The Cropping Tool: A Simple but Powerful Tool in Lightroom 4
In this video from our Lightroom 4 A to Z Workshop on DVD, we are going to go over the various tools available in the Adjustments Tools that can help us crop our images. The Cropping Tool is a very simple yet powerful tool in Lightroom 4. The Cropping Tool is helpful because we can use it to easily straighten strong lines in our images. We can also crop out unwanted areas of the image as well as crop an image to turn it into a panorama. This article will hopefully give you a better understanding of how to use the cropping tool in Lightroom 4.
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Crop Overlay Tool
The Crop Overlay Tool can be found on the right side of Lightroom, underneath the histogram. It is the first icon in our Adjustments Tools. You can also access the Crop Overlay by hitting “R.”
As a side note, the Adjustments Tools is not the same as the Toolbar shown below – these 2 are completely different. The Toolbar can be accessed by hitting “T” and is found underneath the image. Simply hit “T” again to toggle off the Toolbar.
The most basic way to crop is by starting on the outside of the image, as shown below. We can just click and drag up or down and left or right to move our crop around. When you let go of the mouse, the crop will set and when we hit “R” again, the crop is locked.
To reset the crop, just hit “Ctrl + Alt + R” but you need to still be in the Crop Overlay (“R”). You can also select “Reset” in the Adjustments Tools, as shown below.
Another way to adjust the crop is by adjusting the edge lines or by adjusting the corners. To adjust the corners, simply grab a corner and pull it in, as we have done below.
To adjust the edge lines, grab an edge and pull in.
The lock in the Adjustments Toolbar locks the aspect ratios of the image, which means we cannot change the image to a different format.
To adjust the aspect ratios of the image, simply click on the lock to unlock it. Once we unlock it, we can free-transform the crop of the image. For example, we could make it into a square image or into a very wide image, like the one shown below. Below, you can also see that the lock in the Adjustments Tools is now unlocked. Now, you can crop the image to however you like.
We can also move the crop area of the image by clicking in the crop area and dragging the crop area around. As you can see below, our mouse is inside the crop area and we can now move the crop area to any part of the image.
Another way to adjust our aspect ratios is through the Original Menu in the Adjustments Toolbar. When you click on the dropdown menu, commonly used ratios are shown. We can choose any of those ratios and apply them to our image. The “16 x 9” and “16 x 10” ratios are film ratios while the ratios from “1 x 1” to “2 x 3 / 4 x 6” are standard ratios.
We can also create our own aspect ratios by selecting “Enter Custom.”
When you select “Enter Custom,” the Enter Custom Aspect Ratio Dialogue Box will show up where you can enter your ratio. It does not matter what numbers you put in, as long as the ratio is what you want. For example, in the Enter Custom Aspect Ratio Dialogue Box below, I have put in “15 x 30.”
This will automatically adjust to a “1.5 x 3” ratio crop as you can see in the image below.
The Crop Frame Tool
The Crop Frame Tool is another way that we can adjust the crop of our images. The Crop Frame Tool is located in the Adjustments Tool. Simply click on it to select it.
With the Crop Frame Tool, select an area to crop. This tool will actually constrain to the proportion that you have selected. You can set your crop wherever you want, let go, and it will automatically adjust your crop to fit the proportion selected. As you can see below, we have selected an area to crop by using the Crop Frame Tool.
Lightroom 4 has 6 different Grid Overlays that help you check your composition and alignment. To access these different Grid Overlays, hit “O.” Hit “O” again to cycle through the different Grid Overlays. The Crop Overlay Tool (“R”) needs to be selected in order to cycle through the Grid Overlays. Below are the 6 different Grid Overlays that can be applied to your images.
The Thirds Ratio
The Golden Ratio
The Diagonals Ratio
The Triangles Ratio
The Golden Spiral Ratio
Standard Grid Ratio
After the Standard Grid Ratio, it cycles back to the Thirds Ratio. These different Grid Overlays will help you to match different types of compositions for your images.
The Straighten Tool
To fix strong lines in an image, use the Straighten Tool in the Adjustments Toolbar, as shown below.
To use the Straighten Tool, simply click on one point on the strong lines visible in your image and then drag across so that it is a straight line. Then, when you let go, it will automatically adjust the crop of your image to make sure that that line you just drew is perfectly straight. This tool is a great way to correct any strong lines that are visible in your images, such as the horizon, stairs, or bricks.
Constrain to Warp Tool
The last handy Crop Tool in the Adjustment Tools is the Constrain to Warp Tool.
If you check this box, this tool will make sure that no gray edges will appear when you are warping the image or making adjustments to it. This tool will automatically adjust the crop to make sure the image is displayed from edge to edge. So for example, if you are adjusting the image via the Lens Correction, it is a good idea to have this tool selected so that your image shows from edge to edge. Otherwise, you might have some gray areas toward the edges when you adjust the image.
Conclusion & Learn More!
The Cropping Tool is a simple and easy yet powerful tool in Lightroom 4. Hopefully this tutorial has helped you gain a better understanding of how to use the Cropping Tool.
We hope you enjoyed this article and video excerpt from the Lightroom 4 A to Z Workshop on DVD. Stay tuned for our next article and episode!
The Lightroom 4 A to Z Workshop on DVD is a 14 hour video workshop turning any Lightroom novice into a complete master of Lightroom 4 in no time! The Lightroom 4 A to Z Workshop can be purchased by itself, or within the Lightroom 4 Workshop Collection which also contains our award winning and industry standard Lightroom 4 Preset System, as well as the Lightroom 4 Workflow System.