Two POWERFUL Photoshop Cut Out Techniques - Difficult Selections Made FAST and EASY

Photoshop Training Channel
27 Aug 201810:35

TLDRIn this tutorial from The Photoshop Training Channel, Jesus Ramirez teaches two powerful techniques for cutting out objects, such as trees, in Photoshop. The first method involves using Blend If options to hide or show pixels based on the luminosity of the layer, effectively removing the background. The second technique uses the Channels panel to create a high-contrast selection, which is then inverted to isolate the desired object. These methods are not only applicable to trees but can be used for various complex selections. The video also demonstrates how to use a Smart Object to convert hidden pixels into a selection and how to apply adjustments to enhance the final image, such as adding a sunset overlay for a dramatic effect.


  • πŸ“˜ Use the Blend If options in Photoshop to hide or show pixels based on the luminosity of the layer or specific color channels.
  • 🌲 To cut out a tree, select the blue channel as it often contains the most information relevant to the pixels you're trying to select.
  • πŸ”΅ By adjusting the 'This layer' control in Blend If, you can hide the sky (or any blue pixels) to isolate the tree.
  • πŸ’‘ Holding Alt (Option on Mac) and clicking on the Blend If control point allows for a smoother transition between hidden and visible pixels.
  • 🎨 Converting a layer to a Smart Object after using Blend If reveals true transparency and allows for non-destructive editing.
  • πŸ”„ The second method involves using the Channels panel to make selections with high contrast between the foreground and background.
  • πŸ–Œ Techniques like Levels, Apply Image, Dodge and Burn tools, and painting with black can be used to solidify white and black areas in a channel.
  • ⚫️ Inverting the colors (Ctrl+I or Command+I on Mac) changes the selection from sky to tree, as white represents the selected area.
  • πŸ–±οΈ Load the channel as a selection (Ctrl+Alt+number or Command+Option+number on Mac) to select the bright pixels for masking.
  • πŸŒ… After creating a layer mask, you can introduce effects like a sunset overlay and use adjustment layers to enhance the image non-destructively.
  • πŸ‘©β€πŸ« For more advanced tutorials on cut outs and masking, consider checking out the Advance Hair Masking tutorial mentioned in the video.

Q & A

  • What are the two powerful methods to cut out objects in Photoshop as described in the video?

    -The two powerful methods described in the video are using the Blend If options and utilizing the Channels panel for making complicated selections easily.

  • How does the Blend If option work in Photoshop?

    -The Blend If option works by using the luminosity or color channels to show or hide pixels, allowing for the selection of specific parts of an image based on their color or brightness values.

  • Why is the blue channel the best choice for cutting out the tree from the sky in the example?

    -The blue channel is the best choice because the sky is blue, and it contains a lot of information relevant to the pixels that are trying to be selected, thus allowing for better separation of the tree from the sky.

  • How can you create a smoother transition when adjusting the Blend If sliders?

    -You can hold the Alt or Option key on the Mac and click on the slider point to split it in half, which creates a smoother transition between the visible and hidden pixels.

  • What is the significance of converting a layer to a Smart Object in Photoshop?

    -Converting a layer to a Smart Object allows for non-destructive editing, making it possible to see and edit transparency and effects without altering the original image data.

  • How can you enhance the selection made using the Channels panel?

    -You can enhance the selection by duplicating the channel with the most contrast, adjusting the levels to make areas solid black or white, and using tools like the Dodge and Burn tools or the Brush tool to refine the selection.

  • What is the purpose of inverting the colors in the Channels panel selection?

    -Inverting the colors is necessary when the selection is opposite of what is desired. For example, if white is selecting the background instead of the foreground object, inverting will switch the selection to the object.

  • How can you load a specific channel as a selection in Photoshop?

    -You can load a specific channel as a selection by pressing Ctrl + the channel number (e.g., Ctrl + 6 for the blue copy channel) or by pressing Ctrl (or Command on the Mac) and clicking on the channel thumbnail in the Layers panel.

  • What effect is demonstrated on the tree after selecting it using the Channels panel?

    -After selecting the tree using the Channels panel, a sunset overlay effect is applied, and a curves adjustment layer is used to darken the image and add more red light to create a realistic sunset look.

  • What additional resource is recommended for learning more about cut outs and masking in Photoshop?

    -For further learning on cut outs and masking, the video suggests checking out the Advance Hair Masking tutorial, which is available on The Photoshop Training Channel.



🌲 Using Blend If to Cut Out Trees in Photoshop

In the first paragraph, Jesus Ramirez introduces two powerful methods for cutting out trees in Photoshop, emphasizing their versatility for other objects as well. He begins by demonstrating the lesser-known Blend If technique, which allows users to hide or show pixels based on the luminosity or specific color channels. Ramirez explains how to access and manipulate the Blend If option in the Layer Style window, using the blue channel to isolate and hide the sky behind a tree. By adjusting the 'This Layer' control, he shows how to create a smooth transition between the visible and hidden pixels. He also clarifies that the initial result is not true transparency, as evidenced by the layer thumbnail still showing the sky. However, converting the layer into a Smart Object reveals true transparency, enabling more precise editing of the mask. Ramirez concludes this section with a trick to achieve true transparency: right-clicking the layer and selecting 'Convert to Smart Object'.


πŸ–ΌοΈ Advanced Selection Techniques Using Channels

The second paragraph delves into a more widely recognized but equally potent method of making complex selections using the Channels panel in Photoshop. Ramirez highlights the importance of identifying the channel with the highest contrast between the subject and the background, demonstrating how the blue channel is ideal for differentiating a dark tree against a bright sky. He proceeds to explain various techniques for solidifying the colors in the image, such as adjusting levels, filling with a specific color, using the Apply Image command, or employing dodge and burn tools to refine the highlights and shadows. After ensuring that the image has solid black and white areas, Ramirez details how to invert the colors to select the tree against the sky. He then describes how to load the channel as a selection and apply a layer mask to the tree, showcasing the ease of selection using the Channels panel. Ramirez concludes with a creative application of the technique, where he adds a sunset overlay and adjusts the curves to create a dramatic effect on the tree.


🎨 Enhancing Images with Color Channels and Adjustments

In the final paragraph, Ramirez adds a creative touch to the edited image by increasing the red light to enhance the sunset effect, demonstrating the use of color channels for creative adjustments. He also encourages viewers to explore more advanced cut-out and masking techniques through his Advance Hair Masking tutorial, with a link provided in the video description. Ramirez reminds new viewers to subscribe and enable notifications to stay updated with the channel's content. He concludes the video with a note of thanks and an anticipation of his next tutorial.




Photoshop is a widely used software for image editing, created by Adobe Inc. It is a powerful tool that allows users to manipulate and enhance digital images. In the context of the video, it is the primary platform where the tutorials are conducted, and all the techniques are applied within this software.

πŸ’‘Cut Out Techniques

Cut out techniques refer to the process of isolating a subject from its background in an image. This is a common task in photo editing and design. In the video, the host demonstrates two methods for cutting out trees, which can be applied to various other subjects as well.

πŸ’‘Blend If

Blend If is a feature in Photoshop that allows for advanced control over how layers interact with each other based on color luminosity. In the video, it is used to hide the blue pixels of the sky, effectively 'cutting out' the tree without actually removing the background layer.


Luminosity in the context of image editing refers to the brightness or lightness of a color. It is one of the channels (along with red, green, and blue) that can be manipulated in Photoshop. The host uses the luminosity channel to control which pixels are visible when cutting out the tree.

πŸ’‘Smart Object

A Smart Object in Photoshop is a layer that retains its source content with all its original characteristics, enabling non-destructive editing. The host converts a layer into a Smart Object to reveal true transparency, which allows for more precise selection and editing of the tree.


Channels in Photoshop are individual components of an image that represent a particular color or property. There are color channels (red, green, blue) and an alpha channel for selections. The video uses the blue channel to create a high-contrast selection for cutting out the tree.

πŸ’‘Layer Mask

A layer mask in Photoshop is a non-destructive editing technique that hides or reveals parts of a layer. It is used in the video to isolate the tree from the sky after making a selection based on the channel's contrast.

πŸ’‘Selection Tools

Selection tools in Photoshop are used to select specific areas of an image for editing. The host uses selection tools to choose the tree and exclude the sky, which is a crucial step in the cut out process.

πŸ’‘Curves Adjustment Layer

A curves adjustment layer in Photoshop is used to adjust the tonal range of an image. In the video, it is applied to darken the tree layer, creating a more dramatic effect when adding a sunset overlay.

πŸ’‘Sunset Overlay

A sunset overlay is a pre-made image or layer that simulates the effect of a sunset. It is used in the video to add a creative touch to the edited image, showing how the cut out tree can be enhanced with additional effects.

πŸ’‘Non-Destructive Editing

Non-destructive editing is a method of editing images that allows for changes to be made without permanently altering the original image. This is important in the video as the host emphasizes the use of techniques like Smart Objects and layer masks that allow for flexible and reversible edits.


Two powerful methods for cutting out trees in Photoshop are introduced.

The techniques can be applied to various subjects, not just trees.

Blend If options can be used for masking or cutting out elements.

Luminosity of the layer can control the visibility of pixels.

Blue channel is often useful for selecting sky pixels due to its color.

Adjusting the 'This Layer' control in Blend If can hide or show pixels.

Splitting the 'This Layer' control point creates a smoother transition.

Converting a layer to a Smart Object reveals true transparency.

Editing a Smart Object allows changes to the transparency.

Channels panel is a powerful tool for making complex selections.

The blue channel often provides the most contrast for foreground and background.

Duplicating a channel can be used to create a solid black and white image.

Multiple techniques can be combined to refine the selection.

Inverting colors can help select the desired subject against the background.

Loading a channel as a selection allows for precise masking.

Layer masks can be created from channel selections for refined cutouts.

Adding effects like sunset overlays can be done after the cutout.

Curves adjustment layers can be used to modify the appearance of the cutout.

The red channel can be manipulated to enhance color effects.

The Photoshop Training Channel offers a tutorial on advanced hair masking.

Subscribing to the channel ensures viewers are notified of new tutorials.