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Learn Photography

Photoshop Elements >

Cropping >

Shapes - Cookie Cutter Tool

You can use the Cookie Cutter tool to crop your photograph as a shape.

For example, if this starburst shape is used . . .


On the clown below . . .


You get this:


Be sure to check off as you go along.


1) Preserve your original file.

If you haven't already done so, go to Preserve Your Original File.

2) Create a Background copy layer.

If you haven't already done so, go to Create a Background Copy Layer.

Cookie Cutter Tool

3) Make sure the Background copy is active (highlighted).

Background copy


5) Select the Cookie Cutter tool.

6) In options bar/Tool Options, open the Shape menu.

There are lots of shapes.

Do the following.

a) Make the Shapes menu larger.

Click, hold, on the lower-right corner of the Shapes menu, and drag.

b) Open the shape categories menu.

Click the tiny white arrow in the upper-right corner of the Shapes menu.


c) Select a category of shapes.


7) Select a shape, and close the Shapes menu.

If a shape is solid black, the entire image inside the shape will be selected.

If a shape has a white area inside of it, the portion of the image in the white area won't appear in the cropped shape.

For example, here's the difference between the two shapes below.


The solid shapes does this:


The non-solid shape does this:


8) Position the cursor on your photograph, click, hold, and drag.

Commit or Cancel

9) Click the green check mark, or press Enter, to commit the cropping.

To cancel, click the red circle-with-diagonal, or press Esc.


Nothing Happened!

You won't see the shape.

That's because the Background layer is "filling in" where the shape isn't present.

Click the eye icon for the Background layer to hide the layer.


Now, you can see the shape.

Fine Tune

There are four ways you can fine tune your use of the Cookie Cutter tool.

Way #1 - Shape Options

Click Shape Options in options bar/Tool Options.


Here's what the options do.


You can click, hold, and drag the shape to any size.

Defined Proportions

You can click, hold, and drag the shape to any size, and the aspect ratio of the shape chosen from the Shape box is maintained.

Defined Size

The shape is the preset size of the shape.

Fixed Size

You can enter specific values in the Width and Height boxes.

From Center

This selection can be used with any of the above options.

The center is where you place the cursor.

The shape is drawn from the center, outward.

To make the Cookie Cutter Options menu disappear after making your selection, click on a blank area on your screen.

Way #2 - Feather

In options bar/Tool Options, you can choose to feather the shape.

Feathering creates an edge that fades out by becoming increasingly transparent and lighter.

Way #3 - Crop

In options bar/Tool Options, qwerty

Way #4 - Move It & More

Move the shape

Use the arrow keys to move the marquee.

Or, click inside the marquee, hold, and drag it.

Change the size of the shape

There are two ways you can change the size of the shape:

1) Click, hold, and drag the handles on the corners and sides of the shape.

If you press Shift, and click, hold, and drag one of the corner handles, the aspect ratio of the shape is maintained.

2) Enter dimensions in the Width and Height boxes in options bar/Tool Options.

Check the dimensions of the shape

Open the Info panel to see the exact dimensions of the shape.

Look for W and H.

To change to inches from pixels, or vice versa, go to Preferences.

Rotate the shape

The shape can be rotated by placing the cursor in the area outside the shape.

The cursor will change to a curved, two-sided, arrow.

Click, hold, and drag.

Click the green check mark.

The angle of the rotation is shown in the Info panel.

To change the size of the oval photograph, use Transform.

Change the size of the shape

To change the size of the shape, use the Free Transform tool.

Go to Transform.


You can move the shape to another photograph.

Do the following.

a) Select the Move tool.

b) Click, hold, on the shape (not the layer in the layers stack), and drag it to the thumbnail of another photograph in the project bin/photo bin.

If you haven't already done so, go to Move a Layer.



The area around the cropped photograph, the checkerboard area, is transparent.

If you save the shape as a JPEG, the transparent area will become white.

To preserve the transparency, save the photograph using the GIF or PNG file formats.

Saving the Photograph

If you haven't already done so, go to Saving Files.