Jun 06, 2012

How to Cut a Person Out in Photoshop

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Say hi to two new additions to the Phlearn team, Jenna Petrone and Angela Butler. We are so excited to have this much talent in one place!

Cut Anything Out of its Background in Photoshop

Today we are covering how to cut a person out of their Background in Photoshop. The techniques used in today’s episode actually apply to just about anything you would want to cut out. One of the trickiest parts about cutting a person out is getting a great selection around the Hair. Today we use Channels to make a Layer Mask that includes a very good selection around the subject’s Hair. After applying the selection to the Layer Mask, her Hair is masked out well but still retains a bit of fringing around the edges.

This is almost impossible to take care of in a selection, so my advice is to not even try. Instead of trying to make your selection perfect I go over how to Color what is actually visible to look as though your selection was perfect. Using a combination of Clipping Masks, the Brush Tool and the Clone Stamp tool we get a perfect cut out of Hair.

For the subject’s Body we use the Pen Tool in a new way that will make it easy for people. Just click points along the edge that you want to cut out without worrying about making Curves. Once you have all your points in place, go back over them and while holding ALT/OPTN click and drag the points to create the Curves you want. You can also use CTRL/CMD to move each point.

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    Brad Holland

    Nice tutorial. Quick question, a lot of the cutting people/objects out of backgrounds I do are usually have content in the backgrounds themselves. This makes using the channel method a bit tough. What technique do you recommend in that situation? I typically use the pen tool and the Quick Selection tool with the Refine Mask option. Thoughts?

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      Aaron Nace

      Your technique is great Brad, sometimes I just have to hand paint selections if the background is too detailed.

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    Holy Crap! that painting in the darker color around the hair is going to save me hours! 

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    Hair looks terrible but it work in sketches

    Did you see his hand?

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      Sebastian Ortiz

       HAHAHAHAAAAAAAA!!! damn good catch… He’s dedicated to the cause!! HAHAHAHAAAAAA!!!

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    Sebastian Ortiz

    Now that’s more like it… Video quality outstanding!!  GREAT TUTORIAL!! Thanks Aaron!! I’m one of those that hate the pen tool, cause I feel I can’t get the hang of it, so I always try other ways to cut out. I’m sure this will help…  🙂

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    Waseef Akhtar

    Wow. You’re the same cool Aaron! xD I so missed Phlearn all these weeks and months I had exams and now finally free to put some DING in the universe taking help from Phlearn. 😉

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    Mattias Axelsson

    Hi Phleaaaaarn, Sweden talking… You are truly amazing and makes my work so very much easier. And just as this video, wonderful advice!… I have a question or rather a technique I haven’t been able to work around. When you make a new clipping mask above the layer, how do you brush inside the mask with the layer beneath unselected? How do you combine/select them? my brush just goes around there, outlined and stuff… grateful for help…

  • user image

    Hi Aaron, great tutorial – thank you. Can I ask, at 5:13, when you choose the pink colour then select “alt delete” how do you apply that colour to the outside of the image? When I follow your instructions, the colour I choose is applied to the inside of the mask on the new layer, instead of the outside of the mask to create a background. Also, I am wanting to place my “cut out” in an illustrator document so I dont want any background, only transparency. How do I do this?



  • user image
    Kohaku Chairo

    This hair color (and other variations) is actually is quite common here in Japan 😉 Though it may not be terribly common in the States. Nice tutorial !

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    prem kumar

    wile brushing on mask after come back from channels its brushing on background…plz help me out from this

  • user image

    Hi – what happened to the link to the pro vid that “goes into much more detail” ???

    Yes – I need EVEN more help . . . . 🙂

  • user image

    Thank you for the tutorial. It was very good. I do have a question though. Will channels work if the contrast between the subject and the background are about the same? If not, what should I use? Thank you.

    Photoshop Tutorials: How to Cut a Person Out in Photoshop