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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, I am going to show you how to crop an image without actually cropping it. We are just temporarily changing what's known as the Canvas Size. And the great thing about working this way is you can change your mind anytime you like. And it's great when working with a really precious image, like this one here. This is one of my favorite images that I have ever shot, because it's so ambiguous as to what is going on here. Now, I don't want you thinking that I retouched this image, because I didn't. I didn't grab a blobby brush and just paint these white streaks in here.
This is an image that I shot out of the sunroom of Max playing in the background. And I think what happened is that, I had the Strobe turned on, and so it reflected off of both of the panes of the sunroom glass, which was a silly thing for me to do. I don't know what I was thinking. But that doesn't totally explain this story, because why is Max looking at them. And why is he distracted from what he was otherwise doing, which is obviously sweeping his crop circle? And what is SpongeBob doing in the background? These are questions that we will never fully answer.
But I do think it means that we need to crop this image with care. So here's the first thing you do. You go to the layers panel and you double-click on the Background layer, to convert it to a floating layer. And I will call this one spoooky, like so. And then click OK. And now we can crop the layer without harming the pixels on that layer, because unlike the Background layer, which when you crop it, the pixels are gone. A floating layer can be bigger than the canvas. In other words, bigger than what we see here inside the Image Window. All right.
So now I am going to grab my Crop tool. And you have to use a Crop tool, you can't use the Marquee or one of the other Selection tools along with the Crop command, because the Crop command crops everything, crops all layers. So grab the Crop tool and then go ahead and drag to define a crop boundary, like so. Anything will do for starters. And then what I want you to do is come up here to the Options Bar and switch cropped area from Delete to Hide, like that. And that way you will just hide the pixels in all floating layers.
You will still crop the pixels on the Background layer. That's why we had to go ahead and convert it to an independent layer, otherwise though you have all the flexibility on earth. Now then, I would go ahead and rotate my boundary a little bit, like so. Maybe drag it up a little bit if I wanted to and down a little bit. And in as well. I want to create a really intimate setting for Max and his friends here. And let's take out the pale in the background. I think this looks good. And then I will go ahead and press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac in order to invoke that crop and straighten operation.
And now the great thing about this is I can go up here to the Move tool, if I want to. And of course I can press the V key for that tool. And then I can drag the image inside the boundary in order to position it properly, which is really useful if you know you have to crop to a specific size. For example, let's check out the resolution of this image. As I recall, it's really low. I will go to the Image menu and choose the Image Size Command or press Ctrl+Alt+I. And yeah, the Resolution is set to 72. That's no good.
So let's go ahead and turn off Resample Image. And let's raise that Resolution value to something like 240. And then I will click OK. All right. But notice that the Width and Height of the image are sort of arbitrary at this point. They are both like 6-inch change. And let's say we want a 6-inch square. That's what we are looking for. Don't change it here. Just change the Resolution value. Click OK. And then you go to Image Size's good buddy, the Canvas Size Command, which also has a keyboard shortcut of Ctrl+Alt+C this time or Command+Option+C on the Mac.
And what this allows you to do is shrink or expand the canvas without affecting the image. And you go ahead and choose that command. And right now I have this set to Relative. By default, Relative is turned off like this. And if we know we want to work with inches, then let's go ahead and choose that. I will switch from pixels to inches, like so. And I am going to change each of these values to 6, just like that. Now, all these arrows are telling us that we are going to be cropping the image inward. This chicklet represents how the current image is going to be centered in its new environment.
We could switch that if we want to, but it's fine as is. Click OK and Photoshop is going to lie to us. It's going to say, the new Canvas Size is smaller than the Current Canvas Size. Well, that much is true. Some clipping will occur. No, actually Photoshop, no clipping will occur. So you can go ahead and click Proceed with impunity. The only time clipping occurs is on the Background layer, and there is no Background layer. So click Proceed. This is a harmless operation. We have just cropped the image more tightly. And I am going to drag it down just a little bit, inside of its new 6 x 6 inch environment, and we now have a very cozy setting for Max and his friends.
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