Our previous article explained how you can create both simple and complex crops in Microsoft Expression Design by laying down a crop border using the drawing tools, and then converting that border into a clipping mask. This time around, we’ll look at another method of cropping that is a bit simpler, but just as effective for achieving quick crops: using the Crop Marks command.
Performing the crop
For most crops, you don’t need the option of drawing a custom shape as crop boundaries; you simply want to define an area, and then apply the crop. Expression Design offers the Crop Marks command, which helps you get into and out of a crop in seconds.
Here’s how you do that:
- On the File menu, click Open. Navigate to and open the file that you want to crop.
- In this particular image, we are going to isolate one element and crop the area around it. However, the method that we demonstrate will also work if you have, for example, a photograph of a certain size that you would like to crop the edges from. To establish your crop boundaries you need to locate the element that you want to isolate and then draw the boundaries using the Rectangle tool. Though you can draw using any tool, the crop will always be rectangular.
- Draw a rectangle around the image that you want to isolate. Once you draw it, you can still adjust it two ways. You can either click the Selection tool and drag the boundaries or you can use the Width and Height values in the Action Bar. You can either drag the values to adjust them, or type new values. Note that, if you want to adjust the values independently, you may need to click Link width and height sliders between the values in order to unlink them.
- After you are satisfied with the crop borders, on the File menu, point to Crop Marks and choose From Bounding Box.
- In the Set Crop Marks From Bounding Box box, you will see the dimensions of your crop. If you wish, you can adjust the border width by dragging the Extra Border width value, or clicking it and typing a new one. Once you are done, and click OK, your original image now displays your crop boundaries.
- Now, it’s time to perform the crop. In the File menu, click Export.
- In the Export dialog box, you first define what you will be exporting and then you decide what properties, such as file format, that you want the exported file to have. First, in the Items to Export section, select Whole document.
- Then, in the Export Properties section, do any of the following:
- Select a file format and color mode.
- Choose whether you want the export to support transparency, use interlacing, or have anti-aliased edges.
- Note the Width and Height values. They should match the dimensions that you set for your crop boundaries. However, you can change them. In order to retain your original aspect ratio, the values are linked. So, if you change either value, the other automatically updates to the value that would be necessary to retain the original aspect ratio.
- Decide on a name and location for the exported file, and click Export All.
Now, locate your file and have a look at it. A perfect crop, isn’t it? Repeat the above steps, and you’ll continue to get perfect crops.
What’s especially nice, at least in the case of the above image, is if you want to create separate files out of the other three avatars, all you need to do is drag the rectangle to another image, resize it if necessary, and repeat the export steps.
Expression Design may not provide you a dedicated crop tool, but it certainly provides you with several choices on how to create either quick or complex crops. Hopefully, you’ll use one of these choices soon, and often.
Next, in part 3, one more way to crop!