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Clipping Path Tutorial

In this tutorial we will learn:

1. What is Clipping Path
2. Where to use Clipping Path
3. How to do Clipping Path

What is Clipping Path?

A Path is a closed vector path or shape, used to cut out an image in current image editing software like Adobe Photoshop. Once the path is created, clipping path is then applied on it so that anything outside the path will be omitted when you place the file into Illustrator, InDesign or any web developing software and inside the path will remain same as before.

Where to use Clipping Path?

Clipping Path is necessary when we use any photo/photograph/image to prepare a design, such as brochure design, magazine design, web design, leaflet and many more. For example, I have a photograph with background color gray and need to be used in the front page of my catalogue. I must remove the background of that particular image since my Catalogue color is green and have some other design. To do so, I will need to create path around the image and then convert it into clipping path. And then, when I use it in Illustrator, InDesign, Dreamweaver or any other program, the image background will disappear, mean no background (transparent). It will show only the image which was inside the path. Look at the images below to get an live view.

Image in original state

Before clipping path


After clipping path

After clipping path

How to do Clipping Path?

1. Open an image in Photoshop you want to use for your clipping path tutorial (go to the file menu in Photoshop and select open, from the open dialogue box choose the file you want to use and then click open.

Photoshop pen tool

Photoshop pen tool


Pen tool menu

Pen tool menu

2. Once you have got the file open in Photoshop, select the “Pen Tool” from the tool box (if you can’t see the tool box, go to window menu and select “Tools”). Now, make sure that you have selected “Paths” from the pen tool menu bar which is located underneath of the main Menu bar.

3. Now click on the image edge and drag the mouse pointer towards the next step and release the mouse. After an appropriate distance, again click on the image edge and continue in the same manner until you have completed moving around the image and finally see this “o” symbol. This “O” symbol means you are going to close the path. Click on it (starting point) in order to close the path.

Image in original state

Before clipping path


Clipping path created

Clipping path created

4. Once the path is completed around the image and its closed properly, go to path pallete (window menu/ select “Paths”). Double click on the “work path” and press enter to save the path and the path name will be changed to “Path-1″ instead of “work path”.

Photoshop work path

Photoshop work path


Path palette popup

Path palette popup

5. Go to “pop up” menu from the Paths palette and select “Clipping Path…”. A dialogue box will appeare asking to choose your desired path and Flatness. Select the path you want to Clipped and Put the flatness you desire and click “OK”. You are now almost done. Flatness is the desired amount of pixel you want to make blur the image edge. The more amount you use in Flatness the more image edge will be blurish. In general, leave the Flatness box blank (0) and the image edge will be 100% sharp which is most of the time appropriate.

Path palette popup menu

Path palette popup menu


Applying clipping path

Applying clipping path

6. You can now save the file in PSD or TIFF format and ready to place into the program you are working with for your design. This time you will get the image without the background. Thats all about clipping path.

About the auther 

Software engineer, graphic designer, internet marketer and founder & CEO at Outsource Experts Ltd.

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