Clipping Paths Without Photoshop

Mon, Apr 14, 2008

How-to

How to cut out an image in QuarkXPress

Whenever I teach QuarkXPress, I show students how to create a clipping path in Photoshop to cut out an image, bring it into Quark, access the clipping path that we built in Photoshop, then apply Text Runaround to it. Recently, I was asked what to do if you don’t have Photoshop. In this tutorial, I’d like to show you two different options you could use to create a cutout if you don’t own Photoshop.

Option 1: Let Quark determine the non-white areas.

If you have an image that has a white background, Quark can determine the clipping path for you. Let’s say you have a logo that has a white square around it, and you would like to have text run around that logo. You could Import the image into a picture box. Then from the file menu choose Item > Clipping. By default, it should be set to None. Quark gives you more options under Item. Change None to Non-White Areas, then click Apply and Quark generates its own clipping path for you. If you have an object that also contains areas of white inside the image you would like to knock out as well, uncheck Outside Edges Only.

Clipping Paths Without Photoshop

This is the image with the Non-White Areas determining the Clipping Path.

Quark usually does a pretty good job determining the clipping path, but if the image is placed over a color, or another image, you will see its limitations. Usually you will see a white halo around the image where Quark did not remove the white. I suggest using a negative Outset setting of -0.5 or -1 to eat away the white pixels.

Clipping Paths Without Photoshop

The image with a white halo.

Clipping Paths Without Photoshop

The image without a white halo after an Outset of -1 is applied.

Now to make the Runaround follow the new Clipping path. Go to Item> Runaround. For the Type choose Same as Clipping. Now your text will not run around the frame of the picture, but instead run around the shape of your newly created Clipping Path!

Clipping Paths Without Photoshop

This is the image with the Runaround set to be the same as the Clipping Path.

If you always bring in images with white backgrounds, and you never have color under them, Option 1 is a good solution (of course, this rarely happens). So, if you want to be the master of your own clipping path, then here is the second solution.

Option 2: You make the Clipping Path!

After you import the picture, you’ll need to create a new picture box the same shape as the area you want to cut out. To do this use the Bezier Picture Box Tool. (Just a note: Do you know why it’s called a “Bézier” Picture Box tool? Because Pierre Bézier was the father of this way of drawing – he created the first pen tool for Autocad programs.) It’s grouped with the Rectangle Picture Box tool: just click and hold on the tool to reveal the hidden tool. It looks like a calligraphy pen with a picture box next to it.

Clipping Paths Without Photoshop

The original image before it is cut out.

When you use this tool, don’t think of it as a drawing tool. You are plotting points on a path to create a shape, much as in Adobe Illustrator or FreeHand. And for Pete’s sake, don’t just click, click, click and put in points. The resulting frame will be so jagged it won’t look right. The pen tool in any application takes practice and patience. My advice is that if this is the first time you’ve used a pen tool, just click and drag a little to draw a slight curve. Then, continue to do that around the whole image. When you click and drag, you don’t just make a straight line, you make a curved line. This will produce a more natural looking cutout. Don’t worry, you can always go back when you’re done and edit the pen path you’ve created.
When you’ve almost finished the shape and you get back to the starting point, click on your first point to close the path. You can now go back with the Content tool and edit the points if you like. Notice that when you click on a point, the points that you originally created by clicking and dragging now have two directional control handles that you can drag to change the shape of the curve. Go around the image and fix these points to match the shape of the item you want to cut out. You may get frustrated that as you move one directional point that the other side moves in the opposite direction – have no fear, it is acting as a “spline curve,” responding so that the curve remains natural. If what you want is a sharp change of direction, this is easily done. Choose Item> Point/Segment Type> Corner Point for the points you need more control over. Now you can edit these points individually. (Shortcut: Option/Alt-click on a point to convert it to a corner point.)

Clipping Paths Without Photoshop

The new picture box, courtesy of the Bézier Picture Box Tool.

Now that you have your new picture box, you can copy and paste the original picture from the old box into the new box.

But a problem appears: when you paste the picture into the box, it will be positioned by using the top left corner of the new box as its reference point, which is not the same as the original box, and not what you want. So, do one of these two things: either use the content tool to drag the picture into the correct position in the new box, or to be more accurate use this little trick that I figured out:

Clipping Paths Without Photoshop

Move the top-left point of your clipping path over the top-left point of the original box before you paste.

After you create the new picture box, take the top left box handle and drag it directly over the top left corner of the original picture. Now when you copy and paste, the picture goes into the exact spot it came from. Then, all you have to do to clean up is move that upper left point on the new picture box back to where it was on the top left of the runaround item in the picture.

Now you can delete the old picture box and apply your Runaround. The picture fits perfectly, and so does your text runaround! Who needs Photoshop? Not You!

Clipping Paths Without Photoshop

The picture imported into the new picture box.

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This post was written by:

- who has written 25 posts on Planet Quark.

Technical Consultant, Instructor Aquent Graphics Institute Rob has nearly 12 years of print production experience on top of his formal education in the graphic arts. He worked in production and later as Systems Administrator for Media News, publisher of multiple weekly newspapers in suburban Boston, prior to becoming a consultant and instructor for Aquent Graphics Institute. Rob’s expertise lies in editorial workflow systems, he is an expert in News Edit Pro, K4, and Woodwing. He teaches both QuarkXPress and InDesign and and has a full understanding of Quark Copy Desk and InCopy. Rob has the ability to observe a production workflow and make suggestions on how to enable people to work more efficiently. Either with a database solution, or something much simpler. He also teaches Illustrator, Photoshop, and Acrobat. Rob has used QuarkXPress for more than 12 years now and has been teaching both QuarkXPress and InDesign for nearly 3 years. Rob travels around the country seeing real production problems every day. He has the unique perspective of someone who knows what both QuarkXPress and InDesign are capable of, and how they measure up against each other in the different fields they are used in. He has coordinated countless upgrades and conversions between the programs and enjoys meeting new people and examining the different ways people accomplish the same task, and the many different ways people use page layout programs. His real world experience with everything from building templates, font management, and color correction, make him a valuable asset during transitions and upgrades. On his own, Rob is still a freelance designer, and loves page layout. His favorite interests include his two daughters, Lynda.com, and anything related to Star Wars.

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5 Responses to “Clipping Paths Without Photoshop”

  1. Leah Frank Says:

    I publish a weekly business & classified paper and use Quark 7.31.
    Have you heard of problems with the leading in Quark?
    When we place display ads on our paper layout, leading goes crazy?

  2. Rob Says:

    Hi Leah,
    It sounds like your cutting and pasting ads right into the paper layout. This is a bad idea. You should save the ads as eps’s or PDF’s then place them into the layout. This will avoid the headache you are currently experiencing. The problem you are having is probably based on styles. If you highlight the text that is being changed when it gets dropped into the layout, go check out your styles palette. Chances are it has a style applied to it. It could even say normal. I believe the problem is that the style applied also exists in the layout document, but is defined as something different. What happens is that when you cut and paste, the text takes on the look and feel of the style defined in the layout document.
    Without bringing in eps’s or PDF’s, you could just select the text that is changing in the original document an create a new style for it, then apply it.
    Tell me how this works out!
    Rob

  3. Leah Frank Says:

    Rob,

    Thanks for the advice!
    We only started having this problem in Quark 7.
    Maybe Quark 8 will solve this problem also.
    Leah :)

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