One of the most common ways that many people want to edit their photos is by cropping them. Cropping photos is an easy way to enhance your shot after it has been taken. With a few clicks you can cut out unwanted background, better emphasize the subject, or help make your picture into a flattering avatar image for your online profile.
Now before any hardcore photographers chime in, I should at least mention that ideally, you should try to get your ideal shot with just your camera first so that you do not have to rely on editing afterward. It makes you better at taking snapshots in the long run. As a matter of fact, cropping is even discouraged in many introductory and intermediate photography classes with the aim of getting photographers to think things through before taking the shot. Many argue that shooting with the mindset of having to “get it right the first time” pushes people to create better photos even without fancy equipment—as a matter of fact there is even a course on using an iPhone to take great photographs.
But hey, we are not all professionals here! So, with all that said, there are still plenty of perfectly valid times where a bit of cropping makes an image stronger. Sometimes you can’t help or alter the scenery or angle or you have less than a minute to take the shot. These are exactly the times where cropping can be your friend which is why today we will learn how to crop in Photoshop using the useful cropping tool. This is just one of the many things that Photoshop can do. If you want to get a complete understanding of Photoshop, then you will definitely need to check out this extensive Photoshop training course for beginners. The videos are easy to follow.
Basic computer skills
An image that you would like to crop
A Windows or Mac computer
A copy of Photoshop or…
Adobe Photoshop Creative Cloud (aka CC)
If you don’t have Photoshop because it is too expensive, Adobe now offers the Creative Cloud that you can use with a monthly subscription instead. To learn more about this service check out this Adobe Photoshop CC Learn by Video series. With this course, you can learn the layout and better understand the benefits of cloud-based photo editing.
Another alternative that you might want to consider is the GIMP, which is a free alternative to Photoshop. It is not as popular as Photoshop, but with this course on Mastering the GIMP you can learn how to do most of the things you would need for basic and advanced photo editing.
How to Crop in Photoshop
Step 1: Open your picture in Photoshop.
Here I have already selected the picture that I wish to crop in Photoshop. I zoomed out a bit here so that it is easier to see where I want to cut.
Your version of Photoshop might look a bit different from the screenshot shown, but that is okay. The good thing about the cropping tool is that it works in all versions of Photoshop. That means that it is still accessible even without the latest version.
Note: Even if you have the same version as the one shown here, your workspace may look a little different since I’ve customized my workspace. You can learn how to customize your Photoshop workspace too, and get it to look and work the way you want.
Step 2: Click on the cropping tool.
There are several ways to crop an image in Photoshop but the easiest way is with the cropping tool in the toolbar (usually located on the left). Alternatively, you can activate the tool with the in-application shortcut by pressing ‘C’ on your keyboard.
Some more easy Photoshop shortcuts include:
B – Brush
C – Crop
E – Eraser
Space – Free move
L – Lasso selection
[ – Decrease brush size
] – Increase brush size
Shift+[ – Make brush edges less soft/fuzzy
Shift+] – Make brush edges more soft/fuzzy
Number keys – brush transparency/opacity
(Optional) Step 3: Specify the size you want.
Photoshop also has the ability to crop to a specific size. This is helpful if you need to cut a picture to fit a certain aspect ratio. It is also helpful for avatars on web profiles or websites that have a limit to upload size.
In the example here I will make a square, so I chose 500 pixels wide by 500 pixels high. You can ignore the resolution for now since it does not matter unless you are making a high quality physical print.
Step 4: Use the cropping tool to select the section you want to keep. Apply crop.
With the cropping tool still activated, draw a box on the part of the picture that you want to keep. Click the “enter” or the “return” key to apply the crop to your image.
Step 5: Save your image.
If you’re satisfied, you can save your image and use it.
Congratulations! Now you know how to crop in Photoshop!
Extras: Background removal and other ways to manipulate an image
I covered another way to remove the background from an image with Photoshop, but I really recommend taking a crash course in all these useful tools with this A-Z Video Guide to Photoshop Tools.
Maybe it is not the background you wish to erase, but just a blemish? Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to get rid of the unwanted little extras in your picture. For example, you can learn some more tips and tricks to make everyone look flawless with this quick course on beauty retouching.
If you think about upgrading to a better camera to that there is less to edit and retouch in the first place, then here’s a great 4 hour course on ditching automatic mode and embracing the manual settings in a DSLR. Or you can also learn how to make your friends jealous with your vacation photos by learning how to take better travel photographs.