How to crop in Illustrator in 4 easy steps

Just like many other tasks in Illustrator, there is more than one way How to crop in Illustrator. In this article, we will show you both how to crop an image to a shape such as a circle or a star and the default illustrator crop tool.

How to crop in Illustrator

  1. How to crop in Illustrator using the Crop tool
  2. How to crop in Illustrator to a specific shape
  3. How to edit a cropped image in Illustrator 

How to crop in Illustrator using the Crop tool

The first step once you have opened Illustrator and created a New file is, Place your image. File>Place>Go to where the file is saved. Select the image and click Crop image at the top bar.

How to crop in illustrator

A highlighted section will appear on the image. Drag the lines to show how far you want to crop the image.

Crop illustrator

Once you have set the required cropping, click apply to accept the changes.

  1. Open Illustrator then go to File>New>Set size
  2. Place the image you want to crop. File>Place> choose image
  3. Select the image and choose Crop image on the top bar
  4. Set crop as per your needs
  5. Apply changes

How to crop an image in Illustrator

Cropping using the above method will mean that you can only crop the image into a square or rectangular shape. If you want to crop your image to a circle shape you will need to use a different method. Here is how to do it.

Once you have placed your image, create your shape on top of the image you have just placed.

Draw shape on image

Once you have created the shape, select both the image and shape you have created. Go to Object>Clipping Mask> Make. You can also click shortcut Control>7 on PC or Command+7 on MAC.

The image behind is cropped as per the image in front in this case areas where the circle touches will be visible and those it does not will be cropped out.

How to crop to a circle in illustrator

To reverse cropping select the image and click Control>Alt>7 on PC or Command>Alt>7 on MAC. This will release the mask and leave you with the shape and image.

How to edit a cropped image in Illustrator 

Sometimes after cropping the image using the clipping mask option, you may not have cropped the correct section and may want to move it around to choose the perfect position. 

For instance, if I wanted the paws on my dog Max above only, I would just double-click on the image and move it. After moving it to the correct position select Artwork in the below panel to go back to your cropped image.

crop in illustrator

Alternatively, you can use the direct selection tool to move around the image to crop it perfectly. 

You can use the clipping mask method to crop images to any shape you need, even shapes created using your Pen tool. For example, I have drawn the above shape using the Pen tool.

Crop image in illustrator

Select both and click Control>7. This is what the cropped image looks like.

How to make clipping Mask in illustrator
  1. How to crop in Illustrator

    1. An open illustrator then go to File>New>Set size
    2. Place the image you want to crop. File>Place> choose image
    3. Select the image and choose Crop image on the top bar
    4. Set crop as per your needs
    5. Apply changes

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denis maina kamau

Written by: Denis Maina

I am an experienced and skilled graphic designer with a strong focus on Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. He specializes in creating a wide range of design materials, such as digital art, business cards, stationery, logos, flyers, posters, banner ads, brochures, PSD templates, and other graphics.

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