Just because Expression Design doesn’t have a dedicated cropping tool doesn’t mean that you can’t perform quality cropping. In fact, you have two great options. You can apply clipping masks, which can be more powerful than conventional cropping tools, or you can use the boundaries of the artboard to define the cropping area. Either way, you can achieve the crop that you want.
For this article I will explain to you how to perform a crop using clipping masks. We’ll explore using the artboard boundaries in an upcoming article.
This article also assumes that you have basic familiarity with Design and its tools. For detailed information on using those tools, please see the Expression Design User Guide.
Using Clipping masks to crop an image
Using a clipping mask to crop an image gives you a range of possible crops, from basic rectangular crops to intricately designed edges, all depending on how you want the crop to look, and, if you want to try something fancy, how deft you are with the pen tool.
Clipping masks in Design are generally used to create the effect of an image placed inside of an object. Its most common use is with text converted to outlines. For example, if you have a photograph of the ocean and you have a text object, then you can group those together and use the path of the text to mask the image of the ocean. The path “clips” the ocean image, the end result being that the ocean appears inside of the text.
Using this same principle for cropping, you now have at your disposal a lot of creative opportunity. Here’s how you do it:
- Open the image that you want to crop.
- Now, create your crop boundaries by drawing a path. You can do this in one of two ways:
- Draw a shape using the shape tools. If you just want to create a simple crop, just click one of the shape tools and draw your shape over the part of the image that you want to retain. If you need to draw a path with precise boundaries, then, first, draw your basic path. Next, make sure it is selected and, in the Action Bar, drag the Width and Height values until they represent the dimensions you want, or, click the width or height value to select it and type the dimensions that you want. If you want to adjust each dimension independently, then click the Unlink Width and Height sliders button between the values. If you leave the values linked, then, as you adjust the values, you will be maintaining the aspect ratio of your original path.
- Also, you can combine the previous methods. First, use a shape tool to draw a simple path. Then, use the Convert Anchor Point tool to add points and modify the path.
Once you’ve drawn your path, select both the path and the image that you want to be cropped.
- In the Object menu, point to Clipping Path and click Make with Top Path.
Once you do that, the path becomes a clipping mask for the image and the image appears inside the path, as you see above. If you have several images that you want to crop using the same path, then first, copy your original path. Then open any other image that you want to crop, paste the path to it, and repeat Steps 3 and 4.
That’s all there is to it when using clipping masks. Of course, not only does your expertise with the Pen tool dictate how ornate your crop borders are, but you can also use the stroke features in Design to add borders, from simple to decorative. But, for simple crops, it can be just 1-2-3 when you use clipping masks.
Next time: Using the artboard dimensions to crop your images.