4 Cutout Image Methods in Photoshop CS5

“There is one tool in the Adobe world called the ‘Pen Tool.’ If you can learn the Pen Tool first you can master almost all Adobe products.”Berto Herrerra

A brief look at the ways to cut out an image.

Look below for full transcript of notes in the video.

Methods used:
1) Quick Selection Tool (for all that damn hair)
2) Magic Wand Tool (luck you)
3) Polygonal Lasso Tool (Lazy man’s pen tool)
4) Pen Tool (the Gyarados of the stack)

Image courtesy of Joshua Smith (on Stockvault)


Explanation: This comes in handy when you have hair or other furry little messes you need to take care of.

Steps by time on video:
0:11 – Prepare your image. You can have a transparent background but I chose my background

to be white so you could see what I’m doing.

0:21 – Grab the quick selection tool. It should be 4th one down from the top. If you don’t

see it, Right Click > Quick Selection Tool

0:26 – Make sure that your tool is on the plus at the top left.

0:29 – Now left-click and drag over the area you want to be cut out. Don’t let go if you want to grab a large area.

0:46 – If you happen to let go, it’s okay. Just click and drag again. Your previous

selection stays.

1:10 – If you selected more than necessary, that’s okay too. We’ll fix that in a bit.

1:18 – Select the minus in the top left this time. Now go over the extra bit of area you grabbed.

1:44 – Click Refine Edge on the same bar with the +/-

1:50 – Increase radius and smooth. This cleans up the edges.

Feel free to mess around with the other settings too if you like.

1:59 – I stay away from feathering because I feel like it makes the cutout really unnatural sometimes. It just depends on your project.

2:40 – Right click > select inverse > delete

Make some clean ups if necessary.


Explanation: If you’re lucky, all you need to use is this tool. give yourself a headache with the other methods if you can go with this.

Steps by time on video:
3:01 – Grab the magic wand tool (4th down from top)

It depends from image to image, but sometimes it’s easiest to just grab the magic wand tool and delete the parts you don’t want in a cutout.

3:19 – Grab the eraser for clean up.

3) POLYGONAL LASSO TOOL (Lazy Man’s Pen Tool)

Steps by time on video:
3:42 – Grab the polygonal lasso tool (3rd down from top)

3:48 – Start by clicking on a point. Click points closely together to avoid too many sharp edges.

4:10 – If you get to a point where a part of the object is outside the image, make your

points go outside the image as well.

4:20 – If you accidentally cut off part of the image you wanted, just make points along the line again and retrace.

4:22 – You know you’ve complete the path when the part your hovering over has an o on it. Click when you see that, and it will automatically select everything you’ve traced.

4:27 – Select inverse > delete

Explanation: You might notice later, depending on your picture, that there some problems with this method.

One, no matter how hard you try to avoid those sharp areas, there will still be some sharp areas. To fix that, try feathering the outside (which I don’t recommend) or go over the problem areas with the eraser or magic wand tool.

Two, it’s easy to screw up on this tool. It’s like you can only trace with this tool in one shot. You can’t pause and go to another screen and then come back hoping the path will stay. It automatically selects everything for you.

I don’t recommend this tool for everything, but if you’re just trying to select a small area, it’s good for that.

4) PEN TOOL (The Gyrados of them all)

Explanation: Like the pokemon Gyrados, it sucks at first. It’s a damn Magikarp. (Actually, more like you are Magikarp.)

Or maybe you’ll pick it up really fast. (In this case, you are a super genius and you really didn’t need my help.)

But one thing’s for sure. You can and will get better depending on how much training and care goes into this tool. I’m no Gyrados yet, but I love this tool. Maybe you can turn into a Gyrados. It’s good for precise tracing and you can really adjust the curves you want. You can even make shapes and draw with this tool. It’s so versatile. I recommend that you practice cutting out stuff with this tool the most. It comes in handy later when you need to freehand.

Steps by time on video:
REMEMBER: The name of this game is CTRL (COMMAND if you’re on a MAC) + click and drag.

5:22 – Click and make an anchor point.

5:35 – For the second point, ignore the curve and go to the point directly across from the

first one you’ve made.

5:37 – Now look along the line for curved areas. Hover over until you see the plus and click.

5:38 – You want to find the highest curve point. It usually falls somewhere in the middle.

5:46 – After clicking, stay in that area. Hold CTRL (or command if you’re on a Mac) and drag

until you get the outside curve edge. You can see the pen tool turn into arrow cursors.


6:10 – CTRL/CMD + Click and Drag if you need to move a point or return to an anchor point and fix.

CTRL/CMD + Click and drag. CTRL/CMD + Click and drag. CTRL/CMD + Click and drag. And so on…

7:23 – Just like the polygonal lasso tool, you want to click outside the image to make sure you get all the parts.

NOTE: CTRL+ALT+Z or CMD+Z for any mistakes.

8:14 – Getting close to the end. In this case, don’t click on your first anchor point. Make a point near it.

8:18 – You have to make sure you get any curves that are left.

8:19 – CTRL/CMD+Click and drag over the first anchor point.

8:20 – Like the polygonal lasso tool, click when you see the o (circle) on the cursor.

8:29 – It did’t automatically select. But that’s good. If you notice any mistakes, you can undo and fix.

8:31 – Right click > make selection;

No feather again.

8:40 – Select inverse > delete

8:55 – Now you can clean up with any other methods you’ve learned.

Thank you for reading and good luck on your endeavors! Until next time. 😉

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s