Using the crop tool

Generally speaking, the Canvas Size command is most useful for enlarging the canvas or shaving a few pixels off the edge of an image. If you want to crop away a large portion of an image, using the crop tool is a better choice.

Press C or click the crop icon in the toolbox to activate the tool. The crop tool regains its own slot in the toolbox in Version 6, which means that you no longer have to slog through the marquee flyout menu to select the tool. And that's just the beginning of the changes to the crop tool. You still drag with the tool to create a rectangular marquee that surrounds the portion of the image you want to retain. But you can control what happens during and after you crop in two important ways:

♦ To help you distinguish the borders of the crop marquee, Photoshop displays a colored, translucent overlay on the area outside the crop box — similar to the way it indicates masked versus unmasked areas when you work in the quick mask mode. Hate the overlay? Deselect the Shield Cropped Area check box on the Options bar. You also can click the neighboring color box to change the overlay and set the overlay opacity through the Opacity pop-up menu. Note that these controls don't appear on the Options bar until after you create your initial crop marquee.

♦ You now have the option of permanently discarding the pixels you crop or simply hiding them from view. Before you drag with the crop tool, click the Delete or Hide radio button on the Options bar to signify your preference. If you choose Hide, you can bring the hidden regions back into view by enlarging the canvas or by using the new Image ^ Reveal All command.

As you drag, you can press the spacebar to move the crop boundary temporarily on the fly. To stop moving the boundary and return to resizing it, release the spacebar.

If you don't get the crop marquee right the first time, you can move, scale, or rotate it at will. Here's what you do:

♦ Drag inside the crop marquee to move it.

♦ Drag one of the square handles to resize the marquee. You can Shift-drag a handle to scale the marquee proportionally (the same percentage vertically and horizontally).

♦ Drag outside the crop marquee to rotate it, as explained in the next section. This may strike you as weird at first, but it works wonderfully.

♦ Drag the origin point (labeled in Figure 3-28) to change the center of a rotation.

Origin point Crop marquee Handles Rotate cursor

Origin point Crop marquee Handles Rotate cursor

Figure 3-28: Align the crop marquee with an obvious axis in your image to determine the proper angle of rotation.

'J ♦ Select the Perspective check box on the Options bar, and you can drag corner handles to distort the image. What's the point? Well, the primary reason to use this option is to correct convergence problems that often occur when you take pictures using a wide-angle lens. Vertical structures along the edges of the image tend to lean one way or another due to the design of the lens.

The problem is, you can't preview the results of your drags or undo the distortion, which makes correcting convergence with the crop tool a hit-or-miss proposition. So I suggest that you tackle convergence problems using the Free Transform command, covered in Chapter 12, and do your cropping afterwards.

When the marquee surrounds the exact portion of the image you want to keep, apply the crop by pressing Enter or double-clicking inside the marquee. You also can click the OK button on the Options bar, which is the giant check mark at the right end of the bar.

If you change your mind about cropping, you can cancel the crop marquee by pressing Escape or clicking the Cancel button, the big X next to the check mark on the Options bar.

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