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Tutorial: How To Cut Out Images in Photoshop

Joey Korenman

Here are a few ways to cutout images in Photoshop.

Cutting out objects in Photoshop is something that every motion graphics artist must do at one time or another. Sometimes it’s easy, but many times it’s a pain in the ol’ backside. In this tutorial we will walk you through several strategies that he uses to get decent results with tricky images. There are some basic tips, but also some advanced methods for cutting out images when the pen tool isn’t gonna cut it.Please note, we constantly refers to the bird in this video as a turkey… but we're not really sure it’s a turkey. Just mostly sure.  



Tutorial Full Transcript Below 👇:

Music (00:02): [intro music]

Joey Korenman (00:11): Hey there, Joey here for School of Motion. And in this lesson with this bird, we're going to take a look at a skill that every MoGraph needs to know how to cut out images in Photoshop. Almost every job you touch will have assets that either come from Photoshop or illustrator, and sometimes you're going to need to go in and get your hands dirty, to get things ready for animation. In this lesson, I'm going to show you some essential techniques for cutting out images and Photoshop. That will save you a ton of time. Don't forget to sign up for a free student account so you can grab the project files from this lesson as well as assets from any other lesson on the site. And now let's jump in

Joey Korenman (00:48): The image I found for this tutorial. Uh, it's a royalty free image I've found on flicker and you can see it's, it's this goofy looking Turkey. The reason I picked this image is because it's got a good combination of some easy parts. It let's say we want to cut the Turkey out of the background and put him on a different background. Well, his back is, uh, is going to be pretty easy to cut out. There's a nice hard edge there, but you can see once we get up here, you start to see some trouble areas. Um, there's these little feathers sort of sprinkle around the bird and these things can be really tricky to cut out for a number of reasons. Um, but I can show you some strategies to get a really good result with stuff like this. Um, then you've got these really fine hairs on the back of its neck.

Joey Korenman (01:36): Um, and there's really no way you could just manually cut those out with, you know, the lasso tool or the pen tool or something like that. It'd be impossible. And then up here, you have these, I guess these are head feathers. This is kind of the worst case scenario thing, where you've got feathers, which are soft and kind of transparent at their tips. Um, and they're also very dark against a dark background. So there's not really a great way to key those out, um, or, or get that information in a great way. So I'm going to show you how to deal with that. Um, and I'm going to show you how to deal with all these other problem areas and create a good cutout. So to start with, we're going to use the pen tool to get a basic cutout of this Turkey. And throughout this tutorial, I'm going to pause the recording because some of this will be very, very tedious and you really don't need to watch me do every single step of this.

Joey Korenman (02:28): I'm going to show you the basics, and then I'm going to count on you to actually go and apply what you've learned and cut out the pieces of this image. And I'll link to this image. So you can go download the same one if you want to. So let's get started. So the first thing I'm going to do is hit P to bring up my pen tool. Now, one thing that I always do, um, when I'm working somewhere new, or if I install the newest version of Photoshop is I change a couple of settings. Now can see the pen tool looks like a pen right now that doesn't make it very easy to place accurate points. So what I like to do is go up to Photoshop preferences, um, cursors, and where you see a painting cursors. I usually change that to normal brush tip.

Joey Korenman (03:17): It shows you a preview here. Um, standard means it's going to show you, uh, an icon of a paintbrush, which I don't know why you'd want to see that normal brush tip will actually show you a circle, the size of your brush, and then other cursors for other tools. Um, I set that to precise and this will give you a crosshair for things like the color picker and the pen tool. So if we hit, okay, now the pen tool has this nice cross here. It makes it a lot easier to do fine detailed work. So what we're going to do is pick a starting point here and zoom in. I'm going to start with this beak because it's going to be pretty easy to get that. And it's going to, let me show you something about the pen tool that you may already know, but if you don't, um, I want to demonstrate it really quickly, the pen tool.

Joey Korenman (04:05): Um, the reason that it's so useful for cutting out masks is because you have a lot of control with it. So for example, if I click a point here, click another point down here, you can see it makes a straight line, right? I'm going to undo that if instead of clicking, I click and drag, I can now make curves. Okay. And then a tip that some people don't know, but it's very useful is as you're dragging, right, you can hold the option key. And once you're holding it, you can now move this, uh, the sort of the outgoing Bezier point. You can move that independently. So if you have a hard edge or even if you just need the curve to kind of come back around this way, you can get that result, right? So you, you it'll take a little time to get the hang of the pen tool.

Joey Korenman (04:57): Um, I've seen people get so good with it that they could probably cut this Turkey out in about five minutes. Um, I'm not that good at it, but if you use it, you know, on a couple of images and you just start to get the hang of what these, these keys do, um, you can start to draw these curves really quickly. Um, another couple of tricks with it. If you, uh, if you set a few points and then let's say, I want to go back and adjust this point here, um, while I'm in the pen tool, I can hold command on the Mac, um, which I believe is control on a PC. Um, and you can then click and move that point. Um, and you can move the Bezier as, as well. If I hold option, when I'm over this point and I click it, it will zero out the Bezier or it will let me sort of reset them and then move them independently.

Joey Korenman (05:46): So the pen tool is great because it's totally flexible and you can adjust it after you've created your mask and you can get really precise lines with it. All right. So I'm going to delete this work path. When you use the pen tool, it creates a work path and paths are found, uh, in the same area as your layers. There's a paths tab, and I'm just going to drag that down to the trash. All right. So let's get started. So I'm going to, uh, I'm going to zoom in pretty close here, so I can, I can be as detailed as possible when I'm doing, when I'm doing masks like this. I, I am very careful and I try, you know, to save myself work later. I try to get a good result with the pen tool to start us off. So we're gonna start here and we're just going to kind of work our way down the beak.

Joey Korenman (06:37): All right. And it just kind of takes a little while of using the pen tool to get the hang of how many points you need between areas. Um, and when you need more or less. So now we've gotten to this part. Um, now there's no way I could use the pen tool to draw a mask around all of these hairs. We'd be here all day and it would look terrible. So what I'm going to do is basically skip that part. I'm just going to kind of draw a path around there, and I'm just going to go down and continue where there's a nice clean edge. Now, if you, uh, if you do, if you do try to, to cut out hair, sometimes you can get away with it. It really depends on how thin the hair is and what color it is in this case.

Joey Korenman (07:22):

This is way too thin. Some of these hairs are one pixel wide, so there's really no way I'd be able to get a good result with that. So I'm just going to continue down the bird. And whenever I get into an area like here, where there's these really fine feathers, I'm just gonna kind of leave myself a little bit of leeway around it. I know it may be hard to see on the screen capture, but I've drawn a path around those feathers and back down to the body of the bird. All right. So I'm going to continue this and I'm going to pause the screen capture. And when we come back, I'll have a nice path and I'll show you what to do with it. All right. So now I have drawn the basic path around the Turkey, and you can see that, uh, where it's been possible.

Joey Korenman (08:08):

I've drawn a really tight line like around the beak, around his back and around this little part here, parts of his neck. Um, but the parts that are very wispy and fine and, and where I wouldn't be able to use the pen tool, I just kind of went around that, left myself, a nice area to work with. So now we have a path now, what are we going to do with that path? Well, one of the things that, um, I try to teach people who are starting to use Photoshop is always leave yourself an out when you're editing images. And what I mean by that is don't go in and start erasing parts of an image when you don't have to, you, you really want to work. Non-destructively when you can. Um, and so that means that instead of erasing parts of a layer, you would use a mask either, um, uh, like an alpha mask or a vector mask, depending on what you're doing.

Joey Korenman (09:00):

So I'm going to show you how that works right now, when you, by default, when you open an image in Photoshop, it shows up as a background layer, background layers. Don't let you have transparency on them. So we need to first convert this background layer into a normal layer. Um, the quickest way to do that is to hold option. And double-click it. All right? And you can see now it says layer zero. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to call this original and then I'm gonna make a copy of it. Um, and you can either drag it down to this icon here. It looks like a little post-it note. It will make a copy of whatever layer you drag. Um, the trick I usually use is to hold option and click and drag, and you can see the arrow turns into this double arrow, meaning it's going to make a copy.

Joey Korenman (09:48):

So now I've got original and original copy. So I'm going to call the copy working, and I'm going to turn the original off. So now we're going to go into the paths tab and you can see our work path. And if you hold command and click on the work path, you've now got a selection in the shape of the path. And what's great about this. If I de-select this, that was command D by the way, um, if I click on the work path and I come in here and say, all right, this is a little loose in here. Um, then I can hit the, a key. You can see this confused me at first and Photoshop. There's two arrow tools. There's the main one up here, but then there's also this guy down here, and this guy you can actually go in and select points and move individual points.

Joey Korenman (10:35):

And actually you have to, uh, you have to make sure you click and hold and choose the direct selection tool, which gives you a white arrow versus a black arrow. And the white arrow lets you move individual points on that path. So even after you've created the path, you can go in and change stuff, which is one of the great things about the path tool. All right? So let's say this is good enough for us. And what we're going to do is hold command and click on that path to create a selection. If we go back to our layers tab, what we're going to do is create a mask for this layer instead of erasing everything. That's not the bird, um, this icon down here, it looks like a rectangle with a circle in the middle of it. That is the create mask button. And if we click that while something is selected, you'll see what happens.

Joey Korenman (11:24):

We now have this second icon on our working layer and it looks like a black and white image sort of in the shape of our cutout. Now, if you're not familiar with the term mat, this is what a mat is. And in motion graphics, Matt is generally a black and white image where white parts of the image represent things that you will see black parts of the image represent things that you will not see and anything that's gray will have transparency. Um, so what's great about this is that we have, we now have this mat where the white part is showing through as the Turkey, but we can actually paint and do things to this mat, which can be very useful. For example, if I hit B to just grab the paintbrush tool and I'm going to shrink that brush down, cause I don't want it to be that big.

Joey Korenman (12:13):

Um, I'm hitting the, uh, the bracket keys. Uh, the left bracket makes your brush smaller. The right bracket makes it bigger. Um, so if I, if I make sure that I am actually selected onto the mat layer and that's very important, you can actually paint on either the image or the mat. And I'm going to paint on the mat. If I have a white color and I paint it, we'll bring the image back in on the other hand, if I swap that and I have a black color, it will erase the image. Okay. But that image doesn't actually get destroyed. It's just being hidden. So I'm not actually doing anything that's irreversible. All right. So now we we've got our mask on our layer. And one thing I usually do, and I do this in after effects too, when I'm keying is I'll make a new layer, uh, shift command N and I'm going to make that layer a color that will contrast very well with the image.

Joey Korenman (13:13):

Um, and usually it's some sort of bright pink color seems to work really well. All right. And I'm going to put this underneath my working layer, and this is just going to help me be able to judge the edges of this image and, and see how well, uh, my cutout is working. All right. So the next part of this is just going to be to attack piece by piece, all of these little problem areas. Okay. So why don't we start with an easier one, uh, this area down here. So we're going to zoom into this. Okay. So what you're looking for when you have areas like this, ideally is you want areas of contrast. Okay. And actually now that we're zoomed in here, I can see that I, I was a little sloppy with my pen tool. So as I was saying, I was a little sloppy with the pen tool here, and you can see the body of the Turkey actually comes up to about here and really this area, um, after that is the part that we're going to have to work on.

Joey Korenman (14:17):

So I'm just going to fix this, uh, really quickly, um, just using the, uh, using the brush tool. And I'm just going to use a very small brush and come in here, make sure my color set to black. Um, and one quick keyboard shortcut I use all the time is a D set your colors to default, which is white with a black background. And then if you hit X, it will swap your foreground and background color. Um, so you can get to black very quickly. So all I want to do is come in here and get rid of that little section of image and you see, I painted a little bit too much there. All right.

Joey Korenman (15:00):

All right, cool. So now I need to, uh, get rid of all of this dark part of the image, but keep the light part. So this is actually not a very bad setup for what I'm about to do. The more contrast you have, the easier it's going to be to save the part of the image you want. So what we're going to use our channels. Now, a lot of beginners don't use these because they're not very intuitive and, uh, you sort of have to learn how to use them. It's not something that's very easy to figure out. Um, luckily someone was nice enough to teach me this one. So now I'm going to teach you guys. So if you go into the channels tab, um, generally for video, we're working in RGB, so you have a red, a green and a blue channel. And if you click on the red channel and you turn off these other channels, you'll get a black and white image.

Joey Korenman (15:49):

All right. And that black and white image is telling you the amount of red in each part of the image. So you can see in the white part here, uh, the red channel is almost white because if we look back at the image, um, to create white in a computer, you add red, green, and blue, um, at almost, you know, a hundred percent intensity that creates white. So the red channel, the green channel and the blue channel should all be pretty bright there. Okay. Um, but what you will notice is that different color channels, uh, look different on this dark part. The green channel, you know, looks dark, but the blue channel looks really dark. You have a lot of contrast here. Um, probably because there's less blue in this background, you know, this Turkey standing in generally a green place. So there's going to be more green even in the dark areas.

Joey Korenman (16:43):

Right? And the red channel also has a lot of contrast. So between the red channel and the blue channel, I think the red channel might win. They're both pretty similar. So what we're going to do is use the red channel to cut this part of the image out. All right. And the way we do that is click on the red channel, drag it down to that sticky note icon, and it will make a copy of the red channel. And the reason you want to make a copy is because you're actually going to use an effect on this, on this copy, um, to try and get an even more contrast. You can see there's a little bit of gray noise in this, and you don't want that. Ideally, you want this to be completely black and everything you want to keep should be mostly white, maybe with a little bit of transparency, meaning it's great. So what I'm going to do is use levels on this. Okay? So we can go up to image, adjustment levels or hit command out.

Joey Korenman (17:41):

And I may do a whole separate tutorial on levels, but for this one, all I'm going to do is quickly show you that I'm going to crush the blacks a little bit until we lose most of the gray value in there. And then I'm just going to push the whites a little bit so that the edges remain gray, but the body of this remains mostly white. Okay. So now how do we use this? Well, the same thing we did with the path where you can hold command and click on the path to create a selection, you can do that with channels too. So if you hold command and click on this red channel, you'll see that what's happened is you now have a selection. And that selection is actually based on how bright this channel is. So things that are white are going to be selected fully things that are black are going to be de-select a little bit.

Joey Korenman (18:35):

So now we've got that selection. What we're going to do is turn our RGB channels back on, and you can see that our image looks very red because we have this extra red channel. So let's turn that off. Even though that's a copy of the red channel, we actually are only using it to generate this, this sort of alpha channel for us to work with. And you're probably going to end up deleting this channel, but you can definitely turn it off. So now we have this very strange looking selection and what is actually selected on the image are the brighter parts of the image. And I actually want the opposite of that. I want the darker parts selected. So I'm just going to go up to select and hit inverse. And so now I'm going to go back into my layers and click on my mat for my working layer.

Joey Korenman (19:22):

And I'm going to use on a racer and you can use the eraser on the matte layer, just like the paintbrush. You just have to make sure when you're using the eraser that black is set is your background color because all the eraser does is sort of set the color to the background color when you're working on a minute. So now watch what happens if I erase this part of the image, see that it keeps this part because I've only selected the dark part by inverting the selection of the bright part that we got from our channel. All right. It may be a little hard to grasp at first. Um, but once you get the hang of it and you've done it a few times, it will make a lot of sense. And this is something that you'll use in a lot of applications after effects, nuke, especially this is how you get a good key. All right. So I'm just going to go ahead and I'm actually going to soften my brush up cause it'll help a little bit. Um, and the quick key for that, um, the, so the brackets make your brush bigger and smaller. If you hold shift and use the brackets, they actually soften or harden the edge. If you do the left bracket, it softens it. All right. So I'm going to soften it just a little bit.

Joey Korenman (20:36):

Okay. And we're just going to erase those parts of the image that shouldn't be there. Okay. And you can see that we actually need to paint back in this section here. Um, this is the body of the Turkey and it should show through there, but it's not because I erased it. So what I just did is deselected my selection with command D and I'm just going to quickly, I'm going to make my racer very small and I'm just going to get rid of this little edge that we're seeing here. Okay. And then I'm going to switch to my paintbrush tool, make sure I'm on white and I'm gonna to paint back in the body of that Turkey. Okay. Now this looks okay. And you can see we're getting some, some decent detail out of it, but it's not perfect. Um, so the first thing that I like to do is I'm going to take this original.

Joey Korenman (21:29):

I'm going to put it above my working. I'm gonna turn it on. And I'm going to set the transparency pretty low, like 10%. Okay. Now tens, not enough. So I'm going to go up until I can start to see it. And the keys that I'm using to do this are super handy. Um, they're just the number keys. If you are on the arrow tool and you have a layer selected and you hit the three key, it turns that layer to 30% opacity and then four is 45 is 50. If you type in two numbers really quickly like seven, five, it will set it to 75. So this is a way you can quickly kind of dial in opacity. All right. So now I'm at 50%. And what I like is I can see the areas of the image that I wanted to keep that got erased by that process.

Joey Korenman (22:17):

So I can sort of check my work as I'm doing this. Okay. So the first thing I'm going to do is see if I can bring some of that back by working on this mat. So what we're going to use are the Dodge and burn tools, the Dodge tool, brightens colors, and the burn tool, darkens colors. And what we want to do is bring back detail from this mat that is, has been erased or has been made dark. So we're going to use the Dodge tool for that. All right. Now the options for the Dodge and burn tools are very similar. You set the range that you want to work on. So in this case, we're working in the mid-tones to the highlights. So I'm going to leave this on mid-tones and then exposure is sort of the strength of the tool. Uh, how much do you want to affect the colors that, that you use this on?

Joey Korenman (23:03):

So I'm gonna leave it at 50%, see what happens. So I'm making sure I'm on the mat layer, and I'm just gonna start painting on this a little bit, and you can see what it's doing is starting to bring back some of the detail, but not very much, most likely. I'm just going to undo what I just did there. Um, most likely that detail's not there anymore. So what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna turn my original layer back on and you can see that these little ghosted areas here, that's where we erase detail that we kind of want to bring back. So what I'm going to do is click on my mat layer. I'm going to use a paint brush and I'm going to make it really small. And I'm just going to kind of come in and I'm just going to hand paint that mat back on. If I turn this off, now, you'll see I'm bringing back some of this information. You know, as I paint these little strokes, it can kind of create little feathers for me and kind of bring back some of that detail, make it feel a little, a little better.

Joey Korenman (24:10):

All right. And this is something that takes a little while to get the hang of, but, um, it's a really great way to bring back detail like hair, especially if you're trying to cut people out. So now if we zoom out, you can see we've got a lot of great detail there. Um, however, we are getting this funky edge and that is just, that's from, anti-aliasing where the white feathers are meeting the dark background. Um, and there's a good way to get rid of that too, which I'm going to show you so you can paint on the mat. You can also paint directly on this image and I have a copy of the original. So now I'm not afraid to actually start altering this image. So for things like this, where there's not a lot of color variation to this, it's white and really kind of light gray.

Joey Korenman (24:58):

What I'm going to do is use a brush tool to fix this. All right? And I'm going to get a bigger brush and I'm going to soften it up as much as I can. And what's cool about working this way, where you have your image and your mask is, let's say I use this pink color and I start painting. Actually let me pick a different color. So you can see if I pick this green color now, and I start painting that color will not show up here. Now I am actually painting green on the image. You just don't see it because I have a mask on. And just so you guys know the way I disabled that mask really quickly was holding shift and clicking. It puts a red X over it and shows you the whole image. So let's get rid of that paint stroke.

Joey Korenman (25:37):

I did. I'm just going to undo a few times. Okay. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to hold option. If you're in the paint brush and you hold option and you click, it will pick that color. So it's a very fast way to pick colors. Okay? So I'm going to pick a color, very close to the edge of these feathers, and then I'm going to position my brush. So just the edge of it is kind of hitting those dark pixels. And I'm just going to sort of paint that line away and you gotta just be really careful. So you don't paint too much. So down here, I might pick this darker gray and I'm using, I'm using a stylist, a calm stylist, and that lets me, uh, have pressure sensitivity, which makes it a lot easier to do this kind of stuff.

Joey Korenman (26:26):

And if you're doing this kind of stuff, I really recommend you invest in one. All right. So now we've got a pretty good result there. Um, and we can turn the original back on and see that we haven't really lost that much data. Um, actually pretty happy with that. Now there's a little bit of green spill that I'm seeing here. All right. So I'm going to show you how to take care of that real quick green spill, just so you guys know, um, this is very common on green screens, but it happens with images too, and it's not always green. It's sort of, whatever color is surrounding, that object is going to spill onto the skin, uh, or the, the surface of whatever you're cutting out. Um, and that becomes a problem. If we want to take this Turkey and put it in a different photo or something, uh, then that green is going to be a giveaway that the Turkey was cut out.

Joey Korenman (27:18):

Um, so here's a trick that I like to use. Um, I'm going to add an adjustment layer, all right. And that's this little black and white cookie looking icon down here. Um, these are all adjustment layers you can add and adjustment layers are layers that affect every layer underneath them and what I'm going to use as the hue and saturation adjustment layer. And what's cool is every adjustment layer comes with a mask, works exactly the same way our image mask is working. And right now the mask is completely white, meaning that this adjustment layer is going to affect every single pixel underneath it. So for now, I'm going to double click this. We can bring up the settings and I'm going to, all I'm going to do is de saturate everything green in this image. So instead of master right here, master means it's affecting every color.

Joey Korenman (28:09):

I'm going to set this to greens and I'm going to de-saturated all the way. And I'm going to pump it up all the way really fast, just to show you guys how much this green spill is actually a problem. You can see it's all over the place on this bird, right? And even, even when we hadn't done this yet, it wasn't that apparent. But when you put this up against another image, those green pixels are going to start to show up. So I'm just going to completely de-saturate them. And in this case, that may actually be all we need to do. Um, you can see there's actually still a little bit of green showing up here. Um, and that's because when you, when you set this to greens, you can see that down here. This is sort of showing you the selection of colors that are now being affected by these controls.

Joey Korenman (28:59):

And this green is a little bit more yellow. Uh, then the selection is set to, so if we just sort of pull these values out a little bit more, so now we're affecting the yellows too. You can see that that has now all gone away. Now this image didn't really have any green in it to begin with. If I turn this adjustment layer off, we can see there wasn't really any green in it, in the bird that we want to keep. So we're pretty much done at that point. Now, if this bird had green eyes, for example, and you didn't want to affect the eyes, then here's what you would do. You would click on the mask for the adjustment layer and you would fill it with black. All right. So if you hold command and hit delete, it will fill that layer with the background color, which is black option delete is the foreground color command delete is the background color.

Joey Korenman (29:52):

All right? And in case you forget that you can always go to edit, fill and say, use foreground color, use background color, or you can pick black or white. So now this adjustment layer isn't doing anything because it's mask is set to completely black. So it's not gonna affect anything. But this is kinda nice because now I can take a brush set to white and soften the edges of it a bit. And I can just come in here and just paint the edge of this bird. And so now I'm only, desaturating the edge of the bird. If I come up here, I can be very selective about what's getting de-saturated, which is nice. Okay. So since this image doesn't have any green in it, I'm just going to set this to white. Okay. Um, great. So now you've seen how we've, how we've approached this section.

Joey Korenman (30:48):

Uh, the rest of these sections are going to be done exactly the same. They're a little bit trickier. So why don't I do one more and then I'm going to pause it and I will show you guys, uh, after I've, I've sort of done the rest of this. So why don't we work on this area right under the chin? Um, so this is interesting. These are actually dark hairs on a light background. So it's actually the complete opposite of the area we just did. So again, we're going to go into the channels menu, and we're going to look at these channels one by one and see which one has the most contrast here. So red has some contrast. Green might be a little better. It's kinda tough to tell. I mean, we're really not doing great on, on any of them.

Joey Korenman (31:38):

Let's try a blue blue has a little more contrast underneath here. Uh, so it might just make it a little bit easier. So what I'm going to do is make a copy of the blue channel. I'm going to hit command L to bring up levels. And now I'm going to try to do is get these hairs as dark as I can get them while getting this area as bright as I can get it, which you see, as soon as I go too far, I start losing detail in the hair and that's, that's going to be the problem. So I'm going to leave it. I'm going to leave it there. And you can see that in this area, we've got white, which is good and black. So we've got a good contrast, but over here, we don't have a good contrast. So in this case, we have to do a little bit of manual work.

Joey Korenman (32:22):

So on this copy of the blue channel, I'm going to grab a white paint brush, and I'm going to make it small and a little bit harder. And I'm going to come in here and I want to make sure that we don't affect the beak. And the beak actually goes like this. Okay. The reason I'm painting with a white brush in this case is because the hairs are black. So whatever the opposite color is, that's what the background needs to be. Okay. So I'm just going to go in and very roughly paint white in the areas that, that I know we don't want to keep. So now, if I zoom out, you can see that this area of the hair is looking okay. It's not perfect, but it could probably work. But then here, you've got this gray area kind of mushing in with the hair.

Joey Korenman (33:10):

So what we're going to use is the Dodge tool, because we want to brighten, remember Dodge's brightened burn darken, and we're going to Dodge this area. Now it's not really doing much because this is so light. We probably need to set this, the range of the Dodge tool to highlights and gently come in here and you can see what it did. It actually did a pretty good job there. It just got rid of the graze, but it kind of left these dark areas. It didn't really affect them. So rather than use a white paint brush, which would affect everything, that's kind of just touch the highlights and it gave us this nice edge here. Okay. So now what I'm going to do is I'm actually going to invert this just so I can look at it. Sometimes it's helpful when you're working with mass to invert it before you do anything with it.

Joey Korenman (33:59):

Um, just to double check what you're, that, that it makes sense. And sometimes you'll see things, uh, you know, in white, over black that you don't see in black over white. So I'm looking at this. I think that's pretty good. I'm going to invert it back now. Remember when I select this, it's going to select everything that's white and bright. Okay. So that's exactly what we want. We want to select this area here, but not the area with the hair, because then we can just erase and it will not erase anything that is not selected. All right. So I'm gonna hold command, click the blue channel. Now have our selection, turn RGB back on, turn the blue channel off our copy, go back to layers, go to the mask and grab my eraser.

Joey Korenman (34:44):

And we are just going to come in here and erase, and you can see that it is keeping our hairs. All right. And I'm going to de-select now again, it didn't do a perfect job of keeping the hairs. And if I turn the original layer back on, you can see that there there's still some hairs that are there, that that may have been clipped overall, not terrible. So what I'm going to first try is I'm going to try and bring some of that detail back, all right, in the mat and see if there's anything there that it can give me without doing any manual painting. So I'm going to grab my Dodge tool because I want to brighten the mat and see if any detail comes back. It brought back a little bit. All right, now I'm going to turn my original layer back on. I'm going to grab a very small white paint brush, and I'm just gonna do my same little trick of kind of just painting manually, very thin lines, tracing some of these hairs. And then every once in a while, checking my work. All right. That's actually not, not too bad. Um, now again, you're getting some weird edges because the anti-aliasing, so I'm also going to do my same trick of painting on the image, using a paintbrush and just getting those edges, just darkening them up a little bit.

Joey Korenman (36:17):

And when you're doing this, you kind of want to pick a, pick a different color every now and again, just to keep it varied. Okay. All right. So that's not bad. We've got some of these little whiskers under the chin back. Uh, we've got some nice detail here. So now there's just a few other areas. There's this area around the neck, which, uh, I think probably should be fairly easy, cause it's dark here and you can probably use the burn tool to darken this. Um, this section won't be too, too bad. You may actually want to break this up into two pieces. Cause you have white feathers here and you have dark feathers here. So you probably want to do that in two passes. Um, and then when we get to the top, I'll show you guys how I'm gonna attack that. All right. So I'm going to pause it now.

Joey Korenman (37:00):

And when we come back, I will have most of this done except for the top of the bird. All right guys. So now I have cut out most of the image and you can see that we've got some nice detail and the feathers. Um, we managed to keep the chin pretty decent. I was actually really surprised with how well this part of the back of his neck came out. Um, so this just goes to show you that using the channels, um, and doing a little bit of manual painting, you can actually keep a lot of that detail that you would think would just go away and there'd be no way to deal with it. So now what do we do with the top of this bird's head? Now, this is tricky. You can see this is the de-saturated image because we took all the green out.

Joey Korenman (37:44):

There's really, there's very little contrast between most of the hair and the backgrounds. Some parts have some contrast like here. Uh, but then other parts like this really, you got nothing. Um, so how do you deal with that? Well, unfortunately the only way I know, uh, is to do a lot of manual work. So we're going to go through this together. So you guys can see, uh, that you kind of have to start rough and then start to hone in on the details and then just do some manual painting and things like that. And before, you know, it you'll actually be back with a pretty good result. So we're all we're working on the matte layer. I've got my eraser. And what I'm going to do is just kind of go around and I'm going to do a pretty rough pass, just trying to leave myself, just some, some fine erasing basically to, to deal with once I get this past done. All right. So this is sort of the, the broad strokes and you can see if I screw up, I just hit undo, and I just work my way around like this until we get to the end.

Joey Korenman (39:03):

And the more you do this, the faster you'll get at it too. All it really takes is one project where your client wants 40 images to be cut up into pieces, to do that fake perspective trick. And you'll be very good at this. Okay? So now we can make our eraser a lot smaller and really just come in and do the best you can and it's not going to be perfect. Um, and you're gonna screw up and you're gonna, you know, especially when you have stuff like this in here, it may not even be that easy to tell what is bird and what is background. You may not even know what you're racing. So all you can do is just kind of eyeball it. And it's not going to look right at first. So just know that you're not, you're not trying to make it look correct just yet. Uh, the first step is to just get as close of a mask as you can get. And I'm just sort of defocusing my eyes here and trying to guess where the edges of this Turkey are. Think it's something like this. Hi, let's see some feathers in here

Joey Korenman (40:23):

And this might be pretty boring. So, uh, feel free to fast forward through this part, unless you're intrigued by, by the process you like watching paint dry. Luckily some of these feathers are white, so they, they do make it a little bit easier. Um, now when you're working with people, you'll usually have this problem. When you have people with a blonde hair, usually women with blonde hair. When they, uh, if the, if the hair isn't brushed down pretty tightly, you'll get little flyaway hairs and you'll have to go back in and manually paint those things in. And so this is, this is applicable to images, not just of turkeys.

Joey Korenman (41:11):

Okay. All right. So we've come to a point now where we've got the basic shape of this bird roughed out. Um, and I'm just going to turn the original back on, um, over it just so I can see. All right. So I can see that I've actually left a lot of background still in there, and it was pretty hard to tell you can see that, um, when I turned this off, well, now I can see, but I didn't know that this wasn't a feather. So what I'm going to do is just kind of go in here and I'm going to turn the original back on and with it on, I think it's set to 50% transparency. Um, I'm going to leave that on, but I'm still going to be working on my mat layer. And I'm going to go in and refine this one more time.

Joey Korenman (41:58):

All right. And you can see just how much green spill we got rid of because when the original image is on the edge of that hair really looks screen. And I will say that doing this step right here would really not be possible without a tablet. Um, some of the earlier steps you could do with a mouse, but when you're working like this and you need a really precise lines and you need that pressure sensitivity to be able to start really thin and then broaden that stroke out, um, there's no way to do it without a tablet. So, um, if you, again, if you have to do this a lot, I would invest in a tablet. It will, it will make you money and it will keep you saying, okay, now I can turn the original off. All right. So right there, that's, that's not great, but it would be passable in certain situations.

Joey Korenman (42:53):

So the first thing we're going to do, um, is we're going to go around and we're just going to clean the edges up a little bit, um, because you can see we're getting these, these dark edges, you know, these are white hairs or white feathers, but we're getting that dark outline on it. Um, so because there's so much variation in these feathers, I'm not going to use the paintbrush to fix the edges of this image. I'm actually going to use the clone stamp. So I'm gonna hit S T to select the clone stamp. And I'm going to make sure I'm working on the image, not on the mask anymore. I'm going to get a little bit of a bigger brush. All right. And the trick with this is to try and pick a, you know, when you use the clone stamp, you hold you first hold option.

Joey Korenman (43:40):

Um, or also I guess, on a PC and you click on the area of the image where you want to clone from, and then you move the cursor and you can see that that's what you'll be basically painting onto that part of the image. So you want to pick a point pretty close to the edge and then move out and then just sort of feather that in like that. And so what you're kind of doing, and you gotta be careful, and I may need a smaller brush, but what you're doing is just sort of extending the edge of the image. It extending the edge of the image out, excuse me, um, to cover those last few pixels. So you basically are cloning apart from inside the image and just kind of feathering it into the outside of the image a little bit. And if I turn your mask off, you'll see what it's doing.

Joey Korenman (44:33):

It's just basically expanding the image information out a little bit so that our mat doesn't clip it and create these funny looking pixels. Now, for these hairs here, they're so thin, it would be very tricky to use the clone stamp. So I am going to use the brush tool there, right? And I'm actually going to go in, you see how the tip of this feather got really, really dark cause I wasn't very careful. I'm actually going to go in with a paint brush and just kind of repaint in some detail there. Now that may seem like some very artistic thing and you need to know how to paint or to do things like that. Believe me, that cannot be further from the truth. Uh, I have never painted that. Don't know how, um, but what you realize is when you're in close enough to any image, uh, you'll start to see that, you know, your eye is tricking you.

Joey Korenman (45:27):

When you look at an image, really you're looking at a bunch of pixels and if you get too close to them, they look blobby and streaky. But when you zoom out far enough, it looks like a real image to you. And you can use that to your advantage because you actually have a lot of leeway, um, to paint in some detail, if I decided I wanted a feather there, I could probably with a few, you know, color picks here at another feather. And if you get too close, you know, from here may not look that great, but when we zoom out, you're never going to know that I didn't paint that in there. So as long as you're using similar colors, uh, and using a similar texture with them, you can get away with a lot. All right. So we're going to keep going. We're going to use our clone stamp, and we're just going to work our way around, clean up these edges. And it's kind of a trial and error process. Sometimes you may, you may lay something down and it doesn't quite work. There's something interesting going on here with the mask. So I'm just going to avoid that part.

Joey Korenman (46:33):

And I'm basically just trying to get rid of any obvious artifacts from cutting this image out and you won't be able to get rid of all of them. And then every once in a while, I'm seeing little areas of image that shouldn't be there, some going into the mask and I'm erasing those. Okay. All right. So there's a few more areas that I probably would want to clean up if I was doing this for real, but, um, I think for now clean up this area, cause it's bothering me. All right. So for now I want to move on to the next step because this is actually not a bad result. All right. So I'm gonna turn the original image back on so we can see now you can see that there's not, we're not missing a lot here. Uh, we actually got most of the feather detail, but there's just something about a cut out image that gives it away.

Joey Korenman (47:28):

And, you know, if I turn this original image to 100% opacity, you can see there's a lot of just little tiny, just smudges in these feathers that, that make them look real, um, that, you know, there's really not a great way. Like, you know, for example, right here, you can see these black feathers kind of come out here a little bit and we've completely lost that. So what I'm going to do is I'm gonna leave the original turned on. I'm going to set the opacity down, maybe, maybe 50%, alright, and what I'm going to do. And this is very tricky and it'll take a little practice on the, uh, on our working image. I'm gonna, I'm going to use my trick of grabbing a really small brush. And I'm just gonna kinda every once in a while, grab a color and just very lightly make some strokes. All right. And sorry, what I'm going to have to do. I'm doing that on the wrong land. I'm doing that on. I should be doing that on the matte layer just every once in a while, grabbing, creating a little hairs like this. All right. And when I see an area like that, I just kind of painted back in and really what you're trying to do is just make the edge of your mask less perfect. Because in reality, no edge is perfect. There's always some softness to it.

Joey Korenman (49:02):

All right. So it's a subtle thing. It's starting to help it a little bit. Um, another trick I like to use sometimes is to on, on the mask layer, you can grab this little teardrop looking tool, which is the blur tool. Um, and if you set that to a low strength, set it to like 25%, you can actually go along and edge like here and you can soften it a little bit. Um, and it's subtle. But what it will do is when you put this up against another background, it will help blend it in and make sure you're not actually blurring the image. You're just blurring the mask of the image. All right. So we'll continue with the process still working on the matte layer. And we're just pulling out little, little bitty hairs like this, and you almost can't even see them on this pink. They're just very small.

Joey Korenman (49:57):

And I'm almost at this point, I'm just kind of making up where they are, but it just gives it, it gives it a little bit more of a realistic feel like there's little hairs coming off of it and things like that. Um, so you could, you could even work once you get the hang of using the stylist and you can get really precise with it. You can actually just come out here, kind of zoom out and see what you're doing. And just kind of find areas that feel like they need a little extra help. Some of these might be too long. All right. And so you just do that for a little while. We are almost there.

Joey Korenman (50:50):

All right. So now let's, let's check our work against an actual image because unless you're doing something very graphic, most of the time, you're going to take another image and you're going to put it against a texture or something. You're not going to put it against a flat color. Now, if you wanted to see, you could always, you know, you could grab a couple of colors here and make a gradient and see what happens. Um, and you can see that we're getting, we're still keeping our detail. The feathers on the top of the bird are still coming through. Um, I might want to soften those up a little bit, but I want to see what they look like against an image. Um, so I I've grabbed another image royalty free from flicker. So I'm gonna copy that image and I'm going to paste it into this Photoshop file.

Joey Korenman (51:37):

All right. And I'm going to scale it up, which I know is normally a booboo, but we're going to do it for this tutorial. All right. So now I'm going to go around and I'm going to look at the edges here and against an actual image. You'll start to see even some more little, little areas that you could fix. Um, I'm seeing this slight, slight one pixel edge here. Um, so I'm going to use my clone stamp tool on the, on the actual image. And I'm going to use my little trick of sort of cloning part of the image information onto the edge like that. So now that edge is clean. Uh, this says looks pretty good. Um, one thing that I am seeing is that this edge is almost too clean. It's perfect. There's no feathering to it at all. So I'm going to grab my blur tool, go onto the mask.

Joey Korenman (52:26):

And they're just going to run it along that at just real quick, couple of times, and I'm not trying to blur it too much, but you'll see very subtly. It just softened it, it helps it flow into the background image when you shoot something, uh, with a camera and it's, and, and let's say we really shot this Turkey, you know, in this environment, the area where the edge of the Turkey meets the edge of the background. Well, it's not going to always work out where this pixel is Turkey in the very next pixel over his background. There's always going to be some mixing. And so sometimes you need to help that process by blurring the edges a little bit, um, because when you cut something out, uh, the edges are perfect and they shouldn't be perfect. They should be blurred a little bit, just a tiny bit just to help them mesh. Uh, you can see the beak is having a problem here, um, with the edge. Some, the beak is pretty blown out, so I'm just going to, uh, grab that color and go along the edge here and just fix that.

Joey Korenman (53:33):

Okay. Um, all right. So it's actually a pretty decent cutout. Um, I can see some, some areas up here against the sky. You may want to add a few more of those, uh, of those hairs. And at this point, usually what I like to do, because the cutting out process is more or less done is I like to call this. So this is my working layer got renamed. Um, so this working layer, I'm actually going to clone it and I'm going to use my same trick hold option, click, and drag it, turn this one off. And what I'm going to do is hit, uh, control on the Mac, or you can actually right. Click as well. Um, I'm going to control, click this mat and I'm going to say apply layer mask. So now I've combined the layer mask with that layer and all that's going to let me do is work on the image and the mat sort of as one.

Joey Korenman (54:30):

So I can do things to both at the same time, which you can't do if you are still working with them separately here. Now I saved a copy of that. So if I need to go back, I can, um, what I'm going to do for my last little trick them a show you guys is to try and help you with the feathers up here on the bird. Um, because those are the trickiest part. Um, so what I'm going to use, if you click on this blur tool, there's another tool in there called the smudge tool. Okay. Now the smudge tool does exactly what it says. It just smudges your image. Okay. And you can see that if I make a big brush and just smudge a little bit, you can kind of get a little bit of a broken up edge to these feathers. All right.

Joey Korenman (55:15):

So I'm going to smudge the tips of these fairs just a little bit, but then what I really want to do is get a really small brush. And I want to smudge all along the edge here, kind of like this. So you're sort of trying to mimic the edge of a feather. And if you go too crazy, you'll start to, they'll start to look like Paulie D's hair or something. All right. But if you smudge, you can actually pull out and make it look almost like individual hairs are popping out to, I keep saying hairs in their feathers, turkeys don't have hair. They have feathers.

Joey Korenman (55:59):

Okay. All right. So this is zoomed in at 100%. And I think the last thing I want to do is just kind of give this a once-over. Um, this part looks a little blurry up here, so I'm just gonna use the sharpen tool to sharpen it a little bit, and that might've been too much, but you can see that that helped sell it because the rest of this image is very sharp. Um, and it was getting a little fuzzy up there from all the manipulation we did. So I, I sharpen it a little bit. Um, and now we've got a pretty good mask for this Turkey. And if you were animating this Turkey, you know, going across like this, someone might actually think that there are turkeys in, you know, New Mexico or wherever this is. Um, so there you go. That's how you cut out an image with a lot of different pieces and a lot of different challenges. Um, the Turkey image doesn't match perfectly with the background because the colors are completely different, but that's a separate tutorial. Um, for another day, this one has gone on long enough. Thank you guys for stopping by, and I will see you next time.

Joey Korenman (57:11):

Thank you for watching. I hope you learned a ton of new tricks from this lesson about how to handle cutting out images in Photoshop. If you have any questions or thoughts, let us know. And if you learn something valuable from this video, do us a favor and share it. It really helps us spread the word about school of motion. We appreciate it so much. Also don't forget to sign up for a free student account so you can access the project files from the lesson you just watched, plus a whole bunch of other awesome stuff. Thanks again. And I will see you next time.

Music (57:42):

[outro music]

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