The idea of cropping an image and resizing that same image at the same time is initially a challenge to wrap your head around. I already discussed how to crop an image in Photoshop and how to do so with a fixed aspect ratio, but I haven’t discussed how to resize the image using the crop tool yet. That’s what I intend to cover in this post.
To get this job done, only a few steps are involved. Of course, like so much in Photoshop, you can delve into this topic and create a workflow around it as complicated as you’d like, but to keep things simple here, I’ll only cover what I think needs covering.
Check Your Image’s Initial Size
In this post, I’m going to use another photo from my visit to the “Washington Oaks Gardens State Park” in Palm Coast, Florida. I’m not sure what type of flower this is, but it sure will work out well when it comes time to crop as an example.
When cropping an image to a specific ratio and pixel or inch size, the very first task you need to complete is to check what its current dimensions are. To do this, we need to head up to the “Image > Image Size” menu up towards the top of Photoshop. More specifically, we need to look the image’s physical dimensions as well as its resolution.
NOTE: If you’d like a larger view of any example image in this post, simply right click on it and choose “Open Image In New Tab.”
In my case, I’ve got a photo that’s 5184px x 3456px at a resolution of 72dpi. This is fairly standard for a photo that was shot in JPEG mode with DSLR. If I shot this photo in raw mode, the pixel dimensions may have been the same, but the resolution would most likely have been 300dpi.
Resizing the Image
Now, here’s where things get sort of confusing. The goal with this project is to resize the image with a specific ratio and simply trim off any excess material that’s left over from our original. A scenario like this may arise when you take a photo that’s absolutely perfect. You don’t really want or need to crop it, but it’s not the ratio that’s right for your output.
For example, say that we take our example image used in this post and want to output it almost just as it is (composition-wise). The only problem is that instead of using our pixel width of 5184, our printer tells us that he can only accept a file that has a maximum pixel width of 5000. Also, he informs us that the height can be no larger then 3000 pixels. Notice how I’m using pixels in this example. The same is true for inches. I’m merely leaning towards pixels here for simplicity. And the reasons why a printer can’t accept certain sizes vary. One case might be that the output may not fit in a picture frame if not altered.
So let’s continue on with our scenario of being limited to a 5000px x 3000px dimension. We’ll keep the resolution the same because changing resolutions is beyond the scope of this post.
The first thing we need to do here, if we want to keep as much of our composition as possible is to resize our image using the “Image Size” dialog box we already opened. If we’ve already got a dimension of 5184px x 3456px, then all we need to do is reduce the larger one to 5000px. By doing this, and keeping the aspect ratio locked, both dimensions will change. Let’s go ahead and shrink that one dimension and see what happens.
If you take a look at the next screenshot, you’ll see that by changing one dimension, the other changes as well. The thing is, we can’t seem to resize the way we want. If we go down to 5000 pixels, the other dimension changes to 3333 pixels. If we attempt to change the 3333 pixels to 3000 pixels, our 5184 pixels reduces all the way to 4500, which is too small for what we’re looking to do. This is the challenge we’re trying to overcome – aspect ratios never staying where we want them to. The answer lies with the crop tool.
Using the Crop Tool
Now that we’ve set our maximum width dimension to 5000px and clicked “OK,” we can head over to the left toolbar in Photoshop and select the crop tool.
When we click the tool, notice how a new option menu appears up top. Inside this menu, we’ve got a drop-down box that offers us all sorts of selections. The one we want is labeled “W x H x Resolution.”
If you make that selection, you’ll notice that a few related options appear to the right. In the first dark box to the right of the drop-down, we’ll place in our desired width dimension of 5000px. In the next box, we’ll place our desired height of 3000px and inside the box right next to that one, we’ll place our resolution, which we’ve already decided will remain at 72dpi. After that, we’ll choose the px/in selection in the drop-down box.
If you take a look at the screenshot directly above, you’ll notice that the crop area over the photo has changed to a specific ratio. It’s now in basically a 5000×3000 (or 5×3) ratio. This ratio has nothing to do with the final pixel dimension the photo will crop to. It’s merely the shape the photo will result in (which I guess are the same thing).
Here’s the neat thing about using this tool. No matter how much we drag the edges of our crop area, our ratio will remain locked. Also, no matter how much we shrink or expand our crop area, when we apply the crop, the size will be 5000px x 3000px at 72dpi. We’re not going to do any dragging around or shrinking in this case because we’ve already defined our dimensions, but if the photo was huge and we had the space, we can shrink to our heart’s content.
Applying the Crop
Once everything looks good, we can go ahead and double-click inside the crop area to apply it and take a look at the results.
Now, you may not notice it in the above screenshot, but the photo has been cropped and the new dimensions are 5000px x 3000px. But to be sure, we need to double-check our work.
Checking Our Work
If we head back up to the “Image > Image Size” menu, we can take a look at what our new dimensions are. In our case, they are as expected and we can consider this a job well done.
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