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Adobe InDesign Adobe Photoshop Tips and Tutorials

Cutting Out and Layering Subjects from Photos

Sometimes your design might call for the subject of your image to be cut out or layered, here are two methods to do that.

Sometimes your design might call for the subject of your image to be cut out or layered: For example, Oregon State’s branding features contextual graphics, which can be integrated with your photos so they look like they’re behind the subject, or behind mountains, things like that.

I’ll show two methods today. One in photoshop that takes a lot more steps but is more precise, and another in Indesign that is quick but less precise.

The best and most precise way is to make a duplicate of your photo with a transparent background. I’ll start with opening photoshop.
-I’m using Photoshop 2021, and they’ve made it very easy to select your subject, as long as you don’t mind going in after to fix their mistakes.
-Go to Select>Subject and let it work its magic
-It did a pretty good job of guessing, so lets first refine the edge so it doesn’t have a harsh cut line
-Go to Select>modify>expand, and I like to use 2px
-Again, Select>modify>feather, and again 2 px. This gives it a softer outline so it’s not such a harsh cutout.
-At the bottom of the layers panel, select this black square with a circle to create a mask from our outline. This doesn’t delete anything, so if we make mistakes we don’t have to restart from scratch
-There’s some background that got included by accident, so let’s fix those
-Select the mask, make sure the color selected is white, and select the eraser tool
-Erase the bits of background that were included.
-Use the brush tool to bring back the bits of benny that were left out of the mask.
-Tip: Right click>disable layer mask to show the background again, and in Channels click the eye next to the mask to make it easier to see what needs fixed.
-When it’s where you like it, save as either a new Photoshop file or PNG, as those hold the transparency. A JPG will just fill in your transparent areas with white.
-Add both your original image and the one you just edited, add your contextual graphic and arrange accordingly.

Next we’ll use just InDesign with the pen tool.
-Insert your photo, decide where you want the contextual graphics to go
-select pen tool, begin going around the outline of your subject
-Close the shape
-With the selection tool, select the image and copy
-right click the new shape you just created, and paste into
-Add your contextual graphic and arrange accordingly.

And there you have it, hopefully one of these methods works well for you and gives you more freedom to make awesome designs. Thanks and good luck.

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