I’ve been lucky enough to have been a guest teacher at a 6th to 8th grade computer multimedia class every now and then at a local school over the past year. We spend most of our time in movie editing programs, Photoshop and Flash. When we are covering Photoshop, the most requested technique I am asked to show is how to “cut someone out” from one picture, then place them in another. I suppose the kids that ask me for it want to incriminate somebody, and as long as I don’t know exactly what they are doing I’m clear of any liability, so I’m happy to help.
(Photoshop veterans, this is old news to you. This is mainly for the kids I teach in class.)
For this tutorial, we’ll be using a picture of one of my favorite baseball players, Chipper Jones from the Atlanta Braves.
If you want to follow along, you’ll probably need the high resolution of this picture that you can find if you click here. There are a couple of different ways that we can cut Chipper out of this picture. The first thing that you want to look at is the picture itself. Do you think it would be easy to draw a line around him? Or are there some weird edges that might make that tough to do? For each picture you try to do this with, it might be a little different. I’ll show you two ways that you can do it that you can pick from each time you do it.
The first is the “Magnetic Lasso Tool”. You’ll find it here in Photoshop. You might have to right click on the Lasso icon to bring it up. Also, I am using Photoshop CS2, a newer version than you may have. Ask your teacher if you can’t find the Magnetic Lasso Tool.
This tool will let you draw a line around what you want to cut out. It will make it easier for you as well because it will sort of stick to what you are drawing around. This is why it’s “magnetic”. It will be easier, but it will still take a little time to do if you want to do it right.
Just take your time and be careful. Make sure that you draw a line all the way around Chipper and close the sort of a circle that you will make.
Once you are done, it will look a lot like the picture right below.
Make sure that you go all the way around him, even below his feet. Fully outlining him is important if you want him to look right. After you do this, pick the move button. It’s on the top right. Click and drag Chipper around. If you have another image window open, you can drag him into it as well. If you want to have even more fun, click the selection tool and right click Chipper. Make sure you duplicate his layer before you do anything. After you do, select the “Free Transform” option. You can make him bigger, smaller, and even fatter or skinnier.
Remember, there’s another way to do this that might work better for different types of pictures. Start over with the original picture of Chipper. Don’t select anything with any tools just yet. In Photoshop CS2, click “Filter” at the top menu bar, then click “Extract”. In older versions of Photoshop, this may be under “Image”. Once you get there, you’ll see the picture brought up in a new window. You’ll want to use the marker tool in this window to draw a green line around Chipper’s outline. Then fill in this area with the paint bucket. Once you are done, it will look a lot like Chipper is ready to beam up like in Star Trek.
Hit “OK” and you’re finished. This will look a little weird at first. You can probably tell that the Magnetic Lasso was best for now. We actually can get the Extract method to work very good, but I’ll save that for another lesson. You can use another tool called the “Art History Brush” to bring back little details that have been deleted.
Don’t worry if your results aren’t perfect. Just keep playing with it and I promise it will look even better each time you try this. Using Photoshop really is an art like painting or drawing. It takes a good bit of practice to make things look really great.