InDesign & Photoshop tutorial: How to create Clipping Paths in Photoshop

Learn how to apply a clipping path in Photoshop, and how to access it in images in InDesign.

Intro


In this tutorial, you’ll find out how to create, save and apply a clipping path to a JPEG in Photoshop - as well as how to access the clipping options in InDesign.

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Clipping paths are a traditional method of cutting out objects or people in Photoshop that allows you to create image files with transparent backgrounds for use in print layouts – whether magazine, brochure or book layouts – in software programs such as InDesign or QuarkXPress.

Whilst clipping paths were originally applied in Photoshop to automatically appear as cut outs, newer versions of the software can now pick up and utilise saved paths hidden within Jpeg files, giving you (or your client) the option to use either the full or clipped version of an image when deciding on layout.

This approach works best with objects or people with ‘hard’ (ie distinct) edges around the object or person you want to cut out. If there are semi-transparent materials, frizzy hair or other soft edges, it might be better to use the methods in this tutorial.

Time to complete

10 minutes

Software needed

Photoshop and InDesign CC

Step 1

STEP 1

Open the image you want to cut out. Here I have a product shot for Betty Blues Loungerie, which needs to be cut out for publication in a seasonal look book.

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First, clean up your photo as necessary.


Step 2

STEP 2

Choose the Pen tool (P) and click round your image carefully to create a path, making sure to keep just inside the edge of the product so you don’t end up with a white halo around the edge of your cut-out later.

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Step 3

STEP 3

Once you’ve gone the entire way around your product, click on the original path point to close the path.

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Step 4

STEP 4

In the Paths panel, double click on the Work Path to save the path. Rename this path ‘Cut Out Path’. This embeds the path within the document so it will be available in the final Jpeg.

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Step 5

STEP 5

If you know you will only need this image in its cut-out form, click on the right hand submenu in the Paths panel and select ‘Clipping Path…’

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Step 6

STEP 6

Choose ‘Cut Out Path’ from the dropdown menu and press OK to clip away the background.

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Step 7

Step 8

STEP 8

Now let’s have a look at how our ‘Cut Out Path’ can be used in InDesign. Open InDesign and create a new document.

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Step 9

STEP 9

Go to File > Place and locate the JPEG image you just saved in Photoshop. Click on the document to place the file.

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Step 10

STEP 10

Next, let’s go ahead and activate the ‘Cut Out Path’. Go to Object > Clipping Path > Options… to bring up the Clipping Path dialog box.

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Step 11

STEP 11

In the Type dropdown menu, choose Photoshop Path. Then in the Path dropdown menu, choose ‘Cut Out Path’.

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Step 12

STEP 12

Leave everything else as default and click the OK button. Your product should now appear in its cut-out form.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials