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Cutting Out Renders Using the Paths Tool

#1 User is offline   fencepost 

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Posted 05 August 2005 - 04:07 PM

The original tutorial was created with a Pre-2.4 version of GIMP. While most of the steps should be the same, many of the screenshots might not reflect the 2.4 GUI. I've updated as many of the steps as I could think of (I'm not on a machine with version 2.4 at the moment) and *hopefully* this will alleviate any confusion. I ultimately plan on updating this tutorial with new screenshots and information, as needed. Sorry for any confusion the previous steps may have caused GIMPers familiar with only the 2.4 interface. Best wishes. Art

As promised, here are the steps I utilize to cut out renders (a.k.a. background removal) to allow the renders to be used in signatures, backgrounds, etc. Everyone has their own method of cutting out renders (masks, eraser tool, etc.) and there really isn't a right or wrong way. This is just my way, as I've found it to be the fastest way for me.

I decided to split this tutorial out away from the "Creating and Using Paths" tutorial for a number of reasons. The deciding factor to do this was many people are interested in cutting out renders, but don't know that paths are useful in accomplishing this task. So, if they come to the boards and see the paths tutorial, they might overlook that tutorial altogether believing it won't do anything for them.

Please note: This tutorial is an intermediate to advanced level lesson. If you are not familiar with creating paths in GIMP, you need to become proficient with them, and there's no better place to start than here:

**********CLICK HERE FOR: Creating and Using Paths**********

If you have questions, I have no problem helping you out; HOWEVER, my first question will be, "Did you go through the Paths tutorial?" I know my tutorials are not perfect, but I've gone through great pains to improve the quality of the presentation and make them more enjoyable. That said, please re-read what I've written and watch the animations I've prepared. If you still don't understand, no problem, drop me a line and I'll be more than happy to help you."


Alright, let's begin our tutorial:

[*]Open up the image you wish to cut away from the background. If you plan on using an image that has no transparency to it or you'll be working on the background layer, you need to add and "Alpha Channel" to it. Here's how you do it: Right-click on the layer and select "Add Alpha Channel"

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Now that you've gotten that out of the way, you need to create your path around the object you wish to cut out. Again, I'm not walking you through those steps. But I will give you a couple of suggestions that I've found work best for me:

[*]Zoom in on the object as far as you can. Don't worry about not being able to see your entire render. You'll be able to pan around the screen while creating the path. But for the best results, you need to be up close and personal with the object.
[*]Because the edge is not always well defined, I would err on the side of caution by placing your anchor points closer to the object where you are sure the edge is. You may lose a little bit of detail, but blending, blurring, etc. can help correct that.
[*]Don't go overboard placing anchor points. I've found that adding too many makes the render have a jagged or blocky appearance. What I generally do is create an anchor at every location where there's a major direction change. Later, I go back and use the "handles" to create curved line segements to more approximate the render edge. If additional anchors are needed, I'll add them at that time. Sometimes a render has to have a lot of anchors, that's ok, just use your best judgment, there are no rules.

Here's my example of a render I'm working on. The red line is there only to show what the path looks like. Yours won't look like this.

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As you will note, I've adjusted most of the path on the moth to fit the outline. I left some of the path as originally drawn to show that my first path wasn't made to fit the object too closely. Also, remember to close your path when you get done. (Ctrl-click on first path anchor) Even if the path doesn't look the way you want it to and corrections are needed, close it. If you don't, and you convert it to a selection before closing it, GIMP will automatically do it for you. And depending on the distance between your first and last anchor, you may not like the results. The nice thing is, paths are always saved and can be edited later.

This next graphic shows me adjusting the path on the bottom portion of the moth. Here, I'm adjusting curves with the handles and moving & adding anchors as needed.

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This next screenshot show me:

[*]Converting the path to a selection. (Outline around the render)
[*]Inverting the selection (Ctrl-i) Notice that everything outside of the render, including the outline along the image edge, has the marching ants. They weren't like that when we just had the render selected.
[*]Deleting the background (Ctrl-K for versions prior to 2.4) (Delete key for version 2.4 and above)

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Here's a final screenshot with a new background. Looks pretty good doesn't it!?

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Well, I hope you learned something and will be able to put this in your arsenal of tricks. If you have any questions or need clarification, please don't hesitate to ask. Be forewarned: My first response to your question will be in the form of a question. BTW, a "YES" response on your part will NOT suffice.

Happy GIMPing!

Art (fencepost)
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#2 User is offline   noclayto 

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Posted 05 August 2005 - 11:22 PM

Nice!.

NC
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#3 User is offline   droz928 

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Posted 06 August 2005 - 12:01 AM

Nice tutorial Fence. I'll have to try this method sometime.
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#4 User is offline   NvD 

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Posted 06 August 2005 - 04:19 AM

Wow, thanks - What a time saver.
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#5 User is offline   The Pipper 

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Posted 07 August 2005 - 04:55 AM

hey wazup. ive used plenty of your touts for my work... one of them i can remember is the lightning one. ive been useing gimp for about 2 days now. i was trying to do this tout but something went wrong when i press CTRL-I (converting). instead of the picture outline being inclosed with marching ants (which you call them) the whole thing from conver to corner got inclosed. can you tell me what i did wrong?
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#6 User is offline   spiritshinobi 

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Posted 22 August 2005 - 01:30 AM

Maybe you changed the shortcuts accidentally (I think you can that w/Gimp). CTRL+A is select all but CTRL+I should be invert defaultly. Anyway thanks Art great tut I'll be learning this definitely.
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#7 User is offline   newgimp 

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Posted 24 September 2005 - 01:31 AM

thank you so much, you have helped figure something out that is going to help me create something i been waiting to create for a few months
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#8 User is offline   fencepost 

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Posted 24 September 2005 - 03:07 AM

Glad it was of help to you! Look forward to seeing your project results.

Art
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#9 User is offline   newgimp 

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Posted 28 September 2005 - 09:41 PM

yes i did it! but i am still working on it thoe trying to get the fadeing perfect. here it is

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#10 User is offline   =DNC=SYSEX73 

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Posted 19 October 2005 - 04:23 PM

Every time I try to select the inverse CNTRL-I, the ant lines only go around the outside of the layer, not the outside of the render. When I CNTRL-K, everything including the render is deleted. Im probably missing something simple, but I have tried it a few times. Any ideas? :a:
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#11 User is offline   fencepost 

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Posted 19 October 2005 - 05:31 PM

Hi, =DNC=SYSEX73. Welcome to GIMPtalk!

When you press Ctrl-I, that's what should happen. You want it to select everything "outside" of what you've selected.

Now, here's something that you may be forgetting: when you finish with your path, are you converting the path to a selection? (hitting will do it). If not, what's happening is your whole layer is considered the "selection" which is why it disappears when you hit Ctrl-K.

After you finish drawing the path, convert it to a selection, hit Ctrl-i, then Ctrl-k. See if that works.

If not, how about posting a screen shot of the image you are cutting and a screenshot of the layer's window, so we can see what's going on.

Art
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#12 User is offline   gigatwo 

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Posted 20 October 2005 - 12:57 AM

This is the most useful method of cutting out images. (out of the two I know)
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#13 User is offline   Tokie 

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Posted 20 October 2005 - 05:32 PM

Nice tutorial!
thanks! I've needed thids for a long time :l:
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#14 User is offline   fencepost 

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Posted 20 October 2005 - 05:34 PM

Glad you enjoyed it!

Art
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#15 User is offline   =DNC=SYSEX73 

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Posted 21 October 2005 - 10:07 PM

Thanks fence, you solved my issue. I used your technique to cut some renders, and put one or two other tutorials together to make this banner \\ IP address for my clans server. Thanks for the info about Gimp. I have only really used PS before, but this is a new favorite program of mine.

Heres what you guys helped me come up with.

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#16 User is offline   Mariwal 

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Posted 22 October 2005 - 12:16 AM

Thank you for this tutorial.
I always ask myself this question, how to cut out render

Now I can make a nice signature. Hehehehe
Im happy

Thanks again


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#17 User is offline   star 

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Posted 13 November 2005 - 02:41 AM

Fencepost, i think i messed up gimp, for some reason when i use the paths tool and get done with it, it wont make the marching ants even if i do press ctrl I, please anyone help
thanks



~Goo
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#18 User is offline   star 

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Posted 13 November 2005 - 02:42 AM

It didnt do that before but now it does :s:
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#19 User is offline   star 

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Posted 13 November 2005 - 02:46 AM

Never mind i read what you said to d it helped me to! Thanks so much for this fencepost, you have alot of posts :w:
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#20 User is offline   phill 

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Posted 13 November 2005 - 02:58 AM

A little late, but this has to be one of the best written tutorials ever.
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