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Paint 101 – Crop, Resize and Rotate Images

Monday, December 30th, 2013 by | Filed Under: Photo Editing, Uncategorized

I recently wrote a tip explaining how shapes work in Paint and got so much positive feedback, I decided to explore the program further. Paint is a basic image editing software that comes free with Windows. In this article, I’ll explain how to open a photo and use paint to crop, resize and rotate the image.

You access paint by selecting the palette icon.


If you don’t see the icon, just search for paint in your Start Menu or Search Charm and choose the Paint icon from the results.

Let’s say this is the photo I want to change.

Start by opening Paint and clicking either the file menu or the drop-down arrow in the upper-left of the screen. Then choose Open.

Select the image you wish to edit and choose Open.

The image will open in Paint.

Since this is clearly on its side, I’m going to rotate it by selecting the arrow beside rotate and choosing Rotate left 90 degrees from the drop-down menu. You can choose other angles of rotation or to flip the image horizontally or vertically.

Now the image appears upright.

One way to alter the image is to resize it. This can be especially helpful when you import very large images from digital cameras that are too large for e-mails or to insert in printed material.  Choose Resize.

You’ll have the option to change the size by Percentage or by Pixels. If maintain aspect ratio is checked, you’ll be protected from accidentally stretching your image in one direction so that it appears distorted. If you need something to be a specific size and it’s a pattern or solid color that wouldn’t be affected by stretching in one direction or the other, you can choose not to check that option. If you resize and image and it looks like a funhouse mirror, it’s probably because you didn’t check Maintain aspect ratio.

Since I know the maximum size of an image that I can insert into an article is 450 pixels, I’m choosing to resize the image to be 450 pixels wide. Select OK and your image will be resized.

My image is now smaller.

You can also make images larger, but you will lose clarity in the picture. 

Another option is to adjust the Skew right or left. Here I’ve adjusted with  20 degrees vertical skew.

Here’s the resulting image. It’s a useful tool for achieving certain effects.

 Another helpful option is the Crop tool. To crop, you first select the shape you want to crop with.  You can choose rectangular or choose to make your selection freehand.

To crop, click the left mouse button and drag it over the area you wish to select. Release the mouse button when you’ve finished the selection.

Select crop again.

Your photo will crop to the selection.

If you have a steady hand, you can use the freehand crop. From the example below, you can see that I do not.

These easy-to-use tools can be quite helpful.

~ Cynthia

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7 Responses to “Paint 101 – Crop, Resize and Rotate Images”

  1. Keith Monson says:

    I like to mess around with editing on Paint but I miss (or am missing) the way to rotate an image I want to past. I know I can make big rotation like 90° and 180° but in the old paint program out could rotate the image by increments of 1°. Can that still be done in the new paint? As for the freehand select tool I turn on my touch screen and use a stylus to trace the image. It’s better then my cheap mouse can do (or my shaking hands).

  2. toni says:

    Keep the paint tips coming please. There is so much I’d like to learn about paint and its capabilities.

    I find it much simpler to go to the file where the pic is, hover the mouse over the pic, right click and select edit. The pic opens up in paint without having to do the beginning steps you mentioned.

  3. Sandi says:

    I agree with Toni,keep the Paint tips coming. I have been editing on an ap on my ipad .The photos I take on the ipad are not the best quality for entering an art show (I’m a pastel Painter).
    Learning to use paint to crop and correct the clarity of the painting is very helpful. Additionally I like to crop or zoom a photo I took to print for use in painting the subject. Thanks Steve .
    Ps I have been receiving your tips for for years and have learned so much.

  4. KC says:

    Apparently this does not apply to the Paint that comes with Windows XP? The article should say “free with Windows _(version)_” not just “free with Windows.” I personally am sick of all these versions of everything and too many articles don’t specify which version(s) they are talking about. I was excited about this great article but then disappointed when my Paint looks different and doesn’t have these features.

  5. Sunny says:

    September 07, 2015.
    For the last 3–yes, three–hours I’ve been frustrated trying to use PAINT in my Windows 7 to crop the face portion from a full body photo. I clicked on SELECT>RECTANGULAR SIZE>MAINTAIN ASPECT RATIO. (“Maintain Aspect Ratio” won’t allow itself to be unchecked although I was going to resort to trying that.) Invariably it distorts and stretches my image out of shape. What is going wrong here? I’ve Googled my heart out and nothing works. Strangely, when I use the freeform selection tool, it works but that’s unacceptable because the borders are horrendously erratic.

  6. Rick says:

    when you grab the corner of the box and you’re going to resize it hold down the shift key. The shift key will make sure that the ratio stays the same

  7. alexander james says:

    Serious MS Paint bug? When I have an image taken on a camera then it is often on its side when loaded into Paint. When I then rotate it by 90 degrees the image is the correct way up but Paint fails to maintain the original ration!!!!!!. For some reason Paint stretches the image vertically by about 14%. You can verify this by drawing a perfect square, rotate and re-measure the sides – stretched, ruined!! I took a photo for a portrait and spent hours drawing it only to find that it looked off (even though I had traced the outline). Rotate in MS-Paint at your peril – your irreplaceable family photos might be ruined for good. I use Win XP, screen res = 1152×864.

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