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How to Crop an Image Without Photoshop

How to Crop an Image - Cropped image of horses

Nicely-cropped images help any web site look more credible and finished. Unfortunately, not everyone has access to fancy, schmancy photo-editing software like Adobe Photoshop. But don't despair. Beautifully-cropped photos can be yours with a few simple steps.

Software


I recommend using Picnik.com to crop photos. The following instructions are for Picnik, although other free photo-editing sites are out there. I like Picnik because it's intuitive and you can edit a photo from any computer. No registration or software is required! If you don't love Picnik, try GIMP (download required), Paint.net, or iPhoto (for Macs).

Dimensions


Before you start, you'll need a photo and the dimensions for the cropped photo. In this case, I need my photo to be 250 pixels (wide) x 100 pixels (height). Photos on the web are displayed and measured by pixels (not inches or picas or hands). If you don't know the size needed, ask the person who created the design for the dimensions for the photo space. They should easily be able to tell you.

Hint: If you've just completed a redesign for your web site, be sure to ask the web designer for the dimensions of all photos, especially on the home page. Ideally there are two or three consistent sizes used across the site. This will help you maintain the look of the design.

Cropping

1. Go to picnik.com

2. Click "Get started now"

3. Click "Upload a photo" if you want to crop a photo that is on your computer. 
  • If your photo is already online (on Picasa, Flickr, Facebook, etc.), look at the bottom of the page and you can open from several sites.

4. Click "Resize" (fourth button from the left)

  • Change the width to 250 pixels (the first box).
  • You won't be able to enter your finished dimensions (250 x 100). That's ok - we'll get to that. Focus on width now.
  • Make sure the "Keep proportions" box is checked. Distorted photos are awful to look at and will make your web site lose credibility.
  • Click "OK."

5. Click "Crop"

  • Move the crop box (gray box with circled corners) to the upper left.
  • Enter 250 x 100 in "Actual size" boxes. These are your required dimensions.
  • Move crop box over the image where you want it. The grayed out areas are what will be cropped off. 
  • Hint: Don't put the subject of your photo (e.g. horses) in the middle of the composition. Shifting it to the left or right will offset it and adds interest.
  • Hint: Don't put the horizon line right in the middle of the photo. It will look like the photo is cut in half. Use the grid lines in the crop box to help you position the horizon line (e.g. bottom of the horses, top of the flowers) in the top third or bottom third of the photo. (More about this "Rule of Thirds")
  • Click "OK"


6. Click "Save & Share"

  • Rename you photo (if desired).
  • Format = jpg
  • Compression quality = 8-10
  • Click "Save photo" to save it to your computer or you can email the photo to yourself (see top navigation).

 

Happy cropping!