Preparing headshots to exact size

This is something that comes up from time to time, often for Senior Yearbooks. They ask for images of a certain size, and in particular they want the head sizes to be very precise. Here’s an example from a while ago. The specs were:

Yearbook headshot images:

  • 2.5" by 3.5" 300ppi jpeg
  • Head size: 1" from tip of chin to top of forehead

Here’s a way to do it:

  1. Make a new blank document, 1 inch x 1inch @ 300ppi.
  2. File > Place Embedded to place your photo into the new 1 inch document.
    (In Elements and older versions of Photoshop, it's just File>Place.)
  3. When placed, the image will have the transform handles to allow you to resize your photo until it fits the 1 inch height exactly as specified (chin to top of forehead). Press Enter to commit the transformation.
  4. Image > Reveal All.
  5. Choose your Rectangular Marquee Tool. Choose "Fixed Size" in the options bar, and enter 2.5in, 3.5in.
  6. Place your marquee on the image, and move around where you want the crop to fall.
  7. Image > Crop.
  8. Ctrl D to deselect.

At the end of all this, it should give you a 2.5 x 3.5 inch image, in which the head is exactly 1 inch high. Obviously, you can modify the above instructions depending on the specifications you’ve been given.

By the way, don’t forget to submit your jpegs in sRGB colour space, unless you’ve been given very specific instructions to the contrary. If they ask for CMYK, make sure you find out exactly what CMYK profile is required.


If you have a question about this article, please feel free to post it in Ask Damien.