The polygon lasso tool

This is the tool that i mostly use in my digital art and photo-manipulations, to cut out images. There are a lot of different type of selection tools that are available in Photoshop. Polygon lasso tool is the one i feel comfortable with. Here’s how to use it effectively.

I’m going to use the following image to show you how the polygon lasso tool works. I’ll be cutting out the flower and placing it on a black BG.

From this
To this

Method:

  1. Open the image in Photoshop.
  2. In the Photoshop tool bar that you see on the left you will notice a loop like icon. Right click on it and select the icon that’s shaped like M. This is the polygon lasso tool.
  3. You’ll notice that the mouse pointer has also changed into the M shaped icon. Now zoom into the image by selecting the drop down menu from top most of the Photoshop window as shown below.
  4. From here on patience is the key to executing it. Carefully place the cursor along side an edge of the subject that you want to cut. In this case, the flower. The best part about polygon lasso tool is, you need not click drag around the entire image. The moment you click, it places a point and then draws a line of selection to the next point that you click. Basically it places a line of selection every time you click on the image. You just have to bend this feature to your advantage. Draw long straight lines for flat edges by clicking points at long distances, and for curvy edges, click points close by to create a curve.
    Far off points for flat edges

    Nearby cluster of points to create a curve for curvy edges.
  5. Use this technique and continue to move on around all the edges of the flower until you end up back to the first point that you clicked. At this point the selection will turn into a running border line that looks kinda like ants running around in a perfect border line as shown below. Now on top of the screen you will see the ‘Refine edge’ button. Click this to further fine tune your selection.
  6. Now you’ll see different sliders in here that will help you fine tune the cut.Radius: This will increase the reach of cut towards the outer edge.
    Smooth, Feather: These will refine the cut to such an extent that the sharp edges in your selection will become negligible. Do not over do them though. Depends on the purpose why you are making this cut. I’m going to paste the flower on a black background. Hence I’m gonna make sure that this is as crisp as possible.
    Contrast: This will highlight the edges of your selection.
    Shift edges: This one will move the edges towards inside or outside away from the center of the selection.

    I might not have defined the sliders correctly. Play around with them by yourself and you’ll get my drift.

  7.  Once you are done adjusting your sliders. Take a look at the output section part of this same window. From the drop down you can select the destination of your cut out. I’m going for a transparent background for my cut out. Hence I’m going to select new document. I’ve also shown the adjustment that I’ve made on the sliders for this cut.
  8. You can see that the cut out as appeared in the new document with a transparent background.
  9. Now you will notice that there are certain regions which have a the old background which is in between the cut out. I’m simply gonna erase it out using an eraser. From here on it’s up to you as to where you want to use this cut out. At the moment I’m going to finish this by placing it on a black background and adding some text.

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