Making a Clipping Path in Photoshop

What is a clipping path?

You can use image clipping paths to define transparent areas in images you place in page-layout applications. For example, you may want to use a foreground object and exclude the background. An image clipping path lets you isolate the foreground object and make everything else transparent when the image is printed or placed in another application.

The Problem

You have an image that you’ve edited in Photoshop. You want (or have made) part of it transparent. But, when you move the image into InDesign, there is a square box around the picture.

transparent-photoshop

no-transparency

The Solution

In order for your image to show up as transparent in InDesign, you’re going to need to make a clipping path for it in Photoshop.

Start by opening your image in Photoshop. The first thing you need to do is decide what part of the image you want to be transparent. Most of the time, it’s the background. You need to select your image (the part you want to show). It’s usually easiest to select the background and then inverse your selection.

  1. Select the background of your image.
    selection
  2. From the top Menu Bar, select Select>Inverse.
    inverse
  3. Open the Paths window if it is not already open. From the top Menu Bar, select Window>Paths. The Paths tab is in the Layers palette.
    paths
  4. Make a Work Path from your selection by clicking on the icon at the bottom of the Paths palette.
    work-path
    You should see the work path pop up.
    work-path-panel
  5. Save your work path by clicking the drop down icon on the top right of the Paths palette. A contextual menu will pop up. Select Save Path… Press OK in the Save Path dialog box.
    save-path
  6. Make a clipping path by again clicking the drop down icon on the top right of the Paths palette. This time, select Clipping Path… Press OK in the Clipping Path dialog box.
    clipping-path
  7. You now have your clipping path. The finished path should look like this (notice the outlined text):
    outlined-path
  8. Save your image file.
  9. Open InDesign. Either insert your image into your InDesign document (File>Place) or update the link if you have already imported it. Voilà! Your image should now be transparent in InDesign.
    transparency