Adding 5 Tips Impact Using The Right Crop

Photoshop Cropping
In one of my very first critiques in a layout design class (way too many years ago), my instructor asked if I had cut the head off my subject in the layout on purpose or if the image came that way. I had chosen to crop it. I didn’t know why I had cropped it, other than the fact that it “felt right” and “looked better”. What I learned that day is that cropping an image a certain way can have an impact on how the viewer sees the image, perceives the message being communicated, and how it makes them feel.
During my years as a graphic designer and photographer, I’ve learned a few things about the power of the crop. I learned many of them at school but also through trial and error and my visual sixth sense. Below are some ideas to help you learn about the subtle but powerful difference a crop can make. Use these to determine what to look for when you’re evaluating your images for a layout or creating images from scratch. If you know the focus for your image ahead of time you can crop it in camera and save time later. From a designer’s standpoint, sometimes leaving more in the image is better so the designer can crop as needed. These cropping “rules” also apply to illustration and fine arts in addition to photography.

1. Crop to Tell a Story

When we survey a scene in real life, we generally notice details that help us piece together a story. What’s going on in this scene? Where am I? What am I expected to do or feel here? This is generally a subconscious act. We wouldn’t consciously walk into a cafe and think, “I see coffee cups, pastries, people talking at tables. I must be in a cafe!” But when viewing a single image or series of images, it’s helpful for us to have some details so we can flesh out the story in our minds.
One common technique used in films (you’ll notice next time to you watch a movie now) is to set the scene with a wide-angle shot, zoom in a little on the characters or focal point of the scene, and then zoom in even closer on small details that help tell the story.
A close up of the hands of a craftsman working, details of items in a room, a really tight shot of a character’s face when they are exhibiting an emotion that is important to the storyline. A tear trickling down a cheek, for example. Photographers who use this cinematic technique in their work are very good at telling stories. Try to keep those three crops in mind, wide, middle, tight, and you’ll have plenty of shots to tell the story in an interesting way.

2. Crop to Change or Emphasize a Focal Point

What I learned during that first critique way back in the day about why I subconsciously chose to crop the top of the head out of my image, is that I really wanted the focal point to be on the eyes of the woman, and by cropping it in tighter and placing her eyes strategically within the composition, the focal point became her eyes, not her entire face. Cropping can change the focal point of your image, or make it stronger.
Regarding the human face, we are naturally drawn to the eyes, so if you want your focal point to be the mouth or some other area of the face or body, sometimes it helps to crop the eyes out entirely. You’ll notice this in lipstick or nail polish ads in magazines. Cropping the head out entirely will bring focus to the clothing or accessory, a cropping technique commonly used in the fashion world.
For non-face images, keeping the rule of thirds in mind when cropping your images can help emphasize a focal point. Sometimes I’ll not quite get it right in-camera, especially if I’m working quickly at a wedding or with small children, who don’t stand still or follow directions very well. Then I adjust the crop later in Lightroom or Photoshop. That slight adjustment can make all the difference.

3. Crop for Balance

I’m always looking for balance, in both design and photography. Balance (or lack thereof) can impact your image in a variety of ways. If you’re going for symmetry, cropping so the focal point is in the center or so there are elements on either side of a centered axis is the general rule.
For asymmetrical balance, you have a lot more options and it can sometimes be hard to determine whether or not the image truly is balanced. Pay close attention to how your crop affects the balance of your image. Cropping out too much on either side of your image can throw off the balance. This is one of those cases that I carefully observe how the crop makes me feel. Does it feel balanced?

4. Crop Out Distractions

Cropping out distracting elements is a quick easy way to improve your image. If it won’t negatively affect the composition to crop out part of the background, just crop it out! If you can’t crop it out, then you’ll have to either spend time cloning it out in Photoshop, find a different image, re-shoot or just leave the distracting elements in place. Removing those distractions can strengthen your imagery and your focal point.

5. Crop for Style & Feel

Did you know the crop can influence the overall style of your imagery? Savvy brands will include crop guidelines in their style guides for a consistent look and feel across their media platforms. The crop can make your image look contemporary, traditional or outdated.
The crop can also influence how a viewer literally feels when they look at your image. Want the viewer to feel tension? Include a lot of tangents (more on tangents below) and an unbalanced composition or tilting horizon lines and jagged angles. Want them to feel serene and at ease? Leave lots of white space around your focal point and make sure the horizon line or any other prominent lines in the composition are straightened.

6. Crops to Avoid Tangents

Tangents are areas within a composition or image where lines or objects touch but do not cross each other. In the art world, the term tangent is used to describe shapes that touch each other in any way that is visually disturbing. Check out Avoiding Tangents: 9 Visual Blunders Every Artist Should Watch Out For for more information on tangents. The basic idea is to avoid cropping your image so that any shapes fuse with the edge of your frame or are split exactly in the center on the side of the frame or close the corner of a frame. Tangents cause tension and are not visually pleasing.

7. Cropping Off Limbs

In the photography community, chopping off limbs (and heads, actually) in certain places is considered a no-no. You can get away with breaking this rule in specific cases, but as a general rule, you want to avoid cropping directly at a joint on the body. Cropping right in the middle of someone’s knees, for example, would feel really weird and make us uncomfortable. Try cropping mid thigh, mid waist (not at the hip), mid upper arm, etc. This rule is related to the tangent rule and also ties back to how we feel when we look at the image.


I generally play around with several different crops if an image just doesn’t “feel” right. In conclusion, here are a series of questions you can ask yourself to help you get to the right crop.

  • What story does it help me tell?
  • How does it change the focal point?
  • How does it affect the balance?
  • How does it affect the style of the image?
  • How does it make me or others feel?
  • Are there any distractions I can crop out?

Good Engineering 33 Slogans and Taglines

In an industry with over a half million companies and worth $543 billion, the engineering industry is largest driven by the needs of construction and government to improve their operational efficiency. Profit is dependent on the ability to accurately predict costs for a project and handling a particular field with expertise. Approximately 50 of the largest engineering firms in the United States only account for 40% of the total industry revenue. For up and coming professionals, the following series of engineering slogans hope to inspire your creativity and brand.

  • Arrival of the fittest.
  • Create. Enhance. and Sustain.
  • Delivering excellence.
  • Delivering results, reliability, & rock solid dependability.
  • Draw on passion.
  • Engineering. Surveying. Solutions.
  • Excellence and innovation built into every design.
  • Facets of involvement.
  • Finding real world solutions.
  • Green navigation and sustainability.
  • In the world of renewable energy… We cast quite a shadow.
  • Innovative products and services for aerospace and defense.
  • It’s whats inside that counts.
  • Let us help you invest in sustainable infrastructure.
  • Make science your obedient servant.
  • People. Planet. Profit.
  • Real People. Real Work. Real Rewards.
  • Reliable engineering takes many forms.
  • Renewable energy realization.
  • Resourceful. Naturally.
  • Securing the world – bit by bit.
  • Seeing what doesn’t exist yet. That’s our strength.
  • Simply certified.
  • Smart solutions in full system design.
  • Sometimes you need a little help from below.
  • Sound quality. Sound engineering.
  • The power of applied intelligence.
  • Think big. We do.
  • We made passion our raw material.
  • We take a closer look.
  • When you need experience, we have it covered.
  • Who really knows renewable energy? The answer is blowing in the wind.
  • Your toolkit for business creativity.

CorelDraw Graphics Suite A Intelligent Sketch Tool

CorelDraw Graphics Suite A Intelligent Sketch Tool

Today sees the release of CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 2017. The latest version of the Windows-only graphic design suite comes with a number of impressive updates and features, but none more so than the new LiveSketch tool. Using artificial intelligence technology, LiveSketch provides users with an entirely new way to bring vector designs to life.

LiveSketch removes the need for pen and paper, allowing creatives to sketch naturally directly within the graphics suite with a mouse or stylus. For the first time, users can free-form sketch vector curves directly on a pen-enabled device thanks to an intelligent tool that interprets and understands sketching styles, including overlapping strokes, folded lines, and even chicken scratches.
Not just a creativity boost, LiveSketch also eliminates the time-consuming task of sketching on paper, scanning, and tracing to vector by enabling you to start your designs directly on screen.

LiveSketch uses a neural network to deliver a natural vector drawing experience

VP of Global Products at Corel Gérard Métrailler told us: “We’ve come to an amazing time in graphics, particularly in terms of the powerful hardware we have access to, plus the incredible advancements we’ve seen in artificial intelligence. For the past 30 years of vector graphics creation, we’ve been shackled to this idea of graphics as math. Software developers, artists, designers – we were all constrained by the limits of the technology before us.
“Now we have an incredible opportunity to take all this power and use it to fundamentally change how a designer works. Our team looked at all the ways we could make a graphics pro’s life easier.

Simply pick up a pen, start sketching and technology disappears

Gérard MéMétrailler, Corel

“Simply saying we’re using artificial intelligence isn’t the point. It’s about taking that power to give designers a real-world way to be more creative. With LiveSketch, we’re inviting them to work in the way that they started. Simply pick up a pen, start sketching and technology disappears. It’s so natural to want to create like this, but with vectors, it’s never been possible before. Now with LiveSketch and CorelDRAW 2017, we’re giving you back the fun of being able to truly connect and go hands-on with your creativity.”
CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 2017 also comes with a number of other new and updated features, which you can see in our full review of the software – coming soon.

25 graphic designer names should know

If you’re embarking on a career in graphic design – or just interested in creating some great layouts – there are some designers that you simply must know about. These are the designers that have changed the way graphic design is seen in the contemporary world; the mavericks; the thinkers; those who have made a difference.

01. Chip Kidd

Chip Kidd is best known for his stunning book jackets

Based in New York, Chip Kidd is best known for his stunning book jackets – most notably for seminal publishing house Alfred A. Knopf. Kidd has worked for writers such James Elroy, Micheal Crichton and Neil Gaiman (amongst many others).
Jurassic Park is one of his most notable book covers, and in his 2005 monograph he explained the thinking behind it: “When trying to recreate one of these creatures, all anyone has to go on is bones, right? So that was the starting point… Not only was the drawing integrated into the movie poster, it became the logo in the film for the park itself. I think it’s safe to say that the Jurassic Park T-Rex became one of the most recognisable logos of the 1990s.”

Jurassic Park is one of Kidd’s most notable book covers

Listen to Kidd’s hugely entertaining TED talk here. Oh, and if you want to see what you could learn from Kidd’s portfolio, check out our article here.

02. Rob Janoff

Rob Janoff designed the Apple logo

Why do you need to know about Rob Janoff? Simple: he designed the Apple logo. Janoff masterminded possibly the most famous mark in the world today while at ad agency Regis McKenna back in 1977. And although it’s been tweaked, the basic form has remained the same ever since – a testament to its simplicity and longevity (and it was created in only two weeks).
Back in 2013, Janoff told us that the idea of an apple with a bike taken out of it was “really a no-brainer”. He continued: “If you have a computer named after a piece of fruit, maybe the image should look like the fruit? So I sat for a couple of weeks and drew silhouettes of apples.
“Bite is also a computer term. Wow, that was a happy accident. At that point I thought ‘this is going to have a wink and a nod with it, and give it personality’.”

An apple with a bite (or byte?) taken out of it was a ‘no brainer’

And as for the now forgotten coloured stripes? “The big deal about the Apple II was that it was the only computer that reproduced colour images on the monitor, and it was the only computer that you could plug into your home colour TV. Also, a lot of it had to do with the aesthetic origins of both Steve [Jobs] and I, which was a kind of hippy aesthetic and The Beatles and Yellow Submarine.”

03. Peter Saville

Peter Saville is best-known for his record sleeve designs for Factory Records artists

Peter Saville is best-known for his record sleeve designs for Factory Records artists – think Joy Division and New Order (Unknown Pleasures, Transmission, Blue Monday and more). But his sleeve work spans five decades – Saville is one of the most prolific record designers of all time; if not the most prolific.

But the Manchester-born designer’s work doesn’t stop at sleeve design. In 2004 he became creative director of the City of Manchester; has worked with fashion’s elite including Jil Sander and Stella McCartney; and in 2010 he designed the England football home kit.
In 2013 he told The Guardian all about the latter: “The red and white thing has been entirely marginalised by one kind of person. It’s synonymous with an attitude that is naive, xenophobic, bullying and self-marginalising. I thought, that’s not reflective of the team, or football, or of the nation at all. But it turns out the market for those shirts are those bloody-minded xenophobic individuals with the shaved heads. When it came out, they did not like it. They did not like it at all.”

Saville recently collaborated on the new Calvin Klein logo

At 61 years of age, Saville is still going strong – he recently collaborated on the new Calvin Klein logo – which you can see here.

04. Michael Bierut

Designer and educator Michael Bierut has been a Pentagram partner for 27 years now

There aren’t many more design agencies that are more respected than Pentagram – and becoming a partner is one of the ultimate design accolades. Designer and educator Bierut has been a partner for 27 years now and has won hundreds of design awards (he’s also got permanent work in MoMA). Before Pentagram, Bierut worked for 10 years at Vignelli Associates.
The designer’s projects at Pentagram include identity and branding for Benetton, the New York Jets, Walt Disney and design work on Billboard magazine. This is of course, just a small slice of his sprawling portfolio. Bierut is also a senior critic in graphic design at the Yale School of Art. Check out his Monograph – How To – published by Thames & Hudson in 2015.

Check out Bierut’s Monograph – How To – published by Thames & Hudson in 2015

In 2013, we caught up with his to find out what he looks for in new talent: “The best are people who are bright and articulate, and have great work in their portfolio. I could sit with them all day,” he says. “The second best have great work but can’t talk about it intelligently. That takes work, but still it’s worth the effort.
“I like people who, in talking about their work, scratch below the surface. Don’t talk about typefaces and Photoshop effects; talk about the subject matter, and how that interested and inspired you.”

05. Massimo Vignelli

Vignelli was one of the great designers of the 20th century

Massimo Vignelli died in 2014, taking with him a legacy of some of the most iconic design work of the past 50 years. Counting IBM, Ford, Bloomingdale’s (his ‘Brown Bag’ designs are still in use today), Saks, American Airlines and many more as clients, and counting Micheal Bierut amongst his protégés, Vignelli’s legacy lives on – perhaps most prominently in the subway map and signage he designed for New York City in 1972.
At the time of his death in 2014, web designer Justin Reynolds wrote an in-depth guide for us on what we can all learn from Vignelli’s design principles. Check it out here.

Vignelli’s ‘Brown Bag’ designs are still in use today

06. Jonathan Barnbrook

As David Bowie’s latter-career go-to designer, Jonathan Barnbrook has become even more prominent in recent times – even making a piece on The Daily Mailearly this year. But Barnbrook’s work is far deeper than Heathen, The Next Day and Blackstar.

Before Bowie, he was perhaps best known for his influential type design – Exocet becoming the most pirated font on the web shortly after release in 1991 (it was also used in the FPS video game Diablo). Barnbrook’s VirusFonts foundry continued to thrive throughout the next couple of decades, with Bastard and Tourette being good examples of his still contemporary, but controversial, typefaces.
In an interview with us in 2014, Barnbrook said of Tourette: “Tourette is based on an early 19th century slab serif form. Having Tourette’s means that people move outside an agreed code of language… That’s what I was trying to say in Tourette. There are swear words that are banned, but it’s necessary that they appear in language as well, because we can’t calibrate it otherwise. And I do like swearing.”

Barnbrook’s masterpiece for David Bowie’s sign-off album Blackstar

Flip to modern day and Barnbrook’s masterpiece of sleeve design for David Bowie’s sign off album Blackstar is every bit as good as the record itself. In this in-depth interview, Barnbrook explains the visual language behind the design.