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I have tested tried out a couple of image-cropping modules listed here. None of them seemed to meet my expectation, but chances are I was doing something wrong. That's why I'm looking for your experience.

What I want is to enable the admin-to-be to manually select the area and crop uploaded images to a square based. I don't want to rely on automatic scale-and-crop effect provided by Drupal as it may trim the image inappropriately. So, I'd expect the module to offer a per-instance cropping.

Has anyone encountered that kind of capabilities?

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The Manual Crop module does the best job.

To quote the project page:

The Manual Crop module exposes a set of image style effects that enables users, if enabled in the widget settings, to crop (and scale) an image after uploading.

Essentially this means you can choose a different crop area for each image style used.

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This allows per instance cropping if you use the CKEDITOR + Media module: http://drupal.org/project/media_crop

This is discussed in-detail on this blog post: http://www.drupalgardens.com/documentation/image-editor

I also used to use the Image Resize Filter: http://drupal.org/project/image_resize_filter

The last time I checked this did not work with Media based images because Image Resize Filter inserted its own image markup different from Media module's markup. Also Image Resize Filter (has never?) worked in WebKit based browsers.

EDIT:

note i didnt say media_crop works with ckeditor+wysiwyg module. I have done a far amount of image_styles in D7, used Media and various WYSIWYG editors + Fields. It's not pain free.

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