photoshop clipping path

How to use Photoshop Clipping Path | 6 uses of Photoshop Clipping Path

Posted on Posted in Graphic Design Tutorials, Photo Editing

What is Photoshop Clipping Path?

Photoshop clipping path is a kind of a closed vector path or line. It is generated by pen tool in Photoshop. Pen tool is a great selection tool in Photoshop. The application of pen tool creates a line or path. This path can separate selected parts of the image. When clipping path is applied, it will select whatever is within the path. Anything out side of the path will not be selected and therefore those areas will be left out. Clipping path is also known as deep etch.

How to use Photoshop clipping path

In many occasions clipping path is vastly used in the behind scenes of publishing media. That sector is known as pre press editing. From capturing to publishing, a photo goes under a number of editing process. Photoshop clipping path plays a vital role in that.

The pen tool is a highly useful and important when it comes to create selections. It is manual and operated by the movement of the mouse. That makes it highly controllable while creating any selection. Also the selection can be modified and edited at anytime. Due to this feature clipping paths can be most accurate in their application. And accuracy is something we always love.


Let us check out some uses of Photoshop clipping path.


1. Use of Photoshop clipping path to create selection

Clipping paths are mostly used to create selections for particular parts of the image. Pen tool is one of the best and the most accurate tool to create selections. It is operated manually. Therefore the clipping path can be created wherever we want. No matter how curve is the object is, pen tool will be able to draw paths around it. Besides, it offers the most possible accuracy as the user can operate it manually. After finishing the path, the user can edit the selection anytime by adjusting the anchor points.

A professional photographer who needs further editing on their images in future, prefers clipping path rather than anything else for selection. They will select particular parts of the images with clipping path so they can edit those parts later. This is one of the major importance of clipping path. The selections created by the pen tool can be stored in certain file formats. And they can be used anytime in future. Common file formats like JPG, PSD and TIFF can store clipping paths.

Clipping path allows the users to enjoy a lot of modification. Features like changing cloth, hair & skin colors are usually done with the help of clipping path. In the world of publishing media a lot of experiments are done before the actual publishing. The client might want check the photo of the product or person from different perspective. Such as with different dress color, hair color or skin tone etc. That is only possible if the photographer or photo editor has applied clipping path to those areas.



2. Use of Photoshop clipping path in Background Removal

photoshop clipping path
Background removing and adding new background

One of the prominent fields of clipping path is when any one wants cut out the object from the existing background. That is known as background removal or knock out background. Due to lights and other situations, products or persons are usually shot in particular places. That might be well equipped indoor studio. It can also be the out door with lot of sunlight. Whatever the background is, it will not go to the publishing along with the object. The background must be eliminated.

For example let us talk about a model shoot. Everyday we see lot of billboards, posters and other stuffs where a model can be standing in a desert, beach, forest or even in mars. But do the photographers really take the pain to go to these places for shooting? Are the advertising agencies ready to cover that much expense for a single publication?

The simple answer is No. Rather they will look forward to Photoshop. The model will be shot indoors with suitable lights. Then she will be cut out from the background using Photoshop clipping path and masking. Later she is placed on the new background (may be a beach where the sun is setting, or a forest). After doing some minor editing here and there, the photo will look absolutely perfect and ready for any billboard, poster or centerfolds.  This is the story behind almost every eye catching publication. The models are actually never shot in those places where they appear. Thanks to Photoshop and thanks to clipping path that helps the publishers to save a considerable amount of money.


Also read: How to change background of an image


3. Use of Photoshop Clipping Path to create White background

photoshop clipping path
Using clipping path to create white background

In many cases we need to remove the existing background of the image and insert a white background. The main goal is to place the object on a pure white surface. There are many reasons behind that.

If you are going to sell your products in eCommerce websites like Amazon, eBay, shopify and so on then you need to maintain some rules. The first one is to place the object on a pure white background. Ecommerce websites will not allow you to upload the image of the product or person in any simple background. You have to make it white. White background will help you in many ways. It will put more focus on the object itself. There will be nothing on the background therefore nothing to distract the viewer. Also the study says that the white background of the image is more comfortable for the audience eyes.

With the help of clipping path you can create flawless selection around the object. Then you can remove the background of the images. After that you will be able to create a new layer and make it pure white and place it under the object. That’s it! Your product or person is now on a pure white background and ready to upload in any eCommerce website.


4. Use of Photoshop clipping path to change colors/ color correction

photoshop clipping path
Using clipping path to select and change colors

It many occasions we might need to change the colors of the product of an image. That works in many ways. Often we need to change the color of the whole product. Often we need to edit the color of the special parts of the product. That can be needed for a person too. Imagine a girl wearing a red dress, but we want to make it blue.

Clipping path will be needed in all the mentioned cases. To change the color of the particular area, first we need to select that area. Since clipping path creates good selection, so we can use it without hesitation. Other selection tools like lasso tool, magnetic lasso tool, magic want tool and many more are available. But as I said earlier, pen tool will allow you to exercise maximum control over the selections. Also it is highly adjustable.  So by using pen tool, we can create clipping path to select those areas and do the color edits according to our wish.


Also read: how to change color of any object in a Photo


5. Use of Photoshop clipping path in Retouching

photoshop clipping path
Using clipping path before retouching

Photoshop retouching is a highly sensitive editing. While doing the work, the photo editor must always stay alert. Because if its goes out of control, it may destroy the image. While doing Photoshop retouch, we just work on selected parts of the image. In some parts we will need to apply retouching while other parts must remain unaffected. Retouch is usually done by the brush tool, eraser tool and the clone stump tool. All these tools are used to remove parts of the image. These tools are maintained by the mouse mainly. So a slip of hand may erase any necessary parts of the image and we have to restart the editing again.

To avoid this risky situation we can use clipping path. Before starting to erase off or edit the parts, we should create a selection around that particular part where we want to apply the retouching technique. When we create a selection around that part, then the retouch works will only affect the selected area. The other areas outside of the selection will not be affected even if the retouching tools are moved over those areas. So it makes the work a lot more safe, time saving and risk free.


Also read: How to remove anything from a photo with Photoshop retouch


6. Use of Photoshop clipping path in real estate photo editing

We all know that real estate owners and advertisers use lot of Photoshop editing to present the sample before their customers. They need to showcase their product in different ways. There are times when they need to show the images to the customers even before the estate is build. Often they need to present green grass fields where they are not. Often they need to show the buildings in different colors. In cases they need to show parts of the building visible to some customers and invisible to other customers because of their preferences. Beside other edits like retouch and color correction, all of these works will need Photoshop clipping path more or less.

In most cases they will shoot some images of a completed building and its surrounding. Then they will get all the parts of it selected by clipping path so they can be edited and presented according to the customer demand.

These are some prominent and professional use of Photoshop clipping path in the publishing media. I hope you have enjoyed the reading. If you have any questions then please let me know in the comment section bellow.


Article Courtesy: Written by Ron Zepplin, CEO of ClippingPathed.Com, a professional photo editing company providing editing services like clipping path, Photo masking, drop shadow, photo retouching, photo manipulation, reflection effect, raster to vector conversion and many more. Please contact us if you need any kind of photo editing services at affordable cost.

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