It can sometimes be hard to unstock your advertising, but there’s one unexpected technique that can really come in handy: the crop tool. This simple feature is often overlooked as just a way to fix image dimensions, but in reality the crop tool is so much more. You can easily create dynamic portraits by experimenting with different ways of framing stock images.
We’re going to take cropping to the next level by showing you how to combine creative cropping with warped text. You’ll be able to create minimalistic, fresh photos that are sure to unstock even the stockiest of images—or take already visually striking images and give them even more of an edge.
As always, we’ve come prepared with a full gallery of stock images that are certified fresh and perfect for testing out this cropping and warped text technique. You can also find the stock photo of a woman with sunglasses that we use in this tutorial.
Step 1. Open the file in Photoshop
Step 2. Straighten the layer
This step isn’t necessary for all images, but we wanted to straighten the sunglasses here to make the photo easier to crop.
Unlock the background layer by clicking on the lock icon next to the layer name (“Layer 0”). Click and hold the Eyedropper Tool and wait for the other tool options to appear. Select the Ruler Tool.
Find a line in the image that you want to make level (i.e. the line is angled right now, but you want it to be level). For this image, we drew a small line across the bridge of the sunglasses, since we want the sunglasses to be level instead of angled. Once you have drawn the line, click the Straighten Layer button.
Step 3. Crop the image
Now you’ll need to crop the image to get rid of the empty space that Photoshop created when straightening the layer. We also decided to crop the image to only show the woman’s head and neck so that we could highlight the sunglasses.
We’re not quite ready to finish cropping the image, so don’t cut the sunglasses in half yet. If we did that, we would also be cropping the woman’s fingers. This isn’t necessarily bad, but the image will look more polished if we keep the fingers fully intact. In the next few steps we’ll show you how to fix this problem.
Step 4. Duplicate layer
Right click on Layer 0 and select Duplicate Layer.
Step 5. Select and delete
Select the bottom layer (Layer 0), then click on the Selection Tool. Select the area of the image that we will eventually be cropping (from the middle of the sunglasses to the top of the canvas). Once selected, delete the area inside the selection. Note: Nothing will look different because we still have the duplicate layer on top.
Step 6. Erase
Now select the top layer (Layer 0 copy) and click on the Eraser Tool. Start erasing the top of the image, but avoid erasing the woman’s index finger.
Once the rest of the top is erased, zoom in and erase the area surrounding the woman’s index finger.
Step 7. Fill background
Select the bottom layer (Layer 0) and click on the Paint Can. Set the foreground color to white and click on the canvas. This will fill in the top part of the image with white, but the index finger will remain visible.
Step 8. Add text
Select the Text Tool and write your message. We put the words “creative” and “cropping” in two separate layers because they need to be warped separately.
You will want to adjust the length of the words to align with the length of the lens frames. To do this, select the text layer (in this case we selected the “creative” layer) and hit Command/Ctrl + T on your keyboard.
Finally, right click on the text layer and select Rasterize Type.
Step 9. Shape the text
With the now-rasterized “creative” layer still selected, click Edit > Transform > Warp.
Experiment with warping the text until it matches the shape of the sunglass lens. You could also draw a temporary circle to help guide you. To do this, create a new layer underneath the text (but on top of the two background layers), click on the Shape Tool, and draw a circle that is the size of the sunglass lenses. Once you are done warping the text, you can delete the circle layer.
Repeat steps 8 and 9 with the “cropping” text layer.
There you have it! This simple cropping and warping technique is sure to come in handy when you need to make stock photos your own. Just because you’re saving money doesn’t mean that your images can’t look custom-made—plus this fresh technique is perfect for vibrant, creative summer projects!
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