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How to Cut Out the Subject From the Background in Photoshop

This video by Chris from Spoon Graphics does a good job of going over many of the options available inside Photoshop for cutting things out. The most common use is to cut out the subject from the background, to place it on a different image or background – as in when making composite images.

Watch as he goes over the options for cutting things out:

Quick and dirty selection tools and methods:

  • Eraser tool (not the best choice, this is shown in the video)
  • The Magic Wand tool
  • Quick Selection tool

Pro techniques tools include:

  • Manually drawing the selection
  • Lasso tool (can be frustrating and tricky to use)
  • Pen tool (also using Paths)
  • Tonal selection
  • Channels (plus Curves or Levels)
  • Color range (quick selections based on tones in an image)
  • Layer masks
  • Refine edge tool
  • Defringe to remove halos and outlines
  • Paint hair back in manually
  • Buy a Photoshop plugin like Topaz Remask

Here’s a second video from Glyn Dewis that puts some of those techniques to use to cut out a tree from the background.

Do you know any other methods for doing cut outs? What’s your favorite? Please share in the comments below.

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Darlene Hildebrandt
Darlene Hildebrandt

is an educator who teaches aspiring amateurs and hobbyists how to improve their skills through free articles on her website Digital Photo Mentor, online photography classes, and travel tours to exotic places like Peru, Thailand, India, Cuba, Morocco, Bhutan, Vietnam and more. To help you improve and learn she has two email mini-courses. Sign up for her free beginner OR portrait photography email mini-course here. Or get both, no charge!

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