Cropping is the artists' term for trimming away unwanted parts of a picture. You can think of it as a specialized kind of selection, which is probably why the people who created Photoshop put the Crop tool in the same toolbox section as the Selection Marquees (see Figure 3.16). When you drag a cropping box around the part of the image you want to keep, click Shield on the Tool Options bar to darken the rest of the screen so that it's easier to see what's going on. Of course, you can also crop by making a selection with the Rectangular Marquee and then using the menu command Image->Crop to trim the picture.
Figure 3.16 The Crop tool in use.
Crop a Picture
To crop a picture, use any image and follow these steps:
Select the Crop tool from the toolbox or press C on the keyboard. (It looks like two overlapped pieces of L-shaped mat boardthe same tool artists use to help compose paintings.)
Drag it across the picture, holding the mouse button down.
Use the handles on the cropping box to fine-tune the selection. The area outside the box will be dimmed so that you can see what you're removing.
After you have the cropping box placed where you want it, double-click inside it to delete the area outside the box.
You can even use Photoshop's cropping tool to correct perspective. Click the Perspective check box on the Tool Options bar. First, drag a guide from the left ruler so that you can see what's not straight that should be. (Press Command+R or Control+R to activate the rulers.) Drag the Crop tool over an image that needs perspective adjustment, like the tilting house in Figure 3.17. After you've drawn the cropping box, click to select the Perspective check box and then click one of the corners of the box and drag it until the side of the window is parallel to the side of the building. Repeat with the other side.
Figure 3.17 Use Perspective cropping to straighten warped buildings.
Click Accept to apply the changes or simply double-click inside the cropping window. Figure 3.18 shows the result. Now the building is in proper perspective, the chimney is straight, and all's right with the world.
Open any picture and practice cropping it. Remember, if you crop too much of the picture, you can undo. If it's too late to undo because you have already done something else, just go back to the History palette and click the step before cropping. You can also choose File->Revert to go back to the last saved version of your picture. As long as you don't close the file, you can keep cropping and using the History palette to undo as much as you want.
Figure 3.18 It's okay for the Tower of Pisa to lean, but not a proper Yankee house.