What is a Clipping Path?clipping path around a football player

A Clipping path or Cutting part of an image out for further usage is not something new for the world of graphic designing. Often times there are useless portions within images that need to be discarded, for which different techniques are incorporated by companies by use of photo editors. Thus, the clipping path option is often used by the people using a certain image for more professional purposes. A clipping path basically creates a closed vector shape or path around the part of image which one wants to cut out. The hard edged mask that the clipping path creates helps in crop an image in a manner that only desirable parts of the picture remain.

Types Of Clipping Path

There are, in essence, three kinds of paths depending upon the direction it takes with respect to the part intended for preservation. An inclusive path is one where the area which seems to be ‘inside’ the clipping path is preserved. The exclusive path, on the other hand, keeps the area which seems visually ‘outside’ the path created. The third kind, compound path is basically a path created by the combination of both inclusive and exclusive paths.

Methods Of Creating A Path

Some of the common methods of accomplishing clipping path on Photoshop are Magic Wand tool and ‘Background Eraser’ tool. However, the resultant images are usually not ‘clean’; the pixel tolerance for these tools is low, which means that the cut out usually has a lot of hard edges, something which does not suit, for instance, a high profile magazine or a catalogue. Like every other shortcut, while using magic wand is quicker, it is not precise. Hence is why it should be used when a low resolution, positional cut out is required.

The second, more tedious yet finer method for cutting background is using the pen tool. Unlike the aforementioned methods, this requires manual work. Basically, pen tool helps in creating an image outline without having to erase or modify the original image. This basically helps in removing any extra colours which may appear due to the colour blending effect on the edges of definite shapes within the digital image. The path creates a vector image in itself, and saves the preserved part of the image in a singular EPS file. This EPS file can be used and re-used multiple times without the need to touch the original image ever again. The Vector path can also help in resizing the image without causing any pixilation. The EPS files can also be imported to be used in Flash projects.

Limitations Of A Clipping Path

The Photoshop Clipping paths are great for creating cut outs, its only limitation being more complex image portions such as hair, feathers, etc. This is because by the end of the day, clipping path creates a Vector path, a mathematical entity which means that such a large collection of abstract shapes are difficult to trace. They are still considerably accurate and less cumbersome than using the eraser tool, which might be why they are considered more reliable. There are several agencies which provide clipping paths services as well, mainly for large businesses with heavy image editing requirements or graphic design projects with tight schedules applicable on them.

Internet Ready Images provide clipping path services to businesses and individuals. To receive a free sample image complete the form on the right side of this page.