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Size DOES Matter: A Photoshop Tutorial

Good morning scrappers! Tamara here back with another quick tutorial for you! Were you intrigued by my title?? Wondering what in the world I could be talking about today?? It’s PICTURE size… of course! That’s right, I am here talking to you today about cropping, resampling, and resolution!

Now, you KNOW  I love you guys right?  You know that I would never, NEVER, try to hurt your feelings or say something mean, so it is with all the love in the world that I come to you today with this tutorial because, since I love you and all, I CAN NOT, in good faith, stand by and watch some of the ways that pictures are getting resized.  I KNOW that the majority of you probably don’t do this, but some…and I am praying that the “some” know who they are, some of you are a little challenged when it comes to resizing photos (ok, I am curled up and in the fetal position…you may now throw things at me and call me names…I can take it… I think)

Photo resizing, though it seems to be  a fairly basic concept, is really one of the most misunderstood procedures that we do in Photoshop..or any program for that matter. In fact, when I asked some of my very talented CT friends what would be the one thing that you know now that you WISH you knew about way back when you started, one of  the resounding answers was photo resizing!

Chances are, when you take photos, and import them onto your computer, they are going to come in at a rather large size. But, when you go to scrap them, you are not scrapping an 8×10 size photo. You are probably scrapping more of a 3×2 or 4×6 size, so you will need to reduce their physical size, which seems like an easy task right??  Well it is, but there are a few things you need to know in order to get the BEST quality photos for scrapping when you go to resize them!

For the most part, you will never change the resolution of your photo. I am only going to touch lightly on it, but resolution is the number of pixels (tiny colored squares) in a picture.  They are measured in 1 inch increments on your photo. That means if you have a one inch square of your picture and you look closely at it, you will be able to count that there are 72 tiny, colored boxes (pixels) that go across that 1 inch increment. If you have 300 tiny colored boxes that go across that same one inch increment, than you have a 300 pixel per inch (ppi) image. That’s easy to understand right?   If you take a 72 ppi picture that you downloaded from your friends Facebook page and you try to make it larger (called upsampling) because you want to print it, you are now taking those 72 tiny, colored boxes per inch and asking your very overworked program to now choose a sampling of the color boxes and add new pixels based on the color values of the pixels around it to your photo. This does NOT have good results. It will make your picture fuzzy and it will have what we refer to as a “low quality” photo.” Low quality photos do not equal high quality layoutsResolution is VERY important when it comes to printing your photos so that is why we will ALWAYS keep our resolution set to 300. IF, however, you are wanting to print a photo that has less than a 300 ppi, I recommend that you DO NOT upsample, instead just go ahead and print the photo at that resolution.  My camera used to take all my pictures at 240 ppi and I was never happy with the pictures crispness. I ended up finally just printing them at 240ppi instead of trying to “fix” them and I was much happier with them. I would not, however, recommend printing any picture with a resolution lower than just won’t ever be happy with the results.

So now that we got that out of the way, we can go about sizing our photos for our layouts. There are several ways that you can do this. The most common way to resize a photo  is by using the Crop Tool in your Tools Palette. I use this method the most when I know the exact size I want my photo to be. For instance, If I know that I want to print this photo as a 5×7 then I will use this method OR if I know I want to scrap a 5×7 photo, then I will use my Crop Tool because it gives you so much control over your final product.

I begin by opening my photo that I want to scrap. This is a picture of my oldest daughter Rachael that we took this weekend when she was home for Spring Break.

I know that I want my end product to be 5×7 because I want to actually print this photo of her for my mother. Select the Crop Tool from your tool palette or hit C on your keyboard to get there quickly.

Since I know the dimensions that I want my photo to be, I can specify the aspect ratio options on the Options bar at the top of the workstation by typing them into the Width and Height boxes.

If you want to maintain the original aspect ratio of the image, then instead of typing anything into the boxes, you can click on the Front Image (select Use Photo Ratio in PSE) button on the Options bar.

If you want it to freely crop your photo then you can select the Clear ( select No Restriction in PSE) button on the Options Bar.

Elements also has an option to choose Preset Sizes which allows you to choose from the most common photo sizes.

Now you will click and drag around the portion of the image that you want to keep and then release the mouse button.

One of the things I love the most about Photoshop CS5 is the ability to crop using the Rule of Thirds. You can see that I have it selected as my Crop Guide Overlay and I also have my Shield Color set to Black at 100% Opacity. I find that this helps me visualize the end product better then by leaving the opacity at Photoshops standard opacity setting. Everything in black is what will be cropped away!

You can adjust the cropping marquee (that is what Photoshop calls the part of the photo that you want to KEEP) by dragging the handles of the bounding box. If you want to move the entire marquee, then make sure you have your mouse INSIDE the cropping marquee, click and move. You can hold the shift key to move it in a straight line. If you set a specific size, then your crop ratios will stay the matter how much of the photo you want to actually keep! When you have your crop set, double click INSIDE the area you want to keep and that will commit the changes you made and Photoshop will discard the unwanted areas of your photo.

So now you have a cropped photo ready to scrap or print.

Another, popular way of resizing your photos for use on a layout is by using the Bounding Box. This is the method that I see that gets a lot of new scrappers/Photoshop users in TROUBLE!!  The Bounding box is a great tool,  in fact, I use it ALL the time for all my resizing needs, but boy oh boy have I seen some pretty scary pictures after a newbie has tried their hand at it. MOST of the time, you will use this method of resizing your photos if you are using a template or clipping mask. I use a clipping mask for probably every single one of  my photos that I scrap mostly because it saves me from having to have more than one size of a photo. This way, I can keep my original photo, in all its full glory, tucked safely away on my computer while I am working on its carbon copy on my layout. If I cropped the photo, I would have to keep my original size and then also save the new size, but if I use a clipping mask and the bounding box, I can meet all my layout needs and not have to use more space on my already overworked computer..PLUS, because I am working on a copy of the photo, it saves me from making any unwanted changes to my original!

To use the bounding box to resize your photos, drag the picture that you want to use onto the layout you are going to add it to.

You can see that when I dragged my picture onto my layout that it is WAY too big to fit behind the frame! PLUS, I don’t want ALL of it to show in the picture..just the faces!

With the Move tool selected, go to the Options bar and make sure that the Show Transform Selection box is checked. (select Show Bounding Box in PSE)

Once you drag the photo on the page, go ahead and clip the photo to the mask so that you can better see how you need to resize it!

Now, Click and drag a corner handle to size the photo.  Hold SHIFT key while you drag your photos to constrain the proportions.  This step is VERY important so I repeat…HOLD THE SHIFT KEY so that your photo will not stretch, distort, or skew awkwardly in any way!

Make sure that you DO NOT mess with the side, top and bottom handles. You ONLY want to work with the corner handles and the SHIFT key.  You can reposition the photo  as needed by clicking INSIDE the bounding box and dragging it to its new location. If you need to rotate your photo, move the mouse cursor to just outside a corner handle until it turns into a curves arrow and then drag. Double Click inside the bounding box to commit the changes. Whatever you do, TRY  to perform all of your adjustments AT ONE TIME. The more changes you make, the more pixels you transform and the more pixels you transform means that the quality of your image is degraded.

SOMETIMES, when you are using a template, you will find that the photo you want to use just does NOT fit into the space that the template is suggesting. This is when I generally see stretched pictures..meaning, someone touched the forbidden bounding box side, top or bottom handles and dragged their photo to fit the space. This is a BIG no no..and I mean BIG!!! You know that you are doing this if your photos look like the top one below:

If you are doing this to your photos, STOP. This does NOT look good. The picture is distorted and looks funny and everyone is looking at your pictures and wondering “why hasn’t anyone told them that this looks bad?” I am here to tell you this looks bad. There IS a better way to get your photos to fit the space that it was intended to just takes a little manipulation to make it work.

Here is the picture the way it is SUPPOSED to look.

My children’s heads are back to their normal appearance, but the photo is too short at the top. It does not feel the whole space that it was supposed to fill.

The method I am about to show you doesn’t work with every picture. It works with the majority of them, but the photos that work best are the ones where there are not people pressed to all four sides! This photo has a LOT of space above their heads so I  am better able to blend my newly cloned pieces a little better.

Select the Clone tool from your Tool Palette.

Select the picture layer that you will be working with by highlighting it in the Layers palette . On the Options bar at the top of the workstation, select a brush from the Brush Preset menu. I like a good medium sized brush to clone with, but if you are doing a small area, then choose a smaller brush to clone with. The size of the brush is very important as it will determine how natural the page looks when it is all cloned. I set my Opacity to 100% to fill in the blank area. If you are wanting to blend it in instead of completely copying it then set the opacity lower.

ALT+Click on an area of your image that you wish to clone in order to define the source of the clone.You can change the area you are cloning   at ANY time by ALT + clicking on a new area.

Now, Click or drag along the area that you want the clone to appear. While you are dragging, Photoshop displays a crosshair cursor along with your Clone Stamp. The crosshair cursor  is the source you are cloning from and the Clone stamp cursor is where the clone is applied. At any given moment, you can look at the monitor and know what part of the image you are cloning and WHERE it will appear on  the photo!

I tend to try and clone without lifting my mouse. I TRY and do it at all one sweep so that it does not get choppy, but instead will look more natural. When you are cloning and retouching, try not to overdo it. If you get to heavy handed with the clone tool , it will appear blotchy and that is a SURE sign that you have retouched your photo!

You can see that I tried to make sure that there was still a pattern of light and dark in the trees and tried to keep it looking as natural as possible! By cloning, you left the integrity of the photo alone..there is no distortion, skewing..stretched heads, but instead the photo fits perfect and it was a quick and easy fix!

OK..I HOPE that help sort out the whole resizing issue and I thank you all for not throwing too many things my way! Thank you all for joining me each week and I will see you back here next Monday with another Photoshop tutorial!




comments +

  1. […] read the rest: HERE morning-scrappers, the-world, tutorial, […]

  2. Mags says:

    GREAT tutorial, Mye!! Sadly I have two OLD layouts from my “early years” framed where I did a copy/paste-into-selection and our heads look like Frankenstein! One of these days I’ll redo them!!!

  3. Lulutoo says:

    Good advice as always, Tamara! Thanks! 🙂

  4. […] Size DOES Matter: A Photoshop Tutorial – 1 freebie(s)? […]

  5. Franghurst says:

    Great tutorial. So glad I read this before I’ve done tons of work on PS.

  6. France says:

    Thank you for telling it like it is… loved the “why hasn’t anyone told them that this looks bad?” …..I hate stretched elements and photos! Thank you for the tute!

  7. Sarah says:

    Thanks for the great information. I do have a ? What kit did you use for the 2nd layout and how did you make it. It’s absolutely gorgeous. I really love the way the top photo is shaped!

    • Tamara says:

      oops..If I was a good tutorial writer, I would have told you that it was Mye’s kit called “Thankfully” So Glad that you liked it! Thank you!

  8. […] original. Go to Image>Duplicate and close your original image. Using the Rule of Thirds and a previously written tutorial, crop the image to your specifications. I cropped this picture to a 5×7 size. Duplicate […]

  9. […] Not to worry though, there is an easy solution to this. You can resize your images or elements using the transform tool in photoshop BUT press the SHIFT key while doing it to maintain the ratio of width and height. Easy peasy right? Check here for a more detailed resizing tutorial. […]

  10. […] in a transparent 12×12 canvas. My photo is too big and almost occupied half of my page so I had to resize it. When I am happy about the size of the photo, I added my chosen background paper (which most of […]

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I'm Mye De Leon

I'm a mom with a desire to give the best for her family and turned a lettering hobby into a multi6-figure business. These days, I eat strategy for breakfast and turn other businesses into successful empires.

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I'm Mye


My business is to help your business generate more revenue so you can be who you want to be.

I'm Mye


My business is to help your business generate more revenue so you can be who you want to be.