Using Image Cutout Studio

Image Cutout Studio offers a powerful integrated solution for cutting objects out from their backgrounds. Depending on the make up of your images you can separate subject of interests from their backgrounds, either by retaining the subject of interest (usually people, objects, etc.) or removing a simple uniform background (e.g., sky, studio backdrop). In both instances, the resulting “cutout” image creates an eye-catching look for your publication.

The latter background removal method is illustrated in the following multi-image example.

PagePlus cutoutstudio steps Using Image Cutout Studio

The white initial background is discarded, leaving interim checkerboard transparency, from which another image can be used as a more attractive background. A red tint on the second image’s background is used to indicate areas to be discarded.

For successful cutouts, the following steps are recommended.

Decide on your approach

The approach you take with image extraction depends on your image content. If your image has a uniform background (e.g., sky, a wall, etc.) it makes sense (and saves time!) to simply remove the image background by discarding the selected cutout area. Conversely, if the subject of interest (e.g., a face) is surrounded by a background made up of complex colors or patterns (such as trees or buildings), you can include the subject of interest by keeping the selected cutout area.

To launch Image Cutout Studio:

  1. Select an image to be cut out.

  2. Select PagePlus tbr contextpicture cutoutstudio Using Image Cutout Studio Image Cutout Studio from the displayed Picture context toolbar. Image Cutout Studio is launched.

  3. Your original image, if linked, is unaffected in Image Cutout Studio. However, embedded images, when cut out, are altered permanently in the project.

Choose an output

It’s essential that you choose an output type prior to selecting areas for keeping/discarding. Either an alpha-edged or vector-cropped bitmap can be chosen as your output type prior to selection. The choice you make really depends on the image, in particular how well defined image edges are.

  • Zoom into your image to examine its edges; this may influence the output type chosen.

Let’s look at the output types and explain the difference between each.

Output Type

Description and use

Alpha-edged Bitmap

Use when cutting out objects with poorly defined edges. Transparency and pixel blending are used at the outline edge to produce professional results with negligible interference from background colors. The term “alpha” refers to a 32-bit image’s alpha transparency channel.

Vector-cropped Bitmap

Use on more well-defined edges. A cropped image with crop outline is created which can be later manipulated with the crop tools. You can optionally apply feathering to the image edge but will not remove background color.

You can also set the level of transparency and pixel blending at the cutout edge by adjusting the output settings, Width and Blur. Control of the cutout edge lets you blend your cutout into new backgrounds more realistically.

To create an alpha-edged bitmap:

  1. Select Alpha-edged Bitmap from the Output Type drop-down menu.

  2. (Optional) Drag the Width slider to set the extent to which the “alpha” blending is applied inside the cutout edge. This creates an offset region within which blending occurs.

  3. (Optional) Adjust the Blur slider to apply a level of smoothing to the region created by the above Width setting.

To create a vector-cropped bitmap:

  1. Select Vector-cropped Bitmap from the Output Type drop-down menu.

  2. (Optional) Drag the Feather slider to apply a soft or blurry edge inside the cutout edge.

  3. (Optional) Drag the Smoothness slider to smooth out the cutout edge.

  4. (Optional) The Inflate slider acts as an positive or negative offset from the cutout edge.

  5. You’ll need to click PagePlus dlg cutoutstudio preview Using Image Cutout Studio Preview in order to check output setting adjustments each time.

Selecting areas to keep or discard

A pair of brushes for keeping and discarding is used to “paint” areas of the image. The tools are called Keep Brush and Discard Brush, and are either used independently or, more typically, in combination with each other. When using either tool, the brush paints an area contained by an outline which is considered to be retained or discarded (depending on brush type). A configurable number of pixels adjacent to the outline area are blended.

PagePlus dlg cutoutstudio showoriginal Using Image Cutout Studio

PagePlus dlg cutoutstudio showtinted Using Image Cutout Studio

PagePlus dlg cutoutstudio showtransparent Using Image Cutout Studio

To aid the selection operation, several display modes are available to show selection.

Show Original, Show Tinted, and Show Transparent buttons respectively display the image with:

  • selection areas only.

  • various colored tints aiding complex selection operations.

  • checkerboard transparency areas marked for discarding.

For Show tinted, a red tint indicates areas to be discarded; a green tint shows areas to be kept.

Background color PagePlus dlg cutoutstudio backgroundcolour Using Image Cutout Studio

For Show transparent mode, a different Background color can be set (at bottom of the Studio) which might help differentiate areas to keep or discard.

In addition, with a series of zoom tools you can set the magnification level before painting, and even adjust the view as you paint.

PagePlus tbr hintline zoomout Using Image Cutout Studio

Zoom Out
Click to view more of the image in the window.

PagePlus tbr hintline zoomslider Using Image Cutout Studio

Zoom Out
Drag the zoom slider right or left to zoom in or out, respectively; the vertical marker represents the actual image size (100%).

PagePlus tbr hintline zoomin Using Image Cutout Studio

Zoom In
Click to view the image more closely.

PagePlus tbr hintline fullpage Using Image Cutout Studio

Zoom to Fit
Click to scale the current image to fit in the window.

To select image areas for keeping/discarding:

  1. In Image Cutout Studio, click either PagePlus dlg cutoutstudio keepbrushtool Using Image Cutout Studio Keep Brush Tool or PagePlus dlg cutoutstudio discardbrushtool Using Image Cutout Studio Discard Brush Tool from the left of the Studio workspace.

  2. (Optional) Pick a Brush size suitable for the area to be worked on.

    PagePlus dlg cutoutstudio brushsize Using Image Cutout Studio

  3. (Optional) Set a Grow Tolerance value to automatically expand the selected area under the cursor (by detecting colors similar to those within the current selection). The greater the value the more the selected area will grow. Uncheck the option to switch the feature off.

  4. Using the circular cursor, click and drag across the area to be retained or discarded (depending on Keep or Discard Brush Tool selection). It’s OK to repeatedly click and drag until your selection area is made.

    The PagePlus dlg cutoutstudio undo Using Image Cutout Studio Undo button reverts to the last made selection.

  5. To fine-tune your selection, you can switch between Keep and Discard brushes by temporarily holding down the Alt key.

  6. If you’re outputting an alpha-edged bitmap, you can refine the area to be kept/discarded within Image Cutout Studio (only after previewing) with Erase and Restore touch-up tools. Vector-cropped images can be cropped using standard PagePlus crop tools outside of the Studio.

  7. Make your outline edge as exact as possible by using brush and touch-up tools before committing your work.

  1. Click PagePlus dlg cutoutstudio ok Using Image Cutout Studio OK to create your cutout.

You’ll see your image in your publication in its original location, but with the selected areas cut away (made transparent).

  • Click PagePlus dlg cutoutstudio reset Using Image Cutout Studio Reset if you want to revert your selected areas and start your cutout again.

Refining your cutout area (alpha-edged bitmaps only)

If a ve
ctor-cropped image is created via Image Cutout Studio it’s possible to subsequently manipulate the crop outline using crop tools. However, for alpha-edged bitmaps, Erase and Restore touch-up tools can be used to refine the cutout area within the Studio before completing your cutout. The latter can’t be edited with crop tools.

  • The touch-up tools are brush based and are only to be used to fine-tune your almost complete cutout—use your Keep and Discard brush tools for the bulk of your work!

To restore or remove portions of your cutout:

  1. With your cutout areas already defined, click PagePlus dlg cutoutstudio preview Using Image Cutout Studio Preview (Output settings tab). You can use the button to check your cutout as you progress.

  2. Click the PagePlus dlg cutoutstudio restoretouchuptool Using Image Cutout Studio Restore Touch-up Tool or PagePlus dlg cutoutstudio erasetouchuptool Using Image Cutout Studio Erase Touch-up Tool button from the left of the Studio workspace.

  3. Paint the areas for restoring or erasing as you would with the brush tools.

  4. Click PagePlus dlg cutoutstudio ok Using Image Cutout Studio.

  5. If you’ve touched up part of your image between each preview, you’ll be asked if you want to save or discard changes.

Using Image Cutout Studio