This is the inaugural article of a new series on the Holy Crop! blog. This series, Crop Tools, is going to highlight some basic cropping tools found in both hardware and software. These just aren’t any tools, however, these are some of my favorite tools. I am always looking for a tool that does the job easier, better, quicker, or more accurately than the rest of the image editing pack.
Corel acquired PaintShop Pro from Jasc somewhere around version 7 or 8. “EDIT": This was at Version 9 which was sold under both the Jasc and Corel names.” The current iteration is version X3. I use and teach in PaintShop Photo Pro and absolutely love a couple of its tools. One of those tools is specifically related to the cropping process. PSP X3 has a very intuitive perspective correction tool. I love correcting perspective-especially difficult perspectives in PSP-PX3. And, as you recall from previous articles, perspective correction is part of the crop as it removes pixels from your image.
This example image features a low-angle extremely wide capture that is badly in need of some perspective control. Let’s click on the PSP-PX3 Perspective Correction Tool and see what happens.
A rectangle with four handles drops on top of your image. Your job is to move the four corner handles to align the tool with what should-have-been a rectangular portion of your image. Here, I used the four corner handles to draw a line along the fence posts which should have been vertical. Once I have placed the four handles and, by extension, the four lines, I double-click on the tool and PaintShop Photo Pro X3 corrects the perspective.
You can see from the corrected perspective that we lost quite a bit of our image pixels from the edges. That is why perspective correction is a crop by default. One of the things I love about PSP-PX3’s perspective tool is that after it corrects, it leaves the tool in place so you can fine tune it if you missed by a bit. For example, I could go back after perspective by zeroing in on the gate this time and taking another stab at it.
If you are working with buildings, doors, windows, fence lines-just about any man-made object, this Perspective Correction Tool is tailor-made for easy use. In a world full of sometimes hard-to-use slider controls, it is refreshing to use a tool that says: “Find something that’s supposed to be square and put these corners on those corners and voila!”
The Photoshop tool is fairly intuitive as well but it falls a little short of PSP. It leaves you with a non-rectangular image which still must be cropped and it doesn’t leave the perspective correction tool behind for an additional correction.
If you are looking for an inexpensive pixel-based editor with loads of friendly features, I highly recommend Corel PaintShop Photo Pro X3.
Rikk Flohr © 2010