How to Crop an Irregular Shape in Photoshop

Updated February 21, 2017

Photoshop, the graphics software available as part of the Adobe Creative Suite, offers a collection of tools, palettes, paints and filters to make the tiniest tweaks or wide sweeping changes to your images. When that change is to simply grab part of an image and remove it from its background, Photoshop calls this cropping. Cropping in Photoshop takes just a few clicks, no matter the size or shape of your intended cropped area. Within minutes, you'll have "peeled" your cut off its original background and be ready to use it elsewhere.

Open Photoshop, click "File" and select "Open." Browse to the photo with the shape to crop and double click the file name. The picture opens in the Photoshop workspace.

Click the "Magnify" tool, which looks like a magnifying glass, on the bottom of the "Tools" palette. Zoom in on the object to crop so that it fills most of your screen, making it easier to see.

Click the "Lasso" tool on the "Tools" palette. Draw an outline around the area to crop. Right click inside the blinking dotted lines and select "Layer via Cut." Nothing changes in appearance on the picture.

Click the "Window" menu and click "Layers" to open the "Layers" palette. Notice the two layers: the original image in the "Background" layer and the irregular shaped image in the "Layer 1" layer.

Right click the "Background" layer, select "Delete Layer" and click "Yes." You're left with just the irregular crop on a transparent background.

Click the "File" menu, click "Save As" and type a new name for the image. Select "GIF" from the "Format" menu and save the cropped image to your computer.


Photoshop actually offers a tool called the "Crop" tool, but it's only useful when you're looking to crop square or rectangular areas. The tool, which looks like two crossed elbow joints, is at the top of the "Tools" palette and works best for quick, angular crops. Cropping irregular shapes works the same in that you're removing background and getting at your intended object; it just takes a bit of a workaround.

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About the Author

Fionia LeChat is a technical writer whose major skill sets include the MS Office Suite (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Publisher), Photoshop, Paint, desktop publishing, design and graphics. LeChat has a Master of Science in technical writing, a Master of Arts in public relations and communications and a Bachelor of Arts in writing/English.