Cutting Out Objects using the Pen Tool in Photoshop

As a Dallas Portrait Photographer who uses Composite Photography to create One-of-a-Kind Portraits, it’s important my images don’t look like just any amateur Photographer could do them.

The BEST compliment I can get is, “How did you get all this stuff to happen at the same time in one picture?”

Masking out objects is one of the most important parts of creating a convincing Composite, and is the one thing I see most beginners struggle with.

So, today I’m going to show you how I Cut Out objects using the Pen Tool in Photoshop.

Now, pick up your pen, and prepare to make some serious cuts.

The Pro’s and Con’s

If you watched my last Tutorial Video called “Masking Out Objects using Photoshop”, you already know I generally prefer the brush tool over the pen tool for cutting out objects in Photoshop.

And there is good reason for that…

Let’s go over what I feel like and don’t like using the Pen Tool for Cutting Out objects.

Why I Like the Pen Tool for Cutting Out Objects

  • Once you master the Pen Tool, it can be the fastest way to mask out details.
  • It gives you an even and realistic masking.
  • It’s the easiest way to mask out fine line areas, and details.
  • It will give you nice, even masking curves.

Why I Don’t Like the Pen Tool for Cutting Out Objects

  • I find it difficult to use with the Wacom Tablet.
  • I find it difficult to see the Pen Tool line.
  • Because it requires a bit of precision, I quickly get Carpal Tunnel.

Like any tool in Photoshop, it’s largely a matter of personal preference, which is why I like the Pen Tool for cutting out mechanical objects like cars, motorcycles, and sometimes, buildings.

!!! Important Tips !!!

Unlike the Brush Tool for cutting out objects, the Pen Tool isn’t quite as simple, and requires a higher level of Compositing skill to master.

Which is why I like the Brush Tool. HA!

I’m actually pretty damn lazy, and want to spend as little time at the computer as possible, so I like finding the fastest, and most efficient ways to get the job done.

Tip #1 Feathering

Quite simply, Feathering means how crisp you want the edges of the object you’re cutting out.

Choosing “0” or “0.5” will give you a rather crisp edge around your cut out, while anything larger will progressively soften the edges you’re creating, and it’s up to you to choose the edge that looks best.

Tip #2 Creating Multiple Masks

Many times I have multiple pieces of one object that need cutting out, and I have found this to be a bit confusing when using the Pen Tool in Photoshop.

Understanding how to quickly cut out multiple areas will speed up your workflow, allowing you to create more awesome Composites.

Tip #3 Saving your Cut Out

Finally, the last thing you want to do is spend a bunch of time making your selection with the Pen Tool, only to have it lost because you didn’t save it.

Saving your selection is the critical last step to a successful Pen Tool cut out.

That’s a Wrap

Like I said, the Pen Tool is a great tool for cutting out objects using Photoshop, but it does require better Compositing Skills, and I generally prefer the Brush Tool for most of my masking purposes.

Try both ways, and see which one fits your needs and personality.

Personality? What? Is that really a thing?

I hope you learned at least one thing about using the Pen Tool to Cut Out objects in Photoshop, but if you have any questions, leave a comment below to get a possible answer.

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