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How to cut out trees quickly in Photoshop tutorial

How to cut out trees in Photoshop in seconds. This Photoshop tutorial shows you how to perfectly cut out trees in seconds using channel based selections in Photoshop.

Hey Cafe Crew, it is Colin Smith here from Photoshop Cafe and today, I am going to show you how to perfectly cut out a tree and in just a few seconds.

So a lot of people struggle with trees and they actually don’t have to be that difficult if you think about a tree, generally speaking, it is green and it is going to be against a blue background. So the best way to deal with this is to use Channel Based Selections. So if we click on the channels, you will see RGB. If you click on an individual channel, such as red, we will see that red, green and blue are the 3 different color channels that make up any image in RGB mode. Notice a big difference between the green and the blue. Where it is white or where it is bright that means it is more of that color present, meaning there is a lot of blue in the sky, not much in the tree, that’s why it is dark.

Alright, so here’s a trick, we are going to take the blue channel and we are going to duplicate it by just clicking here and dragging into the new channel icon. So here we go, we have got the blue copy which is now [Inaudible 01:01]

Alright, so what I am going to do is, I am going to hit Ctrl L for levels and all we need to do now is isolate the blues, notice there’s kind of grey there and we really want to make that brighter, we can drag across here until we get a nice, clean white. So all these blue now can be fully selected. Now, we are going to do the same over this side except we are going to do the opposite. Notice, as I pull this in, it darkens up those other areas. So what we are looking to do is just create a nice clean mask. Just a still, few little spots there, so let’s clean that up a bit more. There we go. We have got a clean mask, click OK.

So now, all we need to do is hit Ctrl or Command on Mac and Click and now we are selecting inside the tree area, click on RGB, notice the red is there. Just click Off Blue and make sure RGB is selected, just like that. Then we go back to our layers. All we have got to do now is hold down the Alt or the Option key and click on the Mask. That creates an inverted Mask.

Now, when we see the Mask, look at this, our tree is nice and cut off, if you look over here, it is looking a little semi-transparent. We need to fix that. Okay, so what we need to do is just go to our Mask here and if we hit the Alt key and click or that would be Option key, we are now viewing the mask, we have selected the Mask and we are viewing it and we need to just kind of choke this a little bit. So we are going to hit Ctrl L, once again, take the black. See that? And if we take the white, notice that we can plug up those areas and we are looking pretty good. I am just playing around in the midst a little bit there and in the blacks, notice, we have isolated a nice channel there and if we click back on our layer, we can see, we have got a nice cut out there. Now if you need to do any manual adjustments, what you will need to do is just select that Mask there and then you could just paint with black or white to add or take away from the mask.

Alright, so let’s have a look at this background, let’s drag it in here and see what we have got. We will drag it underneath our layer and there we go, look at that, we are able to do this nice cut out of this tree, nice and easily.

So I hope you guys enjoyed this. If you did, I have got a new tutorial every single week. Hit the Subscribe button right now and you won’t miss out on our new tutorials. Don’t forget to smash that Like button into dust. Add a comment, let’s get a discussion going and until next time, I will see you at the Cafe.

4 responses to “How to cut out trees quickly in Photoshop tutorial”

  1. Thanks Colin. You asked how long your viewers have used Photoshop and which version. I started using Photoshop in 1994, version 3.0. In 2000 I was hired to set-up a digital art program at an art center, the Mendocino Art Center in Mendocino. We were given a grant of $150,000 and built a state-of-the-art lab of 10 stations plus. Our program was designed to teach people how to create art using a computer (I believe it was the first program of it’s kind in California). We had workshops in all the Adobe products plus Painter, Website Creation (and more), and brought in teachers who were experts in each subject. I taught Photoshop from 2000 to 2009 when our new director shut down the program and disposed of everything. This new director left after 6 month but the program was never re-started.

    I retired a few years later and began retouching my travel photos starting with a trip around the world in 1987. Over the last 30 years I made many international trips, and was thrilled to be able to discover digital. My retirement goal is to digitize/retouch the 10’s of 1000’s of photos I took. I upgraded to CC last year and was overwhelmed at the huge number of upgrades that have been made. I found your tutorials and they have been incredible. Your tutorials and instruction has made my goal of producing books and/or slide presentations of all my travels, possible. So THANK YOU, I would not have been able to achieve my goal without your instructions! They are the best!

  2. Is there any chance you could do a video similar cutting out a bicycle on a country background? Have been trying to do this for ages! Thanks.

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