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Deke's Techniques is a collection of short Photoshop and Illustrator projects and creative effects that can be completed in ten minutes or less. The series is taught by computer graphics guru Deke McClelland, and presented in his signature step-by-step style. The intent is to reveal how various Photoshop and Illustrator features can be combined and leveraged in real-world examples so that they can be applied to creative projects right away.
In this movie, I'll show you two ways to crop an image inside Illustrator, one of which results in a dynamic crop so you can change your mind anytime you like, and the other results in a static crop, that is to say, you permanently delete pixels. And that second technique is a pretty unusual one, as you'll see, but it's the best way to go if you want to perform a hard crop inside Illustrator. And so what we're going to do here is we're going to take that document we created in the previous movie and we're going to double- crop it so that we have one image that shows off the tyrannosaur's head, and then another separate image that contains the triceratops.
So for starters here, I'm going to click inside this background image to select it, and I want to get rid of that stroke so I'll switch to my Appearance panel and I'll grab the stroke and just drag it to the trashcan, and that will get rid of the stroke, as well as that dynamic rectangle effect. Next, I'm going to draw a couple of crop boundaries using my Rectangle tool, bearing in mind of course that there is no Crop tool inside of Illustrator. That's why we're using these clever workarounds here. And I'll drag from right about there down into the O in the word Dinosaur, and then I'll go ahead and copy this rectangle by grabbing my Black Arrow tool.
I'll drag the rectangle down while pressing the Shift key and the Alt key--that would be Shift and Option on the Mac--and that way I'm creating a rectangle directly below the first one and I'm also duplicating that rectangle at the same time. All right! Now I'm going to switch to the White Arrow tool by pressing the A key, and I'll press Ctrl+Shift+A, or Command+Shift+A on the Mac, to deselect the rectangle, and then click along the bottom of the rectangle, the bottom edge, to select it. And then I'll press Shift+Down Arrow a couple of times to extend that rectangle past the bottom of the image.
Now, the first technique is to use a clipping mask. But if you want multiple shapes to clip an image for example, then you need to first combine those shapes into a compound path. So I'm going to press the V key in order to switch back to the Black Arrow tool, and I'll Shift+Click on the top rectangle to select it. And then I'll go up to the Object menu, I'll choose Compound Path, and I'll choose Make, in order to combine those two independent rectangles into a single path. And you can see, that's the way things are here inside the Layers panel. If I go ahead and twirl open this layer, you'll see now that this compound path contains both the rectangles, and they're fused together.
All right! We want these compound paths directly in front of the image like so, just so we don't end up bumping the image up the stack. And then I'll Shift+Click on the image to select it as well, and I'll go up to the Object menu, choose Clipping Mask this time, and then choose Make. Notice that goes ahead and crops those two images. And the great thing about this technique, the image is unscathed and you can adjust the crop boundary in any way you like. So for example, if I wanted to change the crop boundary independently of the image, because right now they're both selected, I'll twirl open my clipping group, down here toward the bottom of the Layers panel, and I'll meatball the compound path--that is, I'll click on its circular target--to select it independently.
And then I would press Ctrl+Shift+B or Command+Shift+B on the Mac in order to bring up my by bounding box, and then I could go ahead and scale this crop boundary to any extent I like without harming the image. So I'm just cropping on the fly. All right! I'll press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac a couple of times in order to undo those changes. And then I'll press Ctrl+Shift+B or Command+Shift+B on the Mac in order to hide the bounding box once again. All right! So that's one way to work. That's the dynamic method. But what if you want to just delete the cropped pixels? Well, what I'm about to show you is definitely a strange trick; it's a strange series of commands, but it's far and away the best method that I've found to pull this off.
So we'll start things off by selecting the clipping group, so I'll go ahead and click on its meatball there in the Layers panel. I'll go up to the Object menu, choose Clipping Mask, and choose Release in order to get rid of the clipping mask. And then I'll Shift+Click on the image with the Black Arrow tool to deselect it. And we need to release the compound path as well, so go up to the Object menu, choose Compound Path, and choose Release. Now, we need to give both of these rectangles a fill. So you go up to the Control panel, click on the first swatch, and assign any fill you want.
I'll assign white, but it could be absolutely any color; it doesn't matter. Then go over here to the Opacity value, and you want to change that Opacity value to 0% in order to see through those objects to the image below. Then you Shift+Click on the image to once again select it. Now, what we want to do is basically divide out the image according to the intersecting areas here, and you do that by going up to the Object menu and choosing the Flatten Transparency command. Not a command people use on a regular basis, but it is useful here.
Very complex dialog box. You don't need to change a single setting; it doesn't matter how this dialog box is set up. You just go ahead and click OK in order to divide the image into pieces. Now, you go up to the Object menu and you choose the Ungroup command. This is not something that I would claim to be an intuitive process, but this is what you do: you choose the Ungroup command, because that goes ahead and divides up the group so that you can make sense of what's going on here inside the Layers panel. And you'll see a couple of items that look like what you want to keep.
So, for example, there's my triceratops, so I'll Shift+Click on its meatball to deselect it, and then I'll scroll down my list. And there's my tyrannosaur's head, so I'll Shift+Click on its meatball to deselect it. Now everything that remains selected is garbage, so I'll just press the Backspace key or the Delete key on the Mac to get rid of it. Now we have some fairly unclean images going on. I'm going to twirl open this bottom clipping group by clicking on the little triangle next to it, and I'll scroll down the list, and notice what we have is a clipping mask with a bunch of image fragments inside of it.
So if you meatball one of these images, you'll see that it's just a little tiled bit of imagery. So in other words, we've got a bunch of disparate images sitting next to each other, which is probably not something you want. It's not necessarily a deal breaker; it might not hurt anything. The document might print just fine. However, what if you want to fuse all these image bits together? Well, the first thing you want to do is note the resolution value, the PPI value, up here in the control panel. It's 279 in my case. Then you want to click on the outline of the image with the Black Arrow tool to select the entire thing, and go to the Object menu and choose the Rasterize command.
This is a full-color image, so we want the Color Model to be CMYK. And you want to go ahead and change your Resolution from High to Other and then dial in that Resolution value, which in my case is 279 PPI. The other options don't matter, so just go ahead and click OK at this point, and notice you have fused all those image fragments into a single embedded image. Let's do the same for this guy, so I'll go ahead and meatball this clipping group, which is the triceratops down at the bottom.
And I'll go up to the Object menu and choose Rasterize. It's very important that you rasterize each of these images independently, by the way. Go ahead and choose Rasterize. You should see the exact same settings you applied before. So you can just click the OK button in order to fuse all the tiles into yet another single image. And there you have it, folks, two different ways to crop images inside of Illustrator; one of which is dynamic and fairly straightforward; the other of which is static, crops away the pixels permanently. It really doesn't make a lick of sense, but that is the best way to work.
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