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Correcting perspective with the crop tool

Straighten up buildings by perspective cropping.


Straightening out a building's vertical lines is accomplished using the Crop tool.
Straightening out a building's vertical lines is accomplished using the Crop tool.

Photographing a building from ground level usually requires you to aim the camera upwards, distorting the building's lines so that they appear to converge as they go higher, as shown in the image on the far left.

The Crop tool in Adobe Photoshop can be used to correct the view so that the image's perspective is altered and the building's vertical lines are all perpendicular to the ground, as shown in the near left picture.

The procedure, known as perspective cropping, is simple and quick. Try it for yourself; just follow the instructions below.


PERSPECTIVE CROPPING

1. Open the image to be perspective-corrected.
2. Click on the crop tool, and drag it anywhere inside the image to create a crop box.
3. Look above in the Options bar to find the word "Perspective," beside which is a small box.
4. Click the Perspective box to check it, thus enabling perspective cropping.
5. You may find this procedure a bit easier if you switch to full-screen view. (A quick way to do that in Photoshop is to press the "F" key on your keyboard).
6. Drag the lower left crop handle to line it up with the bottom of a vertical line that needs straightening.
7. Do the same with the lower right crop handle, lining it up with a vertical line on the right side that needs straightening.
8. Now, drag the top-left crop handle so that the left crop line is angled to follow the building line that needs correcting.
9. Do the same with the top-right crop handle.

Be sure to click the Perspective box to enable perspective cropping.
Be sure to click the Perspective box to enable perspective cropping.

Once the crop lines are properly aligned, drag the square handles in the middle of the vertical crop lines until the bottom handles reach the picture's edge.
Once the crop lines are properly aligned, drag the square handles in the middle of the vertical crop lines until the bottom handles reach the picture's edge.

10. You have just defined the amount of perspective correction that needs to be done. Now, you need to capture the area to be cropped - that is, as much of the building as possible.
11. Drag the left line, using only the square crop handle that is in the middle of the line as shown by the arrows at left, to the left until the bottom crop handle reaches the edge of the image.
12. Do the same with the right line, dragging it using the middle crop handle until the bottom handle meets the edge of the image.
13. You can actually drag the lines further if you wish, so they go outside, past the edge of the image. But, you will be including blank space in your crop that will need to be edited or re-cropped.


14. All that remains is to perform the crop.
15. Press "Enter"; click on the Checkmark icon on the Options bar; or right-click and select "Crop".

Keep the lower handles inside the image window.
Keep the lower handles inside the image window.

This image has been perspective corrected .
This image has been perspective corrected .

16. The cropped image will show a perspective-corrected building that has its vertical lines perpendicular to the ground, as in the image on the left.

If you are dissatisfied with the appearance of the cropped image, click "Edit," "Undo" to restore the original picture, and try again, aligning the crop lines for a more suitable result.


The Crop tool is highly effective in perspective correction, but not all subjects will benefit from the procedure. Almost any subject that is photographed when looking up at an especially-steep angle will not be suitable for perspective-cropping.

An obelisk, for example, is too narrow and tall when photographed up close, near its base, and perspective-cropping will distort it. Note how the letters on the obelisk on the right have been compressed. They are too fat and too close together when compared with the original.

Perspective cropping does not work well for every subject.
Perspective cropping does not work well for every subject.
Related topics...

Cropping