In this tutorial I am showing you a different, and slightly more simple, way of doing the carved cutout look in PhotoImpact, from the method in my earlier tutorial on making cutout webpage buttons. For this tutorial you should choose two texture files, one for the main texture, for which I have used a dark wood, and one for the texture inside the cutout, for which I have used a lighter wood. You can make textures with the PhotoImpact's Effect/Creative/Artist Texture designer, or the Web/Background Designer, or use some of those in the materials and textures galleries, or use any favourite textures.

We are going to make a small, oval button. Begin by opening a new image, using these settings.

image settings

Now use the standard selection tool, shown depressed in the picture below, and with the settings shown, click in the centre of your image to place an oval selection in the middle. If it is not quite centred, place your cursor inside the selection and it will change to a cross with arrowheads - the moving tool. Hold down the left mouse button and you can adjust its position either by moving the mouse or by using the keyboard arrow keys, which will move it one pixel at a time and give you finer control.

selection settings

Use Edit/Selection/Invert.

Now load your main texture image into PhotoImpact. Click on its top frame so that the frame turns blue showing that it is the selected image. Click first on the copy button - the left of the two buttons shown here,copy/paste buttons then on the right one which is the paste button. A black dotted marquee line will appear all round your texture, showing that an object copy of the texture has been placed on top of the original one.

texture appliedPlace the cursor inside this marquee, when it will change to a moving tool again. Hold down the keyboard T key, and the left mouse button, and drag the texture to your button image. It will look like the image on the right. You can see that not only has the texture been applied around the button shape, but it has become the selected image.

Now use Edit/Object/Add Shadow, with these settings shadow settings

A drop shadow will appear inside the oval, and more marquee lines will surround it. Place your cursor inside your image on the textured part above the oval, and it will again become the moving tool. Hold down the left mouse button and drag it to the workspace outside the frames of your images. The texture and the shadow will be peeled off your image and put in a frame of its own on the workspace, and your original image will be white, as it was when you began.

Using the standard selection tool, with the same settings as before, put another oval selection in the middle of your original image. It does not have to be precisely where the first one was, if it looks centred to you that will be near enough.

Use Edit/Selection/Invert.

Use the eyedropper tool eyedropper to select the lightest colour you can find in the texture you used as your main texture for the foreground colour. Click on the fill tool. At the top of the vertical toolbar you will see the current fill colour displayed. Right click on it and choose foreground colour. Now place the fill tool cursor in the selected area outside the oval in the white image, and left click to fill it with the colour.

quick colourClick twice on the lighten button in the quick colour adjustment panel (framed in red in this picture). This will lighten the colour you have just used to fill the image, and also convert the coloured area to an object. (A black dotted marquee will appear all around the coloured part in your image.)

Place your cursor on the coloured part, and when it changes to the moving tool, once again click and drag the coloured part to the workspace outside any other frame. You now have the texture surrounded oval with shadow, the colour surrounded oval, and your original image which is plain white again.

Load your second texture - the one for inside the oval - into PI4. Click on its frame to select it, and as you did with the first texture, click on the copy button, then on the paste button, to put an object copy of the texture on top of the original. Holding down the keyboard T key, click and drag this object copy to your white image so that it is filled with your second texture.

texture plus solid colourNow return to the solid colour image which was the last one you peeled off the original image. When you click on its frame, you will see the black dotted marquee which indicates that this is an object. Put your cursor on the coloured area and drag it back onto your now texture filled original. Arrange it so that the oval, which is now shown to be a hole which lets the texture show through, is more or less in the middle.

Use Edit/Selection/Merge all. The coloured part will no longer be a separate object and you can no longer move it.

Now go back to the top texture image, with the shadow in the oval. Click and drag that onto your merged image. Arrange it so that a tiny rim of the lighter colour shows around the bottom and right of the oval.

arranging top layer

In this picture I have had to make the solid colour layer much lighter than it should be, so that you can see what is going on and where to place your top texture layer. For the final images I shall go back to using the correct colour which gives a slight highlight which is much more realistic than this.

Use Edit/Selection/Merge All

finished buttonNow crop the image around your button.

You can now use the button as it stands, or give it a bevel, and add some text, or a flower as I have done with the one in the border to this page.


This technique can be applied to cutouts of any shape, or to text.


Carol Brooksbank 2003
This tutorial may not be copied to any other website nor distributed in any way. It may be downloaded for personal use only. Links to my tutorials at are welcome.


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