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Photoshop is the world’s most powerful image editor, and it’s arguably the most complex, as well. Fortunately, nobody knows the program like award-winning book and video author Deke McClelland. Join Deke as he explores such indispensable Photoshop features as resolution, cropping, color correction, retouching, and layers. Gain expertise with real-world projects that make sense. Exercise files accompany the course.
Download Deke's free dekeKeys and color settings from the Exercise Files tab.
In this exercise, we're going to take a look at the Crop tool presets, which are predefined aspect ratios like 4x5 and 5x7 that kind of thing. You cannot only select from these presets, but you can modify them and create your own. I'm looking at an image called Children of the river.jpg found inside the 06_crop_straight folder. This is an image I shot of my kids, going on a couple of years ago. Now that I converted over to black and white, but it's extremely vertical. I was using a panoramic LICEA camera, but obviously I was taking a portrait shot with it.
I'm going to want to crop a lot of the stuff down towards the bottom of the image potentially out. I'm not sure actually what I want to do. But I wanted to fit inside of the fairly standard aspect ratio. So I'm going to go ahead and grab my Crop tool, which you can do it by pressing the C key. Then notice this down pointing arrowhead next to the Crop icon in the Options bar, this arrowhead provides you with access to tool presets for many of the tools inside of Photoshop, not all of them ship with presets, but you can create presets for just about every one of them.
So I'm going to start things off by trying out 4x6. What the heck? Notice as soon as I click on 4x6, it goes ahead and populates these numeric options here. Not surprisingly with a Width value of 4 inches, the Height value of 6 inches and in this case, the Resolution of 300. Then I would just go ahead and drag around the portion of the image I want to retain. And I'm saying well, that's not quite right, because if I'm going to do this kind of crop, I'm either going to lose Max's head like so or I'm going to lose part of Sammy's feet and neither of those solutions really work for me.
Notice you can't change it. So again, you're in this limited Crop tool mode, and you can't get to certain features inside of Photoshop including some features that affect the Crop tool itself. All right, so you have to either click this little Ghostbusters icon if you want to switch to a different aspect ratio or you press the Escape key, which is what I did just now. All right. Let's try out a different preset like 5x7. What the heck? And then to accept that, if you want to get rid of that panel, you press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac and you drag again.
This time, I have cropped off more of Sammy's feet, but at least it looks deliberate this time around. Well, still not what I want. So I'm going to press the Escape key, and let's try out some different settings. For example, I can click this little double arrow icon. If I wanted to go for a horizontally formatted image, I can click this double arrow icon to Swap the Width and Height values. Then I could change one of these values. Now for example, let's say I want 6 inches of width. If I type 6, and then press the Tab key, notice it's going to change to pixels, which is absolutely going to ruin everything.
You're only going to have 6 pixels Width along with 5 inches of Height. That's going to be pretty bad news. You don't want that. That's a function of having change to your default units to pixels, which is generally a good thing. One of the only times it proves to be disadvantageous is with the Crop tool. All you got to do though is enter in, so just 6 in and you're fine, by 5 inches like so. Drag around again, in order to crop the image and then at this point, we can go ahead and accept this modification if we wanted to or we could of course further modify it.
Anyway, I press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac in order to accept that crop. Actually, I think it looks pretty good. There is just one additional change I want to make, and that's the Resolution value. I have this dye-sub printer that has a mechanical resolution. The actual Resolution of the printer is 316 pixels per inch. So I'm going to go ahead and match that by pressing Control+Z, Command+Z on the Mac and let's change this value to 316 like so. And then I will drag a new crop boundary around this image.
Notice that Photoshop goes ahead and auto scrolls for me, meaning that it scrolls the Image window to keep up with my drag, if I drag outside the Image window. It's actually little more sensitive than it used to be. It used to go flying on you, but now it does a pretty good job of tracking your movements. Let's zoom out though and see if we've got this cropped pretty well. I like this amount of headroom around Max. I'm trying to kind of match the amount of room above his head to that to the left of his elbow. So I might take it down a little bit again. You can do that by pressing the Down Arrow key in this case on the keyboard.
That looks pretty good. I'll press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac to go ahead and apply that crop. Now you can see that the image got slightly smaller. This was before. Let me see if we can match that detail, that's before, and of I press Control+Z again, or Command+Z on the Mac, that's after. So it's just a tiny bit of down sampling. You generally want that when you're working with the Crop tool. If you're going be re-sampling the image as you are, if you define specific Width, Height and Resolution values, then you typically want to down sample the image. If you don't want resample the image at all, incidentally you just delete the Resolution value and leave the Width and Height values in place in some print unit of measure such as inches or centimeters.
Don't go with pixels that will once again resample the image. All right! Now let's say I want to go ahead and save this fabulous preset after I get done zooming in on my fabulous children here. How would I do that? Well, I go up to this little tools icon right there. It's a little screwdriver and wrench. I would click on it in order to bring up the tool Presets panel. I can also choose tool Presets from the bottom of the Window menu here. Anyway, I'm going to make my tool Presets panel larger, a little bit bigger by dragging the top of it upward and then I am going to a save a new preset by clicking on this New button.
That'll bring up this dialog box. It's even smart enough to call it Crop tool, but for some reason it's not smart enough to go ahead and stick with the same naming convention that Adobe has already been using. So I'm going to manually stick with that convention, by deleting the word tool and expanding the inch to inches like so. Then notice it gives me a 1. There is no sense in that. Let's say 316 ppi. Then we're matching everything, so far as I can see here and I'll click OK.
There is my new Crop tool Preset, awesome. I'll go ahead and hide the panel. Now I'll go down here to this drop-down menu and you can see that I have a new preset ready to go inside the list. So I can call on it again and again. Two other things I want you to notice. Up here in the Options bar, you can lift the settings from the front image if you want to just by clicking on Front Image, so that allows you to crop one image to match another. Then if you don't want the Presets anymore, you click on the Clear button and they all go away.
Now you can draw the free-form crops once again using the Crop tool.
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