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I would like to know the difference between the crop tool and changing canvas size.

If I reduce the size of the canvas, a yellow dashed line stays around the previous size. On the other hand, when I crop an image, the yellow dashed line follows.

What is the difference between resizing the canvas and cropping an image?

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    I don't use GIMP, but this sounds like the difference between a hard and soft crop. One destroying the hidden data and one preserving it. Maybe do a quick test. – Kayo Apr 2 '13 at 12:43
  • @kayo that's exactly what it is. – DA01 Apr 8 '13 at 19:00
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When you make your Canvas smaller you are allowing for larger layers around the Canvas, you are just saying: "this is the area of my image that I want to show". When you crop, you crop all the layers, ie: you delete everything outsize the cropping area.

  • For those looking for an answer to this same question, I will add that the yellow dashed line is the limit of the current layer and not the image. That is what confused me. – Gradient Apr 9 '13 at 12:19
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Resizing the canvas is loss-less: it does not throw away any image information.

When you resize the canvas, the individual layers are not cropped at the edges of the image viewport; they each retain their original size, but you can just see less of them. It's still possible to move them around in relation to the viewport or to shrink them, and the image area outside the viewport will have survived. It's also possible to resize the canvas again, back to its previous size, and all the previously visible parts will have survived and be visible once more.

When you crop, any layers that extend outside the image boundary will be cropped and the outlying areas permanently discarded.

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