Use the Cropping Tool in Photoshop Elements 10 - dummies

Use the Cropping Tool in Photoshop Elements 10

By Barbara Obermeier, Ted Padova

Cropping a photo is probably one of the easiest things you can do to improve its composition. Getting rid of the unnecessary background around your subject creates a better focal point. The most common way to crop a photo is by using the Crop tool. Simple, quick, and easy, this tool gets the job done. Here’s how to use it:

  1. In either Full Photo Edit or Quick Photo Edit mode, select the Crop tool from the Tools panel.

    You can also press the C key.

  2. Specify your aspect ratio and resolution options on the Options bar.

    Here are your choices:

    • No Restriction allows you to freely crop the image at any size.

    • Use Photo Ratio retains the original aspect ratio of the image when you crop.

    • Preset Sizes offers a variety of common photographic sizes. When you crop, your image then becomes that specific dimension.

      When you crop an image, Elements retains the original resolution of the file (unless you specify otherwise in the resolution option). Therefore, to keep your image at the same image size while simultaneously eliminating portions of your image, Elements must resample the file. Consequently, your image must have sufficient resolution so that the effects of the resampling aren’t too noticeable.

    • Width and Height. Enables you to specify a desired width and height to crop your image.

    • Resolution. Specify a desired resolution for your cropped image. Again, try to avoid resampling your image.

    • Pixels/in or Pixels/cm. Specify your desired unit of measurement.

    • Overlay. Elements 10 gives you an added tool to help you frame your image prior to cropping. Choose from various options such as None, Grid, Rule of Thirds, or Golden Ratio.

    • Grid displays just that — a grid of intersecting horizontal and vertical lines — over the image.

    • Rule of Thirds is a long-time photographic principle that encourages placing most interesting elements, or your intended focal point, at one of four intersecting points in your grid of two vertical and two horizontal lines.

    • Golden Ratio (aka Golden Rectangle) is another compositional principle, used by artists and architects throughout history, which is based on a rectangle that can then be divided into a square and rectangle in which that resulting rectangle is also a golden rectangle. If you subdivide that rectangle into a square and rectangle, you will once again get another golden rectangle and so on.

      The actual ratio works out to 1:1.618. You can crop your image into this magical golden rectangle. Also within the golden rectangle, the intersection of the two diagonals or in the very center (as you see in the overlay) is a great spot to put your focal point. Interestingly, the Rule of Thirds is really a simplified version of the Golden Ratio.


    • Flip. Click this button to flip your Golden Ratio overlay. Note that you can also rotate your overlay.

  3. Drag around the portion of the image you want to retain and release the mouse button.

    When you drag, a crop marquee bounding box appears. Don’t worry if your cropping marquee isn’t exactly correct. You can adjust it in Step 4.

    The area outside the cropping marquee (called a shield) appears darker than the inside in order to better frame your image. If you want to change the color and opacity of the shield, or if you don’t want it at all, change your Crop preferences by choosing Edit→Preferences→Display & Cursors. (On the Macintosh, choose Photoshop Elements→Preferences→Display & Cursors.)

  4. Adjust the cropping marquee by dragging the handles of the crop marquee bounding box.

    To move the entire marquee, position your mouse inside the marquee until you see a black arrowhead cursor, and then drag.

    If you move your mouse outside the marquee, your cursor changes to a curved arrow. Drag with this cursor to rotate the marquee. This action allows you to both rotate and crop your image simultaneously — handy for straightening a crooked image. Just be aware that rotation, unless it’s in 90-degree increments, also resamples your image.

  5. Double-click inside the cropping marquee.

    You can also just press Enter or click the green Commit button next to the marquee. Elements then discards the area outside the marquee. To cancel your crop, click the red Cancel button.