Probably one of the most frequently asked questions from Illustrator users is 'How can I crop an image?'. Whilst the developers introduced the Image Crop function in CC2017, anyone using previous versions of Illustrator such as CS6 won't have this option. This article will show you all the methods you need to crop in any version of Adobe Illustrator. This article is also available as a video tutorial: How to crop an image in Adobe Illustrator
Any versions that proceeds CC2017 will have a Crop Image button appear in the control panel (as well as the properties panel for CC2018+) when an image is selected. Simply click this button and then crop your image accordingly.
Older versions of Illustrator
Option 1: Flatten Transparency Trick
For older versions of Illustrator there is an interesting trick that will allow us to crop bitmap images. To demonstrate the technique I will use the Yellow pool float image from Shutterstock. Insert an image into the current document File > Place …. This may be Linked or Embedded image.
Keeping the image selected, click on the Mask button in the Control panel. This will create a clipping mask.
Now we can resize the bounding box of clipping path, choosing the cropping area.
Select the entire Clip Group and apply any blending mode other than Normal in the Transparency panel.
Now go to Object > Flatten Transparency… and choose the options shown in the picture below.
We cropped an image but another clipping mask was formed. If before cropping we had a linked image, it will be converted into an embedded image.
Get rid of the clipping masks by double-clicking Opt/Alt + Cmd/Ctrl + 7 shortcut or Object > Clipping Mask > Release. Now remove all the clipping paths. Select all of them, then go to Object > Path > Clean Up… Finally, go to Object > Ungroup. Thus we cropped a bitmap image directly in Adobe Illustrator by doing eight actions.
A little lengthy, but can we speed it up? Yes, it is possible using the Crop Image Tool of Rasterino plug-in explained in option 2 below.
Option 2: Rasterino plug-in
Embed your image if it is linked, by clicking on the appropriate button in the Control panel.
Take the Crop Image Tool and choose the cropping area (you will find this under the Eraser Tool stack)
Now we have to click on the check mark icon in the annotation, or simply press Enter / Return button. In the annotation, you can see the exact dimensions of the original and cropped image.
It took us just two simple and clear steps to crop the picture. The benefits, in my opinion, are obvious. There are several options for this tool. To open the Crop Image Tool Options dialog box double-click on the tool icon while holding down Cmd/Ctrl key. You can also access this dialog box from the fly-out menu of the Rasterino panel (Window > Rasterino > Rasterino panel).
Here you can choose whether or not to show the annotation, to enable/disable Smart Guides and preview the cropped area. We recommend leaving the Constrain Crop to Image's Pixel Grid option on so that the cropped area always contains an integer number of pixels.
In addition to interactive cropping of images Rasterino has many other tools and features that allow you to work with raster objects directly in Adobe Illustrator.
- Re-link embedded one or multiple images (PSD format)
- In-line editing of embedded images, Trim image (s)
- Crop image (numerically)
- Specify resolution of image on artboard precisely (embedded and linked images)