Digital Scrapbook Memories

Cutting Individual Layers - Tips For Using the Selection Tools

© Digital Scrapbook Memories, 2006 - 2015
This tip works on any version of Photoshop including Elements. Similar programs will do similar things.

Here is my original picture.


Let me show you how to cut the picture out like I've done in this layout:


Using the lasso tool trace around the entire outline of the baby.

Lasso Tool

You can use any of the lasso tools. You’ll find them in the toolbox by right clicking on the lasso tool. Anytime there is a little triangle in the toolbox you can right click to find more tools. Use the lasso tool to freehand draw the area you want to select. Use the polygonal lasso tool to draw straight lines around your image.

I used the magnetic lasso to go around the entire image (my baby). The magnetic lasso tool feels as if it magnetically connects to similar colors. In places where the colors are very similar the magnetic lasso has a harder time so you will need to be more careful. My first time around usually is not perfect. I’ll show you how to make it perfect below.

Tip: When you get to the end you double click to connect the dots. If you accidentally triple click you will lose everything you just did with the lasso. Typically you can go back one step in your history to get where you wanted to be.
Tip: While you are going around your image click every once in a while to secure the anchor points. I click quite a bit but you don’t have to.
Tip: If your lasso goes somewhere you didn’t want it to you can press delete as many times as you want to take back previous anchor points.

Since I go around fairly quickly on the first time around I need to zoom into areas and clean things up. Keep using any of the lasso tools for this. In the options bar you will find options for a new selection, add to selection and subtract from selection. Make sure you have a lasso tool selected so you can see these options. Below you can see where I have circled in red I need to subtract from selection. To do this I will carefully go along the line of her tights then loosely circle around the carpet until I have subtracted all I need. Remember to double click when you want to connect the ends of your lasso.

I want to use the add to selection option for where I have circled in blue below.

If you use the new selection you will start with a new selection each time and you will not be able to save past selections.


Selection Tool

Once I’m done I can cut it out. Below I cut my baby out two ways. The first was without a feather. You can see the line around her head is pretty choppy. When I feathered before cutting I got a much smoother line. To feather you right click in the middle of your selection and choose feather then enter the number of pixels you want to feather. Try several pixel numbers to learn how it works and to see what you like the best.


After you feather your image (assuming you want to) you right click in the middle of your selection again and choose layer via cut or layer via copy. For this example it doesn’t really matter which one you choose. Below you can see in my layers palette I chose layer via cut because the image is cut out of the background. I copied the background layer but that wasn’t really necessary.

Next I took my elliptical marquee tool and created a circle in the middle of the photo. I made sure I was on the background layer then right clicked in the middle of my selection and chose select inverse. I then pressed delete to delete the unwanted background.



Since my baby and the background are on different layers I could desaturate the background to black and white while keeping my baby in color. It wouldn’t look that cool with this picture but I bet you can think of a picture that would.