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General Principles
New2Digi - Cropping vs. Resizing
By Cristina Blomberg
Jul 11, 2005, 07:30

Cropping and Resizing - these two terms can easily be confused by those new to digital scrapping as well as those unfamiliar with the scrapping “lingo”. Some new digital scrappers may have started scrapbooking as paper scrappers, so the word “cropping” may already be in your vocabulary. If not, I offer here my definition- this is by no means the definitive definition!:

Crop –  noun – a meeting of scrapbookers, either in person or online in a virtual chatroom, where they can share ideas and comments, learn with or from each other, or generally work together at their craft;
verb- to cut or shape a picture or paper to a desired size so that the item fits to the liking and need of the scrapper.

Keeping the above definition in mind, let’s differentiate between cropping (the verb) and resizing, using a photo as an example. Generally speaking, when you crop a photo you are cutting away (deleting) the portion of the picture you do not want. See the example below:

Original photo- before cropping


Photo after cropping


In contrast, when you resize a photo, you are keeping the entire image as a whole, but changing the size of the photo… as in this example:

Original photo before resizing.


Photo resized to fit into a digital element. Slide from the July Heartsnip Kit, available at PagesoftheHeart, made by Cristina Blomberg.


Software programs will naturally have some difference, but in general, the cropping tool will look like this:
The cropping tool as it appears in Photoshop.


To resize an image, you may need to consult your program’s help files. In Photoshop, you can resize an image by clicking on IMAGE on the menu bar, then Image Size. You can adjust the numbers in the width and height boxes. These numbers represent the printed version’s size.
Resizing a photo in Adobe Photoshop.


Change the photo dimensions to your needs.


Here are a few tips that I wish someone had told me when I started scrapping:

1. NEVER CROP YOUR ORIGINAL PHOTO. If possible, it is always in your best interest to crop a COPY of your photo and not the original. Should you decide that you don’t like the way you cropped your photo, or (with paper scrappers) that your cutting was not straight or too jagged, then you have the original to fall back on. Personally, I would never cut/crop/alter an original heritage photo either… make a copy- you’ll be grateful that you did! Digital scrappers have the power of the “undo” or “save as” features. Save your cropped photo as another version, never save over your original file- “better safe than sorry,” as the old adage goes.

2. TRIM AWAY LIKE A HAIR STYLIST, A LITTLE AT A TIME. Once you become more at ease with cropping your photos, you can hack away and will. For the beginner, however, I recommend trimming little slices at a time. This will give you the time to look at your work and decide how much of your photo you will need to keep and how much you can crop away. Again, for the digital scrapper, this is super easy- just save different versions of your cropped photo.

3. LESS IS SOMETIMES MORE. When you start cropping your photos, really look at what you are cutting away. Sometimes, as with heritage photos, the surrounding and objects in the background can be very telling. You may want to keep that tree in the background of that photo of you as a child… especially if you want to use it as a comparison to the more recent picture where that little tree is now a huge oak! Likewise don’t crop that picture of your mom’s baby shower too much or you’ll deprive future generations of seeing your dad’s lava lamps and state-of-the-art 8-track tape player. Remember that pictures speak volumes, and there may be more to the background you originally wanted to crop.

4. CROPPING CAN ENHANCE PHOTOS, TOO. (I add this tip to show that I am not against cropping pictures.) When talking with our boys about our childhood, my husband was trying to tell them about his old computer and how he actually used a tape player to save data. This conversation was hard enough with the old computers, but when asked “what’s a tape player”… well, you can imagine our frustration. It wasn’t until we were looking at old photos a week later did the conversation make sense to our sons. We found a Christmas photo where my husband’s old computer and tape player were in the background. I scanned this photo, cropped around the computer, and enlarged it for better clarity. Suddenly, the boys saw their father’s “ancient” computer. The boys were so impressed – and amazed at the old relic!- that they printed it out and took it to school for their classmates to see. It turned into a lesson on the wonders of technology and how much things can change over the years. The teachers have actually kept it as a learning aid for future classes! However, had I not cropped and enlarged the image, it would have been very hard to see.

5. DON'T BE LIMITED TO JUST SQUARES OR CIRCLES. Depending on the software you work with, there are many shapes that can be used to crop a photo. Crop photos into star shapes to show off your child’s music recital photos or use a heart shape for a wedding picture. Like paper scrappers who have lots of templates to choose from, the digital scrapper is only limited by the knowledge and capabilities of the program in use.

My hope is that the new digital scrapper has gotten some good ideas from this article. I’d love to hear what you think about it or even if you have some questions/suggestions for future tutorials. Send me a private message through the Pages of the Heart forums and let me know your thoughts. In the meantime, HAPPY SCRAPPING!


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