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How to Cut Out Images Like a Professional in Photoshop

Posted in Resources with 134 Comments

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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About the Author

Greg loves design, marketing, and new media. You can follow him on Twitter @gregdougherty.

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  • Stefan
    08-21-09

    I personally tend to use Quick Mask when doing changes like this because it’s possible to change back and forward when masking it.

  • Pedro Assuncao
    08-22-09

    Sweet. Thanks for the tip :)

  • Leftfield
    08-22-09

    Thanks for nice tutorial :)

  • Lincoln Plumber
    08-23-09

    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.

  • eduardc_4d
    08-23-09

    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

  • Greg Dougherty
    08-23-09

    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.

  • Lincoln Plumber
    08-24-09

    Greg – I wasn’t aware of this method so many thanks for introducing it.

  • Free Tutorials
    08-26-09

    amazing

  • Mark
    08-29-09

    I haven’t tried this method of removing the background form an image. I will have to try it.

  • marie
    09-24-09

    this was awesome…..very easy instructions to follow, and the best way to cut out images! perfect, thanks!!!

  • Mat
    09-25-09

    Great tutorial, I will have to give this a go the next time I am using layer masks.

  • 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.

  • how do you do that ?
    11-06-09

    i need yalll to help me out. how to cut picture in to shapes .

  • Angela
    11-25-09

    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

  • Not seen this method before, totally going to try it next time, thanks!

  • Rajan
    12-16-09

    Hi…
    very good tutorial. i am webdesigner, looking for more like this one.
    thanks.

  • Phil
    12-31-09

    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.

  • Anime
    01-01-10

    this will help me

  • Muxx
    01-19-10

    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.

  • moumouh47
    02-13-10

    Cool tip it will help many people ( like me :p )

    thanks

  • luda
    02-16-10

    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

  • Nice.

  • А можно узнать как это делается?

  • vstnwlul
    04-07-10

    Как складно все получается

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  • amr
    04-19-10

    it is greet work
    thanks
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  • Best TV Model
    04-19-10

    I supposed that you will certainly receive many free traffics from others promoting your atcile in the process.

  • bancuri
    04-23-10

    Greg,

  • DanC
    04-27-10

    Very good tutorial. Bravo!!!

  • thanks, i dont know much about photoshop but this is very useful

  • Translation LA
    05-04-10

    always enjoy reading your blogs, will show this to my daughter who was asking me about the very same thing today.

  • nail care
    05-11-10

    Thx for sharing.I’ll back later.

  • love my bikes
    05-13-10

    This post has got some really good information thanks.

  • Luis
    05-14-10

    Love it! Keep blogging!

  • Pozdnjakov
    05-18-10

    Елки, правильная новость

  • В принципе, написавший убого отжег.

  • hohawsi
    05-18-10

    В целом, отстойная заметка

  • Heeda
    05-19-10

    Sorry that I found too late … :(

  • PetrossE
    05-20-10

    Yeah, I aggre to this. Very good post. Go on…

  • 55cvb
    05-24-10

    Oh, very useful information, thanks.

  • itthonot
    05-27-10
  • ht_eric
    05-30-10

    Article tr

  • suis_zen
    05-30-10

    I supposed that have certainly receive many free traffics from others promoting your artile in the process.

  • farid_ab
    05-30-10

    Nice and very interesting post. Tanks.

  • Annon
    06-09-10

    A prime example of a bad tutorial. I’m new to Photoshop and you haven’t told me how to set the foreground.

  • Minhquan Nguyen
    06-26-10

    When I hold Alt and click on the Layer Mask, it just turns the entire image white. What am I doing wrong?

  • steam shower
    07-04-10

    I enjoy reading things like this thanks for the information.

  • Pepechulo
    07-13-10

    Excelente art

  • phone list
    08-14-10

    Wow.. Its nice.

  • Sarah
    08-24-10

    I can seem to do the option and click thing!

  • Raganork
    08-26-10

    Very very nice and fluently explained.. i am really gained a very important knowledge by this.. thank you alot….

  • Indeed! Very Nice Article

  • dean
    09-09-10

    first tutorial i learned from, huge thanks

  • Adam Mason
    09-19-10

    I love your work going to keep an eye on your site!

  • Anna Tosken
    09-21-10

    Great Job, I like tutorials online from megavideo

  • Bticino
    10-06-10

    interesting post, thanks, with the multitude of blogs lately, i like the amount of good info we are able to find

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    10-06-10

    Violence won’t solve a thing. It makes it more challenging to solve, though. Bring on Chuck!

  • Sven Mawby
    10-22-10

    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 =)

  • Anonymous
    10-30-10

    Great Post,Thank you very much,ill favorite it!

  • Folclor Neamt
    12-07-10

    interesting post, thanks, with the multitude of blogs lately, i like the amount of good info that we are able to find

  • molash
    12-14-10

    Nice post, more detailed would be better but rather interesting, thanks.

  • 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.

  • db
    12-15-10

    What do I need to do when I want to cut out a background from a jewelry image???
    Thanks in advance!!

  • Picass
    12-15-10

    hi, good website, including a very good examine! one for my bookmarks

  • Dipak
    01-06-11

    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.

  • tepes
    01-06-11

    I just want to kill my self when i read your article… :(

  • ?????
    01-08-11

    Hi

  • SexPistols
    01-18-11

    As they say in China – Wisdom is attained by learning when to hold one’s tongue. :)

  • mohit dhawan
    01-23-11

    how to use Photoshop cutter

  • mohit dhawan
    01-23-11

    how to use cutter

  • mohit dhawan
    01-23-11

    I can seem to do the option and click cutter

  • Fuzzion
    01-26-11

    Hmm, how to change Foreground and Background colors?

  • wika
    01-29-11

    Thanks for sharing this information, great post!!

  • kropped
    02-15-11

    Great tutorial, you explain the process very clearly

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    03-26-11

    Thanks.. i really love this website. Filled with quality stuff

  • faith
    03-30-11

    great tip,thanks

  • faith
    03-30-11

    great tip.

  • BigDogStudioX
    04-28-11

    Good tutorial. I did a blog on image cutting that might help give people some ideas

    http://www.blog.digital-stationery.co.uk/2011/03/your-current-location-is-perfect/

  • Presenter
    05-18-11

    Great, will help out a lot. Thanks!

  • Anna
    05-26-11

    urm… What about with the photoshop elements 9? whenever did Option and clicked it just changed to the paint selector.

  • Yotari
    06-07-11

    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

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  • Tom
    06-17-11

    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..

  • Yuvaraj
    06-21-11

    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….

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    06-22-11

    if you need great budget stock photos check out http://www.pixmac.com – 11 million images including 40,000 free ones :)

  • Matt P
    07-06-11

    Probably the best tutorial I have found for cutting out images. Definatley a keeper! Thanks.

  • eliza
    08-09-11

    Thank you! It really helped!

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    08-26-11

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  • Jane
    09-01-11

    lotta comments

  • david
    09-02-11

    very nice and great.. thnk u..

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  • Erric
    09-11-11

    it worked for me , thnxs.

  • Aimee
    09-12-11

    thank you for this, great points to concentrate on.

  • justin
    10-12-11

    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?

  • sachintha - sri lanka
    11-01-11

    thank you !!! very much….!!!

  • Jenny
    11-26-11

    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.

  • Nick
    12-10-11

    Thank you so much for this, you are a hero!

  • selis
    12-18-11

    This is very helpful for me
    thanks

  • sanjay
    12-23-11

    Worked as Team leader in Rajmeen photo gallery, Ahmdabad, Gujrat, May-2006 to May 2010
    Rajmeen photo gallery I am qaullty manejar super w . trenning a photoshop . restiretion job work .retouching job photo retouching karizma alabem work in photosho
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  • sandeep palyal
    12-26-11

    hiiii iam not getting how to apply 6th step !!! which option (alt window ??)?& click ???
    plz tell me this option & hw to unlock ???

  • nina
    12-27-11

    nice tutorial! there’s a website that offers cut out images like these… try layercake elements

  • VBW
    12-27-11

    The link for the image is a 404.

  • amitesh kumar
    01-06-12

    want works for do

  • jb
    04-01-12

    sex

  • Niels
    04-19-12

    This was very helpfull, thanks!

  • manaz
    04-22-12

    wow!! this is a lot cooler way to perfectly cut out images. was really helpfull!

  • val
    04-28-12

    Pls let me have your email address.

  • flameztiny
    05-18-12

    I think itz d best way of cuttin images as it do
    away wid d sharp edges. love it

  • unlock the layer
    05-27-12

    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

  • ppf90377
    06-08-12

    You earn quite a few applicable items with your page and even would likely think that a lot of.

  • tasca
    06-20-12

    i dont get it it wont work

  • rajkumar
    08-03-12

    it gives great help to me

  • Carlos
    08-03-12

    Brilliant, thanks!!

  • jess
    08-20-12

    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!!!

  • combatlau lau
    08-26-12

    Cut picures

  • combatlau lau
    08-26-12

    Never give up

  • combatlau lau
    08-26-12

    27EC0A59

  • sonny
    08-28-12

    It does not give me the option to modify?

  • sonny
    08-28-12

    My bad i skipped a step

  • jay
    09-04-12

    Very Nice
    This was very helpfull,

    thanks!

  • Rein
    10-18-12

    much easier than I used to do it:P

  • Rafal
    11-19-12

    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!

  • Ali
    03-19-13

    cool…

  • Elvis Mustache
    03-21-13

    It’s appropriate time to make some plans for the future and it is time to be happy. I’ve read this post and if I could I wish to suggest you few interesting things or advice. Maybe you can write next articles referring to this article. I desire to read more things about it!

  • zeke
    05-12-13

    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

  • Natasha
    05-30-13

    How do you do step 2?

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  • This is a great tutorial. Perfect for anyone who is starting to learn Photoshop.

  • Elinor Herley
    10-01-13

    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.

  • Thank you Greg, i will put what i have learnt into practise.

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  • Perfect post , Thanks