How to Crop an Image in Illustrator

In this day and age, cropping images is a skill that you have no other choice but to learn if you want to share your images online. After all, most social media platforms these days require you to crop images in one way or another. If you are designing your website right now, you might’ve run into the need to change the aspect ratio and shape of your photos as well.

So, do you want to know how to crop images in Illustrator quickly and easily? In this article you will find step-by-step instructions on how to do just that as well as learn about another way to get rid of unnecessary elements in your images.

There are two main ways of cropping an image in Adobe’s Illustrator. Both of them are pretty simple and straightforward. Let’s take a look!

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How to Crop in Illustrator with the Crop Tool

This is the easiest and the quickest way to crop an image. Really, you’ll be able to do this in just a few clicks. However, there are a couple of things you need to keep in mind. First of all, you’ll be able to crop your photo only into a rectangle or a square. Secondly, this method can be applied only to raster images in formats like JPG or PNG. If you are okay with either of these things, this is how you can crop JPG or PNG image in Illustrator.

  1. Start Adobe Illustrator and click on “Open”, then select the image that you want to crop. how to crop in illustrator
  2. Click on the image to select it. To resize your image, drag its borders with the cursor. Make sure that you’re holding “Shift” while you do that – this way the aspect ratio of your image will be locked. Otherwise, you might accidentally transform it in an awkward way. how to crop image in illustrator This is what might happen when you transform your image without holding “Shift”. how to crop image in adobe illustrator
  3. Under the Properties panel on the right, you’ll find the Quick Actions section. There is a “Crop Image” option. That’s what you need.
    how to crop an image in adobe illustrator
  4. After you click on “Crop Image”, the rectangular cropping area will appear on your image. Everything outside it will be cropped out. Adjust the cropping area with the cursor. If you want to adjust it freely without a locked aspect ratio, just drag the borders of the cropping area with the cursor. But if, for instance, you have already created a square and you don’t want to mess it up, yet you need to make the cropping area smaller, you can hold “Shift” and then drag the borders. how to crop an image in illustrator
  5. Once you are done, click “Apply”. Your image will be cropped. how to crop images in illustrator
  6. To export an image, go to File > Export > Export As. how to crop in adobe illustrator Choose the folder where your image will be exported to. Specify the export settings and click on “OK”. how to crop in adobe illustrator
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How to Crop Images in Illustrator Using a Clipping Mask

This method involves a couple more steps, yet it’s also quite uncomplicated. It can be applied to both vector and raster images. Moreover, you can use this method for cropping images into different shapes; not just into a square or a rectangle. For example, let’s see how to crop a picture into a circle in Illustrator.

  1. Open Illustrator and click on “New” to create a new file. crop in illustrator
  2. Specify the settings for the new file and click on “Create”. crop in illustrator
  3. Go to File > Place, then select the image that you want to crop. Click anywhere within your new file to place the image into it. crop in illustrator
  4. Reposition or resize your image with the help of your cursor; remember to hold “Shift” if you need the aspect ratio to be locked. how to crop in illustrator
  5. To crop your image into a circle or an oval, you need to select the Ellipse tool in the toolbar. how to crop image in illustrator Draw the shape on your image. To create the perfect circle, hold Shift while you’re drawing. You need to place the shape over the area that you want to crop. how to crop image in adobe illustrator Here’s a tip. If you want to create custom shape or maybe if you have a portrait and you want to crop out just the face of the person, you can use the Pen Tool for that. how to crop an image in adobe illustrator
  6. When you’re done with the mask, choose the Selection tool – it looks like a black arrow. how to crop an image in illustrator
  7. Click and drag the cursor over your image and the clipping mask. how to crop images in illustrator
  8. Right-click on the mouse and select “Make Clipping Mask” or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl / Command + 7. how to crop in adobe illustrator
  9. This will create a clipping mask and crop your image. how to crop in illustrator Here you can resize your mask by dragging its borders. how to crop image in illustrator You can double click inside the mask and adjust the size or placement of your image. The benefit of the clipping mask is that it gives you much more flexibility than the crop tool. how to crop image in adobe illustrator
  10. When you are ready to export, go to File > Export > Export As. Select the export folder. Specify the settings and click on “OK”. how to crop an image in adobe illustrator
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How to Crop an Image: Illustrator vs Watermarkly

Now that you know how to crop an image in Illustrator, let’s take a look at an alternative option. You can crop your images in an online app called Watermarkly.

Watermarkly photo crop tool

In Watermarkly you can crop PNG, GIF as well as JPG. So one of the differences is that you can only use it for raster images. Adobe Illustrator does support a wider range of formats and can be used for both raster and vector images.

Since Watermarkly works in a browser, you won’t have to download or install anything on your computer. Unlike Adobe’s Illustrator which is an advanced software. And just like any other advanced software, it requires a significant amount of memory space. Also, it can be used only on a computer since there’s no mobile version. Not to mention that you need a rather powerful device to use it without any lagging.

This is where Watermarkly can come to the rescue – it can be used on any device. You can use it on a laptop, PC, smartphone or tablet. Your device doesn’t need to be powerful or have a lot of memory space. You can just open Watermarkly and get to cropping.

You might be worried about the fact that Watermarkly is an online service. But fret not, it’s perfectly safe. Your files will be processed right in your browser. They will neither be uploaded or stored on Watermarkly’s servers. Therefore, the safety and security of your files won’t be violated.

With Watermarkly you’ll be able to maintain great quality, despite the fact that it’s so easy to use. On top of that, it will process your images surprisingly quickly; even if you don’t have a great internet connection. But yes, unlike Illustrator which works offline, you will need internet access to use Watermarkly.

Watermarkly free photo cropper

The process of cropping in Watermarkly is even simpler than in Illustrator; there are no clipping masks involved. You open the app, upload an image or several – yes, Watermarkly can crop batches of images! – and choose either a rectangular or circle shape; naturally, you can easily turn a rectangle into a square.

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Unfortunately, unlike Illustrator, you won’t be able to create any other shape other than a square, rectangle or a circle.

There are built-in templates with common aspect ratios and pixel dimensions for popular social media platforms. You can make use of them or enter your custom values.

The cropping area is resized and repositioned with the cursor and if you uploaded a batch of images, you can adjust it on each image separately. Watermarkly never changes the original images, so you’ll download cropped copies.

Watermarkly offers not just a tool for cropping, but also tools to resize photo, add text to an image, compress photo, create watermark and watermark PDF online, but it’s nowhere near as advanced as Adobe Illustrator. This can be both an advantage and disadvantage.

If you’re not familiar with Illustrator, you will need to master it at least on a basic level. If you already have Illustrator on your computer, then surely, it can be great for cropping images.

This article has shown you that it’s not that challenging. But if you don’t have Illustrator, have never used it before and don’t really need it, then it’s better to avoid going through all this hustle and opt for using Watermarkly instead.

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Here are some short and quick answers regarding cropping images in Adobe Illustrator.

How to crop an image in Illustrator quickly?

You can do so with the Crop Tool, which can be found in the Quick Actions section. Make sure that your image is selected; otherwise, you won’t see the crop button. Click on “Crop Image”, adjust the cropping area to your liking and hit “Apply”. Voila! Your image is now cropped.

How can I crop an image into a circle in Illustrator?

To do this without spending much time or effort, you need make use of the Clipping Mask. Select the Ellipse tool and draw a circle on your image. Switch to the Selection Tool that looks like a black arrow, then select both the circle and the image. Right-click on the selection and make a clipping mask. Make adjustments to the clipping mask or the image within it, if necessary, then export your cropped image.

Can I crop an image without losing quality in Illustrator?

Yes, of course. Naturally, you need to make sure that you are cropping an image of a high resolution in the first place. Also, when you are repositioning or resizing your image in Illustrator, hold the “Shift” key. Otherwise, it might get awkwardly distorted. But generally speaking, Adobe Illustrator will preserve great quality of your high-resolution image after you crop it.

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If you had been under the impression that cropping an image in Illustrator is complicated, this article should’ve shown you that it’s not true at all. Adobe Illustrator is a powerful software that offers a breathtakingly wide range of advanced tools. It’s great if you deal with both raster and vector images and want to learn more about working with graphics. However, despite the fact that cropping images in Illustrator isn’t difficult, there are online apps, like Watermarkly, that can help you crop your raster images in a much faster and more convenient way.