How to Crop an Irregular Shape in Photoshop

By C. Taylor

Adobe Photoshop's Rectangular Marquee tool makes cropping images quick and simple, but it's also limited in function. If you need to crop an irregular shape, such as extracting your company's logo, you need the marquee to match the area's shape. The Lasso tools offers more control over the selection area, but you can't simply crop the result, because Photoshop still attempts to conjure a rectangular area. However, extracting the area to its own layer maintains the irregular shape and leads to a successful crop.

Open the image containing the irregular shape in Photoshop.

Click the Lasso Tool from the left Tools panel or simply press "L." If you don't see the Tools panel, click "Windows" from the top menu and select "Tools." Alternatively, click the "Lasso" tool and select the "Polygonal Lasso Tool" or "Magnetic Lasso Tool." Both options create a selection using a series of straight lines, but the Magnetic Lasso Tool snaps to the closest contour.

Click and drag your mouse around the area to select it. When you release the mouse button, the selection automatically closes. If you're using the Polygonal Lasso Tool or Magnetic Lasso Tool, create the marquee by clicking at each corner around the shape; click the first point to close the selection.

Right-click inside the selection marquee and click "Layer Via Cut."

Press "F7" to open the Layers panel if it isn't already open.

Right-click the "Background" layer and select "Delete Layer." Click "Yes" if a confirmation window appears.

Click "Image" from the top menu and then "Trim." Click "OK" to keep the default Trim options, which creates a transparency outside the irregular shape. There's no way for current technology to save a non-rectangular shape, so using a transparency makes a rectangle but conceals everything that is not the irregular shape.

Click "File" and then "Save As."

Click the "Format" drop-down menu and select either "CompuServe GIF (.GIF)" or "PNG (.PNG,*.PNS)" to preserve the transparency.

Click "Save" and then "OK" in the options windows; the default values will preserve your transparency.


Information in this article applies to Photoshop CS6. It may vary slightly or significantly from other versions.