OBJECTIVE: Students will learn how to remove Images from Backgrounds for use in the GRAPHIC DESIGN and YEARBOOK Assignments.

Photoshop Learning: How to remove an object from a picture using Layer Mask. No video tutorial on this one, but there is a walkthrough with detailed pictures below.

Before you get started: Create a folder on your network space called "lastname_MASKING." Save the files of this project to that folder.

RIGHT CLICK AND SAVE the following two pictures called hummingbird.jpg and background.jpg and save them in your "lastname_MASKING" folder.

The Tutorial on cutting an image from a background and putting it into another picture:

STEP 1: Open PHOTOSHOP from your computer's menu. Then, use the FILE>OPEN menu selection to open your picture to be cut out (hummingbird.jpg) and your background picture (background.jpg).

STEP 2: With the hummingbird picture selected, click on “Select>All” and then “Edit>Copy.”

STEP 3: Click on the background picture and Click “Edit>Paste”.

STEP 4: Click back on your hummingbird picture and set the Opacity of your hummingbird to about 70 percent by moving the Opacity slider in the Layer window (SEE FIGURE BELOW).

STEP 5: Position your hummingbird layer so that it looks like your hummingbird is sitting on top of the twig in the background picture.

STEP 6: Turn your Opacity for your cut out picture back to 100 percent.

STEP 7: Click on the “Add Layer Mask” button at the bottom of the Layer Window (small gray rectangle with a white circle in it.) (SEE FIGURE BELOW.)

STEP 8: Click on the “Brush Tool” icon. (SEE FIGURE BELOW.)


STEP 9: Click the tiny DOWN ARROW next to the BRUSH SIZE in the options window at the top left corner of your screen. This will open up the BRUSH OPTIONS window. Set your Brush to be 150-200 pixels wide and your Brush Hardness to 100 percent. (SEE FIGURE, TOP TWO ARROWS)

STEP 10: Make sure your foreground color for your Brush is set to Black. To do this, check your Foreground/Background color tools. (SEE FIGURE ABOVE, BOTTOM ARROW) Typing the letter "D" will set this tool back to Black over White. The top square is your foreground color.

STEP 11: Now start brushing out the background of the hummingbird picture that you do not want. When Brushing on the Mask Layer, the color Black will remove parts of the background of your hummingbird. Switching to a brush color WHITE will restore the background of your hummingbird if you mess up.

STEP 12: Carefully brush away as much of the background of your picture as you can. The closer you get to your object, the smaller, softer and more transparent your Brush should be.

STEP 13: To take out the green “Halo” effect, set your Brush to 8-12 pixels in width, 10-20 percent hardness and 10-20 percent Opacity. Use frequent small strokes at the edge of your object to take out unwanted border colors.

STEP 14: Keep brushing until your hummingbird is sitting happily on its new branch and NO remnants of the original hummingbird background picture exists!

STEP 15: When you are done with your work, Click File>Save As and save the picture as a .TIFF image, make sure to select the PRESERVE TRANSPARENCY BUTTON when you do so..

GRAPHIC DESIGN STUDENTS- The “Moving Animals” Assignment:

Using the online Public Domain Image resources from, locate pictures of two different animals or insects and two different landscapes or buildings. These animals should be LARGE. Please do not try to submit some tiny little image and claim you have masked it, that will not demonstrate your mastery of the skill.

Use the MASKING SKILL to cut your animals out of their background and place them into the other landscape. Masked canvases that show HALOS or JAGGED EDGES WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED. Take the time to do it right, please!

You will be completing TWO different canvases, moving TWO different animals into TWO different landscapes. Save your completed works to your "lastname_MOVING_ANIMALS" folder on your network drive.

YEARBOOK STAFF- The “Masking Assignment": Take a photo of another member of YEARBOOK STAFF, using whatever resources you wish. MASK that staff member out of their background. SAVE the masked image as a .TIFF with TRANSPARENCY. SAVE this image to your YEARBOOK FOLDER for grading.

Grading: This assignment will be worth a total of 100 points. Completed images will be graded on the effect of the composite picture and the precision with which the images were removed from their backgrounds. PRECISION COUNTS!