Clipping images via Color Range
November 4, 2021

Image clipping is a task that needs to be tackled intelligently. Sometimes, “classic” clipping using the Pen tool isn’t the best solution, for example when someone with hair is portrayed on the image to be clipped. In such cases, a niftier approach is to use the Color Range tool.

What is the Color Range tool?

This is a Photoshop function that can be considered as an improved Magic Wand. Remember: with the Magic Wand, you only have to click on a particular zone of your image for the tool to automatically generate a selection on the basis of similar colours in the surrounding area.

The Color Range tool works according to the same principle as the Magic Wand, except that it offers you better control of the selection you wish to make. Thanks to a live preview option, you can adjust parameters such as tolerance and range, as well as include or exclude colours in order to hone your selection.

So in just a few clicks, you have what you need to clip objects with complex shapes, such as hair, bicycle wheels or trees –  shapes that would take far longer to clip with other tools like the Pen.

The Color Range tool is therefore particularly handy if the colours on your image present strong contrasts. If this is not the case, it often proves to be of little use.

How to clip using Color Range?

Clipping via Color Range is carried out in several steps:

  • Open the image to be clipped.
  • Select the Color Range tool from the scroll-down Select menu. If need be, move the Color Range window that opens up so that it does not obstruct your view of your image.
  • Using the Eyedropper+ tool, click on one or several zones on the object to be clipped. Via the live preview, you can observe which zone has been selected by the tool. The area in white corresponds to the selected zone whereas the area in black corresponds to the non-selected zone.
  • If need be, fine-tune your selection with the Eyedropper– tool, which lets you exclude colours from your selection.
  • You are also free to adjust the tolerance, which corresponds to the degree of resemblance between colours, or else the range, by expanding or contracting the number of pixels to be taken into account around the clicked zone.
  • When you are satisfied with your selection, you simply have to click to confirm. You can now copy your selection and paste it on a new layer with the background of your choice.