I would like to turn this image into just a simple black outline.

Like this simple hand drawn example below, but more precise.

enter image description here

4 Answers 4

  1. Choose magic wand tool set options to:
    • 1, levels Tolerance
    • Anti-alias on
  2. Click on background white
  3. Holding shift down click inside handle, to add to the existing selection.
  4. Invert selection shift+ctrl+I
  5. Make a new adjustment layer
    • Solid color, white
  6. Apply a layer style of stroke

Done. Your values may be different as scale might change things.


Image 1: Results of steps.

PS: you can also turn the selection into paths. That may be marginally better for low res images as it smooths edges.


Image 2: Instead of fill, the selection was turned to path with 1,5 px fidelity and then stroked with a brush.


Grab the Pen Tool and manually draw two paths - one around the bulk of the pitcher, ignoring the handle, then one around the handle.

Then combine the vector/shape layers for the shapes into one layer.

Add a stroke if a vector layer, or add a stroke via Layer Styles.

enter image description here

enter image description here


I see you've already accepted joojaa's answer but...

In order to get a little smoother result beginning with joojaa's method set Tolerance to around 10 before making your selection...

Then after inverting your selection as joojaa has advised choose 'Select and Mask' (or 'Refine Selection' in older versions of PS), and change the view to Black and White:

Select and Mask

B&W view mode

Now press the B key to activate the Brush Tool (use the square bracket keys [ and ] to size the brush up and down, and press and hold the Alt key to switch from white to black), and we can manually improve the selection a bit (doesn't have to be perfect):

A better selection

Then click 'OK'. Using my method, from here we just want a black & white image so press the D key to make sure you have the default colors active:

Black and White – Foreground and Background

With your selection still active press:

  • Ctrl+Backspace to fill the center with white
  • Ctrl+Shift+I to invert the selection
  • Alt+Backspace to fill the background with black

The boundaries of the water pitcher are a little too close to the edge of the canvas for this effect, so go to Image > Canvas Size, check 'Relative' and add 40px to the width and height values.

Go to Image > Mode and choose 'Grayscale'. Now we have something like this:

Ready for a filter

Go to Filter > Filter Gallery and under 'Sketch' choose 'Stamp' and crank up the 'Smoothness' slider until the edge is looking – well, smoother... then add another filter (by clicking the 'New Effect Layer' button at bottom-right of the Filter Gallery dialog) and choose 'Photocopy'.

Mess around with the Detail and Darkness sliders until you get the effect you're after... (You can also add another instance of the Stamp filter to smooth things out even further if needed/desired):

Stamp and Photocopy

And here, the final result:

Nice and smooth


These are all great answers, and I know i'm posting really late, but you don't have to do this, it's much too complicated. I do this:

First, I apply a stroke effect to the layer via Blending Options. applying stroke effect

From there, all I have to do is drag the fill bar at the bottom right to 0%. dragging fill bar to 0%

It may not be as pretty or accurate as the other answers, but it is definitely the fastest and easiest way.

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