How to Cut Out Subject in Photoshop

Estimated read time 9 min read

How to cut out subject in photoshop

When it comes to photo editing, one of the most common tasks is removing backgrounds and cutting out subjects. Whether you’re a professional photographer or just someone who likes to play around with images, knowing how to effectively cut out subjects in Photoshop is an essential skill to have.

Without the proper technique, cutting out subjects can be a time-consuming and frustrating process. However, with the right tools and a step-by-step approach, you can achieve clean and precise results every time.

In this guide, we will walk you through the process of cutting out subjects in Photoshop. We will cover everything from selecting the right tools to refining your selection, and finally, removing the background. By the end of this guide, you will have a solid understanding of the techniques and tools needed to cut out subjects like a pro.

Step 1: Choosing the Right Selection Tool

Before you can start cutting out subjects, you need to select them first. There are a variety of selection tools in Photoshop, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. The best tool for the job will depend on the complexity of the subject and the background.

Some of the most commonly used selection tools include the Magic Wand tool, Quick Selection tool, and Pen tool. The Magic Wand tool is great for selecting subjects with solid colors, while the Quick Selection tool is ideal for subjects with more complex edges. The Pen tool, on the other hand, provides the most precise control over the selection process.

Remember to experiment with different tools to find the one that works best for your specific image.

Step 2: Refining Your Selection

Once you have made your initial selection, it’s important to refine it to ensure you have a clean and accurate outline of the subject. Photoshop offers a range of tools and features to help you fine-tune your selection.

One of the most useful tools for refining selections is the Refine Edge tool. This tool allows you to adjust the edges of your selection, smooth out jagged edges, and enhance the details of your subject. The Feather option can also be used to create a soft transition between the subject and the background.

Take your time and make small adjustments until you are satisfied with the final selection.

Step 3: Removing the Background

After you have refined your selection, it’s time to remove the background. There are several ways to accomplish this in Photoshop, depending on the complexity of the subject and the desired result.

One of the most straightforward methods is using the Background Eraser tool, which allows you to erase the background while preserving the subject. This tool works well for subjects with clear and distinct edges. For subjects with more complex edges, you can use layer masks to hide the background and reveal the subject.

Experiment with different techniques and tools to find the one that suits your image and desired outcome.

By following these steps and practicing with different tools and techniques, you can become proficient at cutting out subjects in Photoshop. Remember, patience and attention to detail are key to achieving professional-looking results. With time and practice, you’ll be able to seamlessly remove backgrounds and create stunning compositions.

Gather the necessary tools

Gather the necessary tools

Before you can start cutting out subjects in Photoshop, it’s important to gather the necessary tools. Having the right tools will make the process much easier and efficient. Here are some tools you’ll need:

  • A computer with Photoshop installed
  • The image you want to cut out
  • A mouse or a graphics tablet for precise control
  • Pen tool for creating precise selections
  • Quick Selection tool for making general selections
  • Refine Edge tool for fine-tuning the selection
  • Layer mask for removing the background
  • Zoom tool for zooming in and out of the image
  • Clone Stamp tool for cleaning up any imperfections
  • Curves and Levels adjustments for enhancing the subject

Make sure you have all these tools ready before you begin. Having them at your disposal will ensure that you have everything you need to cut out subjects in Photoshop successfully.

Prepare the image

Prepare the image

Before you can start cutting out subjects in Photoshop, it’s important to have a properly prepared image. Follow these steps to ensure your image is ready for editing:

1. Choose a high-resolution image: To ensure the best results, select an image that is high-resolution and clear. This will make it easier to accurately cut out the subjects and maintain the quality of the image.

2. Open the image in Photoshop: Once you have chosen your image, open it in Adobe Photoshop. You can do this by selecting “File” > “Open” and then navigating to the location of your image file.

3. Duplicate the background layer: To maintain the original image while working on the cut-out, it’s important to first duplicate the background layer. Right-click on the background layer in the Layers panel and select “Duplicate Layer”.

4. Rename the duplicated layer: It’s a good practice to rename the duplicated layer to avoid confusion. Double-click on the layer name and give it a descriptive name, such as “Subject Cut-Out”.

5. Clean up the image: Use basic Photoshop tools, such as the Spot Healing Brush or the Clone Stamp tool, to remove any distractions or imperfections in the image. This will help make the subject stand out more and result in a cleaner final cut-out.

6. Save the image: Once you have made the necessary adjustments and cleaned up the image, save your progress. It’s recommended to save your work in a format that supports transparency, such as PNG, to preserve the cut-out subject’s edges.

By following these steps, you will have a properly prepared image ready for cutting out subjects in Photoshop. Remember to always keep a backup of your original image in case you need to make any further edits or adjustments.

Select the subject

Select the subject

To start cutting out a subject in Photoshop, you need to first select it. There are several tools you can use to make a selection, depending on the complexity of the subject and the level of precision you require. Here are some popular selection tools:

  • The marquee selection tool: This tool allows you to create rectangular or elliptical selections.
  • The lasso selection tool: With this tool, you can draw freehand selections around the subject.
  • The magic wand selection tool: This tool selects pixels based on their color and tone similarity.
  • The quick selection tool: This tool automatically detects and selects similar pixels in the image.
  • The pen tool: This tool allows you to manually create paths around the subject, which can later be converted into a selection.

Once you have selected the appropriate tool, use it to carefully outline the subject you want to cut out. Take your time to ensure a clean and accurate selection. If needed, you can make multiple selections using different tools to refine your selection further. Remember to zoom in and out of the image to get a better view and adjust your selection accordingly.

After you have made the initial selection, you might need to make some adjustments to improve the accuracy. Photoshop provides various selection refinement tools, such as feathering, smoothing, and expanding or contracting the selection, which can be accessed from the “Select” menu or the options bar when the selection tool is active.

Once you are satisfied with your selection, you can proceed to cut out the subject using the various techniques available in Photoshop.

Cut out the subject

Cut out the subject

In Photoshop, cutting out a subject from an image is a fundamental skill that is commonly used in graphic design, photography, and other creative projects. It allows you to isolate a subject from its background and place it onto a new background or use it as a standalone image.

Here are the step-by-step instructions on how to cut out a subject in Photoshop:

Step 1: Open the image in Photoshop by clicking on “File” and selecting “Open” from the drop-down menu. Choose the image file you want to work on.
Step 2: Select the “Pen Tool” from the toolbar on the left side of the screen. This tool allows you to create precise paths and make selections around the subject.
Step 3: Zoom in on the image to get a closer view of the subject. This will make it easier to create an accurate selection.
Step 4: Start by clicking on a point along the edge of the subject. Continue clicking along the outline, creating anchor points to form a path around the subject. Make sure to follow the contours of the subject’s shape as closely as possible.
Step 5: When you reach the starting point, click on it to close the path. Your subject should now be surrounded by a path with anchor points.
Step 6: Right-click on the path and select “Make Selection” from the menu. Adjust the radius to refine the selection if needed. Click “OK” to create the selection.
Step 7: With the subject selected, you can now copy, cut, or edit it as desired. To copy the subject, press “Ctrl+C” (or “Cmd+C” on a Mac), and to paste it onto a new layer or document, press “Ctrl+V” (or “Cmd+V” on a Mac).
Step 8: If the subject has some finer details or areas that were not perfectly selected, you can use the “Refine Edge” tool to further refine the selection. This tool allows you to smooth out the edges, adjust the transparency, and more.

By following these steps, you will be able to cut out the subject from an image in Photoshop effectively and precisely. Remember to practice and experiment with different techniques to achieve the desired results.


What is the purpose of cutting out subjects in Photoshop?

The purpose of cutting out subjects in Photoshop is to remove them from their original background and place them onto a new background or use them in various designs and compositions.

Can I use Photoshop to cut out subjects in a photo?

Yes, you can use Photoshop to cut out subjects in a photo. There are various tools and techniques available in Photoshop that can help you achieve a clean and precise cutout.

Are there any alternative methods to cut out subjects in Photoshop?

Yes, there are alternative methods to cut out subjects in Photoshop. Some other techniques include using the Magic Wand tool, the Background Eraser tool, or using the Select Subject feature in Photoshop. These methods may be more suitable for certain types of images or selection requirements.

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