How to Crop an Image in GIMP

How to Crop an Image in GIMPCropping is among the most standard of image editing tasks, and it is effortless once you understand the process and how it works.

So let’s dive in and find out How to Crop an Image in GIMP.

There are two primary options for image cropping in GIMP – you can do it with the Crop tool or any of the numerous Selection tools.

The Crop tool comes in handy when doing more straightforward straight-line crop resizing and recomposing, whereas the Selection tools are excellent for close cropping.

The best option to use is the Crop tool for most basic cropping tasks.

You can find this in the Tools palette or press Shift + C or Option + C (for macOS users) if you love keyboard shortcuts.

The Methods of Cropping in GIMP

Open the image, then choose the Crop tool, click and drag over the area of the image you intend to keep.

The Crop overlay appears and darkens the sections of the image that should be cropped out.

The overlay also has handles to adjust the locations of the cropping boundaries.

Different handles will appear and disappear while moving the mouse over your crop areas.

Here are some tips on handles:

  • Handles on the right and left sides allow for adjusting the width of your crop.
  • Those at the top and bottom are for changing the height.
  • Handles in corners are for simultaneously adjusting the width and height.
  • These allow you to lock the movement to one side or adjust the boundaries for each corner.
  • Do this repeatedly until you get a perfect size and everything is as you want.
  • Click the mouse in the middle of your crop area or press the Enter button on your keyboard to complete your crop.

That’s everything there is to do!

This is one of the extremely precise versions of how to crop images in GIMP; however, there are crucial things you must know, like cropping guides and aspect ratios, and I thought it wise to share the info under this post.

More GIMP Image Cropping Techniques

Sometimes, the short method might not apply to your image type, which is alright.

Maybe, applying a more advanced technique will do the magic and give you the perfect crop.

It is easy to learn the Crop tool, but you might need a few goes to hack and master it.

Some people find it silly, but the more knowledgeable and familiar you get with GIMP and its tools, the faster your editing and design tasks are.

So what is an aspect ratio?

Probably one of the most valuable parts of GIMP’s Crop tool is locking your crop area’s aspect ratio.

Does it sound technical?

It does, but it is pretty simple!

The relationship between your image’s height and width is the aspect ratio.

Most standard landscape-oriented images have an aspect ratio of 3:2 in the camera, meaning if the photo has a width of 3000 pixels, its height will be 2000 pixels.

Portrait orientations have the ratio naturally reversed, e.g., 3:2 for landscape photos becomes 2:3 for portrait photos.

(Before you ask, I know you can reduce the ratio to 1.5:1, but the photography realm uses 3:2 anytime they refer to ratio. I assume that they generally prefer using whole numbers. If you think there is a complex mathematical explanation, share it with us.)

Locking an aspect ratio allows the editor to maintain certain image proportions as they are even when experimenting with other cropping options.

It really comes in handy when fitting images into existing layouts, whether the layout is an online photo gallery or a piece of photo paper.

That shouldn’t limit your imagination, and creative vision like most rules do in the creative space.

It is more of a guide.

If you want to crop an image to a certain size, the best thing is to use those measurements as guidelines for the aspect ratio locking setting.

Complete cropping on the unscaled image, then resize the cropped image down and ensure it matches the final dimensions.

For instance, when cropping a high-resolution image to 1920 X 1080, you can lock your aspect ratio at 1.92:1.08.

Such a ratio allows you to freely compose your cropped version without worries about what will fit into your final framing size dimensions.

Cropping Guides

Most cropping is done to recompose photographs that (for whichever reason, we don’t judge here!) did not turn out as expected after clicking the shutter.

Sometimes, something could feel off with the composition, or an unwanted object is at the edge of the frame.

GIMP’s Crop tool has some practical on-screen guides to aid in recomposing the shot in a manner that differently emphasizes the subject.

There are guides like the Rule of Thirds, Fifths and the Golden Ratio if you are into that kind of thing.

Others are None (has no guides), Centre lines and Diagonal lines.

These guides are beneficial and similar to the rules about the standard aspect ratios; it is crucial not to allow them to be the deciding factors for you.

Guide settings give grids over the crop selection to allow to use it for reference to accurately determine the correct area to place the crop.

You can use these tools when you need to, not as restrictions that you should follow.

Auto Shrink Tool

The Auto Shrink tool isn’t an artificial intelligence therapist for all your images, regardless of its name.

The tool tries to match the crop edges automatically to the precise size subject in the image.

It can be a pain in the ass trying to align your cropped borders to get the pixel-point accuracy you need – the work, time, and effort can be crazy; however, sometimes, it is necessary.

The Auto Shrink tool works better with high contrast images, for instance, product images set on a solid black or white background without shadows.

If your photo has many layers, check your Shrink merged box and automatically use pixel data from all layers when shrinking your crop area.

You can use the tool quickly without bothering yourself with the Selection or Crop tools.

Open the Image menu, then choose Crop to Content, and you’ll get similar results; however, you won’t get the option to select the layers it uses as reference.

How to Crop Images using Selection Tools

The Crop tool might not always do the job.

Another quick option is cropping the images using Selection tools on GIMP.

The downside is that it doesn’t offer the same options as the standard Crop tool; however, there is a lot of overlap that they are almost identical.

Use one of the Selection tools to make a selection.

Most people gravitate towards the Rectangular Select tool, but there are no limitations – any can do!

If you go with the Ellipse Select, you get a rectangular photo matched to the outer edges of the selection.

Open your Image menu and choose the Crop to Selection option.

You are done!

Be cautious when using Rounded corners, Feathered edges or Antialiasing since they could create some kind of unneeded edge softness.

This is probably the primary reason they aren’t part of the options under the Crop tool, even if everything is the same between the two.

Crop Tool Settings

By now, you should be confident in cropping any image to your liking, but since you have learned the procedures involved, I will briefly describe some settings under the Crop tool.

Current Layer Only

This setting is used when working on a document with multiple layers.

If you only need to crop an image, disregard this method.

Once activated, you can only crop the layer you want, and the others will be left unchanged.

Delete Cropped Pixels

Enabling this option allows your image to be cropped as you wish, and GIMP preserves all excluded areas and allows you to return and undo your crop later if you want to.

It is a more non-destructive method of cropping images.

Allow Growing

The setting allows you to expand the crop outside the image’s boundaries.

It is a setting you need to enable to achieve this since the Crop tool, by default, confines to the section within the image, and you can’t crop areas exceeding it.

Some of the remaining settings of the Crop tool are Position, Expand from Centre, Highlight and Size.

We have briefly explained Guides and Aspect Ratios that also fall under it.

Wrap Up

Precisely cropping images is one of the essential assets for any GIMP user.

As an internet buddy that uses various graphic design programs, GIMP is, without doubt, a favorite for image cropping and other photo editing tasks.

It boats all the features you could need when cropping images.

Besides, it is easier to use, FREE!

Check out some of our tutorials on using more tools within GIMP.

You can choose the method that best fits your needs, but there are options to explore the software’s potential.

With all the tools, tricks and options in your coat, you can now crop images in GIMP easily like a pro.

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