(Last updated on January 7th, 2021)
Want to know how to crop images in Photoshop? You have come to the right place!
In this tutorial, I will show you how to crop in Adobe Photoshop. We will be using the traditional crop, transforming perspective with cropping, the slice tool, and masking.
If you want to see how Photoshop stacks up against GIMP, see our in-depth Photoshop vs. GIMP comparison.
How to Crop in Photoshop?
- Open your image in Adobe Photoshop. To do this, use the command Ctrl + O (Windows) or Cmd + O (Mac) to open the document or go to File > Open.
- To start cropping the image, press the Crop Icon in the toolbar, or use the command C.
- A white cropping border will now be visible against the outline of the image. The cropping toolbar will now be displayed up top.
You can manually drag the white border to crop the image, dragging by the side or corner to get the look you want. The cropped area will be in shadow, while the final image output will be lit. The upper right corner will have options (going from left to right) to reset the image to the original proportions, cancel the crop, or finalize the crop.
Going from left to right on the toolbar, the first drop-down next to the cropping icon will give you crop proportions for your image. Using these proportions is ideal if you are trying to crop an image to fit a specific frame dimension or ratio.
The gear icon will let you reset the tools in this panel, create a new tool preset, and organize the tool presets.
This box lets you see all the tools versus just the tools for the Crop tool. For example, if you unchecked it, you could see the Healing Brush tool and more.
This icon lets you create a new tool preset.
In the next section, you can also choose a crop preset or a set ratio. Presets and ratios are great if you are cropping a huge batch of images for a particular project. You can also create a new crop preset or delete one.
In the next section, you can manually enter the cropped image’s height, width, resolution, and metrics.
The arrow icon switches the values of the height and width for the crop.
Clear will clear the values completely.
If your image is crooked, this next icon is very helpful. This tool will straighten your image. All you have to do is draw a line where the image should be vertical up and down, and Photoshop will rotate and crop the image for you.
The grid icon will change the grid layout of the cropping tool. You can hide the grid, turn off the default grid, and change up the grid layout.
The gear icon gives you additional cropping options.
- Classic Mode is the older mode of cropping used in previous versions of Adobe Photoshop, versions CS5 and older.
- Show Cropped Area will display the cropped area of the picture. If you uncheck this box, the cropped area won’t be visible, only the final image.
- Auto Center Preview will place the preview in the center of the image.
- Enable Crop Shield will overlay the cropped areas with a tint. You can set the opacity and color. If you check Auto Adjust Opacity, the opacity will be reduced when the crop boundaries are edited.
This check box, Disable Cropped Pixels, determines whether or not pixel information is retained after deleting.
Checking Content-Aware will fill areas outside of the original image.
- Once you make your desired crop and hit apply, the image will now be cropped to the new size.
Transform Perspective While Cropping
You can also fix the perspective of an image while cropping using the Perspective Crop tool. Using this tool is great for images with distortion, photos photographed at an angle rather than head-on.
- First, hold down the crop icon and choose the Perspective Crop Tool from the toolbar.
- Once this tool is selected, draw a rectangle around the distorted picture, matching the marquee’s edges to the rectangle edges of the picture. Drag the corners to fit it exactly.
- Once you are satisfied with the crop, either press the check icon in the upper toolbar or press Enter (Windows) or Return (Mac) to confirm the crop. Then, you are done! (Here, I also adjusted the width of the door to make it proportionate.)
Slices will divide your image into smaller images suitable for HTML tables or CSS layers. Once you divide the image into sections, you can assign URL links to create page navigation or optimize the image. When you export the sliced image using Save For Web, Photoshop will generate the CSS or HTML code needed to display the image.
To create a slice
- Select the slice tool by holding down the Crop button in Photoshop.
- Click and drag the slice tool over the image to make a slice section. To move the section, click within the box and drag to the location you want. To adjust the scale and proportions, drag the edges and corners of the box.
- To adjust the slice properties, double click on the slice. A dialogue box will pull up. Here, you can change the slice type, name, URL, target, message text, alt tags, dimensions, and background type. Hit OK to process the changes.
Cropping Images using the Masking Tool
Lastly, I will show you how to use the masking tool to crop and overlay images, one on top of the other. Here, I want to crop the image of the castle to sit on top of the clouds.
- First, I need to cut out my image of the castle. To do this, you could use the pen tool to cut out the castle image precisely. I’m going to do this fast and use the Quick Selection Tool.
With the layer selected, I drag the selection paintbrush over the image I want to cut out of the photograph. If I select an area that I don’t want, I’ll hold down the Alt key to deselect it. (Option for Mac)
- Once you are happy with the selection, hit the Select and Mask… button in the top toolbar.
- As you can see, the image is cropped out very well. However, we can continue to refine it. On the right side are the properties of the mask. Here, we can adjust the transparency, edge radius, smoothness, feather, and contrast. We can also pick a mask preset too.
I noticed a few mistakes that I want to correct. To fix the bottom right corner of the castle, I will use the plus/minus brushes at the top to refine the mask. I will also be rotating between the tools on the left-hand side, Quick Selection, Refine Edge Brush, Brush, Object Selection, Lasso, Hand, and Zoom.
To refine the selection even more, I will work from the panel on the right, increasing edge detection by one pixel. Hit okay, changing the output to Layer Mask.
Masking the castle on to the clouds is complete. Now, while this looks just about perfect, I’m going to finish the image by adding clouds over the castle to integrate the building more into the sky.
- I’m going to copy the cloud layer, placing it above the original castle layer.
- I’m going to cut out a cloud, masking it, using the same steps that we used before. I increased the radius, smoothing, and feathering until I liked the output.
- Now, for final adjustments:
I resized the castle to fit better in the clouds, masking out more of the structure to fit better in the image.
To make the light match on the castle, I’m going to add an adjustment layer.
I go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color, picking out the pink color from the cloud.
I adjust the opacity to 24%, changing the blending mode to color.
And now, we are done!
Now you know how to crop an image in Adobe Photoshop. I hope you enjoyed watching the creative process of a digital composite from beginning to end. If you have any additional questions on cropping or masking, go to Adobe Support to search for topics and get help with your questions.
Anne is a filmmaker and writer with a passion to bring stories to life. She has created several short films, specializing in stop-motion animation. Anne has over eight years of filmmaking experience, and she is always ready to share her knowledge with other creators. She started her company Anne Gets Creative in 2020.
Anne is extremely familiar with many Adobe programs: Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, After Effects, Premiere, and Audition, to name a few. She has also worked with other programs such as Procreate, Canva, iMovie, and Final Cut Pro. She always strives to give the best software reviews, researching diligently so her readers don’t have to.