Photoshop Intro Course: Cropping Photos

Introduction to Cropping Photos in Adobe Photoshop Video Tutorial

In this video, we'll show you some useful tips and tricks you should know about when cropping photos in Photoshop.

Video Transcription

When cropping images, Photoshop can do things you may never have thought about. So, I'd like to show you some useful tips and tricks you should know about. To crop, we use the crop tool. So, I come over here to the toolbar and choose the crop tool. You can use this very simply just by pulling in the corners, a side handle, or a top handle and just pull that in to adjust the cropping to your liking. If you like it, you can either hit return or double click on the crop area and you are done. But there is more to this crop tool than just that simple type of cropping. So, let me undo and show you some more features.

When you come into the crop tool, you can start to drag. Notice there are no guides here as I start to drag, but once I drag then these lines up here, this is the grid by default. It's on the rule of thirds, which is the one that I typically like to use. The idea of this rule of thirds is that when you are composing an image that if you put some interesting point of the image on one of those lines, whether it's a horizontal line or a vertical line - even maybe putting something at the intersection - that it is visually pleasing in a nice composition when you put things onto those thirds.

Actually, if you look at my original composition that I made when taking this picture, I did put this on that rule of thirds just eyeballing it when I took this photograph. But I can move this in and crop whatever I want. Now, when I'm cropping this, there's this option here "delete cropped pixels" that is checked by default. And what that means is that when you are done, you have lost those additional pixels. If I were to save and close this image, those additional pixels would be gone. Notice that I still have a background layer which is the default type of layer. These background layers can only have pixels that you see. There can't be any hidden pixels contained on a background layer, unlike a regular layer which can actually contain pixels, it might be hidden off-screen that you can't see. So, let me undo this.

When you are making your crop, you can uncheck "delete cropped pixels". By unchecking that, this is going to create an ordinary layer, not a background layer, and this ordinary layer contains all of those additional pixels, all the original pixels. I haven't lost anything in the file. Using my move tool, I can actually move that layer around and you can still see that all of that image is still there. I haven't actually lost any of the information. Saving this file would be a bigger file size than if I had cropped it and deleted those pixels, because it's actually storing those pixels off-screen even though I can't see them. The file does retain that information as long as you're saving it in a format such as like a Photoshop document.

So, if you're not sure if you think you might want to later be able to go back and un-crop this because it's all still there, then it's a good idea if you're not sure to uncheck "delete cropped pixels". So, that's one thing to think about. If you are making your crop and you want to cancel, you can just hit the escape key.

If you're in the middle of cropping and realize, "Hey, I didn't want to do that", now when you are cropping, you might actually not want to be cropping and losing image pixels. You might actually just want to be straightening the image. I was taking this picture in a moving car, this was out the window and we're traveling at the speed limit on a highway, and so I couldn't quite get it right and it was very quick and then this thing was gone. So, I didn't quite straighten my camera out when I was taking this picture.

There is within the crop tool a straighten tool. I've chosen my crop tool, I can click on the straighten tool here and using that I can draw a line over something normally like the horizon line, it could be a building something that should be vertically or horizontally perfectly straight. So, when I draw that line over that and then I release it, magically it rotates it and makes that perfectly horizontal or perfectly vertical. It doesn't matter whether it's a vertical line or a horizontal line, just something that you know should be perfectly level.

And now it does remove some of the image, it's going to have to crop that off. Now, I'm not deleting the cropped pixels right now because I've unchecked that, but it does have to lose some of that image. Or does it? I can actually pull this out and there are some empty areas because of course it had to rotate it. So, there's going to be some naturally empty areas, but there's this cool option here called "Content-Aware".

So, that can content-aware fill the empty areas. Now, when I checked that on, it did bring those things in again, so I got to pull those back out. I should check that on before adjusting your edges. But I can actually pull that out and so I'm actually going to get a bigger file than what I started with. And I'm going to either double click on this to accept it, I could hit return or I can click the little check mark up here as well to commit to this and it's going to take a moment to think about what to fill in those corners, but once it's done it will have filled out those corners so I didn't have to lose anything at all.

Now in some areas, this is going to look good. So if I go over here and take a look, that looks pretty darn good. But there might be some areas that don't look perfect. So you do have to check it, like for example here—I'm not a real big fan of that; that doesn't look that good—but I could use my spot healing brush to go in there and quickly give that a quick little fix. And you can do it a couple times just to kind of have it randomly choose some stuff.

If it's still not doing a great job and it's not doing what you want, you can use the healing brush to option click and then go in and put some new stuff over there yourself and make that look however you want, just be careful of creating things that look repetitious because those are what look fake. Aside from that, it looks pretty good. That even looks actually pretty good. The bottom looks pretty good going across here, all the way until here I start to notice a little bit of repetition, so I might want to give that a little hit.

That did quite a good job filling in those areas, and I actually got a bigger image than what I started with. Now zooming in a little closer, I do see repetition, repetition, repetition, so those are things that you'd want to fix. If it's not choosing the right area, you use the healing brush and choose something better, maybe something over here, option or alt clicking on that, and my brush is too big, so I will make that smaller. Then you can choose what you put there and you can put something that doesn't look so repetitious.

All right, certain backgrounds this won't work as well when they're a lot more detailed, but in an image like this, this actually works quite well. Let's go back to the crop tool, and when you're cropping, you may want to crop to a specific aspect ratio. You may want to crop to a square for example for Instagram, so you can choose your ratio from the preset list here or you can type in your own.

For example, let's say you want a one by one and a half or something, one by one point five. You could do that which is actually two by three. Whatever the aspect ratio is, you can put in your aspect ratio. If you want a one by three, you could do it one by three. I'm going to do a one by one, which is for Instagram, and then you get the square aspect ratio. Just keep in mind that when you come back into the crop tool, it stays on that aspect ratio. So when you're done with that, just hit clear and that clears it away, so that way you can do any cropping of any aspect ratio that you want.

All right, and let me revert this file because I've been playing around quite a bit with this file. So I'm going to revert back to the last time I saved. And one last option here: if you don't want to rotate the entire file, for example, what if you have type? So in here, maybe you have some text. I'll just type in here, "Landscape," and just make that bigger. So you have some text in there. Maybe you don't want to rotate the whole file, but you want to rotate one of the layers that's there. So this layer that's here I can rotate that not using the crop tool, but using the ruler tool. So normally you're going to see the eyedropper here in this slot.

I can switch over to the ruler tool, select an individual layer, drag a ruler over something that should be horizontally or vertically perfectly level. I can drag that line over there and then up at the top here, I can click the straighten layer button. Now you'll notice with the straighten layer button that that does not work on the regular background layer. It would work on a normal layer, but not a background layer, so I need to turn this into a normal layer and click the lock button. Then the straighten layer option becomes available. I can click on that and then it straightens just that particular layer without rotating the entire file, so that way it keeps my type looking good.

So hopefully these tips and tricks will help you when cropping your photographs and shows you some cool features that you might have otherwise missed in Photoshop.

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