Apologies all for the intrusion by a complete novice. I have a simple .jpg image, see below. All I want is the instrument itself, without the black background. Essentially, the instrument, as an independent object, on a transparent background. I've no knowledge of layers, paths, or anything much. All I've managed to do is "trace" it and then "expand" (which i can select/copy/paste in a new document) but that gives me a very low-res version of the instrument - not an exact copy without the black. Any thoughts?

enter image description here

3 Answers 3


Use the pen tool to trace around the instrument. In the layer panel ensure the path is higher than the instrument. Then select both on your page and do Object > Clipping Mask > Make

Then export the result to a format that supports transparency.


Any possiblity to visit in photoshop? Black and the cutting line seem to be very solid. In PS the instrument could be separated by QuickSelect tool in 10 seconds and saved with transparent or white background. To make it a layer in PS just doubleclick it in the Layers panel. Select the background and press delete. Then save it as PNG.

ADDENDUM: took only 6 seconds, maybe already perfectly cutted and placed onto black. Needed only Quick select and 1 pixel expand for the selection to cover all black and the minor fuzzy area around the solid wood. enter image description here

  • Still might want to use the pen tool in PS to refine the selection. Jan 12, 2017 at 15:35
  • @Goofy Monkey By making the clipping mask with the pen you're actually using a path for clipping. In PS the same tool is available. Additionally in PS there are many helpful other tools to creare, enhance and modify the clippings. Some go along color, other along luminosity and the rest obey free selection. Misdrawn clipping path (I mean the selection line or curve) is fixable and modifiable . One can start wirh a tool and contine with another.
    – user82991
    Jan 13, 2017 at 0:47

Use Photoshop for this - how to cut basic shapes out of grayscale backgrounds with Photoshop

  • Open Layers menu (Window > layers, check)
  • Duplicate the current layer (Layer > Duplicate layer)
  • Double click the open layer in the layers menu
  • In the black and white colour gradient thing, drag the "This layer" slide pointer up from the black until all black in the image disappears
  • Select the magic wand tool (may need to change tolerance in the menu up or down)
  • Select the instrument body shape, press "Ctrl Shift + I" to inverse selection then press delete

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