Cutting out an image in Photoshop is a fundamental skill that every graphic designer and photographer should master. Whether you want to remove the background, isolate an object, or create a composite image, knowing how to cut out an image accurately is essential. In this tutorial, we will guide you through the process of cutting out an image in Photoshop, step by step.

Step 1: Open the Image in Photoshop

First, launch Photoshop and open the image you want to cut out. You can do this by going to File > Open or by using the shortcut Ctrl + O. Browse your computer and select the image file you want to work with.

Step 2: Select the Pen Tool

To cut out the image precisely, we will use the Pen Tool. Select the Pen Tool from the toolbar on the left side of the screen. Alternatively, you can press P on your keyboard to activate the Pen Tool.

Step 3: Create an Outline

With the Pen Tool selected, start creating an outline around the object you want to cut out. Click to create anchor points and adjust the curves by dragging the handles. Take your time to ensure accuracy, especially around complex shapes.

Step 4: Close the Path

Once you have completed the outline, you need to close the path. To do this, hover over the first anchor point until you see a small circle next to the Pen Tool cursor. Click on the first anchor point to close the path.

Step 5: Refine the Selection

After closing the path, you will see a selection outline around the object. To refine the selection, go to Select > Refine Edge. This will open the Refine Edge dialog box, where you can adjust the selection’s smoothness, feathering, and other parameters. Use the preview options to see how the selection looks against different backgrounds.

Step 6: Output the Selection

Once you are satisfied with the refined selection, it’s time to output it. In the Refine Edge dialog box, choose the output option that suits your needs. You can output the selection as a new layer, a new layer with a layer mask, or directly onto a new document. Experiment with the options to find the best result for your project.

Step 7: Fine-tune the Cutout

After outputting the selection, you may need to make some additional adjustments to achieve a seamless cutout. Use tools like the Eraser Tool, Clone Stamp Tool, or Layer Mask to refine the edges, remove any remaining background, or blend the cutout with the new background. Take your time and pay attention to details to ensure a professional result.

Step 8: Save and Export

Once you are satisfied with the cutout, save your work. Go to File > Save or File > Save As to save the image in Photoshop format (.psd) if you want to preserve the layers and editability. If you want to use the cutout in other applications or share it online, go to File > Export > Export As and choose the desired file format, such as JPEG or PNG.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I use a different selection tool instead of the Pen Tool?

A: While the Pen Tool provides precise control over the selection, you can also try using the Quick Selection Tool or the Magic Wand Tool for simpler shapes. However, keep in mind that these tools may not give you the same level of accuracy and control as the Pen Tool.

Q: How do I cut out hair or other complex details?

A: Cutting out hair or other intricate details can be challenging. In addition to using the Pen Tool, you can try using the Select and Mask feature in Photoshop to refine the selection further. Experiment with different settings and brush tools to achieve the desired result.

Q: Are there any shortcuts to speed up the cutting out process?

A: Yes, there are several shortcuts that can help you work more efficiently. For example, you can press Ctrl + H to hide the selection outline temporarily, or use Ctrl + Alt + R to bring up the Refine Edge dialog box quickly. Familiarize yourself with these shortcuts to save time during the cutting out process.

Tips for Achieving a Clean Cutout

  • Zoom in and work on the image at a high magnification to ensure precision.
  • Use the Zoom Tool (shortcut: Z) to navigate and zoom in on specific areas.
  • Make use of the Spacebar to temporarily switch to the Hand Tool for panning around the image.
  • Take advantage of the Undo (Ctrl + Z) and Step Backward (Alt + Ctrl + Z) commands to correct any mistakes.
  • Experiment with different brush sizes and hardness levels when refining the edges.
  • Consider using layer masks to make non-destructive adjustments to your cutout.


Cutting out an image in Photoshop may seem daunting at first, but with practice and following the right techniques, you can achieve professional results. Remember to take your time, pay attention to details, and experiment with different tools and options to refine your cutout. With this skill in your arsenal, you’ll be able to create stunning compositions, remove distractions, and enhance your graphic design or photography projects.

Now that you know how to cut out an image in Photoshop, why not try it out on your own? Practice makes perfect, so grab your favorite image and start mastering this essential Photoshop skill!