How to create the “out of bounds” effect in Photoshop

How I Did It

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I have been a big fan of the out of bounds effect ever since I first saw it a couple of years ago. I initially tried to create it simply by following various static and video tutorials.

I have a list of 47 tutorials that I followed, but I never succeeded in getting the effect. I now know that steps were left out, or the tutorial presumed that I knew where to create a layer or a layer mask, or I was using a more recent version that had renamed or relocated some tools that I needed…..

or…….

or……

or……..

This past weekend I thought I would sit down and use my list of tutorials to try to accomplish the effect again. With 21 months of serious experience using Photoshop, I believe I have a greater understanding of Photoshop, its tools, layers, and masks. I was right, having accomplished the out of bounds effect with good ol’ Captain Morgan:

Captain Morgan, out of bounds

Captain Morgan, out of bounds

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I have succeeded in getting the out of bounds effect on several other photos which I’ll share in the future, but for now I want to show YOU just how easy it actually is to create this effect. So open up Photoshop and follow along. An easy photo with good contrast and color is best to use on your first try. I’m going to use a dog playing Frisbee fetch in the water to show him getting out of the water.

Frisbee dog

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

If you want to follow along using the same file, simply right click on the dog’s nose, choose “Save picture as….”  and download him to your computer.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Open your picture in Photoshop and make sure the Layers panel is open. (I always have the History, Layers, Properties, and Actions panels open since I use them a lot.)

Screen shot 01

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

If your Layers panel isn’t showing, simply click on Window ► Layers or use the F7 keyboard shortcut.

At the bottom of the Layers panel, click on the “Create a new layer” icon. Photoshop creates the new layer, places it on top of the picture layer (named “Background”), and names the new layer “Layer 1.”

Create a new layer icon in Photoshop

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Create a new layer in Photoshop

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Photoshop will highlight the new layer. Make sure you stay on that layer because that’s where we’re going to draw our picture frame.

Click on the Rectangular Marquee Tool in the Tools panel. (If your Tools panel isn’t showing, click on Window ► Tools.) To get the Marquee Tool flyout menu, click and hold for a couple of seconds on the Marquee Tool and the flyout will, uh, fly out.

Rectangular Marquee Tool in Photoshop

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Draw a box around the back side of the dog.

Rectangular Marquee box in Photoshop

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After drawing your box right click anywhere on your picture to get access to options:

Right click for options

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Click on Stroke to get the options box. Choose the same options or enter the same values that I have shown in my box: a 10 pixel black stroke located inside the marquee box we just drew.

Stroke options

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You should have this:

Stroke box

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Right click again anywhere on your picture and chose “Deselect” from the options box. That removes the dashed frame from your black frame.

Deselect

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Black frame

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Now we’re going to alter the shape of our black frame to provide perspective. Click on Edit ► Transform ► Perspective. A bounding box will surround your black frame.

Bounding box

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Click and hold the upper right little white square. Now drag the square down and you’ll see that the lower right little square moves upwards proportionately at the same time.

Bounding box perspective

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Hit Enter to tell Photoshop that you’re happy with your perspective choice.

Now we have to erase the part of the black frame that goes over our dog. Click on the eraser tool and simply erase the part of the black frame we don’t want. You can zoom in to get a better view if you need to.

Erase frame over dog

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

If you make a mistake erasing, you can undo your last erasure by hitting Control + Z (or Alt + Backspace) or use the History panel to go back in history. To get your History panel to show, click on Window ► History. I’m a big fan of the History panel; it’s extremely powerful but few people understand how to use its power…. hmmm, I feel another tutorial coming on……………

Here is where it can get tricky and where so many tutorials left out steps or didn’t explain adequately exactly what to do.

First, highlight your Background layer. That’s the layer that you must be working on now, not Layer 1.

Next, we want to highlight the stuff that we’re going to delete. Many tutorials tell you to highlight what you want to keep, but that’s actually harder than highlighting the stuff you want to get rid of.

I like to use the Quick Selection Tool but you can use whatever you’re comfortable with. I’ve become very good with the Quick Selection Tool and it’s the tool I’m going to use for this tutorial. Click and hold on the Quick Selection Tool to get your Quick Selection Tool flyout, and then click on Quick Selection Tool.

Quick Selection Tool

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Now simply click and drag over all the stuff you want to delete to highlight it. Once you have highlighted the stuff you want to delete, you should see a moving dashed frame (called “marching ants”) around all that stuff.

Marching ants selection in Photoshop

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Now simply hit the Delete key and a Fill options box will pop up. Change “Use” to White (it usually comes up showing “Content-Aware”) and make sure the other settings are as shown in the following screen shot.

Delete options

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Click on OK and you should have this:

Dog out of bounds

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Right click anywhere on your picture and choose Deselect. If you don’t get the Deselect option, make sure you’re still using the Quick Selection Tool. If not, just click on the Quick Selection Tool, right click on your picture, and click on Deselect.

Now choose File ► Save As (Control + Shift + S), give your picture a name, change the file type to JPG (it probably defaults to Photoshop PSD), hit Save, hit Enter, and you’ve got your out of bounds doggie!

Out of bounds dog

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Notice that the doggie’s Frisbee is a little jagged where it was in the water. That makes a great case for visualizing how your picture will look before you start working on it.

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of ways to get the out of bounds effect. I think some of the tutorial writers were trying to prove to the reader how much they knew instead of getting you to the end point as quickly and easily as possible. I took many of the tutorials and combined or altered steps to get you to your final product in the quickest and easiest way.

As you start to work with more difficult pictures, such as trees with lots of branches or people with hair flying in the wind or a steam engine with lots of smoke particles, you’ll find that it takes a lot more work masking in zoom mode to make the final product look good.

Practice on easy subjects, like buildings which are easy to select around to make them look like they are rising out of the picture.

Comments are welcome.

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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36 thoughts on “How to create the “out of bounds” effect in Photoshop

    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      Zoey the Cool Cat doesn’t worry about anything other than when the food is going to show up in the food bowl, who’s going to play fetch with her, and whether or not she has a clean litter box. Right now she’s in the linen cabinet all zonked out……..

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      Reply
  1. Elephant

    So many things to learn! Photoshop seems endless (well, it does to me because I forget things and have to learn them all over again)! This is a very good tutorial – I didn’t even know it was called and out of bounds effect, but I did know I liked it!
    Elephant

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    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      It’s not for sale anymore. Instead, they have a subscription, but it’s very affordable at $9.99 a month. For those of us who always upgraded, the subscription saves about $300 a year!

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  5. Jackie Saulmon Ramirez

    I like smart, creative people who are funny. 🙂 I’ll be back for more; the only thing I’ve really done is to learn how to make a rainbow. 😛

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  6. Mark Armstrong

    Absolutely superb, sir! One of the best laid-out and clearly explained PS tutorials I’ve come across– extremely well done! Love the result, and good ol’ Cap Morgan as well. And of course Zoey is the cat’s meow.

    Great post, thanks for sharing so generously!! : )

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  7. kelihasablog

    Oh my goodness…. This is exactly what I need. Besides being blond, I have Photoshop Elements 9, but couldn’t figure out how to do the layers…. Whew… I need to try to save this one, or if you do a tutorial on youtube, please let me know. 😀 Thanks so much! (And Zoey is just as cool as ever… and I’m not even partial just cuz she looks like mine, LOL…) 😀

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