Create Focus in Your Photos: Cropping in GIMP

Taking your photos from good to great can be as simple as cropping, as I discussed in a previous post. But how?

All photo editing programs have support for cropping. I primarily use Photoshop & GIMP and will discuss how to crop a photo with GIMP. GIMP is freely available and runs on Windows, Mac & Linux. It can be downloaded from the GIMP website.

Here is a photo of an adorable little girl & her pup. The photo would look much better without the clutter surrounding them. I will crop the photo in GIMP so they are the focus.

show crop

Crop to focus on your subject

Cropping in GIMP

There are several ways to crop a photo within GIMP, but in this post I will stick with using the specific tool dedicated to cropping: the crop tool. Located in the toolbox, it looks like a scalpel crop-tool. The crop tool is also accessible through the menus, Tools -> Transform Tools -> Crop.

crop tool tip with photo

Crop tool is a scalpel in the toolbox on the left
(shown with popup tooltip)

The tool options are located in the right side panel. If you don’t see it after selecting the crop tool, bring it up, Windows -> Dockable Dialogs -> Tool Options. Only the “Hightlight” option is selected by default, which is helpful by dimming the area of the image that is not currently selected. You’ll see this in the following examples.

Fixed Ratio Cropping in GIMP

At this point you may select an area of the image to crop by clicking and dragging to create a rectangle of the crop area. Once you release the mouse button, the rectangle may be moved by dragging from the center of the rectangle, and it may be resized by dragging on one of the boxes on the interior edges of the rectangle (they show when mousing over the sides).

The “Fixed” option with “Aspect Ratio” selected is useful if you want to constrain the rectangle to a specific ratio such as 4×6, 5×7 or 8×10. In the text box below “Fixed”, simply replace “Current” with 6:4. You may have to drag the rectangle a little in order for the new constraint to take effect.

Notice in the following screenshots that the cropping rectangle is slightly different due to the different ratio constraints.

crop with photo fixed options 64

Cropping with fixed 6:4 ratio


crop with photo fixed options 75

Cropping with fixed 7:5 ratio


crop with photo fixed options 108

Cropping with fixed 10:8 ratio

Where To Go From Here

You can do quite a bit just with the basic crop & fixed cropping ratios, but the cropping tool has several other options to help you. The other option I click often is “Size”. After laying down the cropping rectangle, enter your desired width and height in the text boxes. The rectangle will resize, and then move it into position. This is especially useful if you need a square image and therefore need the crop to have equal height & width dimensions.

More information on the GIMP cropping options can be found in the GIMP cropping documentation and in the GIMP cropping tutorial.

In my next post I’ll discuss non-rectangular cropping shapes such as circular & elliptical within GIMP.

Thanks for reading & have fun!


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