Cropping is, on the surface, a fairly simple process – highlight the area you want to cut out, then just cut it out or delete everything around it, right? For the most part this is it, though of course there are many more layers when you’re doing this stuff in Photoshop.
Whether you want to do basic cropping, individual layers, or instantly alter the perspective of a cropped image, our beginner’s guide on the various ways you can crop an image in Photoshop should help you out.
The basic thing to know is that the crop button is the symbol pictured below. It should be in the pane on the left of your Photoshop window. Click it to activate cropping or right-click it to see the different varieties of cropping available to you.
For now, select the standard crop. You’ll now be able to create a rectangle of whatever size you like, move it around by dragging the mouse when it’s inside the selected area, or resize it by dragging on the edges. To keep the aspect ratio of a selected area while resizing it, hold the “Shift” key.
Crop to a Specific Size or Aspect Ratio
If you want to be more exact about the size and aspect ratio of the area you’re cropping, you’ll want to go to the area at the top left of the Photoshop window (see picture).
Here you can click the drop-down box that should say “Unconstrained” by default and select from a number of preset sizes and aspect ratios to crop in. At the bottom of this drop-down, click “Size & Resolution” to enter your own custom size or aspect ratio for your selection based on centimeters, pixels, inches, whatever you would like.
If you create a custom cropping resolution, you can click the drop-down again and click “Save preset” to save it for future use. From the same drop-down menu you can also load your saved presets.
Crop Individual Layers in Photoshop
Using the default cropping method, you’ll find that it affects the entire canvas rather than just the individual layer. That means that every layer in your image will be cropped down to the same size, even if you were just trying to crop the one.
A plucky workaround for this is to use the rectangular marquee tool (pictured below).
Drag and resize the marquee tool to select the area that you want to keep from your crop. (You can set a custom size and aspect ratio by clicking the “Style” dropdown at the top of the window and selecting “Fixed Size” or “Fixed Ratio,” then entering your preferred figures and making your selection.)
Once you’ve made your selection, right-click in the center of it and click “Select inverse,” then hit the Delete key to get rid of everything (in that layer) around your selection.
Perspective Crop in Photoshop
You’re probably curious about the “perspective crop” business I mentioned earlier which you activate by right-clicking the “Crop” button in the pane on the left, then selecting “Perspective Crop Tool.”
This feature can correct (or distort) an image that you crop, changing the focus of the area that suits you. Use it by selecting the area you want to crop with four clicks. If, for example, you want the image you’re cropping to be more top-heavy, then you’d select an area that’s more narrow at the top than it is at the bottom. If you want the bottom to get more attention, do it the other way around.
If your image is a little askew, you can also use the perspective crop to warp it straight again.
This is just the tip of the cropping iceberg in Photoshop, and if readers are interested, then we can go into more elaborate Photoshop cropping, cutting and slicing techniques in a future article. The interesting thing about Photoshop is that there’s usually more than one method of reaching the same solution, so if you’ve found other ways to get the same results as us, let us know in the comments!