How to cut out objects in Photoshop using the Pen Tool

The next stage of this composite demonstrates how to use the Pen tool to quickly and accurately cut out the subject, the firefighter, before starting work on blending that with the rest of the scene.

Class objectives:

  • Show how to select objects in Photoshop
  • Explain and demonstrate why and when to use the Pen selection tool
  • Show how to use the Pen tool
  • Demonstrate how to create points and curves using the Pen tool
  • Demonstrate refining selections

There are a number of ways you can select and cut out objects in Photoshop. For this particular subject, Viktor’s tool of choice is the Pen tool — a powerful yet often overlooked tool in Photoshop. Viktor explains why he uses this tool and demonstrates his method to quickly and effectively use this tool. He also explains why it’s important to work with masks when cutting out objects, especially for composite work, and what to consider when cutting out objects from a dark background to place on a lighter background. This is a useful class for anyone unfamiliar with the pen tool or those wanting to learn a slightly different yet highly effective way of using it.

Before cutting out the subject:
How to composite in Photoshop

The firefighter, placed in position, not yet cut out.

Using the Pen tool to cut out the subject:
Using the Pen tool in Photoshop

The Pen tool is a powerful tool for cutting out subjects that have low contrast edges, as you can see here.

The subject cut out:
Cutting out objects using the Pen tool

The Pen tool allowed for a quick and accurate selection of the subject.

For more tips on creating composite images in Photoshop, read our ‘Top tips for compositing‘ article.

If you have any questions about this class, please post in the comment section below.?


  1. Watched the pen tool lesson twice and almost nailed it. This technique is so simple, that it’s complex in its simplicity!

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