How to Crop Images Using Shapes in Photoshop

Have you wondered how a photo is cut up into a specific shape? Or how a shape is filled with a photo instead of a color in Adobe Photoshop? This common effect is easy to achieve with a Clipping Mask.

The final image looks like a cutout, but you don’t have to crop the picture irreversibly. Instead, you just have to manipulate the layers to get the effect.

How to Crop to a Shape With a Clipping Mask

One of Photoshop’s handiest tools is the Clipping Mask. Buried in the complicated program’s layers, you can use this tool to create a frame for an image, revealing only the part of the image you want to display.

Here’s an example of the final image:

An example of a clipping mask in Photoshop with Shapes

This can be a great way to focus on an image with a shape in Photoshop without cropping the actual image. Follow these simple steps with a new transparent image or one with a background color.

1. Select the shape of your choice. Go to Photoshop’s Shapes tool located in the Tools bar on the left. You can choose from a rectangle, ellipse, rounded rectangle, or polygon, or create a custom shape.

For the purposes of this tutorial, we’ll be using an ellipse. After selecting the shape, you can draw the shape one of two ways. You can either drag the cursor across the canvas to create the ellipse.

Adobe Photoshop Shapes tool

2. Holding down the Shift key will allow you to create a perfect circle when using the ellipse, or a perfect square when using the rectangle. Alternatively, you could just click anywhere on the canvas and type in the exact dimensions of the shape you want to create.

3. For the purpose of this tutorial, let’s create a black circle so it’s easy to see on the canvas. The color is only important for you to see the shape as whatever color you choose will be completely covered by the image.

Drawing the circle shape in Adobe Photoshop

4. Next, insert the image you want to be framed by that shape. To do so go to File > Place Embedded, and navigate to where the image file is saved on your computer.

Doing it this way, rather than copying and pasting, allows you to manipulate the image in Photoshop without making irreversible changes to the original file.

Selecting Place Embedded in the Photoshop menu

5. Browse to the image on your computer and upload it. Hit Enter and it will create a new layer on your canvas.

You’ll notice that Photoshop will restrict the size of the image to the boundaries of your canvas even if it’s a larger image. You can adjust the size of the image in the active layer with Free Transform. Go to Edit > Free Transform or press the shortcut Ctrl+T.

6. Then use the corner handles to adjust the size of the image. Press Shift and drag the handles to preserve the aspect ratio of the image.

Using Free Transform in Photoshop to adjust the size of an image

7. Go to the Layers panel. Right-click on the image layer of the vintage photo and click Create clipping mask.

Right click and click on Create Clipping Mask in Photoshop

8. You will see the borders of the image restricted to the circle shape. Now, move your shape around, make it bigger or smaller with the Free Transform tool, and show only the precise part of the image you want to show.

You can use Clipping Masks and a similar method to fill any text with an image too.

How to Crop Images With Custom Shapes

The Custom Shapes palette in Photoshop gives you more options to experiment and place a photo within any shape. For instance, you can use a three-dimensional shape like a box and make a photo “wrap” around it.

Read our other article to learn more about how to use the Custom Shape tool in Photoshop.

Read the full article: How to Crop Images Using Shapes in Photoshop


5 Free and Modern Online Image Editors to Replace Clunky Programs & Apps

You don’t need to download software like Photoshop for basic photo editing. Everything you need can be found in your browser with these five free online image editors.

There are a few cool one-click photo enhancement websites, but sometimes, you need to do more. Whether you need to edit images in large batches, remove backgrounds from GIFs, or just add filters and stickers, there’s a simple and excellent online image editor for that.

Oh, and let’s also revisit a new version of one of the most popular photo editors ever.

1. Photostack (Web, Android): Batch Resize Images, Add Watermarks

Batch resize images and add watermarks with Photostack

Photostack would be a truly useful tool for bloggers, influencers, social media marketers, and anyone else who works with many images online regularly. This app does a few things and does it perfectly.

You can upload images through your hard drive, through Dropbox, or add links. Once the image batch is set, there are three things the app lets you do:

  1. Resize by width: You don’t need to worry about the height of the image. Simply put the width you want it to be, and Photostack will resize and scale.
  2. Add a watermark: You’ll need to upload the watermark to Photostack, where you can choose the position as well as set the size and opacity.
  3. File format and name: You can export all these images in JPEG, PNG, or WebP. You can also set a file name, and Photostack will add numbers with space in between the name and number.

You can download the images in a zip file or as separate files. Photostack also lets you remove EXIF data in the editing process. The app also works offline once you’ve opened it, and has a mobile version too.

Download: Photostack for Android (Free)

2. Doka Photo (Web): Easy, Free, Fast Image Editor with Filters and Markup

Doka Photo is an easy, free, and fast online image editor to use in browsers

There are a lot of free online photo editors to make an image look exactly like you want it to. I find myself going back to Doka photo editor often because it’s free, easy, and fast while offering most of the features I need.

It feels like a lot of the tools you are accustomed to using with apps like Instagram. Once you upload an image to Doka, you can crop, rotate, flip, and resize it. You can alter its colors (brightness, contrast, exposure, and saturation). You can add different filters. And you can markup the image with arrows, text, squares, circles, or by drawing on it.

The controls are easy, as is customization for each element. For example, if you draw an arrow, you can change it to double-headed, change its thickness, and so on. Doka doesn’t do anything fancy, but it does the basics really well.

3. Unscreen (Web): Remove Backgrounds from GIFs and Videos

Unscreen's smart AI removes backgrounds from GIFs and videos

It’s shocking what artificial intelligence can do these days. A short while ago, removing backgrounds from a simple photo required a good designer. Now Unscreen uses AI to remove backgrounds from GIFs and videos with astonishing ease.

You can upload a video or a GIF, or copy-paste links directly. Unscreen even has an easy option to search Giphy for the right GIF. Once you select or upload what you want, the AI goes to work. It’ll identify one foreground element and remove all background elements. You can’t choose what it sees as foreground and background though.

After removing the background, you’re ready to alter the GIF or video. You can keep the background transparent, add a solid color, or add a different image or moving video from the gallery. You can’t upload a custom background yet.

Unscreen works only on animated images and videos, so you can’t work with photos on it. But you don’t need Photoshop for that, there are several other easy ways to remove backgrounds from images.

4. Pixi Worker (Web): Easily Add Text, Stickers, Shapes to Photos

Pixi Worker image editor adds stickers, texts, speech bubbles, and other shapes to photos

If you want to make alterations to images like adding stickers, speech bubbles, and so on, Pixi Worker is an excellent online photo editor. It is much easier to operate than others and has more customization too.

Apart from drawing on the image, you can add text, shapes, stickers, and frames. The number of options in each is remarkable. For example, you can choose from a large collection of fonts that you won’t find in other apps. When you’re adding stickers, you can choose between emoticons, speech bubbles, doodles, landmarks, and other elements.

With such a large variety, you can get more creative with how you markup images. Along with that, Pixi Worker has all the usual image editing tools you would expect. You can crop images, resize them, change colors, and so on. The only markup tool Pixi Worker misses is watermarking.

5. Pixlr X and Pixlr E (Web): All-New Versions of Popular Image Editor

The new Pixlr X and Pixlr E are amazing online image editing apps that don't need Flash

For the longest time, Pixlr was the gold standard of online image editors. But then it was bought by Autodesk and the web dumped Adobe Flash, making it obsolete. Well, now the original developer is back in charge and has rewritten the photo editor in Canvas/WebGL to make it leaner, faster, and better than ever before.

It now comes in two avatars: Pixlr X and Pixlr E. Both versions work in any modern browser and have many of the same tools. They look modern and have all the features that any image editor should have. In both versions, you can search Unsplash for stock images or upload your own pictures from the hard drive or a URL.

Pixlr X is better suited for regular users who want basic tools and a lot of help, like a handy “auto-fix” button for optimal lighting of the photo. It has a sparse toolbar too. Pixlr E adds a few more tools, like layers, lasso and brush tool, a history pane, cloning, and so on. Try both the tools and see which one you like more, they’re free anyway.

Also, both Pixlr X and Pixlr E work perfectly in mobile browsers, in case you need a robust image editing app on your smartphone.

Replace Photoshop With Web Apps

These aren’t the only image editing web apps, and in fact, there are several we have covered already. Pixlr E comes close as a great alternative for Adobe Photoshop, but there are perhaps even better tools for it.

So, go ahead and try these free online replacements for Photoshop, especially Photopea.

Read the full article: 5 Free and Modern Online Image Editors to Replace Clunky Programs & Apps


GIMP vs. Photoshop: Which One Is Right for You?

Photoshop is the most popular image-editing app on the market, and GIMP is the best free alternative. However, deciding between the two can be difficult.

Both Photoshop and GIMP have their pros and cons, so which is right for you? Essentially, which image editor you choose to use depends on what you need it for.

In this article, we pit GIMP versus Photoshop, and help you figure out which of these two image editors is best.

If You Love Linux, Use GIMP

GIMP for Linux

While not everyone will need to contend with this system requirement, there is one situation where GIMP is still the undisputed champion: on Linux.

You can find workarounds to use Adobe Photoshop on Linux, but it’s a hassle. If you’ve gone to the effort of setting up your own Linux system, you’ve also demonstrated that you know how to handle the complexities of open source software.

You’ve proven that you know how to use forums to troubleshoot these programs, too.

Additionally, if you’re using Linux, there’s a good chance that you’re against the idea of paying for software when there is a decent, open source alternative. In all three of these instances, GIMP is definitely the best app for you.

If You Love Your Phone, Use Photoshop

Photoshop Apps Adobe Photoshop Mix

Over the last few years, Adobe has adapted its advanced photo-editing tools for smartphones. The first iterations of these apps weren’t that great, largely because the processing power of smartphones wasn’t strong enough.

Adobe’s latest attempts, however, have seen big improvements:

  • As part of this collection of apps, Lightroom Mobile brings the best features of Lightroom to your smartphone. It’s available for iOS and Android.
  • Photoshop Fix and Photoshop Mix add some of Photoshop’s most useful features to your phone, so you can edit your work on the go.
  • Even better, the work that you do on your phone syncs back to all your devices through Adobe Cloud.

If you take a lot of pictures with your phone, or you want the ability to work while you’re away from your home or the office, then Photoshop is the best choice for you.

If You’re on a Budget, Use GIMP

GIMP vs Photoshop Is GIMP Free

Photoshop is an expensive app, and there’s no getting around this.

With the special Lightroom and Photoshop bundle, the price is currently $9.99/month. If you want to use Photoshop as a single-app monthly subscription, however, it jumps to $20.99/month.

Even worse, the entire Adobe Creative Cloud suite is $52.99/month. That’s a lot of money, even for a professional designer. And the price keeps going up every year.

If you don’t need what Photoshop offers, or you only use it occasionally, it can be very hard to justify this expense. In cases like these—where you’re trying to weigh Adobe Photoshop versus GIMP—GIMP is the better app.

After all, when it comes to price you can’t beat free.

If You’re a Professional, Use Photoshop

Photoshop vs GIMP PSD Files

If you can write Photoshop off as a business expense—or even better, get your work to pay for it—then Photoshop is the obvious tool to use.

Photoshop is also considered an industry standard app for many design-related businesses. Because of this, it’s the main tool of choice for professionals.

If you’re working with someone else, especially if you’re working remotely, they might send you a PSD file or another proprietary Adobe file format. If you don’t have the tools to handle this file, it’ll create issues for you at work.

As such, there’s very little reason to use GIMP if you’re a professional designer. Here’s a breakdown of what Photoshop can do that GIMP can’t.

If You Don’t Need It All the Time, Use GIMP

GIMP Selection Tools

GIMP, despite its limitations in comparison to Photoshop, is a very powerful tool that is better than many other free photo-editing apps.

For some, mobile apps like Apple’s Photos or Instagram’s filter features will be enough for your photo-editing needs. However, very few of these apps allow you to do in-depth edits, such as selections, masks, and composite editing. GIMP does.

If you occasionally need a powerful photo-editing tool, and you don’t require PSD files to do your work, then GIMP is probably the best app for you.

If You’re a Designer, Use Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop Versus GIMP CMYK Support

If you’re a professional designer then GIMP isn’t really an option. While the open-source app is good for quick logo mockups, unfortunately it doesn’t hold a candle to the full force of Adobe Creative Cloud.

Additionally, GIMP’s lack of CMYK support is an absolute deal breaker when you’re designing for print. Being able to design images using a CMYK color profile is a necessity for a designer. Without it, you’re hamstrung.

If You Dislike Adobe, Use GIMP

Adobe Flash Phase Out

While this particular point might seem a little niche, there are people who don’t like Adobe as a company. One of the reasons for this upset is the Adobe Flash Player, and its proliferation on the web.

While Adobe is retiring the product, Flash will still be around until everyone collectively stops using it. As such, it’s vulnerable to exploits. There’s also the ever-increasing price of a Creative Cloud subscription, which is definitely not cheap.

If you hate Photoshop because of Adobe’s other products, or its subscription-based decisions, then GIMP is the better option for you.

If You’re a Photographer, Use Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom

Editing is just one part of post-processing for photographers. You also have to sort through the hundreds of photos that you’ve taken.

On a good day during a few hours of shooting, you can easily capture 500 images or more. A large chunk of these photos will be sketches or failed shots, but there will be at least five to 10 images that are worthy of further inspection. You just have to find them within that cluster.

With Adobe Creative Cloud:

  • You can bundle Photoshop with a subscription to Lightroom.
  • Both of these apps are good for sorting through lots of images and pulling out keepers.
  • You also get a powerful RAW processor in Photoshop that simply doesn’t come with GIMP.

Even when you compare GIMP to Photoshop Elements—another imaging app—Adobe still comes out on top.

For editing an image here or there, GIMP is great. However, if you’re a serious photographer, you need to invest in Photoshop.

GIMP vs. Photoshop: Which Is Right for You?

Choosing between Adobe Photoshop and GIMP gets a lot easier when you consider what you need to use the app for.

If you’re a professional designer or photographer, then Photoshop is the obvious tool. However, if you use Linux, are on a budget, or only need to use the app occasionally, then GIMP is your best bet.

If you do choose GIMP over Photoshop, we’ve detailed how to install the best GIMP brushes and how to install the best GIMP plugins.

Read the full article: GIMP vs. Photoshop: Which One Is Right for You?