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Removing a Picture from it’s Background Photoshop Tutorial

Cutting things out in Photoshop has to be one of the most requested tutorial topics. This tutorial is for older versions of Photoshop (CS4 and earlier), as the extract tool was replaced in Photoshop CS5 for the Refine Edge.

If you are on Photoshop CS5 or newer, please refer to our newer tutorials instead.

See this tutorial on Select and Mask in Photoshop 2024 and newer


Refine Edge and Quick Selection to cut out a photo easily

How to cut out a photo quickly using quick selection and refine edge. (easy)

masking impossible Images

Masking impossible images in photoshop using Color rang and quick masks. (advanced)

Step 1

Open your image, and double click on the “background” name in your layers pallette. This will turn it into a layer. original                  

Step 2

cutout-1Open the extract tool: Image>Extract or Option/Alt+Cmd/Ctrl+X

Step 3

cutout    1. Take the pen-toolsmarker tool and trace around the image you want to extract. Keep the marker 1/2 way on the image and 1/2 on the background. For solid areas use a small brush, for softer areas like the loose hair, use a larger brush. Tip: to adjust the brush size use the [ and ] keys. toolsbucket

2. Now take the bucket tool and fill the area you want to keep.Click OK.

Step 4

cutout-2There will be a few areas that have been accidently deleted. You can clean up the image using the eraser and the history brush.

Step 5

cutout3In the history pallette, click next to the image before the extract state. Select the history brush.

Step 6



finishedSelect a small brush  size and “paint” back the image.Now you can place the image onto any background you wish.




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10 responses to “Removing a Picture from it’s Background Photoshop Tutorial”

  1. First of all I would like to thank you for sharing such a beautiful and essential tutorial. I hope that through this tutorial I can do back ground removing very much easily and it will enhance my quality in Photoshop work.

  2. I was working on some images that required the backgrounds removed from the main picture. I kind of got stuck back then but after going through this tutorial i managed to get the job done.
    Thanks for this beautiful and easy tutorial,

  3. Hello. Lovely tutorial. I have a picture with a background, I want to cut out the picture but still have the full background. How do I go about it please. Thanks

  4. Colin – Bless you. In all my years on Photoshop I have never seen this process so clearly explained and easily completed. My version is 7.0 so I had to find ‘Extract’ under ‘Filter’ but it worked perfectly. Thanks, Harry

  5. Owa Its a Great tutorial actually I am very interested to learn more about Photo shop , although I provide basic photoshop service and your instruction is very helpful for me .. Thanks @Colin Smith

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