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Photoshop Tips (& Other Imaging Software)

Crop Tool Basics for Photoshop CSby Anita Cross

(For the first page of this article, go to Page 1)

asic Functions of the Crop Tool Marquis

To access the Crop Tool, click on the Crop icon on the floating toolbar, or press the letter "C" on the key board. To cropt the selected area, you can: click on the Checkmark icon, in the options bar; press "Enter" on your keyboard; or double-click anywhere inside the selected area.

Dragging the tool across the image produces a special selection marquis with sizing handles. By default the Crop tool shields the area outside of the selection, making the selected area more obvious. The shield color and opacity can be changed, or you can turn it off altogether, from the options bar. This option is only available after creating the selection.

You can move the marquis by dragging it to another area of the image. Using the handles, you can easily resize the marquis over the area of the image you want to keep. And you can rotate the marquis by dragging from anywhere outside of the selection.

These actions can be further controlled by holding down the Shift and/or Alt keys.

  • The Shift Key:
    • affects moving, rotating and resizing the selection,
    • constrains the movement to 45 degree increments when moving the selection,
    • constrains the angle to 15 degree increments when rotating the selection, and
    • constrains the proportions when dragging a corner handle to resize the selection.
  • The Alt Key:
    • only affects resizing the selection,
    • causes the change to be applied on parallel sides (left and right, top and bottom, or both), and
    • constrains the proportion of the change in relationship to the anchor point.
  • The Shift + Alt combination:
    • only affects resizing the selection,
    • constrains the height and width when dragging a corner handle to resize the selection, and
    • constrains the proportion of the change in relationship to the anchor point.

As mentioned above, the rotation and constrained resizing functions can be further modified by moving the anchor point.

By default, the anchor point is in the center of the selection. When rotating the selection, the marquis revolves around the center. When resizing the selection while using the Alt key, parallel sides are increased or decreased by an equal amount.

Movng the anchor point changes the way rotation and constrained resizing affect the selection. For example, if you move the anchor point halfway between the center and the right edge of the selection, dragging the right (or left) handle while holding down the Alt key will cause the left edge of the selection to move twice as far as the right edge.

If you are unfamiliar with any of these basic functions, I recommend you take a few minutes now to "play" with the Crop Tool in Photoshop, and see for yourself how these functions modify your selection. At the very least, rotate your selection and crop the image. Is the result what you expected?

There are many powerful functions to this tool, which are covered in "Using The Crop Tool In Photoshop CS, Advanced Options".

About the Author Anita Cross is the owner of Call Of The Wild, an Internet Marketing company which sponsors the Call Of The Wild Photo web site. Anita is also a professional photographer and an amateur writer who spends more time than she'd like looking at a computer monitor, and far less time looking through the lens of her camera.
This article is exclusive to Call Of The Wild Photo and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of the author. Copyright © 2005 Anita Cross. All Rights Reserved.