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In Photoshop Elements 9 Essential Training, Jan Kabili highlights the key features of this comprehensive image organization and photo enhancement application. She shows how to correct and enhance photographs, and how to organize a growing collection of digital photos. The course also explains how to use photos in creative projects like photo books, calendars, and greeting cards, and how to share work online and in print. Exercise files accompany the course.
The Crop tool and the Straighten tool, both change the composition of a photo. As I will show you in a minute these tools are sometimes used together, but first, let's see how each tool works on its own. The Crop tool cuts away one or more edges of an image. You might use it to remove unwanted objects at the edge of a photo, or to make a composition look more balanced, or to cut away some width and/or some height so that a photo fits a particular physical frame. Keep in mind that cropping an image is different than resizing an image using the Image Size command as I showed you in the last movie.
The Image Size command would make the whole photo smaller. But it would keep the Width and Height in the same proportion as the original. With the Crop tool I can change the Width and Height so that they're not in the same proportion as the original. I am going to select the Crop tool, here in the toolbox and then I will move into the image. And I will click and drag out of bounding box. I can fine-tune the bounding box by moving my mouse over any of the edges or the corners and dragging like this and like this.
When I'm happy with the result I will click the green check box. And that's cropped away all of the image outside of that bounding box. So that's how to use the Crop tool when you really don't care about the size of the resulting image. But let's say that you do. Let's say that I am resizing this image because I need to put it in a particular project at 2.5 inches wide by 2 inches tall. To show you how to use the Crop tool in that case, I'm going to click the Undo button to go back to the original. And I'm going to go down to the document information field at the bottom of the document window and click there to see that the current Width and Height are 3 inches wide by 2 inches tall, and that the Resolution is 300 pixels in every inch which is the resolution that I want for a photo that I'm preparing for print.
So I am going to make the photo not 3 inches wide but rather 2.5 inches wide. And I will leave it at 2 inches tall. But I do want it to be 300 pixels per inch because I want to take the image to print. I will go up to the Options Bar for the Crop tool and I'll check the Aspect Ratio menu. In this case I do have an option here of 2.5 inches by 2. But if I needed a size that wasn't in this menu I could just type that size into the Width and Height fields in the Options Bar.
So I'll select that and that automatically fills in the Width and Height fields. I also want to specify the Resolution because I know that I'm taking this image to print. And so I wanted to keep 300 pixels in every image. If I didn't type resolution in that box, Elements would automatically change the resolution of the resulting image. And depending how wide I drag out my bounding box and I might end up with an image that doesn't have enough resolution to make a good print. So now I am going to drag out a bounding box.
I am in a start in the top left corner and I am going to drag as far as I can go to show you that when I reach 2.5 x 2 inches, I can't go any further because Elements is retaining the aspect ratio that I specified. Now when I click the green check mark Elements will just cut off this half inch on the right. And the image looks fine and if I look at the Document Information field, I now I have a 2.5 x 2 inch image at 300 pixels per inch which is what I want for print. There is one thing to be careful of; if you do specify the width, height and the resolution, you don't want to crop just a small area of the photo because then Elements will enlarge that area to fit those dimensions and that resolution.
So if I just were to draw a bounding box around the tugboat in this image and then click the check mark, the resulting tugboat image is going to be really blurry because it's been enlarged to meet my request to make it 2.5?2 inches with 300 pixels in every inch, and there's just wasn't that much information in that small area in the original image. So that's the Crop tool. Now let's take a look at the Straighten tool. For that I am going to switch to another image that I have opened, which is this vertical photo that I took on an angle.
Let's say that I don't want that horizon to be at such an angle. I'd rather have it be straight across the photo. I will get the Straighten tool in the toolbar, and I'm going to start by going to the Options Bar and clicking the Canvas Option menu and changing it from its default to the second option, Crop to Remove Background. If I do that the Straighten tool will not only straighten the image but it will also crop away the white areas that result around the edges of the image. To use the Straighten tool I will come into the image and I'm going to click on the horizon and I'm going to drag, and then I will release my mouse.
Doesn't matter how far I drag, I'm just trying to show Elements which part of the photo I think should be straight. And when I release my mouse, Elements automatically rotates the image so that the horizon line is now straight and at the same time it cropped away the white edges that resulted. But I don't like the proportions that it gave me. I think that the resulting image is too tall and thin. So I am going to try to do the cropping part myself; I will Undo. And this time before I use the Straighten tool I will go up to the Canvas Options menu and I'm going to put it back to its default Grow or Shrink Canvas to Fit.
As before I will move into the image. I will click on the horizon. I'll drag a short line and I'll release my mouse. So now you can see that when Elements rotates the image so that the horizon line is straight, it necessarily has to create this white area outside. In the last example, it automatically cropped away that white area but I didn't like the proportions of the image that it gave me. So here's where I'm going to use the Crop tool in conjunction with the Straighten tool. I will go over to the toolbar and I will select the Crop tool, and importantly I am going to come up to the Options Bar and clear away all the settings that I added for the last example.
Unfortunately, the Crop tool settings are sticky. So you have to remove them either one at a time or by going to the arrow on the left side of the Options Bar and choosing Reset tool. Now with the Crop tool I am going to come into the image and draw out an initial bounding box, and then I'm going to fine-tune this bounding box. I will start by moving it into place at the top-left corner. I am going to put that corner just about there. And then I'll move to the bottom-right corner and I will click and drag up, and I will position the other boundaries here.
What I'm trying to do is get as much of the images as I can without including any of the white area on the sides. And to make the proportions of the resulting image more pleasing, I have had to cut off a lot of the sky. When I'm done I will click the check mark, and there is my resulting image straightened and cropped. By the way, you can use the Straighten tool not only to straighten a horizontal line, like this horizon, but also to straighten verticals like the vertical edge of a tall building for example. So those are a couple of ways to change the composition of a photo using the Crop and the Straighten tools separately and together.
Give them a try on your own images.
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