How to Crop a Circle in Photoshop

How to Crop a Circle in Photoshop

How many times have you heard that an amazing-looking photo ‘must have been Photoshopped’? This image editing software has become synonymous with creative interventions on visual material and achieving a look that might not be possible otherwise. Of course, you must have at least some design knowledge and technical skills in order to benefit from Photoshop’s many tools.

Even the simplest actions, such as cutting a circular patch out of an image, require selecting the right Photoshop function and executing it correctly. However, practice makes perfect and novice users can acquire the necessary skills relatively quickly. That’s especially true for basic operations that may need to be repeated many times during a single creative task. This hands-on guide aims to provide interested readers with a shortcut to design proficiency by teaching them how to crop a circle in Photoshop.

What is Adobe PhotoShop and What Does It Serve For?

Before we get all technical, we need to say a few words about Photoshop and its incredible range of applications. This is one of the older software tools that are still in heavy use since version 1.0 has been introduced in 1990. Over the next 30 years, it became one of the most popular design tools due to its ability to create realistic images with manipulated content, as well as its user-friendly interface and compatibility with other visual software platforms.

Paid Design Apps - Photoshop

Paid Design Apps – Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop can be deployed in many different roles, starting with minor improvements of photographs and extending into professional document creation. It can be used to quickly remove a random element from the background of your selfie, as well as to produce a mockup of an entire marketing campaign. Since it works in Windows or iOS (with a limited version available on mobile), it is often the first tool that most users think of whenever they need to edit an image. At the same time, it’s part of a wider Adobe Creative Suite package and is used together with other tools to create complex visuals necessary for a modern multimedia campaign.

Why Cropping a Circle in Photoshop is Important for Creating Stunning Visuals

Something so basic as cropping a circle may seem insignificant, but if you understand the true strengths of Photoshop you know this is not the case. One of the most common tasks that Photoshop users perform on a regular basis is to isolate elements that can be reused, and quite often there is a need to obtain a patch in a circular shape. Here are some reasons why cropping a circle in Photoshop is so essential for creating amazing visuals for a variety of purposes:

How to Crop a Circle in Photoshop?

You’ll be happy to learn that Adobe Photoshop contains multiple tools you can use to crop a circle from an image. All of these tools are easy to find and require only an entry-level understanding of Photoshop’s functions. Since there are numerous situations that might call for unique solutions, it makes sense to learn all the methods for circular cropping and choose the most optimal one for each job.

Using Crop Tool

Probably the most elementary tool from this collection is the crop tool, which is used for minor interventions in Photoshop all the time. The procedure for capturing a part of the image with this tool is quite straightforward, but the shape of the selection is rectangular by design. If you rely on this method, you might have to do some manual editing after cropping to get a circle. Here is what you need to do.

Step 1 – Run Photoshop on your computer and open the image you would like to edit

Step 2 – Activate the Crop tool by pressing C on your keyboard or choosing the icon in the toolbox

Access Crop Tool

Access Crop Tool

Step 3 – Click on the image to apply the tool and determine dimensions by dragging the mouse cursor

Step 4 – Use the Lasso tool to manually extract a circular portion of the cropped image

Using Elliptical Marquee Tool

A more natural way to cut visual elements with curved edges involves a different Photoshop functionality. Elliptical marquee tool lets the user adjust the exact shape and size of the selected area, making it possible to capture a perfect circle. The procedure is slightly different than with the standard Cropping tool, and involves the following steps.

Step 1 – Open your image in Photoshop and choose the Elliptical marquee tool from the toolbox

Select Rectangular Marquee Tool

Select Elliptical Marquee Tool

Step 2 – Press the Shift key and click on the image if you want the selection to be perfectly round, or adjust the area with the mouse

Step 3 – Press the combination of keys CTRL + X, followed by CTRL + V

Step 4 – Choose the Delete the background layer option to keep everything inside the circle and discard the rest

Using Clipping Mask

If you would like an alternative to the methods describe above, Photoshop lets you create a Clipping mask in any shape. This method basically requires you to create a round-shaped layer that can be removed from the image. It’s only slightly more complex than the alternatives, but creating layers is something you need to learn anyway if you want to use Photoshop seriously. Here is the sequence of steps that will lead you to the desired result.

Step 1 – Open the image that needs to be edited, and activate the Ellipse tool

Step 2 – Create a layer underneath the image with this tool and give it the shape of a circle

Create a Layer Underneath the Image

Create a Layer Underneath the Image

Step 3 – Right click on the newly created layer, then select the option Create a clipping mask

Step 4 – Move the layer to exact position, and crop the content of the mask

Frequently Asked Questions about Cropping a Circle in Photoshop

Can I crop parts of the image in elongated elliptical shapes in Photoshop?

Since Ellipse tools in Photoshop allow for a manual adjustment, you can basically crop any rounded shape regardless of its exact proportions. That practically means you can easily crop any element from a photo if you take the time to create a mask in the most appropriate shape.

Should I save the cropped portion of the image as a separate file?

This is recommended in almost all cases, as you presumably need the cropped part of the image to use for another purpose. Even if you plan to add the cropped element into another design document immediately, it’s still prudent to save it to hard disc so it remains available in a separate form.

How difficult is it for a beginner to crop a circle from an image in Photoshop?

Photoshop can be daunting at first due to abundance of functions and commands. Once you get used to the interface, completing basic actions such as cropping a circle from an image is not very difficult. Still, it takes a bit of patience to execute the cropping methods precisely.

Final Words

To unlock the creative potential of Adobe Photoshop, it’s necessary to master an array of seemingly small tasks. Cropping a part of an image in a circular shape is a great example of a skill that has a growing value as you progress to the higher levels of visual editing and graphic design. Users who are just getting familiar with Photoshop should overcome their insecurity and play around with the available tools until they start getting good results. On the other hand, experienced designers usually have a preferred cropping method – tell us in the comments which one you typically use.


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