Stroke is Invisible

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Today’s Question: I am perplexed by my inability to apply a stroke around the edge of a photo. I’ve cropped the image, added a Stroke effect, made sure the Position option was set to “Inside”, but my stroke never appears on the photo. Do you have any idea what is going on here?!

Tim’s Quick Answer: I suspect this is an example of one of the challenges of applying a non-destructive crop. If you crop with the “Delete Cropped Pixels” checkbox turned off, you’ll likely find that adding a Stroke effect works normally again.

More Detail: The Crop tool includes an option to apply the crop non-destructively, meaning pixels you crop out of a photo will be hidden from view but not actually deleted.

This approach provides great flexibility in your workflow, but can also create some unintended side effects. One example is the issue reflected in today’s question. Since the Stroke effect applies at the edge of the image layer to which it is applied, if you apply a non-destructive crop it is possible for the Stroke effect to be added outside the visible area of the image.

When you crop with the “Delete Cropped Pixels” checkbox turned off, the pixels outside the crop box are not actually deleted, but rather hidden from view. In effect, the canvas size is reduced based on your crop dimensions, with the pixels outside the crop area simply being hidden from view.

If you want to add a Stroke effect to the edge of the final crop dimensions, you’ll need to apply a destructive crop to the image, meaning pixels outside the crop will be deleted. You can apply this crop by turning on the “Delete Cropped Pixels” checkbox with the Crop tool.

If you’ve already cropped the image with the “Delete Cropped Pixels” checkbox turned off, you can still apply a crop that will enable you to add a Stroke effect to the image. First, choose Edit > Select All from the menu to select the full visible image. Then choose Image > Crop from the menu to apply a destructive crop based on the full visible image. At this point, adding a Stroke effect will cause the stroke to be visible, provided you use the “Inside” setting for the Position popup, so that the Stroke effect will be added to the visible area of the image.