Tutorial Tuesday – Cropping a photo into a shape

Hi ALL my loyal readers (all one of you – ha ha). I thought it would be fun to show you how to crop a digital photo into a shape for use on your layouts. I like cropping my photos (or patterned papers) into shapes to add interest to a digital layout. For this example, I’ll be cropping a photo of my youngest, JJ, into a circle! My example is using PSE 5.0, so if you aren’t using elements, just tweak the tutorial to work for your program. It should work nearly the same way in Photoshop 7.0 and up. So, let’s go!

1. Open Elements and open the photo you want to work on (Ctrl+O). Make a duplicate of your photo and close the original (you should know how to do this by now). If you are cropping a digital paper instead, just do the same steps, only opening a digital paper instead of a photo.

FULL VERSION PHOTOSHOP USERS:If you are using full version photoshop, you will need to create a new layer (Layer>New>Layer) BEFORE creating the shape, otherwise it will just draw the shape on the photo layer. You need the shape to be on it’s own layer for this. If this is confusing, just email me and I’ll talk you through.

2. Select the shape tool from your tools palette on the left side of the screen. It will look like a solid shape (usually a rectangle). When you click on it, a menu of shapes will open up at the top of the screen (see the example below). Here you will choose the shape you want to crop your photo into. I chose the circle shape (kinda looks like an oval actually). If you want to see more fun shapes you could choose – just click on the thought bubble shape, the click on the tinby downward facing arrow beside the silhouette that pops up to the right. Fun shapes, eh?

Okay, click on the circle shape.
3. Move your mouse to the upper left hand corner of the photo. Click your mouse button and slowly drag (while holding down the button) towards the lower right hand side of the photo. To make a perfect circle, hold down the Shift key while dragging. Let up on the mouse button when you have drawn the shape, and you should have something that looks like this:
* Your shape will cover your photo for now. You shape will be whatever color you have as the foreground color in your tools palette (remember those two overlapping squares of color?) My foreground color is black. This will automatically create the shape on it’s own new layer IF you are working in Elements.

4. For this next step, you will need to make your photo into a layer instead of a background. To do this, go to your layers palette on the lower right hand side of the screen. Click once on the photo layer to highlight it. Now right-click and on the menu that pops up, choose “Layer from background”. Click “OK” on the screen that pops up.
5. Your photo should now be named “Layer 0”. Now we need to drag the photo layer on TOP of the shape layer. Do this by clicking on the photo layer and (while holding down the mouse button) drag it above the shape layer in your layers palette. Your layers palette will look like this:
6. Now you will group the two layers together – this will “crop” the photo layer to the shape of the shape layer. Do this by click “Ctrl+g” or by clicking on Layer>Group Layers. Your image should now be cropped into a circle!
7. It looks like your image is ready, but it is actually still 2 layers. We want to merge the layers together (but not flatten, otherwise your image will become a background – we don’t want that). Merge the layers by clicking the shortcut “Shift+Ctrl+E” or by going to Layers>merge visible.
8. Now your image is ready to drag and drop onto a layout! Wasn’t that easy? Now you can try cropping all kinds of photos or patterned papers into all kinds of shapes! In the layout below, I did the same steps, only I opened a patterned paper, and cropped it to a title I had typed and made into a layer. Same steps! Voila! Now – go and try it!
All digital papers and elements are from the “Rainbow Sherbet” kit at Crystal’s Digital Template Shoppe.

8 thoughts on “Tutorial Tuesday – Cropping a photo into a shape

  1. I had to laugh at your opening sentence…”one reader”. Hee hee. I read your blog all the time, but rarely comment bc I usually am holding a toddler 🙂 I do love your stuff, the tutorials, and also learning a bit about your religion. Your girls are beautiful, too 🙂


  2. This is wxactly why I love ya! I have been doing this the hard way too! And I think— you have way more than just one loyal reader! WAY MORE!!!


  3. I look forward to your Tuesday Tutorials…I’ve learned so much from you! I’ve wondered about how to do this too; I’m so excited now! Thanks!


  4. Thank you for your tutorials!! I have learned to do things with my PSE 5.0 that i’ve always wanted to know how. Thanks for your time in doing these!!


  5. Thanks for posting these tutorials. I found you via Pinterest and am going to bookmark you! Great tips-thank you so much for taking your time to post.


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