Sarah (maidofawesome) wrote in graphics_school,

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Lesson 2: Cropping and Resizing an Image

Welcome to part two!

Cropping and Resizing an Image

Today I'm going to go through the different ways of cropping an image. My way, and the 'proper' way. Then I'm going to go through the right ways to resize an image, and how to save them.

Needless to say, I prefer my way, although it is more complicated.

The 'Proper' Way

Open your image.

Click on Crop Tool:

Type in the chosen dimensions of your image (100 by 100):

Drag marquee until it fits your image nicely, and and position it accordingly. Basically you are framing your icon this way - it will shrink the image when it crops it.

Double click inside square, this crops the image. Voila.

My Way - this is more complicated, but I prefer it as it gives me a lot more control over how the image looks. And I never bothered to learn the other way until I'd been using Photoshop for like, a year.

You should still have your 100x100 canvas open from the last lesson.

Now, open the image you want to use. Your Photoshop window should look like this:

Make sure the image you want to use is selected, and go into the Image Size (Image--> Image Size)

Now, here's where a little bit of guesswork comes in. Your icon is going to be 100 pixels high by 100 pixels wide, so your image needs to be small enough to fit into it. However, it is rare that you will want to make an image that small. You may want to solely focus on the face of a character, or you might want to fit two characters in, or you might want to allow enough space for text - it's all about judging how big the image needs to be in order to frame it correctly.

I have a weirdly logical brain - I think it's because I think in words and not numbers - so I tend to resize my images in divisionals of 50. For instance, with this image:

...I might start by reducing it to 250 high. Too big? Then I would reduce to 200. Then 150. And so on. Of course, you could reduce it to 232 or something, but like I said, weirdly logical brain.

Now, I'm going to break away into a very, very important tangent about resizing, because this is the most important thing about Photoshop you will ever learn.

I'm serious, stop sniggering at the back.

- There is only one way to resize an image in Photoshop. Do not use any other way. If you use any other way, your image will look like this:

Edit --> Image Size

When you resize an image, it is vital that your Image Size window looks like this:

See those boxes at the bottom? They're there for a reason. If you leave 'Constrain Proportions' unchecked, and then just adjust your height, here's what your image is going to look like.

The point is, Constrain Proportions keeps the width and the height matching. If you change the height to 150, the width will automatically change to the appropriate width.

I should also point out that Photoshop (and other advanced programmes like Paint Shop Pro) has the ability to preserve quality as much as possible when resizing. The image looks identical, but smaller:

If you do the same on MS Paint:

Yuck. It simply does not have the capacity to preserve the quality of an image, do you see? See those weird grainy bits? That's why all iconmakers insist you don't use MS Paint for iconmaking. It's not just snobbery, honest. There is logic behind it.

All programmes will lose quality if you're increasing the size of an image - it's the way graphics work. See:

That's why it's generally best to work with a large image and resize. You can always go back and change the size back to the original size - that's what I tend to do. I'll show you how to do that in a second.

Going back to the Image Size box...

Look! There's our old friend, Resolution, again. Don't ignore it - remember it should always be at 72. Now, if you try and change it, it will try and change your image proportions too, which isn't good. After lots of fiddling you can get it back, but it's irritating, so remember how I told you to make sure the Resolution is at 72 on the 'New' screen? Just keep on doing that, ok?

As long as you resize images in this way, you shouldn't have any problem with smooshed images. This fabulous tutorial by dtissagirl explains a little more, and about Aspect Ratio, and choosing decent screencaps (i.e., ones that aren't smooshed). She explains it much better than I can. With mathematics.

/end of tangent

Ok. So now we have made sure our Image Size boxes match... click ok. Smaller image! Hurrah!

Now, you need to transfer your image to your icon canvas in one of two ways. Either is fine.

1) Copy and paste.
Edit--> Select All (Ctrl+A)
Edit --> Copy (Ctrl+C)

Click on icon canvas.

Edit --> Paste (Ctrl+V)

Now click and drag the mouse over the image to move it around on the canvas.

2) Drag Image (this is what I tend to use - less clicking)

Select image canvas.
Make sure Arrow is selected.

Click on image and hold (do not release mouse button)
Literally drag the image over to the icon canvas.

As you click and start to move the mouse, the image will start to move. When you release the mouse (when the image has successfully transferred over) the image in the original canvas will pop back into place. And now your Photoshop should look something like this:

Don't close that original image, ok? You might need it. I never close the original image until the icon is finished and saved. Unless my Photoshop crashes.


Now, let's take a look at the image on your icon canvas. Follow the click and drag procedure again to get it to a decent position.


Too big? Too small? Let's go back and resize it. Make sure your original image is selected, then:


Go back to Image Size step:

Resize --> Drag over to image

Repeat until it looks nice. I've gone with this:

Drag it around some more until you like the positioning. Now, positioning on an icon is pretty important. You only have a very small canvas to work with, so it's really important that you frame your picture nicely.

One of the golden rules of cropping/framing is that an icon should never have the image in the middle, like so:

Now, like all rules, there are exceptions to it, but almost always, it's right. And not to be patronising or anything, but you guys are beginners, so I suggest you stick to it. For now, anyway. I can't really give you a reason why this:

looks nicer than this:

It just does. I can give you a practical reason, though! Text. Which we will come onto in a couple of lessons. If you want text in an icon, you need a place for it to go, and if the icon is framed decently, you should have a place for it to go. Like:

Right, are you happy with how your icon canvas is looking?
Then go to:
Layer--> Flatten Image.
File --> Save As--> [Enter filename]
Make sure icon is saved as a .png file.


The four file types people normally save images as are these:


Stay the hell away from .BMP.

1) The file sizes are huge - impractical
2) The quality is not always good.

Why not .GIF?

1) .GIF files often look grainy - the quality issue again.
2) They're best left for animation, for which they are perfect, or transparency.

Ignore these for now. Trust me!

You can save your files as .JPGs, but you will find the quality is vastly superior in a .PNG file. No graininess, no blurring, they're very sharp. If you're making a still icon, as long as it's within 100x100, a .PNG file will be under 40kb (which it needs to be for Livejournal) so you have no excuse to break that rule.

Here are two Cho bases - which I have already prepped (the next step I will show you) - saved, respectively, as .JPG and .PNG. They are identical apart from the file type. See the difference?

The .JPG base is blurry, slightly grainy and the colouring has changed ever-so-slightly. The .PNG base is exactly as it was when I saved it - the saving process does absolutely nothing to the quality.

And now that's clear, and your image is saved as a .PNG file, hit OK.

Congratulations! You have just made a base.

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I don't use either of your cropping and sizing techniques. I make a square marquee by holding shift while I make it, play about with its position, and then when I'm happy I do Image/Crop followed by Image/Image Size to make it 100x100. It's the first way I found of doing it and I always just stuck with it.

If I'm adding an extra image I use your second method of moving the unaltered image onto the now 100x100 main image and scale and position in situ.

I suppose everyone who's self-taught has their own ways of doing things.

Nice tips on using layer blending there.
Thank You!!! You worded it well and I wasnt confused at all. Happy!