Using Image Cutout Studio

Image Cutout Studio offers a powerful integrated solution for cutting out part of an image on an active Background or standard layer. In doing so, 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" creates an eye-catching look for your image, and lets you present cutouts layer-by-layer—great for simulating subject/background combinations and artistic collages.

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

The white initial background is discarded, leaving interim checkerboard transparency, from which another image can be used as a more attractive background. A red tint on the second image's background is used to indicate areas to be discarded.

For successful cutouts, the following steps are recommended.

Decide on your approach

The approach you take depends on your image content. If your layer has a uniform background (e.g., sky, a wall, etc.) it makes sense (and saves time!) to discard the background. Conversely, if the subject of interest (e.g., a face) is surrounded by a background made up of complex colours or patterns (such as trees or buildings), you can instead keep the subject of interest.

To launch Image Cutout Studio:

  1. Select an image to be cut out.

  2. Select  Cutout Studio from the Photo Studio toolbar.

    OR

    Select Cutout Studio... from the Edit menu.

Image Cutout Studio is launched.

Changing output settings

You can set the level of transparency and pixel blending at the cutout edge by adjusting the output settings, Width and Blur. Control of the cutout edge lets you blend your cutout into new backgrounds more realistically.

To change output settings:

  1. Drag the Width slider to set the extent (in pixels) to which "alpha" blending is applied inside the cutout edge. This creates an offset region within which blending occurs.

  2. Adjust the Blur slider to apply a level of smoothing to the region created by the above Width setting.

Selecting areas to keep or discard

A pair of brushes for keeping and discarding is used to "paint" areas on your active layer. 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 retained or discarded (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 coloured 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 colour can be set (at bottom of the Studio) which might help differentiate areas to keep or discard.

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 areas for keeping/discarding:

  1. In Image Cutout Studio, click either  Keep Brush Tool or  Discard Brush Tool 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 colours 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 or discarded (depending on Keep or Discard Brush Tool selection). It's OK to repeatedly click and drag until your selection area is made.
    The Undo button reverts to the last made selection.

  5. To fine-tune your selection, you can switch between Keep and Discard brushes by temporarily holding down the Alt key.

  1. Click OK to create your cutout.

You'll now see your active layer with the selected areas cut away (made transparent).

Refining your cutout area

Erase and Restore touch-up tools can be used to refine the cutout area within the studio before completing your cutout.

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