tilting. So if that's the case, I can again click on the four general corners of where the building would be, and once I'm done before I press Return or Enter what I want to do is leave the corners alone. Instead, grab the sides. Just get your mouse right on the side and pull it out to extend it. What will happen is the angle of these sides will remain the same but you're just expanding it out to say you would like to keep this extra space. Then you can press Return or Enter and it will correct it so the grid that you see here will become a straight grid. You can see the edges are at angles right now but it's not going to crop into the image so much it's only going to crop in the amount I have here. So therefore, I could correct for something like that without having to tightly crop in an image. But that's known as the Prospective Crop Tool and it's available in the same slot as the normal Crop Tool. Now there are two other tools in there that we're not going to cover here. I just thought I'd mention them so you know what they do. This is the Slice Tool and the Slice Selection Tool. They have to do with creating web graphics. If you ended up creating a website in Photoshop where you made a template of it, and let's say it was your navigation bar, and each little section of that navigation bar was going to be a separate button, which will end up being a separate file that you're going to save to use on your website, you could use the slice tool to draw across each one of those button regions, and then when you save the image, if you do it by going to File and Export, there are some options for the web, you could save out the individual slices, those regions that you defined separately. But here, we're not talking that much about web specific techniques, so I just thought I'd mention them without actually using them.

Class Description


  • Understand the difference between Opacity and Flow
  • Utilize the History Brush to selective undo changes
  • Use the Library panel to store commonly used elements
  • Combine the Eyedropper tool with the Color and Swatches panels to make color choices easier
  • Create and apply presets to speed your work


  • Beginner, intermediate, and advanced users of Adobe Photoshop.
  • Those who want to gain confidence in Adobe Photoshop and learn new features to help edit photos.
  • Students who’d like to take ordinary images and make them look extraordinary with some image editing or Photoshop fixes.


Adobe Photoshop 2020 (V21)

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