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Cropping and Resizing An Image For Final Output

Six different methods for cropping and resizing an image in preparation for printing or display are described here.  The first method describes how to resize an image to fit a specific size.  The second describes how to resize an image to best portray the image, regardless of its final aspect ratio.  The third describes how to resize the entire image.  The remaining three methods describe how to resize based on a previously created crop area mask.


Crop, enlarge and resample to fit pre-defined output size

Use these steps if the image has to match a predetermined size, such as 8 x 10.  This is a destructive crop,  so be sure the output file, and not the master file, is the one being changed.

  1. Show/Hide the steps
    1. Ctrl + zero (Command + zero) to fit the image on the screen.
    2. Type the letter f until the image is in full screen mode with menu bar.  This displays a gray background.
    3. Type the letter c to make the Crop tool Crop tool the active tool.
    4. In the Options bar, type both the desired output width and height.  After the number, type 'in' for inches, 'mm' for millimeters, or 'cm' for centimeters.  For example, width:8 in, height:10 in.  If you do not type a unit of measure, Photoshop will assume the number you type is number of pixels.  (If the Options bar is not visible, click Window > Options.)
    5. Type the desired resolution in the Options bar.  This number is not the dpi print resolution, but the ppi of the output file.  Usually, it is a number between 200 and 360 for print files, or 72 or 96 for display files.  For an understanding of file ppi and print dpi, click here.
    6. Click in the gray background area and drag the Crop tool over the image.  Photoshop will constrain the proportions based on the width and height typed in the Options bar.
    7. To change the size of the crop area, use the cursor to grab one of the corners of the selection and drag.  You cannot grab a side and reshape because you have constrained the shape's proportions.
    8. To move the selection, click and drag inside the selection.  Do not click near the center marker, else the marker, and not the selection, will be moved.
    9. To rotate the selection, click and drag outside the selection near one of the corner handles.  If you wish to change the pivot point, click and drag the center marker to where you want the rotation to pivot.
    10. When finished, press the Enter key to resize and resample the image.  To abort the selection, press Esc.


 

Crop, enlarge and resample to best fit the image

Use these steps if you want the desired part of the image to be fully utilized and you have not already stored a crop area mask as an alpha channel, layer mask or a normal layer (described below).  This is a destructive crop, so be sure the output file, and not the master file, is the one being changed.

  1. Show/Hide the steps
    1. Ctrl + zero (Command + zero) to fit the image on the screen.
    2. Type the letter f until the image is in full screen mode with menu bar.  This displays a gray background.
    3. Type the letter c to make the Crop tool Crop tool the active tool.
    4. In the Options bar, type either the desired output width or height, but not both.  Be sure to type only one and make the other blank.  This will allow you to fully adjust the crop selection.  After the number, type 'in' for inches, 'mm' for millimeters, or 'cm' for centimeters.  If you do not type a unit of measure, Photoshop will assume the number you type is number of pixels.  (If the Options bar is not visible, click Window > Options.)
    5. Type the desired resolution in the Options bar.  This number is not the dpi print resolution, but the ppi of the file to be printed.  Usually, it is a number between 200 and 360 for print files, or 72 or 96 for display files.  For an understanding of file ppi and print dpi, click here.
    6. Click in the image and drag the Crop tool over the area to be printed.  Since one of the dimension text boxes is empty, Photoshop will not constrain the proportions.
    7. To change the shape of the crop area, use the cursor to grab one of the corner handles or one of the side handles and drag.
    8. To move the selection, click and drag inside the selection.  Do not click near the center marker, else the marker, and not the selection, will be moved.
    9. To rotate the selection, click and drag outside the selection near one of the corner handles.  If you wish to change the pivot point, click and drag the center marker to where you want the rotation to pivot.
    10. When finished, press the Enter key to resize and resample the image. To abort the selection, press Esc.


 

Enlarge and resample entire image

Use these steps if you want the entire image to be resized.  Since the file's resolution is being changed, it is recommended this be performed on the output file and not the master file.

  1. Show/Hide the steps
    1. Click Image > Size.
    2. Uncheck Resample Image.
    3. Change resolution to the desired ppi for printing or display.  This number is not the dpi print resolution, but the ppi of the file to be printed or displayed.  Usually, it is a number between 200 and 360 for print files, or 72 or 96 for display files.  For an understanding of file ppi and print dpi, click here.
    4. Click OK.  This enlarges the image to its maximum without re-sampling pixels.
    5. Click Image > Size again.
    6. Check Resample Image.  In Photoshop CS, make sure Bicubic Smoother is selected when enlarging.  Pre-CS, make sure Bicubic is selected.
    7. Be sure Constrain Proportions is checked.
    8. In Document Size, key in either the desired width or height.  Because Constrain Proportions is on, when you change one, the other will automatically be changed.
    9. Click OK to enlarge and resample.


 

Crop, enlarge and resample to fit alpha channel selection

This technique assumes a crop area mask was created and saved as an alpha channel as described in the Creating A Crop Area Mask page.  This is a destructive crop, so be sure the output file, and not the master file, is the one being changed.

  1. Show/Hide the steps
    1. Click Select > Load > Selection.
    2. In the Channel drop down box, select the desired alpha channel.
    3. Click OK.
    4. If needed, to invert the selection, click Select > Inverse.
    5. Click Image > Crop.  The image will now be cropped.  However, it still needs to be resized.
    6. Click Select > Deselect to remove the selection outline.
    7. Click Image > Size.
    8. Uncheck Resample Image.
    9. Change resolution to the desired ppi for printing or display.  This number is not the dpi print resolution, but the ppi of the file to be printed.  Usually, it is a number between 200 and 360 for print files, or 72 or 96 for display files.  For an understanding of file ppi and print dpi, click here.
    10. Click OK.  This enlarges the image to its maximum without re-sampling pixels.
    11. Click Image > Size again.
    12. Check Resample Image.  In Photoshop CS, make sure Bicubic Smoother is selected when enlarging.  Pre-CS, make sure Bicubic is selected.
    13. Be sure Constrain Proportions is checked.
    14. In Document Size, key in either the desired width or height.  Because Constrain Proportions is on, when you change one, the other will automatically be changed.
    15. Click OK to enlarge and resample.
    16. Delete the alpha channel.


 

Crop, enlarge and resample Based on A Layer Mask

This technique assumes the image file is a single layer file with a layer mask used to create a crop area as described in the Creating A Crop Area Mask page.  This is a destructive crop, so be sure the output file, and not the master file, is the one being changed.

  1. Show/Hide the steps
    1. Make sure the Layers panel is the active panel.
    2. Ctrl + click (Command + click) the layer mask used to crop the image.  The document window should display a selection grid.  If the entire document window is selected, the image thumbnail was clicked instead of the layer mask thumbnail.  If the document window shows a grayscale mask, the layer mask thumbnail was Alt + clicked (Option + clicked) instead of Ctrl + clicked (Command + click).  Alt + click (Option + click) the layer mask again and then Ctrl + click (Command + click) the layer mask.
    3. Click Image > Crop.  On rare occasions, after clicking Image > Crop, nothing happens.  This is because Photoshop thinks the entire image is selected even though the active selection grid shows otherwise.  If this happens, click Select > Transform Selection and drag the middle handles until they are over the selection grid.  Do not worry that after the handle is dragged, the selection grid shifts.  After you have finished dragging, press Enter, then click Image > Crop again.
    4. Click Image > Size.
    5. Uncheck Resample Image.
    6. Change resolution to the desired ppi for printing or display.  This number is not the dpi print resolution, but the ppi of the file to be printed.  Usually, it is a number between 200 and 360 for print files, or 72 or 96 for display files.  For an understanding of file ppi and print dpi, click here.
    7. Click OK.  This enlarges the image to its maximum without re-sampling pixels.
    8. Click Image > Size again.
    9. Check Resample Image.  In Photoshop CS, make sure Bicubic Smoother is selected when enlarging.  Pre-CS, make sure Bicubic is selected.
    10. Be sure Constrain Proportions is checked.
    11. In Document Size, key in either the desired width or height.  Because Constrain Proportions is on, when you change one, the other will automatically be changed.
    12. Click OK to enlarge and resample.
    13. Delete the layer mask.


 

Crop, enlarge and resample Based on A Normal Layer

This technique assumes a crop area mask was created using the Normal Layer method described in the Creating A Crop Area Mask page.  This is a destructive crop, so be sure the output file, and not the master file, is the one being changed.

  1. Show/Hide the steps
    1. Ctrl + click (Command + click) the crop area mask layer.  The document window should display a selection outline.
    2. Click Select > Inverse.
    3. Click Image > Crop.  On rare occasions, after clicking Image > Crop, nothing happens.  This is because Photoshop thinks the entire image is selected even though the active selection grid shows otherwise.  If this happens, click Select > Transform Selection and drag the middle handles until they are over the selection grid.  Do not worry that after the handle is dragged, the selection grid shifts.  After you have finished dragging, press Enter, then click Image > Crop again.
    4. Click Select > Deselect to remove the selection outline.
    5. Click Image > Size.
    6. Uncheck Resample Image.
    7. Change resolution to the desired ppi for printing or display.  This number is not the dpi print resolution, but the ppi of the file to be printed.  Usually, it is a number between 200 and 360 for print files, or 72 or 96 for display files.  For an understanding of file ppi and print dpi, click here.
    8. Click OK.  This enlarges the image to its maximum without re-sampling pixels.
    9. Click Image > Size again.
    10. Check Resample Image.  In Photoshop CS, make sure Bicubic Smoother is selected when enlarging.  Pre-CS, make sure Bicubic is selected.
    11. Be sure Constrain Proportions is checked.
    12. In Document Size, key in either the desired width or height.  Because Constrain Proportions is on, when you change one, the other will automatically be changed.
    13. Click OK to enlarge and resample.
    14. Delete the Crop Area Mask layer.