Photoshop Top 40, Feature #27: The Crop Tool

Okay, so the crop tool isn’t necessarily Photoshop’s most exciting feature. But what in the hell would we do without it? This one tool lets you clip away the edges of a photograph so you can hone in on just those details that you want to keep. You can straighten an image that you inadvertently shot cock-eyed. And best of all, you can temporarily hide portions of an image (as opposed to forever clip them) so that you can restore the cropped areas and recompose the image five ways to Sunday.

Which is a lot of “featuricity” for one tool. As usual, I show you more than how the crop tool works. (Cropping couldn’t be much more obvious.) Rather, I show you how to exploit the crop tool six ways to Tuesday. Which is the promise of Photoshop Top 40, after all.

In this video, I start with the quintessential cropping-and-straightening project: The Leaning Tower of Pisa (here shot by Georg Alexander of image vendor Fotolia). As you may know, the Leaning Tower of Pisa leans, and quite precariously I might add. About 6 degrees to the south, by my reckoning. (Apparently, they lifted it some 1.5 degrees since this picture was taken, but I’ve not visited Northern Italy to verify.)

My thinking is this: When visiting an ancient leaning structure, you either have to overestimate its angle (as so many tourists do) or underestimate it (as Georg did). Either is unacceptable and requires correction. As this video explains.

(For a list of all Photoshop Top 40 videos thus far, click this link.)

In case you didn’t already know, Photoshop Top 40 is available as a downloadable podcast from iTunes. Click here to subscribe. dekePod subscribers get the videos automatically.

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  • To save a foot . . .

    You could have saved that foot using a “past the the image edge” crop adding blank area below the image.
    and then either cloning the grass into the bottom empty area

    or by dragging a duplicated layer underneath to fill that small gap

    You might have also demonstrated how to move the fulcrum (center) point (to the horizon line) for easier angle alignment.

    Just a thought.  ;-)


  • What about the ruler ?

    I know that underneath the crop tool button, there are other tools (ruler among others).

    In your history of picture cropping, is there a point in using the ruler to rotate the picture ? i mean, does is do something (maybe, more precise, i dont’ know) that the crop tool you show doesn’t do ?

    with no transition at all, does someone forecast the top 3 of this contest ? i wonder where the “undo” is going to be ;)

    anyway, thanks again for all the knowledge, Deke, the more you podcast the smarter i get…

    Carmina One

  • Been away from civilization ...

    I apologize. I’ve been away from civilization for the last month but it appears that for the last 4 - 5 episodes, the Top 40 has been available only in HQ (as opposed to HD).

    Is that correct? ... I’m just trying to make sure I’m not missing out on anything.

    HD is preferable but if necessary, HQ will suffice. (and NO ... I’m not a Russian astronaut or circus celeb)

    Yours truly ... G. Lalib .... sorry, I mean ... Gaston Lecirque

  • The perspective command

    Was hope’n to see the perspective command on the crop tool. I saw it in your video that you did on “Pixel Perfect”. Thought it might be on here as well, for viewers who may not of saw that video. But its a great tip for the crop tool, and i’ve used it quite a bit sense you showed the tip. Keep up the good work boss.

  • Crop Tool locked to an Aspect Ratio

    One thing I just learned is the crop tool can be locked to an aspect ratio.

    Enter 16 in x 9 in x 300 dpi for your crop and crop a tiny area. The tool will be constrained to 16:9 and the final crop will be blown up to gigantor size - a horrible blowup. I knew about that.

    Here’s what I didn’t know -

    Enter 16 in x 9 in and DISREGARD dpi (leave blank) for your crop and crop a tiny area. The tool will be constrained to 16:9 but the crop will neither enlarge nor reduce the active area.


    I used to always use the rectangular marquee on a flattened image and copy and paste to a new document.

  • Quick ruler tool levelinig tip for those that care. :)

    Just a quick tip for straightening images (THERE ARE HUNDREDS OF WAYS!)

    Use the ruler tool (located on the same sub-pallet as the eye dropper tool), you can press I to activate this or Shift I to cycle to the ruler tool from the eye dropper.

    Click and drag along your line you want to straighten. For example the grass line presented in this video.

    The go to Image -> Rotate Canvas -> Arbitrary and you will notice that there is already a value in the angle. Click ok and boom!

    Then just crop as needed.

  • ruler rotate tip

    I knew about that, but had forgotten exactly how to do it.

    I always use the line tool, then look at the angle value in info, remember the number, undo the line and then type the remembered number into the rotate box.

    A poor substitute.

    Thanks for the reminder.

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