Cropping images for social media is fairly common task, and one that Photoshop can excel at. In this tutorial,
Matthew Pizzi – curriculum director at professional learning platform Pluralsight – shows you the best way to create a Photoshop file that lets you to easily export images for different social media posts and platforms.
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I've used personal images for my own social media presence here – but the same rules apply for brand pages and presences.
There are a ton of different image sizes across the different social media channels. For reference, here are the specs for the most popular: Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
The Facebook dimensions for posts are 1,200 x 630px, 1,200 x 627px and 1,200 x 717px.
For cover photos and profile photos, the dimensions are 828 x 315px and 180 x 180px.
With LinkedIn, there is the profile image and the career cover photo, the dimensions are: 400 x 400px for the profile photo and 974 x 330px for the cover photo
Likewise, we have several for Twitter: 400 x 400px for the profile photo, 1,500 x 500px for the header photo and 440 x 220px for the in-stream photo.
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Let’s create a new document. In the New Document dialog box, you want to select the Web category, and then specify the dimensions of one of your graphics.
Let’s go with 828 x 315px, the Facebook cover photo. Also, make sure you leave the Artboards option selected as this will allow us to add additional graphics within this single document.
When creating several images within a single document it’s really important to stay organised. To do this rename your Artboard to easily identify what the graphic represents. Double-click the Artboard name in the Layers panel and type 'Facebook Cover Photo'.
As you know, we have quite a few graphics we need to create. The goal is to create Artboards for each of the graphics we need. There are several ways to create new Artboards in Photoshop, but, for this example, we’ll go to the menu system and choose
Layer > New > Artboards.
Name the Artboard based on the graphic you want to create. Then enter the dimensions for that graphic. In this case, I’ll type 'Facebook Shared Image' for the name and set the width to 1,200px and the height to 630px.
You need to repeat the previous step for as many different social media graphics you want to create. In this case, I created graphics for the different images needed for Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
Remember, the images represent two different categories of artwork: profile artwork, and assets you want to share.
There are three different graphics we’ll use in each of these images. First, is a profile photo, typically something like a headshot. Next, is the cover photo; some type of personal or corporate branding. Last, is an image or ad you want to share. Ideally, you should source all of these graphics in resolutions higher than your largest image.
We’ll first work with the profile image. Select the 'Facebook Profile Photo Artboard' in the Layers panel. The choose
File > Place Embedded…
This will open a dialog box where you can source the headshot picture. Highlight the picture you want and click Place.
The image will have a resize box around it, and the image will scale to fit the dimensions of the Artboard. In this case, it’s 30%.
Change the width and height values to 100% and press
Enter on your keyboard. This will make the image too large, but it will allow us to create a Smart Object in the next step.
Now that the image is its original size, we now can convert the image to a smart object. This gives us the most flexibility if we ever have to update the image.
This is important because we’ll use several instances of this same image across the document. Select the image in the Layers panel, right-click and choose Convert to Smart Object.
Now the image is a Smart Object and we need to resize it so it fits the dimensions of the Artboard.
With the correct layer selected you can choose
Edit > Free Transform, and either resize the image with the bounding box or, if you remember the width and height percentages, you can type them into the Options bar.
We want the Smart Object to be stored in a central location, so we’ll drag the Smart Object thumbnail into the Libraries panel. Store it either in a Library you already have, or create a new one.
Once you drag the Smart Object, it becomes cloud based. Your Smart Object will now have small cloud appear on top of it.
Now you can drag the Smart Object from the Creative Cloud Library to any Artboard that needs that graphic. In this case, we’ll need the same image for our Twitter/LinkedIn image.
Remember, we sized the image as large as we could before converting to a Smart Object so it will fill the larger Artboard without any issues.
You’ll now repeat this same process for the other social media graphics you’re looking to create. Remember to make sure the image is the largest possible size before converting to a Smart Object. Then store that Smart Object in the cloud so it’s in one central location. Again, this makes updating the images much easier.
With all the graphics in the place, let’s export them out so we can use them on our social media pages. Choose
File > Export > Artboards to Files. This command will allow us to export all the graphics across all Artboards in one simple step.
In the dialog box, choose a location where you want to save the files. Choose a prefix name, and choose the Artboard Only option in this case. I selected PNG for the file type, but you can choose what works best for you. When you’re happy with your settings click Run.
After clicking run, you’ll see Photoshop automatically start exporting each of the individual Artboards. When it’s complete, a dialog box will appear indicating that the process is complete. Click OK to return back to Photoshop. All of your images have been exported.
And you're done!
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