HOW TO CUT THINGS OUT IN PHOTOSHOP
I see people sometimes asking how to cut things out in PhotoShop and I know to some it seems like it would be obvious (LOL eraser tool duh) but I thought i'd make a
monster-sized tutorial showing some different (and more effective, imo) ways to cut things out.
PREP:I usually go ahead and edit/color the image I want to cut out, since i'll probably be using one of the background colors as the new background after I cut it out. You can do whatever you want though. If the image is really dark and you can't really see the outer edges of the figure you're cutting out, I suggest creating a curves layer (that you will later delete) to overly brighten the image so you can see what you are doing.
Now, once you've done whatever editing you want to do, make sure you turn your background layer into an editable layer. You can unlock it by double clicking it and pressing OK on the dialogue box. Or you can just create a duplicate later (Layer } New } Layer via copy OR Command+J [It's better to use this tool instead of copy/pasting because by duplicating you aren't putting anything on your clipboard aka using memory]) and hide the background layer.
Now once the layer is unlocked/editable, you can begin the cutting out process. Here are a few different techniques. *Note: I won't even be going over the Magic Wand Tool since I think it's a horrible way to make selections. Moving on...
ONE: LASSO TOOLS
I don't usually use these tools if I can help it, since it's harder to get the exact cuts I want. But the magnetic lasso tool is pretty cool and I always use the polygonal lasso on geometric shapes.
Free-Hand Lasso: I won't even go into the free hand lasso, since it's pretty self-explanatory and not the best method if you want a clean cutout.
Polygonal Lasso: This isn't going to work the best on this particular picture, since it's a person and the curves are all organic. But keep in mind that this tool works great on more geometric, straight edge objects.
Magnetic Lasso: You could actually get a decent cut with this one. First, I would set the feather either 0 or 1. Not really certain on the other settings, but mine are highlighted below.
Now, simply click and release once and drag the mouse along the outer edge of the object. Anchor points will automatically be placed down as you drag.
And if you want to make sure an anchor stays put, just click and then keep dragging and it will stay in the place you clicked. I think with this method you will have to do some cleaning up afterwards since it's hard to be exact.When you are done, double click to make the selection and you'll get the marching ants.
From this point, you can either inverse the selection (Select } Inverse OR Shift+Command+I) and then delete the background. OR if you want to keep your background for future use, just make the selection a new layer (Layer } New } Layer via copy OR Command+J).
TWO: ERASER TOOL
I used to just do this all the time because I didn't know a better way. And there's nothing wrong with this method at all other than the fact that you are deleting information and that can sometimes be problematic if you accidentally erase something you decide you want back later on. Now, this method is full-proof for some people, but it's hard to get clean lines with this. You have to have a really steady hand and a lot of patience. To make things easier on myself, I usually take the polygonal lasso tool and cut out as much of the picture as I can.
After that, I zoom in and select my eraser tool. I usually use a pretty small brush with the hardness set to around mid-point. The less hardness, the more of a feathering effect you will get. The more the hardness is up, the more sharp the edge will be.
Then I just erase around her figure. This is pretty hard and tedious to do with a mouse. Fortunately for me, I have a bamboo tablet. So it's not too bad and it's fairly quick.
I was really scared of masking before I learned what it was. I actually find more use for it in editing portions of a selection rather than making selections. Here, i'll show you!
First, make sure your foreground and background colors are at default (black foreground, white background).
Then click on your brush tool and use similar brush size and hardness as you did with the eraser. (smaller radius [i'm using 12px], hardness around 50% or higher) You want a nice firm yet soft edge. Now click your mask tool button.
Now with both your brush tool and mask tool buttons selected, paint out the selection you want. In this case, i'm selecting Amy's hat. Make sure that black is your foreground color when you paint. It should paint a RED color overlayed at about 80% opacity by default. If you accidentally paint something you don't want, just flip the white to your foreground color and paint on what you want to take away. The white will remove the red color, thus excluding that part of the selection.
Once you are finished, click your mask tool again (or press the letter Q) and you will get marching ants around your selection.
Now you can edit the selection however you want. With an adjustment layer (Color Balance, Selective Color, Gradient Map) maybe? Whatever you want and it only affects what you painted red.
I'm not going to do a selection of her entire body since you basically get the idea from the hat.
FOUR: PEN TOOL
I looooove the pen tool. Mainly because I like the firm smoothness of the edge. And it's nearly impossible to make a shitty cut-out with this tool (IF you use it right, that is). I'll try to explain it as best I can. But if you master this tool, it will be your best friend as far as making cutouts go. The beauty of the pen tool is you can click and drag and create anchor points, but they don't have to just be straight lines. You can make beautiful smooth curves.
First, open your PATHS (Window } Paths) and then select the pen tool (P).
*I suggest practicing on a blank canvas beforehand to get the hang of this*
Now make your first point. Anywhere is fine. Hold the mouse down with one click, then release and click to create a second point point a little bit further away (DON'T UN-CLICK). Now (without un-clicking) drag the mouse. This will give you some handle bars and will start curving the line you just made. Experiment and drag the mouse until the line of the pen matches the line of the object. Once it does, you can release the mouse.
Now, at most points you can just keep going and click to make your next point. But depending on how far you had to drag and how long your handlebars have gotten, you might want to hold the OPTION key down and click the last anchor point you made to delete the handlebar. This keeps the line from going all wonky (especially when you are going around sharper corners [like the points on the hat]).
I'm sorry if i'm just confusing the mess out of you. But if you click around a little bit and make some practice lines first, you will see what i'm talking about. As always, if you make a line you don't like and want to re-do it, just press Command+Z (go back a move) and try again.
Once your selection is done it will just be the pen tool line (no marching ants yet). To actually create the selection ants, you need to go to your PATHS window that you opened earlier and click the 'load path as selection' button:
Clicking this button will create the selection. (I don't know what the default is, but in my PS this button selects the INVERSE of everything I selected. So just go to Select } Inverse and it will flip). From here, you can duplicate (Command+J) the selection and it will go to a new layer and VOILA, you are done. You can, as always, erase any part of the selection you don't want at this point. I find that this tool gives me the best consistency of line and looks the nicest. It takes some practice though.
Okay, now that i've thoroughly bored you to death i'm finally finished! I hope this was kinda sorta helpful. :)