How to crop an image in Illustrator

Updated: 10th April 2017.

The part about “No Crop Tool” written below is no longer true. The latest version of Adobe Illustrator now has the Crop tool. (Big Grin :-))

Just update to the latest version of Illustrator and get cropping! You can still use Clipping masks, Opacity Masks, or Artboards. This just adds the another tool in your kit.

One of the common queries that people ask us, when they’re starting off with Adobe Illustrator, is how to crop an image. Cropping an image is one of the basic tasks that most people expect to get done.

While there is no “Crop tool” in Illustrator, and am sure that you do understand why. Cropping is easy to do when it’s a bunch of pixels that you need to remove. But in the case of vector artwork its not that simple. Simply removing the anchor points and paths outside the desired area does not sound like a good idea to me. To preserve the design intent, we need hide or mask, the content that we don’t need. In Illustrator, we have several methods to achieve an image “crop.” While, technically, we won’t be cropping an image, we can hide or mask the areas that we do not want. We can use Masks: Opacity masks and Clipping masks, and Artboards.

Erica Larson, created a series of videos to show you the how to use masks to crop an image.

Cropping images using Opacity Masks


Cropping images using Clipping Masks


Erica Larson is a BFA Design student at Pacific Northwest College of Art, and an intern with Adobe’s Community Help and Learning group. She hopes to bring the separate pleasures of digital and traditional media together to create work that is tactile and intimate but also takes advantage of the rapid and dynamic communication provided by technology. Erica is inspired by underground comic books, vintage signage and wood type, Japanese food packaging, kittens, Mad Men, Motown, and Herbert Matter.

Cropping using Artboard tool [Added 4/18/2013]

If you want to export to an image format, and use it on the web, there is another nifty way to crop: Use Artboards. The Artboard tool (Shift Control+O) is the simplest way to crop artwork for export, and at the same time preserve the design intent and source. Non-destructive crop, if you will.


  1. Add and resize the artboard, and then position it over your artwork as desired.
  2. Choose File > Save for Web, and select the desired Artboard

This works as a non-destructive crop. You don’t really crop the artwork, but effectively crop the output. You can even define multiple and overlapping artboards to different outputs from the same artwork.


  1. #1 by John McClean on December 21, 2016 - 1:30 am

    Thanks for this. I was struggling with it. You’d think something as basic as cropping would be easy but I couldn’t find the tool anywhere. Much prefer Photoshop but obviously it doesn’t have the vector properties needed for proper design.

  2. #2 by Rachel Logic on May 1, 2017 - 2:07 am

    this took me ages to figure out. why cant it be more like photoshops crop tool :(

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