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How to Clip a Picture in Illustrator

How to crop a picture with Illustrator

In this section you will learn how to clip a picture in Illustrator. This time we will be using “clipping mask” for cropping pictures and photos instead of “pathfinder”.

In this tutorial you will see two techniques, the first one is to clip a flower picture roundly and the second is to clip it along the shape of the flower.

However, these techniques differ from the actual clipping. Let’s see how we can do it.

Step01 Create any Sized Precise Circle in Illustrator

Firstly, you clip the flower picture roundly.

When you have the photo ready, create a precise circle using “Oval Tool” without filling it with color and place it where you would like to clip like shown in the image above.

Step02 How to Clip Image

Select both the circle and the image. Click [Object -> Clipping -> Create]

Now you have successfully created the flower roundly.

Step03 Clip only the flower

Next, you will clip only the flower using the “pen tool”.

Circle the place you would like to crop roughly with paths using the “pen tool” or the “pencil tool”. If the edges are too sharp, you can correct them by using the “smooth tool” as well as adjusting the places of anchor points.Crop it like you did in Step02.

Step04 The state of the image after clipping

They both seem like they have been cropped, in fact, the unwanted parts are there and the parts are hidden by “object”.

If you see the name of the layer of the image above, the clipped image is shown as “clipping mask” and the original photo is shown as “image”. You can see that the unwanted parts are still there. You can also confirm it with the frame of the picture which it under the layer.

The difference between “clipping mask” and “pathfinder crop” is that “clipping mask” merely hides unwanted parts and “pathfinder crop” only works between objects.

The photo is not a path, hence you cannot use “pathfinder crop”. When you would like to crop a photo, you need use “clipping mask” to hide unwanted parts. The hidden parts are only covered white. To show the hidden parts, click “Clipping Mask -> Remove”.

It only looks as if it was clipped.

Note:

We clipped the image roundly in this tutorial but you could also do it star-shaped, square, or heart-shaped using a path.

We used Illustrator but Photoshop would probably be more desirable for clipping. It can clip better when you would like to do something like in Step03. Furthermore, hidden parts are still counted as volume hence the file size would be bigger. You might want to clip an image roughly before going through the steps above.

This is only a suggestion and of course you are not obliged to use Photoshop.

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