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Adobe Illustrator is a powerful graphic design tool that has become a standard in the publishing industry. While this software is extremely versatile, it might not be as intuitive as some of Adobe’s other offerings when it comes to simple operations such as cropping an image. Even though crops might seem like mundane edits, they can actually be quite powerful when used properly. Here’s an easy guide on how to crop in Illustrator so you can get the most out of your photographs.
Why Cropping Is Important
When you take a photograph, your camera has no choice but to capture everything in the view of the lens, and not all of it is necessary information. Since cropping is so easy thanks to digital photography, it’s almost better to zoom out slightly for your images so you have room to adjust the horizon and make other edits when needed. A good crop can help put the focus of your photograph on the intended object, even when it isn’t readily apparent in the raw image. To effectively use this technique, keep the “rule of thirds” in mind, which means you should use imaginary lines to slice the frame into three equal sections and put your subject on one of those dividers.
The Cropping Process
Like Lightroom and PhotoShop, Illustrator has its own unique way to crop images, but it will seem like second nature as soon as you get the hang of it. Once you’ve loaded your image, click on the photo to select it, and then click on the “mask” button at the top of the frame. Find the direct selection tool, which looks like your mouse arrow and can be found on the left side of the screen. While holding down the “shift” key on your keyboard, click one of the corner or side points of the photograph’s frame and drag inward to perform your crops.
Keep What’s Important
Much like editing in writing, cropping is a useful tool to cut the fat out of your work, as any unnecessary information only serves to confuse or bore your audience. Now you know how to crop in Illustrator, it’s time to master some of the more advanced functions of this powerful graphic design software. If you’d like to see some good examples of effective cropping or you need additional artwork to complete a project, Shutterstock has a full library with millions of royalty-free images you can browse based on your own search terms.