Sunday, April 19, 2009

Photoshop Tips: Cropping, and Fixing Skewed Artwork Photos

Have a question on how to fix a specific photo problem? Please ask! I'll see if I can be of assistance.

At right: The final edited image: Hibiscus with Two Skies, 30" x 30"

The most common complaint
I hear/see about artwork photos that artists take themselves is, 'The color's not right'. So in later tips, I will give several instructions on how to correct this issue with Photoshop.

For today, however, I'm going to start where I usually start myself, which is to crop and straighten (or un-skew) the raw photographic image. I've seen enough uncropped, skewed images to know that not everyone knows how to do this simple fix.

Crop and Straighten (using guidelines) *

NOTE TO MAC USERS: Anywhere the instructions say 'Ctrl+ ', substitute using the Command key + the letter specified. 'Apple+'.
  1. Open your original photo document. Always start with a good size photo; a .JPG that is 300 dpi and about 10" x 7" (to check the size of your photo from the toolbar, click Image/Image size).
    I like to make a layer copy of the original: Ctrl+A (select all), then Ctrl+C (copy), Ctrl + V (paste); and then save it as a .PSD. More information is saved in a PSD file. When the photo is completely edited you can save it as .JPG.

  2. Setting up guidelines: Click Ctrl+R. This will bring up the rulers on the top and left of your document (to hide the rulers, use the same command). To make a straight guide line, place your mouse on on of the rules, then hold down the key on your mouse and pull down or to the right. Put the guidelines close to the outer edge of your painting as it appears in the photo.

  3. To crop your photo, choose the crop tool from the side tool kit. Drag the crop into position, and then click enter.

  4. To straighten and align your artwork: click Ctrl + A (select all), then Ctrl + T (transform). Right click on the image and choose 'skew'.This will allow you to pull each corner outwards to correct the alignment of the image. If your image has internal 90 degree lines, as this sample does, you can add additional guidelines to help you. When it's adjusted to your satisfaction, click Enter.

    Alternately, if you image does not appears skewed but is merely rotated a bit off, you could use the Rotate function (also under Transform).

  5. To remove the guidelines, go to your top toolbar and click View/Clear Guides. Your image is now ready for color correction.


  1. Excellent post, R. Thank you so much! And thanks for including the commands for Mac.

  2. Gosh, R, did I need this lesson or what? Thanks so much!

  3. I recently took a basic digital photo class and the instructor said that it was better to save your images in tiff and in jpeg because you loose a small percentage of quality everytime you send or print a jpeg image. With tiff you always have a good image for printing. You still have the jpeg for posting on the internet or sending in an e mail. Could you comment on this?

  4. Liz and Cathyann, you are welcome!

    Joyful, that's a question with a long answer (although the basic information you were given is correct), and very worthy of a post. I'll try to address that this week.

  5. This is great. Trying to learn Photoshop with an old programe. Not easy. The Shortcut commands are great. Jacqui

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