How to Crop in Illustrator – The Ultimate Guide

How to Crop in Illustrator

The Crop tool is one of the most used tools to edit any image in Adobe illustrator. Still, a beginner might find it difficult to crop an image using this tool. Also, Adobe Illustrator has many loyal users for its easy graphic design features.

It is easy to fit a photo or image in Illustrator. In this tool, we can also choose which area of the image we want to keep while cutting away the rest.

Whether for graphic designers or website designers, or just design hobbyists, this article will cover the basics of how to crop in Illustrator. 

how to crop in illustrator

Here is What we Cover

  • Difference between cropping an image in Adobe Illustrator and Cropping in Photoshop.
  • How the crop tool works in Illustrator.
  • Where is the crop tool in Illustrator?
  • How to crop images and objects in Illustrator.
  • How to Make a Clipping Mask in Illustrator.
  • How to crop an Image to a Clipping Mask.
  • How to Crop Embedded Images on Illustrator file.
  • Alternatives to Cropping an image in Adobe illustrator.

Difference Between Cropping in Illustrator and Cropping in Photoshop

In Illustrator, you can crop using the Crop tool or Selection tool. You can also use the Crop command (Edit > Crop) and crop to a shape or a new artboard.

While, in Photoshop, you can resize an image by selecting an area of it with the Marquee tool and dragging the corners of the selection box. You can also resize the selection by dragging one of the selection handles.

 how to crop image in illustrator

If you’re working on an image that has been cropped in Photoshop when you open it in Illustrator, you’ll notice that there is no longer any cropping — everything is full size!

The Difference Between Cropping a Raster Image and a Vector Shape

The most obvious distinction between cropping raster images and vector shapes or vector graphics is that a raster image is made of pixels, which are small squares of color that are combined to form an image. On the other hand, Vector graphics and shapes are composed of points, lines, and curves linked together by mathematical formulas known as paths.

 how to crop images in illustrator

How does the Image Cropping Tool Work in Illustrator?

Adobe Illustrator is a vector-based program for creating images and graphics and can be used to make logos, illustrations, and other artworks.

 how to crop in adobe illustrator

In Illustrator, the crop tool is a potent tool that can help your image or graphic designs. For example, it lets you cut out a section of an image and turn it into a different shape. Or you can also use the crop tool to make a clipping mask or a selection larger than the Illustrator artboard.

To crop an illustrator, you drag your mouse from one corner of your image to the opposite corner. Which makes the space between the two points take on a new shape.

 how to crop a photo in illustrator

The crop tool is also used to remove unwanted parts of an image. When you use the crop image tool, a blue outline of your image appears over it. You can then use your mouse to move the outline around and make it larger or smaller as needed.

After you’ve sized the crop outline, you can drag it to any location on the illustrator artboard and click to confirm your selection.

Where is the Crop Image Button in Illustrator?

 how to crop artboard in illustrator

You can find the crop button in the Control panel on the menu bar on the left side of the screen. If you can’t see it, click and hold on to any tool to make it appear.

When you use the crop tool to select a rectangle or an ellipse, you can resize it in both dimensions; holding the Shift button while also dragging will limit the proportions of your selection.

You can also select objects with the Crop tool by clicking on them directly, just like any other selection tool (Rectangle, Ellipse, etc.).

The Crop Image option does not have a keyboard shortcut, but you can create one yourself.

How to Crop Images and Objects in Illustrator?

To crop an image in adobe illustrator, follow these steps:

Step 1. Open up your image in illustrator

 how to crop photo in illustrator

The first thing you need to do when you crop in adobe illustrator, be it for single or multiple images,

Click File > Place

Step 2. Select the image you want to place

 how to add crop marks in illustrator

Now select the original image with which you want to work

Click Open 


If the file is an object, double-click (or select it and press Ctrl+C) in the workspace. It will open the Aprtboard Options box and will allow you to decide which artboard you want to paste the image/object. If no artboards exist, skip this step and paste it into your document, as usual, so that we can crop it later.

Step 3. Select crop tool from the top menu bar

 how to crop image in adobe illustrator

When you open the control panel on the menu bar, click on the crop button. The Crop Tool panel will appear on the right side of your screen. When you click crop, a drop-down menu appears with options for customizing your crop box settings.

This tool shows two circles, one for the anchor point and the other for the bounding box. The anchor point is the crop’s center point, whereas the bounding box contains all of your current artwork and allows you to resize it at any time.

The size of your cropping area can be changed using the Width and Height sliders at the bottom of this panel. You can drag these sliders to select an alternate size for your crop box by clicking inside and dragging them up or down until they reach your desired size.

Step 4. Save the changes

 how to crop a shape in illustrator

Now, it is time to save your cropped image.

Right-click the image and select “Save as.”

Select “Illustrator EPS” from the Save as type drop-down list; this is important because your cropped image is an adobe illustrator file.

Then choose a location to save it to your computer.

How to Make a Clipping Mask

how to crop an object in illustrator

A clipping mask is a method of defining an area filled by another object, which will appear behind the object; this is how complex shapes are created in Adobe Illustrator.

The most basic way to make a clipping mask in adobe illustrator is to use two shapes — one rectangle and one circle — to position them, so they overlap. The circle will serve as a mask for the rectangle.

Create your basic shapes

Begin by drawing basic shapes that will be used as clipping masks. You can use the rectangle tool, the circular tool, or any other. This technique works with any shape, including text and logos.

 how to crop a picture in illustrator

Follow these steps to create your basic shapes

Draw a rectangle using the Rectangular shape Tool (M). It does not have to be perfect; ensure that all sides are straight lines with no curves or corners.

Select your first circle (make sure it isn’t already selected by double-clicking on it), then hold Shift while clicking on the second circle to select them both simultaneously. Then press Ctrl+Gto combine them into a single object called “Group.”

How to Crop an Image using a Clipping Mask?

 how to crop an image in adobe illustrator

What if you already have an image and want to crop it to a clipping mask?

Select the entire image with the Selection tool (V). Then, to copy that selection, press Shift-Command-C. Then, open your target document and paste the image into it (Command-V).

While your pasted image is still selected, go to the Object menu at the top of your screen and select the Clipping Mask button from the fly-out menu. This will remove all your visible layers, leaving only your clipping mask visible on its own layer in the target document. Check out the guidelines for how to draw a shirt in Illustrator.

Then, you can crop your clipping mask any way you like – to create the image you want and retain access to all those layers inside it.

How to Crop Embedded Images on Illustrator file

how to crop photos in illustrator

To Crop Embedded Images on Illustrator file:

Open the Illustrator file in which you wish to crop an embedded image.

Select the embedded image.

 how to crop vector in illustrator

Go to Object > Transform > Rotate and enter – 90 degrees to rotate the image by 90 degrees counter-clockwise.

Go to Object > Transform > Scale and enter 10% in both Horizontal and Vertical boxes.

Select the entire shape by holding the Shift key and pressing the Delete key on your keyboard. This will delete the whole embedded image from your Illustrator file without deleting it from its original location. Check out the guide, how to make a transparent background in Illustrator.

Alternatives to Cropping in Adobe Illustrator

There are various methods and alternatives to cropping images in Adobe Illustrator that can save you time and help you create graphics and better artwork:

You can crop an image with the Selection tool

 how to crop an image into a circle in illustrator

Another useful tool for cropping images is the Selection tool. You can use any of Illustrator’s other tools to make a selection and then adjust that selection with the Crop tool.

For example, if you want to crop an image so that it fits perfectly in a photo frame, first remove any strokes or effects from it. Then, using the Selection tool, click on one of the photo frame’s corners and drag outwards until two diagonal blue lines appear over the image.

how to crop object in illustrator

Afterward, go to Window > Paths and select “New Work Path” from the fly-out menu. Then this new work path will be added to your original path, rename it “Frame Shape” if necessary, then delete all other paths except your original one.

You can crop an image with the pen tool

both the image linked images both the shape

The Pen Tool is excellent for drawing shapes but can also be used for making selections and crop images. For example, when you use this pen tool to select areas of an image, you will create a shape that represents that area of the image. Afterward, you can copy and paste this shape into another document to use as a standalone object or as part of another image.

You can crop an image using the ellipse tool

 how to crop pictures in adobe illustrator

Choose the Ellipse tool from the Tools panel (it appears as an oval with a black arrow) or press U on your keyboard.

Drag an ellipse shape onto your artboard with the pointer. It doesn’t have to be perfect but make sure it covers the majority of your image and isn’t too big or too small for what you want to crop out.

Drag the ellipse over the portion of your image that you want to be crop,

then press the enter key. Also, you can download some banner templates and start your creatives.


Though it is easy to crop and edit an image in Adobe Illustrator, it takes time. And as it is known, most of us who require this function already have our hands full of work. If you are a business, it is understandable that you require the help of a graphic designer/s who is adept with Illustrator and Photoshop. But, there are times when requirements are not met. In such cases, graphic design agencies come to light.

We at All Time Design have the best professional graphic designers adept in creating and curating any design per your requirement. Book a Demo or Sign Up today and walk into the world of world-class designs available to you anytime.

June 16, 2022
10 min read
6 reads

Impress your customers with cutting-edge graphics!
By signing up, you agree to All Time Design's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy
Thank you for subscribe!

Ready to create more
designs for lesser costs?

Start your 14-day free trial
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.