How To Crop A Photo For Instagram Using Affinity Photo

by Apr 12, 2023Photo Editing Tutorials

Robin Whalley Landscape Photographer

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How To Crop A Photo For Instagram Using Affinity Photo

In this tutorial, we look at how to crop a photo for posting to Instagram. As well as explaining how to crop the image, you will learn how to resize it to the 1080 x 1080 pixels used by Instagram. We also look at fixing a couple of common problems facing Affinity Photo users when cropping photos for Instagram.

The starting point for the process should be a completed image or master file. That’s one that’s been fully edited and that you’re satisfied with. Here’s the example we’ll be using.

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Starting image to be posted to Instagram

Cropping for Instagram in Affinity Photo

Instagram supports several image ratios and dimensions that will look good when posted. We will be using the 1:1 ratio to produce a square image. Square images tend to look good when posted using any Instagram device. You can see an example of this on my Instagram account page below.

Instagram feed showing square images

(You can find me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/robin_whalley/)

Although these images have borders around them, you will notice they are in the square format. If you want to know how to add borders like this to an image see my other tutorial about resizing an image for Instagram. It’s a little more involved but worth the effort.

To create a square crop from our starting image, first open the file in Affinity Photo. You should then be in the Photo Persona. You can then select the Crop Tool from the Tools Palette on the left of the interface as indicated below.

Cropping the image for instagram

When you select the Crop Tool, you can enter the ratio of the crop to create. You do this in the Context Sensitive Toolbar at the top of the screen. Here there is a dropdown where you can select to crop using different ratios. There’s also a “Custom Ratio” option which you can then enter in the two boxes to the right. This provides the most flexibility. Here you can see that a ratio of 1:1 is used to create a square image.

After entering the ratio, you will see a corresponding crop overlay on the image. This shows the area of the image that will remain after cropping. You can reposition the crop box by clicking and dragging it. You can also click and drag the small handles on the corners and edges to resize it. Because you’ve entered a crop ratio, any changes to the size of the overlay will maintain the ratio.

When you’re happy with the crop, click the “Apply” button to the left side of the Context Sensitive Toolbar.

Resizing the Crop for Instagram

You’ve now created a square crop from the image but it’s still not ideal for posting to Instagram. Typically, it will be the wrong size (usually too large). We therefore need to resize the image for Instagram which is 1080 pixels x 1080 pixels.

To resize the image, click the “Document” menu at the top of the interface. Then choose the “Resize document…” option. This displays a Dialog where you can enter the new size of the image.

Resizing the cropped image for instagram

In the Dialog, enter the dimensions 1080 into one of the size fields. Then when you click on the other it should change in proportion. If it doesn’t, enter the same value into the other field. Next, check that the “Units” dropdown is set to pixels. You can then click the “Resize” button to resize the image.

The crop tool in Affinity Photo has a lot of functionality which you can learn about in my cropping tutorial.

An optional step at this point is to also sharpen the image using methods like High-Pass sharpening. This is best done once the image has been resized.

Exporting the Image for Instagram

Now that we have a correctly sized square image, we need to export it in a format Instagram can use. Just saving our image saves it in the Affinity Photo format which Instagram can’t read. We therefore need to export it as a JPEG.

To export the image, click the “File” menu and choose the “Export” option. This displays the Export Dialog which you can see below.

Affinity Photo Export Dialog

At the top of the Export Dialog, you can select the format to use. Affinity Photo supports many formats, but we will choose the JPEG option.

After selecting the JPEG format from the dropdown at the top, you will see the file settings for the JPEG. The top control allows you to set the size. If you have already resized your image you don’t need to use this, and it should display 1080 pixels by 1080 pixels. It does however give you the option of not resizing your image until you come to export it.

The other setting to adjust is the Quality slider. It’s quite possible this will default to the maximum quality of 100. It’s also tempting to set this to 100 but please don’t.

When posting a JPEG on Instagram, it’s better to choose a setting of around 70. This reduces the image file size to around 1/10 of what it would otherwise be, and you’ll see no difference in the image quality. Smaller file sizes prevent Instagram from compressing your image. If you use a larger file size and allow Instagram to apply the compression, your image may not look as good.

Choosing the Document ICC Profile

Another common mistake when cropping an image for Instagram is to not choose the correct ICC profile. The ICC Profile controls the range of colours that can appear in an image.

It’s quite likely when editing an image that you will use a wide colour space like ProPhoto RGB or Adobe RGB. Instagram doesn’t like these colour spaces and will convert them to sRGB. This can produce an unwanted colour shift in the image. It’s therefore best to export your image to the sRGB colour space.

To do this, we will use the Advanced section of the Dialog which you can see below.

Setting the ICC Profile of the file when exporting to Instagram

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In the Advanced section, you will find a dropdown for the “ICC profile”. This probably defaults to “Use document profile”. This means that the exported JPEG will have the same ICC profile as the original document, which is probably the wrong profile. You should therefore click the dropdown and choose the sRGB profile from the list.

Below the ICC profile dropdown, you will see an option to “embed ICC profile”. Ensure that this is ticked. You can toggle it off and on by clicking it with your mouse.

After making these changes, click the Export button. You will then see a Dialog to choose the location to save your file to. After saving your file, it’s ready for upload to Instagram.

Of course, you may not want to crop your image when posting it to Instagram. A great way to avoid cropping but still create a square image is to add a border to it. You can read how to do that in my resizing a photo for Instagram tutorial.

Also don’t forget to check out my books “Essential Affinity Photo 2” and “Affinity Photo How To” to learn more about using Affinity Photo.

More Affinity Photo Tutorials

You’ll find more high quality, free tutorials on my Affinity Photo Tutorials page.

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