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5 Uses of Clipping Paths in Photoshop

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Making use of clipping paths is an essential part of Photoshop. Examples of clipping path use can be found on photos across a wide variety of formats, from traditional print media such as magazines, and on pamphlets, to online content from websites and adverts driving e-commerce.

It is, ultimately, a fundamental process for any photo. After a photo has been shot, there are always a number of editorial tasks that will need to be done to elevate the piece to the exceptional level of quality that is possible thanks to the power of today’s software. Whether it’s a simple case of colour correction, removing or altering backgrounds to make product placement have more impact, or retouching spots and scratches to ensure a perfect fit with your design, clipping paths can elevate images well above the ordinary. There are in particular, 5 ways that clipping paths can make a vast difference to your product’s imagery and impact.

1. Removing the Background from a Product

This is one of the most common uses of clipping paths, and hand drawn clipping paths in particular yield great results. When it comes to getting the best results, the pen tool allows an unprecedented level of control that leads to high quality edging of a product. This means that you can easily remove the background from image and place it in various other image environments to achieve the perfect result for your marketing or advertorial promotion, whether that’s the dark background of a magazine, or on the web.

Using clipping path ensures there are no telling white lines around the edges of your product image when placed into a new background, which of course, can greatly detract from the image quality.

Remove background from product image

2. Multiple Clipping Paths for Colour Mask and Colour Corrections

For creating a truly faultless image or picture, adjusting and masking colour can make all the difference. When photos are shot, very often the camera’s flash will not distribute light equally around the picture, and this can lead to some glaring discrepancies which can make parts of the image look dull, or contrast with other areas that are how they should be.

Additionally, cameras are often not able to accurately capture the vibrancy of some colours, and these can be enhanced using clipping paths. By using multiple clipping paths, separate colours and portions of an image or product can be adjusted to match the preferred colour or brightness of other parts of the image or product easily. This is achieved via a number of Photoshop tools such as brightness and contrast adjustment levels, carves level, colour balance, and so on.

Multiple clipping path for color correction

3. Using Multiple Clipping Paths to make a Different Colour Product from a Single Shot

 This process is quite similar to using multiple clipping paths to adjust or correct colours, as above. The key difference is that in this instance, a separate path will be created for each colour on the product or image. This becomes extremely useful if, for example, you want to demonstrate a range of different colour on your product, but only have one colour available to photograph. This can essentially get your marketing up and running well in advance in such cases.

This is achieved by creating a separate clipping path for every colour in the product/image, which then enables each individual colour and path to be selected and altered via the various tools in Photoshop. This can enable online retailers in particular, to demonstrate the variety of colour in a product easily to the consumer, who can simply mouse over a colour selection on the website to view the different available colours a product has – the benefit is that all of this can be achieved from one photo shoot of one product.

This also has the added benefit of creating consistent images of your product online. These will for example, be no changes to image brightness, size and so on, as all images will be the same original product.

Multiple clipping paths to make different color products

4. Using Clipping Paths to Recreate Graphics and Logos

Making sure your company or product logo is high quality, especially in today’s online intensive environment, is extremely important, and clipping path can be used to greatly enhance the quality of old bitmap images. By using hand drawn clipping paths, any image can be given a new lease of life as a high-resolution image, and recreated perfectly.

In addition to using clipping path, a vector graphic can also be made in Photoshop. Furthermore, this can then be pasted into an illustrator document, where you can re-apply the colour to the vector image by selecting the individual paths. For the best results, the image can then be saved in the illustrator as either an EPS or PDF format, which results in a high resolution vector graphics version of your image or logo.

Clipping path to recreate graphics

5. Manipulating Images with Clipping Paths

Clipping paths are also ideal when you need to manipulate an image, or parts of it in Photoshop. This is especially useful in fashion photography, when using a mannequin to model a garment. As an example, when a full picture of a shirt, or dress, is required, a mannequin is often used to hold the item in place for the shot. In order to remove the mannequin’s neck and head from the picture, another shot will need to be taken to capture the part of the clothing that was previously masked by the mannequin. These two images are then clipped, and ultimately combined to make a neat, and finished complete image.

Another example of this might be a family photo. Perhaps everyone in the photo looks good except for one member who closed their eyes during the shot. This can be easily rectified in Photoshop suing clipping paths, by simply removing the eyes of the family member in another photo where they are open, and adding them to the first picture.

Manipulation by clipping path

There are certainly a number of options for achieving similar results in Photoshop without using clipping path, but the precision offered by clipping with the pen tool achieves the best results in all cases, offering excellent high quality finished edges.

Pen tool to create clipping pathWhile using clipping paths is essentially fairly simple, mastering them is not so straightforward. Firstly, keeping a steady hand and becoming fluent takes practice and expertise, but also a number of the key features, such as anchor points, shapes and so on, can be difficult to make use of properly.

Understanding how to apply them correctly if you are a Photoshop beginner can be time consuming and even frustrating, especially if you are unable to achieve the smooth finish that you know is possible. Thankfully, becoming an expert yourself is not necessary, as there are a number of companies operating in India and Bangalore that offer professional, high quality clipping path solutions for all your Photoshop and image needs, whatever they might be. These services are also very reasonably priced, and can normally deliver high quality images with a fast turnaround time – perfect if you need to focus on other aspects of your business yet still ensure that you get only the very best quality results.

Whether you need product images cleaning up, an update of the company logo, or any of the other examples given above, contacting these specialist companies can ensure you get the perfect results at great cost, and as soon as possible.

About the auther 

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

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