Whether you call it a cutout, a knockout or any other crazy name, images with a transparent background are a staple of many creative designs. But mastering the technique to where your image edges are clean is an arduous task. These steps will help you to create a clean-edged cutout.

  1. Open up the photo(s) that you want to cut out.
  2. Select the quick selection tool and select what you want to cut out
  3. Press the letter “Q” to enter the quick mask zone.
  4. Select your paintbrush (shortcut = letter B on your keyboard). At the top of your screen, make sure your brush settings are set to hard with 100% opacity.
  5. If you notice on the bottom of your tool bar, there are two colored boxes (one black, one white). White is to “erase” and black is to color in. Use your brush tool to trace what you want to cut out. Use “X” on your keyboard to switch the brush colors to erase/fill in.
  6. Press “Q” again once you are done to exit the quick mask.
  7. Click on quick selection tool again, and click on “Select and Mask” at the top of your Photoshop tool bar. You will not be able to see this option if you are not on the quick selection tool.
  8. Click on different view modes to check if your cutout is clear/sharp enough. If you are not satisfied or if you missed a part, press cancel and do the quick mask steps again.
  9. To make your cutout more on point, play around with the Global Refinements (smooth, contrast, shift edge).
  10. When you are satisfied, click OK.
  11. Duplicate your selection with Command + J. On your layers palette, you should see your original image and another with a transparent background. Click the eyeball on the layers palette to turn off the original.
  12. Go to “File” and select “Export” then select “Quick export as PNG” so that your image will have a transparent background.
  13. You are done!