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Tutorial: How to crop photos accurately

Tutorial: How to crop photos accurately

There are many reasons to why you would need to crop a photo – the background might need to be reduced, a certain detail emphasized or unwanted objects cut out of the image area. Do you simply want to transform your photo into a certain shape, like a circle or an ellipse? Both Xara Photo & Graphic Designer and Xara Designer Pro are equipped with a fast and non-destructive set of photo tools that enable you to crop and improve your photos in a few easy steps.

Cropping photos is this easy!

Firstly, load the photo in the image editing program. To do this, drag the image from the folder where it’s stored to the title bar in the program, or to the empty dark gray editor area. You can also load the picture by going to “File” > “Open”. The photo will then open as a photo document. Photo documents are designed specifically to store photo data so that you can always return to the original image, no matter what changes you make.

How to accurately crop photos

The easiest way to crop photos is by expanding the photo tool list and clicking on the “Crop” tool, then moving the mouse pointer over the photo while holding down the left mouse button to select the cropping area. Once you let go of the mouse button, the area to be cropped out will appear transparent. If you’re not happy with the area selection, you can change the size manually by dragging a side or corner. This will then change the size of the cropping area.

Screenshot: Selection in the image editing program to crop a photo

If you want to set an exact height or width or maintain the aspect ratio, this can also easily be set in Crop mode. To do this, simply set a specific value for the image pixels or put a check mark next to “Lock aspect”. Here, you can also select your favorite format from standard formats like 16:9 or 4:3. When you’re happy with the selected area, click on “Cut”. This process can be reversed at any time should you ever change your mind and want to change the image section again. To do this, just click on the left-facing blue arrow.

Using effects while cropping photos

If you want to use an effect on your photo while cropping it, MAGIX’s image editing programs offer a few different possibilities. To add feathering to the photo, use the feathering slider in the top right corner of the program window. You can set a pixel value (maximum 50px), which fades the image border to a greater or lesser extent.

Screenshot: Set image feathering

Feathering is set to 40px in this photo

You also have the option of turning the photo into an ellipse shape, which is especially suited to creating portraits. First, select the ellipse tool (the circle in the drop-down menu). To get an ellipse, click on the third box with the arrow icon, directly above the editor area and drag the mouse over the photo while holding down the left mouse button. This creates an ellipse in the size of your choice. Finally, select the transparency tool (wine glass icon) and set the slider to the desired transparency in the ellipse, so that you can see the image selection in the ellipse area. If the shape of the ellipse still isn’t quite right, you can drag the handles in any direction to change the size.

Crop photos to an ellipse shape with MAGIX XARA Designer Pro X

Once you’re happy with how the ellipse is positioned, change to the selection tool (arrow icon) and drag a frame around the photo with the ellipse, so that both objects are marked. Use the shortcut „Ctrl + 3“ to delete the area outside of the ellipse and you’ll now only see the selected photo area. You can also crop your photos into any shape that you want.

The ellipse shape can also be optimized with the feathering effect described above. If you’d prefer a clear, sharp border, you can set this with the “Set line width” option. Set the desired pixel value for the line width in the drop-down menu and then select a color from the color palette, in the lower area of the program. If the entire photo becomes colored, you can go back by using the blue arrow. This way you can give your image an output color but the outline will stay the same.

Crop photos to an ellipse shape with MAGIX XARA Designer Pro X

To saved the finished cropped image, select “File” > “Save” in the menu. The cropped photo will be saved along with a copy of the original in a master folder. You can open the modified photo at any time and make further changes, undo changes and even restore the original unmodified photo.

If you want to get started in photo editing, then get Xara Photo & Graphic Designer or Xara Designer Pro, start cropping photos and let your creativity run free!

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