How to Cut Out Images Like a Professional in Photoshop

There are many different ways to cut out images in Photoshop. Well, in this tutorial I am going to show you how I cut out images. I haven’t really seen this method anywhere else on the web, so I figured I’d share it. It uses a soft brush edge so the edges don’t look so sharp. This is not a magic wand tutorial!

Final Image will look like this

Step 1

Find a picture that you want to cut out. The one I’m using can be found at http://www.sxc.hu/photo/808969.

Picture to be cut out

Step 2

Set the Foreground color to Black and the Background color to White.

Step 3

Select the brush tool and set your Master Diameter to 10px and your Hardness to 0%.

Brush Tool

Step 4

Unlock the layer, then add a layer mask to the photo.

Unlock Layer and Layer Mask

Step 5

Zoom in close and use the brush tool to outline your image. Hold down shift for long straight areas. (I usually hold down shift practically the whole way through to get a natural/flowing line.) If you want to get the smaller parts, you can change the size of your brush to a size smaller than 10px.

Cutting the image

Step 6

When you’re done, hold down OPTION (ALT for Windows) and CLICK (at the same time) the layer mask. Be sure you’re clicking the mask on the layer and not just the layer itself. Once you click, this is what your image should look like.

Cut Out

Step 7

Select the Magic Wand tool and make sure Contiguous is checked and Anti-alias is not checked. Then click the outside white area (aka the area you don’t want in the picture). Also be sure to add other areas of the image that might get left out to the selection, such as the middle part in between the two stems.

Step 8

Go to the the toolbar and go to SELECT > MODIFY > EXPAND and change it to 5px.

Modify Pixels

Step 9

Change the Background color to black and then press the Delete key.

Step 10

There will still probably be a few tiny areas that I didn’t get, such as in the corners of the flowers. So in that case, I will go back and take my 5px brush and fill in those sections to make them black. Make sure the foreground is Black when you’re doing this. You can hold down Option and Click at the same time on the layer mask itself to go back and fourth to see the actual image.

Time to fix up

Step 11

When you’re finally done cutting it out, go ahead and hold down Option and Click at the same time on the layer mask itself and that’s it. You’re done!

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138 thoughts on “How to Cut Out Images Like a Professional in Photoshop

  • August 21, 2009 at 11:05 pm
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    I personally tend to use Quick Mask when doing changes like this because it’s possible to change back and forward when masking it.

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  • August 22, 2009 at 5:47 am
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    Thanks for nice tutorial 🙂

    Reply
  • August 23, 2009 at 5:22 am
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    Thanks for the tip. I have never cut out my images using this process but I will give it a go.

    I have always used the pen tool, zoomed in for accuracy and created the work path. I then save the path and make selection from it. I then invert the selection and delete the area I have inverted. Some parts of the image will need softening up with a brush.

    Great thing about Photoshop is there are lots of methods with the same outcome.

    Reply
  • August 23, 2009 at 9:10 am
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    this was like the first method i used when i started using photoshop, honestly it’s really not that professional but it can get your work done… only things u need to be careful at are the hardness and size of the brush…when gettin into really tight angles it’s really a pain resizing the brush every time…so…those are the pro and contras

    Reply
  • August 23, 2009 at 3:09 pm
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    There’s obviously many ways to cut out images. This is one way that I thought many people weren’t aware of. I just love how it gives a soft edge for blending.

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  • August 29, 2009 at 11:02 pm
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    I haven’t tried this method of removing the background form an image. I will have to try it.

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  • September 24, 2009 at 12:44 am
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    this was awesome…..very easy instructions to follow, and the best way to cut out images! perfect, thanks!!!

    Reply
  • September 25, 2009 at 9:26 am
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    Great tutorial, I will have to give this a go the next time I am using layer masks.

    Reply
  • September 26, 2009 at 1:57 pm
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    The method explained by you is just amazing. Previously, I knew some simple methods of cutting but not this one. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

    Reply
  • November 6, 2009 at 9:27 pm
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    i need yalll to help me out. how to cut picture in to shapes .

    Reply
  • November 25, 2009 at 12:04 am
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    I have never seen this method and right now I have to say I TOTALLY LOVE It, thank you so much you made it so much easier than the nasty extract too lol

    Reply
  • December 16, 2009 at 5:30 am
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    Hi…
    very good tutorial. i am webdesigner, looking for more like this one.
    thanks.

    Reply
  • December 31, 2009 at 9:35 am
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    Nice smooth option but for me, Photoshop Pen tool always: create path using the pen then load as selection from the paths palette. A one-step process which, when mastered, means you never have to use any other for cutting out.

    Reply
  • January 19, 2010 at 6:56 am
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    Wow!

    This tut is absolutely fantastic.

    I have to take many product shots at work and before I was just zooming in and cutting away at the background.

    This is going to save me so much time.

    I need to hook up my tablet as well so I can quickly just draw around it more precisely with it.

    Reply
  • February 16, 2010 at 1:28 pm
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    i usually duplicate my pic,go 2 channels,color range……………………………………. n make my entire pic as dark den ipaint unwanted parts white and missed areas i want to keep w/a sharp brush(black) then u select the area go back to layers and click delete. this works perfect especially if u want to cut out an afro.lol or loose hair. link me up if u want the entire tut.photoshop tips and tricks

    Reply
  • April 19, 2010 at 6:04 am
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    it is greet work
    thanks
    iwill but your lesson in my site
    my0horse.co.cc

    Reply
  • April 19, 2010 at 10:17 pm
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    I supposed that you will certainly receive many free traffics from others promoting your atcile in the process.

    Reply
  • April 27, 2010 at 12:57 pm
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    Very good tutorial. Bravo!!!

    Reply
  • May 4, 2010 at 10:28 pm
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    always enjoy reading your blogs, will show this to my daughter who was asking me about the very same thing today.

    Reply
  • May 30, 2010 at 6:36 am
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    I supposed that have certainly receive many free traffics from others promoting your artile in the process.

    Reply
  • June 9, 2010 at 11:43 am
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    A prime example of a bad tutorial. I’m new to Photoshop and you haven’t told me how to set the foreground.

    Reply
  • June 26, 2010 at 10:05 am
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    When I hold Alt and click on the Layer Mask, it just turns the entire image white. What am I doing wrong?

    Reply
  • August 24, 2010 at 9:01 am
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    I can seem to do the option and click thing!

    Reply
  • August 26, 2010 at 11:00 am
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    Very very nice and fluently explained.. i am really gained a very important knowledge by this.. thank you alot….

    Reply
  • September 9, 2010 at 6:54 am
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    first tutorial i learned from, huge thanks

    Reply
  • October 6, 2010 at 12:07 am
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    interesting post, thanks, with the multitude of blogs lately, i like the amount of good info we are able to find

    Reply
  • October 6, 2010 at 4:21 pm
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    Violence won’t solve a thing. It makes it more challenging to solve, though. Bring on Chuck!

    Reply
  • October 22, 2010 at 3:07 pm
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    Hay! schöner Beitrag, aber ich sehe das du nicht genug Besucher hast.. ich empfehle dir ein Bannertauschprogramm wie z.B http://clixor.de …das funktioniert ziemlich gut =)

    Reply
  • December 7, 2010 at 12:30 am
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    interesting post, thanks, with the multitude of blogs lately, i like the amount of good info that we are able to find

    Reply
  • December 14, 2010 at 3:50 am
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    Nice post, more detailed would be better but rather interesting, thanks.

    Reply
  • December 15, 2010 at 12:37 am
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    interesting post, thanks, with the multitude of blogs lately, i like the amount of good info that we are able to find on just about everything.

    Reply
  • December 15, 2010 at 7:30 am
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    What do I need to do when I want to cut out a background from a jewelry image???
    Thanks in advance!!

    Reply
  • December 15, 2010 at 4:52 pm
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    hi, good website, including a very good examine! one for my bookmarks

    Reply
  • January 6, 2011 at 2:46 am
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    Nice smooth option but for me, Photoshop Pen tool always: create path using the pen then load as selection from the paths palette. A one-step process which, when mastered, means you never have to use any other for cutting out.

    Reply
  • January 6, 2011 at 6:26 am
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    I just want to kill my self when i read your article… 🙁

    Reply
  • January 18, 2011 at 12:09 pm
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    As they say in China – Wisdom is attained by learning when to hold one’s tongue. 🙂

    Reply
  • January 23, 2011 at 9:28 pm
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    how to use Photoshop cutter

    Reply
  • January 23, 2011 at 9:29 pm
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    how to use cutter

    Reply
  • January 23, 2011 at 9:31 pm
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    I can seem to do the option and click cutter

    Reply
  • January 26, 2011 at 7:41 am
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    Hmm, how to change Foreground and Background colors?

    Reply
  • January 29, 2011 at 11:57 pm
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    Thanks for sharing this information, great post!!

    Reply
  • February 15, 2011 at 2:52 am
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    Great tutorial, you explain the process very clearly

    Reply
  • March 12, 2011 at 3:13 pm
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  • March 26, 2011 at 4:35 am
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    Thanks.. i really love this website. Filled with quality stuff

    Reply
  • May 26, 2011 at 9:22 am
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    urm… What about with the photoshop elements 9? whenever did Option and clicked it just changed to the paint selector.

    Reply
  • June 7, 2011 at 2:25 am
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    Sometimes the simple methods are the most effective. This is quite labour intensive but gives much better results than trying to find short cuts. Thanks for the tutorial

    Reply
  • June 17, 2011 at 11:25 am
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    I have the old Adobe Photoshop 7.0 but can it be used to do this or is it too old?
    Wonder if it has any upgrade value, I did not see it listed…. ancient I guess..

    Reply
  • June 21, 2011 at 12:06 pm
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    thank u very much for this method i always use to cut the image using pen tool but it won’t look in proper.. but after i follow this method it’s excellent way to cut of the images….

    Reply
  • July 6, 2011 at 2:47 am
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    Probably the best tutorial I have found for cutting out images. Definatley a keeper! Thanks.

    Reply
  • August 9, 2011 at 4:03 am
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    Thank you! It really helped!

    Reply
  • August 26, 2011 at 1:20 am
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    Fantastic – I would definitely articulate, shocked with your online site. I had no difficulty navigating through all the tab as well as related information finished up being seriously easy to do to access. Not long ago i found what I hoped for before you know it in the least. Quite unusual. Will probably appreciate it for those who add boards or something, internet site template . a tones way for your client to communicate. Nice job.

    Reply
  • September 12, 2011 at 4:56 pm
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    thank you for this, great points to concentrate on.

    Reply
  • October 12, 2011 at 1:35 pm
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    ok ive been going through all the steps … sometimes when i use the brush, it wont outline, others it outlines in black or white ….. whats happening and why cant i get it right?

    Reply
  • November 1, 2011 at 6:15 am
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    thank you !!! very much….!!!

    Reply
  • November 26, 2011 at 12:37 pm
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    I got stuck at Step 4 because I didn’t know how to do a layer mask. I looked on the internet but none of those worked in the way that it shows in the picture so the steps after that didn’t work either. It would be nice if you could show how to do a layer mask the way you did it.

    Reply
  • December 10, 2011 at 4:46 pm
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    Thank you so much for this, you are a hero!

    Reply
  • December 18, 2011 at 9:17 am
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    This is very helpful for me
    thanks

    Reply
  • December 23, 2011 at 4:29 am
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  • December 26, 2011 at 9:21 am
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    hiiii iam not getting how to apply 6th step !!! which option (alt window ??)?& click ???
    plz tell me this option & hw to unlock ???

    Reply
  • December 27, 2011 at 11:18 am
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    The link for the image is a 404.

    Reply
  • January 6, 2012 at 12:48 am
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    want works for do

    Reply
  • April 19, 2012 at 2:24 am
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    This was very helpfull, thanks!

    Reply
  • April 22, 2012 at 2:59 am
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    wow!! this is a lot cooler way to perfectly cut out images. was really helpfull!

    Reply
  • April 28, 2012 at 10:03 am
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    Pls let me have your email address.

    Reply
  • May 18, 2012 at 6:39 am
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    I think itz d best way of cuttin images as it do
    away wid d sharp edges. love it

    Reply
  • May 27, 2012 at 11:52 pm
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    thanks for not explaining how to unlock a layer while adding a layer mask and set the master diameter, i got stuck and discovered what i needed was in paint anyways

    Reply
  • June 8, 2012 at 3:49 pm
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    You earn quite a few applicable items with your page and even would likely think that a lot of.

    Reply
  • June 20, 2012 at 11:50 pm
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    i dont get it it wont work

    Reply
  • August 3, 2012 at 3:29 am
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    it gives great help to me

    Reply
  • August 20, 2012 at 4:37 pm
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    this is a great tool, but please help me! Once i have the photo with checkerboard background – how do i save it?! When I save as a jpeg, the photo comes up with a white background, not transparent. i have been trying to use this photoshop program for weeks now and am ready to give up! thanks!!!

    Reply
  • August 28, 2012 at 8:54 am
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    It does not give me the option to modify?

    Reply
  • August 28, 2012 at 8:56 am
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    My bad i skipped a step

    Reply
  • September 4, 2012 at 9:28 am
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    Very Nice
    This was very helpfull,

    thanks!

    Reply
  • November 19, 2012 at 4:36 am
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    After I originally commented I appear to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on every time a comment is added I recieve 4 emails with the exact same comment. Perhaps there is a way you are able to remove me from that service? Kudos!

    Reply
  • March 21, 2013 at 7:01 am
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  • May 12, 2013 at 1:33 pm
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    Greg: I got everything to work out the way it was supposed to, but at the end, how do I get rid of the checkerboard pattern/background so I can clearly see the outline. I am pretty new to Photoshop, but I like your method. Thanks

    Reply
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  • October 1, 2013 at 9:41 am
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    I thought this was a genuinely good blog publish. I normally like reading content pieces similar to this a single. I should experience more of your posts.

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  • January 4, 2015 at 8:07 am
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    Ok Love this, except I think I screwed up. I can’t seem to get to step 11. I did all touch ups. But I do not get a white background.

    Reply
  • January 4, 2015 at 8:08 am
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    @ Zeke – I have the same problem.

    Reply

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