How to Make a Cutout in Photoshop

With Adobe Photoshop CC, it's quite easy to cut out a person or an object from a photo to be used in another project. While it's always preferable to cut out something from a photo that isn't obscured by other objects, this isn't always possible. As long as it's not someone's face, you can often fill in missing elements using the Clone Stamp Tool and the Liquify Filter.

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The statue on the left was cut out from the photo on the right.
credit: Screenshot courtesy of Adobe.

Step

Open a photo in Photoshop and examine the person or object you want to cut out. In our example, the statue presents three challenges, as a shoe, much of the coat and part of the newspaper are obscured. We'll have to get creative with the shoe, but the rest of it should be very easy to fix. All of the statues are bronze, so we have lots of places to sample when it comes to filling in the missing details.

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This photo presents challenges but isn't impossible to pull from the photo.
credit: Screenshot courtesy of Adobe.
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Select the area to be cut out with the Quick Selection Tool if possible.
credit: Screenshot courtesy of Adobe.

Step

Select the object you're cutting out. Try the Quick Selection Tool. This is usually the fastest way to select an object. In our example, the tones are too similar, so encircling the statue with the Lasso Tool is the better choice. Make sure the entire object is selected. It's better to have a lot of background selected rather than to miss a finger or, even worse, a nose.

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A rough cutout is pasted into a new layer.
credit: Screenshot courtesy of Adobe.

Step

Press Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V to copy and paste the selection. It appears as a new layer above the Background layer. Click the Eye icon beside the Background Layer in the Layers panel to hide it. Once the object is on its own layer, you can also change the background to anything you want.

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Selecting and deleting portions of the background.
credit: Screenshot courtesy of Adobe.

Step

Click only once on the remaining background with the Quick Selection Tool. If none of the object is selected, press Delete to remove that portion of the background. Otherwise, use the Eraser Tool to remove the background without erasing any part of the object.

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Using the Clone Stamp Tool to fill in the coat.
credit: Screenshot courtesy of Adobe.

Step

Click the Clone Stamp Tool in the Toolbox. Alt-click an area where you can take a sample, and then drag the tool over the missing elements. In our example, the area on the right of the coat can be used to fill in the parts that were hidden by the table.

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Sampling an intact edge with the Clone Stamp Tool to fill in gaps.
credit: Screenshot courtesy of Adobe.

Step

Fill in missing edges using the Clone Stamp Tool as well. In this example, we can Alt-click the edge near the top of the newspaper to fill in the area below it. If the edges are blurry after filling them in, use the Eraser Tool to clean it up.

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Creating a rough shoe shape using the Clone Stamp Tool.
credit: Screenshot courtesy of Adobe.

Step

Get creative when it comes to filling in areas that aren't easily sampled from other places in the photo. To fill in this shoe on the right, for example, we could have copied and pasted the shoe on the left to take its place. However, since the bronze texture isn't complex, we can also fashion a shoe using the Clone Stamp Tool once again, simply by drawing a rough shoe shape, sampling the hem of the coat.

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A shoe is fashioned with the Liquify Filter.
credit: Screenshot courtesy of Adobe.

Step

Use the Liquify filter, available under the Filter menu to reshape elements of the cutout that can't simply be erased away. Here, we can drag the Liquify tool up under the ankle to carve out a heel and drag the toe out to finish the shoe.

Step

Once the cutout looks the way you want it, you can resize it, warp or transform it as needed using the Transform options under the Edit menu.