How to Use the Adobe Photoshop Perspective Crop Tool

The Perspective Crop Tool is selected and the Mesh for the crop area is shown over a lighthouse.
The Perspective Crop Tool in Photoshop takes a bit of getting used to but is invaluable.

This has happened to all of us at some point in our careers.

Photoshop is open and you are creating a composite image using bits and pieces from a variety of images. You copy and paste a selection into the composite and you realize, "Houston, we have a problem." The image you have added contains perspective and the composite you are creating is flat. No problem, you think, and you start working with the Transform properties to somehow remove the perspective. This workflow is dangerous because it introduces distortions into the image and you find yourself spending an inordinate amount of time trying to solve the issue.

The Perspective Crop tool, introduced in Photoshop CS6, removes the time spent making all of those extra adjustments.

Let’s take a look at how to use it.

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How to Select the Perspective Crop Tool

The Perspective Crop tool is highlighted in the Photoshop Tools panel.
The Perspective Crop Tool is found in the Crop Tool pop down and the Tool Options really extend the function of the tool.

In the above image, the intention is to crop out the cartoon of the gorilla and put it on a flat plane. To accomplish this, you need to first select the Perspective Crop Tool. To do this you click and hold on the Crop tool in in the Tool Bar and select Perspective Crop Tool in the pop-down. Once selected the Tool Options above the image change.

These options allow you to set the width and height of the crop area, its resolution, the resolution measurement, the ability to reset the values by clicking Clear and the ability to show the grid.

Once you have made you selection two more Options will appear. You can either "bail out" if you make a mistake or click the + sign to accept the crop.

Before you click that + sign, be aware you are creating a destructive edit. The pixels outside the crop area will disappear. Thus it makes sense to work on a copy, not the original, of the image.

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How to Use the 'Click' Feature of the Adobe Photoshop Perspective Crop Tool

Image shows the Crop Grid and the inset shows the final result.
The "Click Method" lets you determine the crop's boundaries and perspective.

There are a couple of ways of creating the crop area.

The most common is what we'll call the "Click Method". For this, you select the Perspective Crop Tool and click the four corners for the crop. When you do this you will see the crop area covered with a Mesh or Grid.  The Grid will also sport 8 handles. These handles can be dragged in or out to adjust the crop area. You should also notice the cursor turns white when you roll the mouse over one of the handles.

Another interesting feature of the Grid is the ability to rotate the Grid. If you roll the cursor to a handle you will see it switch to a Rotate Cursor. This is especially useful if your intention is to have an edge of the crop follow a perspective line like a window sill.

Finally, if you roll the cursor over one of the handles between the corners the cursor changes to a scale cursor. If you click and drag the handle only the side affected can be pulled outwards or inward.

Once you are satisfied that you have the proper crop area identified either press the Return/Enter key or click the check mark.

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Using the Click-Drag Method With the Perspective Crop Tool

The Perspective Grid is shown and the inset shows the result of using the Perspective Crop Tool.
The Perspective Crop Tool can also be used to change the perspective.

Another technique is to simply draw out your crop area with the Perspective Crop Tool.

In the above image, the plan is to change the perspective of the image in the crop area. To accomplish this, you can select the Perspective Crop Tool and draw out the mesh. From there you can adjust the corner handles so you have a perspective line running from just above the signpost to the point where the horizon meets the water. Then adjust the mesh and press the Return/Enter key. As you can see from the inset image above, the subject is "moved" farther away from the sign and the water’s edge is brought closer.

The Perspective Crop Tool takes a bit of getting used to and it is suggested you play with it on a number images to get a sense of what it can and cannot do. You can also check out more tutorials if you need to fix the perspective.