Using Image Cutout Studio

Image Cutout Studio offers a powerful integrated solution for cutting objects out from their backgrounds. Depending on the make up of your images you can separate subject of interests from their backgrounds, either by retaining the subject of interest (usually people, objects, etc.) or removing a simple uniform background (e.g., sky, studio backdrop). In both instances, the resulting "cutout" image creates an eye-catching look for your design.

The latter background removal method is illustrated in the following multi-image example.

An initial image on a white background.

Cutout Studio "paints" transparency on the background. The red tint indicates areas to be discarded.

Once cut out, a different image can be used as a more attractive background.

For successful cutouts, the following steps are recommended.

Decide on your approach

The approach you take with image extraction depends on your image content. If your image has a uniform background (e.g., sky, a wall, etc.) it makes sense (and saves time!) to simply remove the image background by discarding the selected cutout area. Conversely, if the subject of interest (e.g., a face) is surrounded by a background made up of complex colors or patterns (such as trees or buildings), you can include the subject of interest by keeping the selected cutout area.

To launch Image Cutout Studio:

  1. Select an image to be cut out.

  2. Select  Cutout Studio from the displayed Picture context toolbar. Image Cutout Studio is launched.

  3. Your original image, if linked, is unaffected in Image Cutout Studio. However, embedded images, when cut out, are altered permanently in the DrawPlus document.

Choose an output

It's essential that you choose an output type prior to selecting areas for keeping/discarding, either an alpha-edged or vector-cropped bitmap. The choice you make really depends on the image, in particular how well defined image edges are.

To create an alpha-edged bitmap:

  1. Select Alpha-edged Bitmap from the Output Type drop-down menu.

  2. Drag the Width slider to set the extent to which the "alpha" blending is applied inside the cutout edge.

  3. Adjust the Blur slider to smooth out the cutout edge.

To create a vector-cropped bitmap:

  1. Select Vector-cropped Bitmap from the Output Type drop-down menu.

  2. Drag the Feather slider to apply a soft or blurry edge inside the cutout edge.

  3. Drag the Smoothness slider to smooth out the cutout edge.

  4. The Inflate slider acts as an positive or negative offset from the cutout edge.

Selecting areas to keep or discard

A pair of brushes for keeping and discarding is used to enable parts of the image to be selected. The tools are called Keep Brush and Discard Brush, and are either used independently or, more typically, in combination with each other. When using either tool, the brush paints an area contained by an outline which is considered to be discarded or retained (depending on brush type). A configurable number of pixels adjacent to the outline area are blended.  



To aid the selection operation, several display modes are available to show selection.

Show Original, Show Tinted, and Show Transparent buttons respectively display the image with:

  • selection areas only

  • various colored tints aiding complex selection operations

  • checkerboard transparency areas marked for discarding.

For Show tinted, a red tint indicates areas to be discarded; a green tint shows areas to be kept.

For Show transparent mode, a different Background color can be set (at the bottom of the Studio) while Show Transparent is enabled; this may help give better contrast at cut edges while fine tuning.

In addition, with a series of zoom tools you can set the magnification level before painting, and even adjust the view as you paint.

Zoom Out
Click to view more of the image in the window.

Zoom Out
Drag the zoom slider right or left to zoom in or out, respectively; the vertical marker represents the actual image size (100%).

Zoom In
Click to view the image more closely.

Zoom to Fit
Click to scale the current image to fit in the window.

To select image areas for keeping/discarding:

  1. In Image Cutout Studio, click either  Keep brush or  Discard brush from the left of the Studio workspace.

  2. (Optional) Pick a Brush size suitable for the area to be worked on.

  3. (Optional) Set a Grow tolerance value to automatically expand the selected area under the cursor (by detecting colors similar to those within the current selection). The greater the value the more the selected area will grow.

  4. Using the circular cursor, click and drag across the area to be retained. It's OK to repeatedly click and drag until your selection area is made—you can't lose your selection unless you click the Reset button. The Undo button reverts to the last made selection.

  5. If you're outputting an alpha-edged bitmap, you can refine the area to be kept/discarded within Image Cutout Studio (only after previewing) with Erase and Restore touch-up tools. See Refining your cutout area below for more details. Vector-cropped images can be cropped using standard DrawPlus crop tools outside of the Studio.

  1. Click  OK to create your cutout, or  Cancel to abort the operation.

  2. Make your outline edge as exact as possible by using brush and touch-up tools before committing your work.

You'll see your image on the poster page in its original location, but with the selected areas cut away (made transparent).

Refining your cutout area (alpha-edged bitmaps only)

If a vector-cropped image is created via Image Cutout Studio it's possible to subsequently manipulate the crop outline using the Crop Tool. However, for alpha-edged bitmaps, Erase and Restore touch-up tools can be used to refine the cutout area within the Studio before completing your cutout. The latter can't be edited with crop tools.

To restore or remove portions of your cutout:

  1. With your cutout areas already defined, click Preview (Output settings tab). You can use the button to check your cutout as you progress.

  2. Click the  Restore Touch-up Tool or  Erase Touch-up Tool button from the left of the Studio workspace.

  3. Paint the areas for restoring or erasing as you would with the brush tools.

  4. Click OK.

  5. If you've touched up part of your image between each preview, you'll be asked if you want to discard your changes.