How to Crop in Adobe Illustrator

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Cropping images. This may seem like something so simple, but the actual process is a little complicated. But don’t worry, because here I've outlined three of the simplest and most effective methods of cropping images in Adobe Illustrator.

Now the first thing to understand is that two different types of images can be cropped. The first type of image is a normal raster image (jpg, png, etc.), while the other is the vector. The advantage of a vector illustration or image is that it can be edited more easily than a raster image, and it can be scaled to any size without losing sharpness.

Now let's delve into how to crop any of these images in Illustrator. Just follow the steps I've outlined below, and you will be good to go.

Cropping Images Using the Crop Tool in Illustrator

Step 1:

Start by opening the image you want to work with. The image can now be seen on the main screen of Adobe Illustrator.

Opening an image in illustrator

Step 2:

After that, you need to decide between two things. Do you want to crop the image so that you omit some of the stuff from it? Or do you want to make it smaller to fit it on the screen without removing any of the objects in the image? Let’s assume for now that you want to crop it to omit some of the stuff. In the above image, let’s say you wanted to remove the tree on the left side. To do this, the process is really simple.

The first thing to do is to choose the Direct Selection tool on the left toolbar or simply click the keyboard shortcut Control+A or Command+A. Once that's done, simply click on the picture.

How to select direct selection tool in Illustrator

Step 3:

Once you've selected the image, you will click ‘Properties’ from the options available at the top right corner of the screen. Then, as shown in the image below, you'll see an option to crop the image at the bottom right corner.

finding the option to crop image in Illustrator

Step 4:

Quickly select that option, and you'll see guides at the edges of the image, which will allow you to crop it to your liking.

Selecting dimensions to crop in Illustrator.

Step 5:

Now, because we wanted to crop or omit the tree on the left, use the adjustments to crop the image by this amount. When you have adjusted it by the amount you like, select apply.

final results of a cropped image in Illustrator

And Voila! That's it. The simplest and easiest method to crop images in Adobe Illustrator.

Cropping an Image using the Clipping Mask Tool

This method is a staple for illustrator users. If you want to crop an image without removing the omitted portion, this is the tool for you. If you want to learn how to use this, just follow along because below, I'll outline a few steps to crop vector images or illustrations using the masking tool.

Step 1:

The first step is simple. Choose the image or vector illustration you want to crop. Here, for ease of understanding, I've chosen the Volkswagen logo. Then, locate the Rectangle tool on the left toolbar.

Rectangle tool

Step 2:

Next, decide what part of the illustration you want to crop. Here I'll crop the top half of the illustration. For this, draw a rectangle over the bottom half of the logo or the area that you want to keep.

Clipping mask

Step 3:

Once that is done, simply use the selection tool to select both objects, or use the shortcut Control+A or Command+A. Next, from the options available at the top of the screen, select ‘Object.’ In the dropdown menu, you'll see the option named Clipping Mask. Select that, and then from the final drop-down menu, click ‘Make’ (Object –> Clipping Mask –> Make).

Make the clipping mask

And you’re done! The image is now cropped. The only thing visible is the bottom half of the logo. The best part about this tool? The path can still be observed, ensuring that what you have cropped can be restored. To see the path, simply move your cursor over the image, and the path of the cropped portion of the image will be visible.

To remove or undo this, go back to the ‘Object’ menu. From the drop-down menu, select ‘Clipping Mask’ and finally ‘Release’ (Object –> Clipping Mask –> Release).

Cropping Shapes Using the Pathfinder Tool in Illustrator

Want to find a permanent way to omit cropped portions from illustrations. Simply follow the steps outlined below to understand how.

Step 1:

Let’s assume you want to crop the edges of the star shown below. For this, select the rectangle tool.


Step 2:

Draw a rectangle over the middle of the star, as shown in the image below.

Rectangle over a star

Step 3:

Now, from the top of the screen, select the ‘Window’ option. Then locate the Pathfinder Tool and select that. A small pop-up window will appear. Or to access the Pathfinder tool directly with the keyboard shortcut Shift+Control+F9 or Shift+Command+F9.


Step 4:

From the pop-up window, select the ‘Crop’ option.

How to crop in Illustrator

Step 5:

Select crop, and there you have it. The remaining object outside the edges of the rectangle is now cropped.

That’s it! Now you also know how to crop images neatly and effectively in Illustrator. Out of all the numerous ways to crop images in Illustrator, these are the three simplest and most effective solutions.