If you are new to designing and finding it a bit tough to cut a shape or anything else here is a step-by-step instruction guide with images to guide you on how to cut a shape in Photoshop done perfectly with ease and in a straightforward manner.

Before you proceed, it’s important to note that 3 different tools were used to cut the shapes here; the lasso tool, the pen tool, and the marquee tool. These tools all work in different ways, and here you’ll see how each tool works so that you can choose whichever is preferable for you.

Key takeaways

  • The Free-hand Lasso tool is an easy way to draw curves.
  • If you want to cut in straight lines, use the Polygonal Lasso tool.
  • The Pen tool can be used to draw curves as well as straight lines.
  • Fill the colour in the desired shape by clicking on invert with Ctrl + I.
  • Use the marquee tool for drawing shapes of circle and rectangle.

how to cut a shape in photoshop featured image

Step-by-step instructions on how to cut a shape in Photoshop

"New" dialogue box on photoshop

Step 1: Create a new layer

Once you open your Photoshop, you need a new layer to work on, for that, proceed to the left-hand side of your Photoshop menu, select File, and click New. A dialogue box will appear for you to modify. The image above has its resolution at 300; the width and height ratio is set at 6 by 4inches for a landscape view.

Selecting the option "open"

Step 2: Select the image

The next sequence of images explain how to choose a picture or an image for you to work on in the new layer created. On the left-hand side of your Photoshop screen, click on File, then click on Open.

Window box for "open"

Once you click on Open, choose any image. Click on an image and click open. This will open the image directly on your Photoshop screen, or you can simply drag the image from its original location to the Photoshop screen.

An Image on the photoshop screen
"Canvas filling" in the image

Optional: Canvas Filling

The image selected will be the background of your work, so create another layer for filling. On the right-hand side of the Photoshop screen, click on Color. Click on Solid colour and pick your desired colour; which in this example is purple, then adjust the gradient as you desire.

Dialogue box for Colour Picker
Marked shape on the dark blue canvas

Method 1: Use Lasso Tool

Step 1: Cutting with the free-hand lasso tool.

You’ll find the lasso tool on the left-hand side of the task bar. The lasso tool is a hands-free drawing tool for easy and free-hand usage. Note that there are 3 types of lasso tool on your Photoshop toolbar; the polygonal, the free-hand, and the magnetic.

For this step-by-step instruction, the free-hand and polygonal are used. Here, a free-hand lasso tool that is easy to draw curves is employed to make out the desired shape.

A cut out in the blue canvas

By outlining your desired shape upon the filled-in layer you have a shape fixed upon it, you can then cut the top filled-in layer by pressing delete or backspace to expose the layer right underneath as seen in the image above.

A dark blue canvas on the photoshop screen

Option 2: Cutting with the polygonal lasso tool

To activate the polygonal lasso tool which is best for drawing straight lines, double click on the free-hand lasso tool earlier used; a dialogue box drops down for you and from there select the polygonal lasso tool.

After selecting the polygonal lasso tool, click on the desired shape, return to the layer mask on the right-hand side of the screen as seen above.

A marked shape on the blue canvas

Step 3

Click on the layer mask and the shape outlined with the polygonal lasso tool appears and is marked on the filled-in layer and then repeat the same cutting process.

The marked blue shape on the image
A cut out in the blue canvas
A marked shape on the blue canvas

Method 2: Cutting with a pen tool

Step 1

On the left-hand side of the screen you’ll find the pen tool; used in drawing both straight and curved lines, click on it, and outline your desired shape.

Selecting the option - "Make selection"

Step 2

Once drawn, right-click on the outlined pattern, for a dialogue box; proceed and click on Make selection.

Dialogue box for "Make selection"

Step 3

In the Make selection dialogue box, enter the necessary details as seen above. Input the feather radius as 0 and tick the necessary boxes of new selection and anti-aliased.

A marked shape on the blue canvas

Return to the layer mask once more, and the selections you’ve made will appear on it as seen above.

The marked shape cut out on the image
A cut out in the blue canvas

Step 4

You can either cut out the shape exposing the layer underneath as seen above or you can expose the entire layer underneath and leave the shape with the filled-in colour by clicking on invert with Ctrl + I.

A triangle cutout on the image

Option 3: Cutting with a marquee tool

Step 1

To cut using the marquee tool; used for drawing shapes of circle and rectangle, scroll to the left-hand side of the screen and pick the marquee tool, select the shape desired and place it on the filled-in triangular layer above the background. Here the shape chosen is a circle.

A circle cut out on the image

Step 2

To use the circle marquee tool; click the layer mask and the filled-in circle will be highlighted as the main image. To expose the background image, use Ctrl + I and the image underneath will be exposed.

A cut out of the triangle and the circle on the image


Adobe Photoshop tutorials

How to crop a layer in Photoshop

How to convert a path to a shape


For newbies in the designing business, cutting can be a tough move, but with the above step-by-step instructions, you can easily follow-up and get your cutting skills ready for a real gig.