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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'm going to show you the basics of using the Crop tool inside of Photoshop. The Crop tool allows you to both crop and straighten an image in a single operation, which is going to work out great for this doubly crooked image right here. It's called Protector of Pisa.jpg. It's found inside the 06_crop straight folder. It comes to us from George Alexander of the Fotolia image library, about which you can learn more at fotolia.com/deke. Now I love these kinds of vacation snapshots where people are interacting with classic architecture.
The problem with Pisa specifically is that when people photograph it, they seem to forget that there is actually such a thing as straight in the world. You can see that the photographer in this case, has given this woman too much credit. So not only has she pushed up the Tower of Pisa slightly, but in doing so, she has managed to push up the entire earth along with her. Now as we crop the image, we have the option of either giving here total credit or straightening out Pisa, which is where we're going to start.
Then in the next exercise, we're going to actually go ahead and straighten out the earth, and then fix something that can go wrong inside the image. So I'm going to drop down here to the Crop tool. You can get the Crop tool by pressing the C key. You don't have the press Ctrl or Shift or anything else, just C. The Crop tool is actually really responsive, a fairly easy tool to use, once you get the hang of it. My only criticism of it is that it forces you to enter this Crop tool mode, so you can't do anything, but crop the image while you're in that mode.
You've very limited access to Photoshop's other features. So I'm going to go ahead and zoom out. I'm actually going to switch to the full screen mode by pressing the F key, because that's not something I'll be able to do once I enter the Crop mode. That'll just help give me a little more vertical room onscreen, which I desperately need. All right, so you start things off by dragging with the Crop tool. If you want to position the Crop on the fly as you're drawing it, you can press and hold the Spacebar like so and drag it around. Then once you release the spacebar, you go back to scaling the Crop Boundary.
All right, one you release, you are in the Crop mode. You still have the option of scaling the crop boundary if you want to by dragging these corner handles, or the side handles, top and bottom handles too. Then if you want to rotate the Crop Boundary, you move your cursor outside into the dark shield area, and you get this rotate cursor. We'll come to that in just a moment, but I want you to notice the couple of options up here in the Options bar. First of all, we have this new Crop Guide Overlay function in CS5.
By default, it's set to Rule of Thirds, which divides a cropped area into nine regions as you can see right here. The Rule of Thirds holds that you should position the critical elements of your image at the intersection of these guidelines essentially, so that you're not strictly centering the image. It's one of the compositional theories out there. I don't think all that much of it, but you can observe it if you want to. You can also switch from Rule of Thirds to Grid if you like, and that's going to give you more detail grid like so. That's going to add lines, as you increase the size of the boundary like so.
And then finally, you have None, if you just don't want any guidelines at all. Now in my case, I'm going to stick with Rule of Thirds, because I find it to be somewhat helpful and also these gridlines can help you in terms of trying to align a crooked object inside your image. All right, so let's make this crop boundary smaller like so. I'm gong to Spacebar and drag the image a little bit, so that we can see the top of the Tower. Then I'm going to go ahead and rotate the crop boundary like so, until the Tower seems to be straight with this guideline.
Now, you really have to watch out. I'm going to show you what can go wrong there, unless I am very lucky and I happen to get this right the first time, but there is some better ways to work in terms of guaranteeing that you're getting something straight. I'll come back to that in a moment. Well, I go ahead and drag the top of the crop boundary upward. I'll drag the bottom downward. By default, you'll notice that under the View menu Snapping is turned on. It's got a check mark next to it. You want that, so that when you're dragging to corner handle, it snaps to the edge of the canvas before just going outward like this, because if you reveal an area that doesn't exist, then it's going to get filled with the background color which is by default white.
So somebody would be able to tell that you crop the image. Otherwise, if you just want pure image, then you want to stay inside of your canvas there. All right, I'll drag up and see if I have a little more room to work up in the upper-right region which I do, and that looks pretty good. I think I'm done. Now in order to commit my crop, I'll click in this checkmark in the Options bar or I press the Enter key on the PC or the Return key on the Mac, and there it is. Now I didn't do a good job. Look, the Tower of Pisa is not straight quite yet. It is much greater than it was before, so good on her.
But I need it to be as straight as possible. It's a little hard with the Tower of Pisa because it kind of slopes outward like this as well, but let's do a better job. Here is my other gripe about the Cop tool is when you press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac, you go back to your previous Crop boundary so you can adjust it some more. You go back to before you created the boundaries, so you have to start over from scratch, not keen on that one at all, but that is the way it works. I'm going to drag around sort of tight around the tower, and then I'm going to go ahead and rotate that tower and drag it in, so that I've got these edges tied to the edges of the tower.
So that I can really map exactly what the angle needs to be. In case, you're curious what that angle is, because we don't see any numerical value up here in the Options bar. You can bring up the Info panel by clicking on the I or pressing the F8 key, and you'll see that the Angle is currently 4.6 degrees. Now you can't modify it numerically, but at least you can see what it is if you're curious. All right, I think I got this right now. I'll just drag out a little bit, so I can test things. Obviously, once you decide on an angle, you wouldn't drag out here anymore to ruin it.
All right, now I'm going to zoom out so I can take in more of the image at a time, scoot her over a little bit and drag down here. Actually look at that, I went outside of the image, so I've got to be careful. Drag that corner handle back and until it snaps in the place. And then drag this bottom left corner handle, until it snaps down here at the bottom of the image and then move the top upward. I want to crop so that her toes stay out of the frame. I have to say the Shield function at here, which permits Photoshop to darken the region that's going to get cropped away, not all that fond of it.
I specially don't think much of it at 75% Opacity. I might want to take it down to something like 35%, so that you're still seeing the details that you're losing but they're just slightly dimmed. You can also change your crop Color if you want to. You can change it from black to some other color, totally up to you. All you got to do is click and drag around in this field. For example, to change that Shield Color to white, you would drag this little ball into the upper-left corner right there. That looks pretty good to me actually. I think I like white better than black for this image. Click OK. You can always change your mind anytime you like.
Let's go ahead and commit the crop again by pressing the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac and I goofed. Look at that, I left the little wedge of color. That's what I was talking about right there, but the Tower is nice and straight. If we wanted to fix this little wedge, well, then we might be able to take advantage of that new CS5 Content-Aware Fill feature. Just go ahead and select that area using the Rectangular Marquee tool right there. See how that works. I'll press the Backspace key or the Delete key on the Mac as I'm working on the Background layer and let's try our Content Aware Fill.
Since it's kind of a magic fill and look at that, Photoshop did a brilliant job. Nice work Photoshop, nice work us. We managed to straighten the Tower of Pisa. In the next exercise, I'll show you how to straighten the earth.
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