Cut out like a pro
James Paterson shows how to cut out portraits and transport subjects with the Refine Edge tool
Learn to make cutouts using Elements’ powerful Refine Edge tool, and transfer a subject to a more interesting background
One of the great things about digital imaging is the ability it gives you to combine several images. Master a few simple compositing skills and you can transport subjects to distant destinations or build a group photo from several people who’ve never met. But to make a composite look convincing you need accurate cutouts. When cutting out people, the most problematic part is usually the hair, where the background often shows through the gaps. Luckily, there are a couple of Photoshop tools that can do much of the work for you.
Introduced in Elements 11, Refine Edge is the most powerful tool for making cutouts that Adobe has ever produced. It’s not a selection tool, but a command that enables you to improve an existing selection by, as the name suggests, refining its edge. If you’re new to Refine Edge, the controls can seem complex, but master a few fundamentals and it quickly becomes the go-to tool when you need make a precise cutout.