How to Crop an Image in Illustrator: Step-by-Step Guide
How To
May 29

How to Crop an Image in Illustrator: Step-by-Step Guide

Looking for guidance on cropping an individual photo with Adobe’s graphic software? Check out our helpful tutorial that explains the simple process of cutting out elements of a picture in Adobe Illustrator. From focusing on the central subject to removing unwanted or unnecessary details, learn the right ways how to crop an image in Illustrator.

There are three popular ways people use when it comes to cropping photos in Illustrator. You can perform the same actions from your computer, mobile phone, or tablet once you connect to the internet.

How to Crop an Image in Illustrator Using the Crop Function

Using Illustrator to crop photos has never been more straightforward. Simply choose the “Crop Image” feature for pictures in classic formats. Note that this feature is not compatible with vector graphics and only works with single-layered pictures.

Below we will look at how to crop images in Illustrator in a couple of simple steps.

Step 1

Get started by launching Illustrator and loading up the picture that you’d like to alter. Before you do any cropping, spend a moment to visualize how you want it to appear afterward. As you make your edits, be mindful that the most important elements of the image remain undamaged. Rearranging your content composition should be done with attention to detail in order to ensure a harmonious result.

Step 2

Locate the “Selection” tool in the bar on the left side. This will appear as a distinct black arrow for you to select.

There are other ways to activate the Selection tool:

  • Access the “Window” menu and go to the “Toolbar” section. Then, click it and select “Advanced” for the next step.
  • To use the Highlight function, simply press the “V” button on your keyboard.

When the function is activated, your cursor will automatically change to a black arrow.

Step 3

After activating the “Highlighting” function in Illustrator, you will need to click on the image you want to crop.

Step 4

In the “Object” section, you’ll find the “Crop Image” option in Illustrator. To help you use this function effectively, a tooltip will come up on your screen. Click the ‘OK’ button when you’re ready to move on.

Step 5

To crop your desired area, select it first. You’ll notice a rectangle of dotted lines frame the selection area. To edit the dimensions, simply drag the borders of the rectangle accordingly. When you’re satisfied, you can finalize your trim.

Step 6

When you have completed the selection, tap Apply to finalize.

How to Crop Images Using a Clipping Mask in Illustrator

For those looking to customize their photos with unique shapes, the Clipping Mask tool can be a great choice. Working with images of all kinds, including vector art and bitmap photographs, this tool grants you the ability to crop and resize your shape exactly as desired. Today, we’ll explore using this method of photo cropping.

The very first step is to select the ‘Shapes’ icon from your toolbar. You’ll then be presented with various shapes such as a circle, square, or polygon - depending on your desired outcome. Use the one best suited to your needs, before positioning it where you want to crop. Thereafter, a single click will start the process of cropping your photo.

If you don’t need to create a unique shape for your design project, look no further than the two essential drawing tools: Rectangle and Ellipse. Select the former for distinct rectangular outlines or use the latter to craft perfect circles. But before trimming, ensure that the part you want to keep is within the drawn shape – anything outside will be eliminated afterwards.

You don’t have to crop in the form of any geometric shape. You can draw absolutely any shape. In this case, you need to use the Pen tool, which is also on the sidebar.

The next step is to select the image itself and add a clipping mask. To select the image, you need to hold down the Shift key on your keyboard and then click on the figure drawn above. Another option is to simply use the “Selection” tool.

Once the object selection is complete, you will need to open the top menu and select the “Object” option. Next, go to the Clipping Mask tool and select “Add” from the dropdown menu.

After you add the mask to your photo in Illustrator, the image will be cropped to the frame of your shape. If it was a rectangle, the finished picture will be rectangular; if it was a circle, it will be circular, etc.

How to Crop a Photo With Maxi Opacity

Working with Adobe Illustrator’s Opacity Mask feature offers users the ability to shape and adjust the opacity of their images. This powerful tool enables more creative decisions while giving users greater control over the finished product.

To inject dynamism and diversity in your image, you can try deploying this tool to make certain areas of the photo more transparent and desaturate them for greater contrast compared to other sections.

When you’re utilizing the “Opacity Mask” tool, here’s the order of your steps. Start by introducing a shape into the part you want to continue to have after cutting. It’s basically the same as in the former technique. Go to the toolbar and pick a square shape. Or you can use an ellipse or “Pen” if you desire a unique form.

Always be mindful that any area outside of the space you have selected to show in your picture will be gone after the cropping process.

The second step in the process is also similar to the second method. You will need to select both your picture and the overlapping shape at the same time. To do this, hold down the Shift key on your keyboard and then click on your figure. Alternatively, use the “Selection” tool that you can find on the sidebar. If you’ve done it correctly, a blue outline will appear around your picture and the applied shape.

Once the shape and picture are selected, you can move on to adding a mask (Window → Transparency from the dropdown list).

If this is your first time using the tool, when you run it, a small animation will appear to demonstrate how it works. Watch the animation to see what steps to take next to adjust the transparency of your picture. Next, click on the “Create” button and be sure to check the “Clip” box.

Go to the “Opacity” section. By sliding the switch, you’ll be able to observe how the area of the picture outside your figure changes. You can stop the switch at the desired position and save the results.

These are the three most common and popular methods of cropping photos in Adobe Illustrator. At the same time, the program has many other interesting tools that will help you discover your creative ability. You can choose the tools that best suit your work.

However, if you don’t want to spend a long time learning all of Adobe Illustrator’s complicated features, when all you need to do is quickly crop an image, check out our alternative way of getting the job done.

How to Crop Photos Online With Our Image Crop Tool

The following method will be a great option if you need to crop quickly while still maintaining quality. Its main difference is the online service, which works directly in your browser. As a result, you do not need to download anything to your computer. The service is not demanding on your PC’s resources , as processing can be done even on a less-powerful device. Also, the browser version of the editor works great on mobile devices – you can crop your photos from your phone or tablet without having to transfer them to your computer.

Other advantages include:

  • Total privacy. No one else can get access to your processed photos.
  • The photo-editing process will only take a couple of minutes. You won’t need to learn complicated functions, as in the case of Illustrator.
  • All work with the photo takes place on the site. You do not need to create an account or buy access to the service.
  • Support for pictures in different formats. With the editor, you can easily crop photos in any format.
  • Convenient additional features.

To crop your photo online, you need to follow a few simple steps:

  1. Open the website and then launch the app.
  2. The service will prompt you to add a photo to be cropped. You can upload a picture from your computer or simply drag and drop it into the editor window. You can also add images that are stored in your cloud services.
  3. There are many cropping settings available in the editor. You can select the desired area yourself, choose to crop as a rectangle or a circle, or select specific sizes from a list.
  4. Once you have selected the desired area and made other necessary settings, save the result. To do this, click on the “Crop Photo” button, which is located on the upper right side of the browser.


We have shown you a few ways how to crop an image in Illustrator. If you are a professional photo editor, you will be able to make use of many useful features in the program. But when you only need to crop a photo, it is much more convenient to use an online editing platform.