Defining an Aspect Ratio for a Selection

The Rectangular and the Elliptical Marquee tools have some options that are often overlooked. You can preset their width and height to a fixed size or define a width-to-height ratio. For example, if you want to create a marquee that's three times as wide as it is high, click the Style pop-up menu in the options bar (Figure 9-4), select Fixed Aspect Ratio, and then enter 3 in the Width text field and 1 in the Height text field. Now, when you drag with the marquee tool, your selection will be three times as wide as it is high.

Figure 9-4: Choosing a style for the Rectangular Marquee tool from the options bar.

Figure 9-4: Choosing a style for the Rectangular Marquee tool from the options bar.

If you need to crop an image by a given number of pixels using the Crop command, as opposed to the Crop tool, you can define the marquee from the same Style pop-up menu. Just select Fixed Size and then enter the pixel dimensions. You can set the width and height in any of the supported units (pixels, inches, cm, mm, points, picas, and percent).

When you enter values in text fields on the options bar, you can right-click (Windows), Ctrl-click (Mac OS) in the box and choose from the supported units in the pop-up menu. Furthermore, you are not restricted to whole numbers but can use fractions. For example, you can choose an aspect ratio for 1.85 to 1.

If you use a particular fixed size or aspect ratio repeatedly, save it as a tool preset by clicking the tool icon on the options bar and then choosing New Tool Preset from the pop-up Tool Preset Picker menu; give it a memorable name for easier identification.

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