As they say about Photoshop, there are nine ways to do everything. I’d say that’s a good thing because I like having options. When it comes to cropping, there’s no shortage of how we can get things done. For years and years, I used the Rectangular Marquee Tool to crop my images. I still like that tool for this purpose, but the problem with using it is that once an image is cropped with it, all of the cropped out area is gone. This means that if I crop the edges from a photograph, perform a few steps of editing and then realize that my cropping was inaccurate, I either have to accept that fact or I have to start the project over. You know as well as I do, this is no way to work. It’s amateur and we don’t want to be amateurs. We want to be pros.
In today’s post, I’d like to show you a different method for “cropping” an image. It’s actually not really cropping, but the result is the same. All I’ll be doing is adjusting the canvas size of a file in Adobe Photoshop. To do so though, I’ll be using one small feature of the Rectangular Marquee Tool. It’s a very simple process and it’s one that you may find handy under certain circumstances. You never know when you’ll need a workaround in Photoshop. Situations seems to pop up out of nowhere.
What Would I Like to Crop Out?
Okay, let’s image that I’d like to crop out a portion of the left side of this image.
Oh, I don’t know, let’s say about an inch off the left side would be good. Let’s pretend that I don’t like the moon in this image and I want it gone. Instead of using the Crop Tool, I could simply resize the canvas. The question is though, by how much? Should I just guess at a pixel amount? I don’t think so.
Measuring With the Rectangular Marquee Tool
I’m not sure if you’re aware of this or not, but when cropping an image in Photoshop, it’s important that you don’t actually delete any content. The Crop Tool offers a check box in the options bar that asks if you’d like to remove the cropped content forever or if you’d only like to hide it. It’s often recommended that you just hide it because if you ever want it back, it’ll be there for you. If those pixels are permanently deleted, they’re unrecoverable and that’s never a good thing. Unless you’re working on an unimportant one-off photo that you’re quickly posting somewhere online, don’t let Photoshop delete any cropped pixels.
When using a selection tool as a crop tool by selecting an area and then visiting the Image > Crop menu item, the cropped out content is gone forever. This is one of the big problems with using this workflow for cropping. While I used to take advantage of the selection tools for this type of task all the time, through the years, I’ve migrated over to the Crop Tool. It’s a much better solution.
There is a way to keep the pixels if you’d like to use the Rectangular Marquee Tool though and what I’m about to show you does allow for a nice bit of precision.
To measure the distance I’d like to remove from the photo in pixels, I’ll click and drag the Rectangular Marquee Tool from the left side into the image until I’ve covered the area I’d like to cover. The only reason I’m doing this is to read the pixel dimensions in the small black box that appears. Take a look.
By measuring this way, I know the number of pixels in I need to remove from the left side. I could have used the Ruler Tool for this as well, but this is a pretty easy way to go about things.
Changing the Canvas Size
Before I go any further, it’s critical to convert the layer I’m working on to a Smart Object. If I don’t do this and if I go ahead and change the canvas size, any pixels that are hidden will actually be deleted forever. By converting the image layer to a Smart Object, I’ll be preserving those pixels for later use, if need be.
Okay, now that I know the number I’m after that will remove the moon in the image (660px), I’ll head up to the Image > Canvas Size menu item and click.
This will open up the Canvas Size dialog. Inside it, I’ll make sure the Relative box is checked and then I’ll input the desired value in pixels. Since I want to remove area, I’ll have to put a minus sign in front of the number. So in this case, I’ll type -660 as the Width value. Then, I’ll move the center anchor point to the right by clicking on one of the right side boxes. Finally, I’ll click the OK button to accept the changes.
This is what the result will look like.
The best part about this process is that if I ever want to see what I “removed” again, I can use the Crop Tool and stretch the handles on the left, farther to the left. Take a look. The hidden content is still back there. It’s just out of sight.
And there we have another method for cropping and working with images inside of Adobe Photoshop. If you have any questions regarding this post or this technique, please ask in the comment section down below or in the Photoshop discussion board. Thanks for reading!