Background cut-outs are all over the galleries these days. You know what I’m talking about: it looks like shapes were punched out of the background paper, and another (usually patterned) paper is layered behind, showing through. They’re a great way to use your patterned papers, and a fun way to add interest to your page. In this tutorial I’ll show you an easy way to add background cut-outs to your layout using Photoshop!
1. Get Set Up
I started out by opening the paper I wanted to use for my background, and then layering my photo over top of it. I angled it, give it a bit of a drop-shadow, and moved it to where I thought I’d like it to be on the page.
2. Create Your Cut-Out Shapes
For this layout, I decided to use circles. I created a new layer in my layer palette by clicking on the “Create New Layer” icon located at the bottom of that palette. Then using my circular marquee tool (the one just below the pointer tool in the Tool Palette–it may look like a square, in which case, click and hold down the icon to display the options for this tool, and select the circular option), I created a large circle (hold down shift as you pull the tool across your canvas and it will create a circle instead of an oval), and filled it with white using the fill tool (the bucket icon in the Tools Palette). On another new layer, I followed the same steps to create a smaller circle. Lastly, I duplicated the smaller circle layer by clicking ctrl(cmmd)+j. If you’re following along, you should have 3 circle layers in your Layers Palette.
3. Arrange Your Shapes
Next I arranged the circles on my layout. I moved the large circle in the upper corner behind my photo, and used the two smaller ones to form something of a triangle that would draw the eye to my photo.
4. Add Some Style
Next I merged my 3 circle layers into once layer (hold down ctrl/cmmd and select each circle layer in the Layers Palette, right click on the highlighted set and select “Merge Layers” from the menu that pops up). Double click on the circles layer to bring up the Style dialog box. Click on “Inner Shadow” and adjust the settings as follows: Distance – 24, Size – 35. Hit okay. This will give your cut-outs a nice, dramatic drop-shadow, as if the cut-outs were fastened beneath the background paper with foam pop dots.
5. Try on Some Patterns
Now, duplicate another (patterned) paper onto your working document. Make sure the new paper is layered just above your circle layer in the Layers Palette. Right click on the new paper layer and select “Create Clipping Mask” from the drop-down menu that pops up. Your new paper will take the shape and style of your circles layer, making it look like it’s layered below your background paper. The great thing about this method is that you can try on different papers to see which you like best, and if you decide you don’t like the way the shapes are arranged, you can delete your cut-outs layer and start over again. Your background paper remains in tact!
6. Add an Outline
I decided that my cut-outs needed a little more definition, so I added an outline style to my cut-out layer. Double click on the cut-out layer to pull up the Style dialog box again, and click on Stroke. Adjust the settings as follows: Size – 35, Blend Mode – Overlay, Opacity – 26, and change the fill color to white.
7. Finish Up
Now that your cut-outs are finished, embellish your page as desired, and you’re done!