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I have several high-resolution scans and would like to crop details from them, always using the same aspect ratio (but not necessarily the same size). The intended use is for an article, where each detail is displayed below one of the chapter headings (so they are relatively more wide than tall). What is the best way to achieve this with GIMP?

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The crop tool has an option to lock the aspect ratio (or the absolute size , or the height...). You click Fixed, select Aspect ratio and enter an aspect ration in the form W:H:

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Using the icons at the bottom of the Tools options, you can even save this as a tool preset, and reload it for later use...

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