Out of Bounds (OOB)

The out of bounds (OOB) effect is a way of editing the photo in an image editor program to make the subject stand out and give the impression of a 3D image. It can be done with just one photo or with several images that are composed into one.

The goal of this Photoshop tutorial is to take the plain photo of the lion seen on the left and transform it into the one seen on the right, where the lion head pops out of the frame. It was done using just one photo with its original background and without any distortions.

before and after

Icon/Shortcut Function
icon brush B Brush
icon marquee tool M Rectangular marquee tool
icon new layer Layer icon
icon layer mask Layer mask icon
icon layer visibility eye Layer visibility
icon adjustment layer Adjustment layer icon
Alt+Backspace Fill the layer with the current foreground color
Ctrl+Backspace Fill the layer with the current background color
Ctrl+D Deselect the current selection
Ctrl+I Invert the mask (invert in general)
D Reset the fore- and background color to black & white
X Swap the foreground with the background color

Getting Started

  1. Open the image you want to use or download my original lion photo if you would like to work along. Selecting a suitable photo helps a lot to create a convincing OOB effect.
  2. Before you do anything else, make all the adjustments like levels, cloning, saturation and such to improve the overall quality of the image.
  3. Press D on your keyboard to set the background and foreground colors to default (black and white).
  4. Set up the required layers, in order to make it is easier once you start to work. Double click on the layer thumbnail of your background (see Layers palette) to create a layer and name it something meaningful, in my case “lion”.
    layer thumbnail
  5. Create a new layer by clicking on the layer icon at the bottom of your layers palette. Rename it to “white background” and press Ctrl+Backspace to fill it with white.
  6. Create another layer, rename it to “black background” and press Alt+Backspace to fill it with black.
  7. Move the black and white layers (click and drag the layers) beneath the lion layer.
    Since Photoshop CS2, you can Ctrl click on multiple layers and then move them all at the same time.
  8. Create one more empty layer above the lion and call it “frame”. You should now have something like this:
    lion setup

Creating the Frame

  1. Make sure the frame layer is selected (click on the frame layer in the layers palette once to highlight it).
  2. Use the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M), then click and drag to create a rectangle with the size and shape of your desired frame. Don’t worry about the exact size, we are going to adjust it again later.
  3. Press Ctrl+Backspace to fill the selection with white.
  4. With the selection still active, go to Select/Modify/Contract… and type in a suitable number. In my case, I chose 15. Click OK and then delete the area in the middle (press the delete key on your keyboard), leaving only a white frame.
  5. Press Ctrl+D to deselect or go to Select/Deselect. You should now have something like the example below.
    create frame

Distorting the Frame

  1. To make the frame look 3 dimensional, we are now going to distort it. With the frame layer active, go to Edit/Free Transform or click Ctrl+T.
  2. Right click in the middle of the frame and select Perspective.
  3. You can now drag the corners up and down to create a 3 dimensional frame. Right click and select Distort, if you need to adjust the frame in a different direction.
  4. You should end up with something like this:
    lion 3d frame

Extracting the Subject

  1. It’s time to delete or better hide everything except the main subject outside of the frame.
  2. Make sure the lion layer is selected and click on the layer mask icon (located at the bottom of your layers palette) to create a mask for the lion.
    The black layer mask hides the parts we don’t want and the white layer mask reveals what needs to be visible. By using a mask, nothing will be deleted, so you can edit it anytime you want.
  3. Select a medium soft brush (B) and make sure that your foreground color is set to black.
  4. Paint over the parts you want to hide. Use a hard brush around the frame and use a softer brush for the edge of the lion and the napkin.
    When working on the layer mask, always make sure the layer mask is selected on not the layer itself!
  5. If you go too far, simply swap the foreground color to white and paint over the bits you want to reveal. Use the X key on your keyboard to quickly swap between black and white.
  6. In my example, using the brush was quick and easy but if you use a different image, you might have to make a selection with a different tool.
  7. Remember those white and black backgrounds we have created at the beginning? Now they come in handy, making it easy to see how well your masking is done. Simply click on the icon looking like an eye on the left side of the black or white background to see the different background colors.
  8. You should now have something like this:
    lion mask

Completing the Frame

  1. In the next step, we are going to create a drop shadow for the frame, so if you need a bit more space around the frame, resize the canvas now.
  2. Double click on the layer thumbnail of the frame layer to open the Layer Style dialog. Click on Drop Shadow and dial in the numbers you like. I kept it fairly low in this example but you can adjust it anyway you like.
  3. After you are done, go to Layer/Layer Style/Create Layer. This will put your shadow on a separate layer, so that we can work on it and mask it separately from the frame.
  4. Select the frame layer, create a layer mask and use a black brush (B) to hide the parts where the head and the napkin overlaps the frame.
  5. Do the same once more for the shadow and you should have something like this:
    frame done

Adding a Shadow

  1. As you can see, it starts to look more like the finished version but something is still missing. The shadows are what makes or breaks the OOB effect. For the lion, I decided that the napkin, the head and the leg needed some additional shadow.
  2. Select the lion layer, double click on the layer thumbnail and add a drop shadow. I’ve used a soft shadow and for the position, rather than dialing in the numbers, I used the mouse and moved the shadow on the image itself. Simply click and drag on the photo to move the shadow in position.
  3. After you are done, go to Layer/Layer Style/Create Layer and move the shadow layer to the top of your layers palette.
  4. Create a layer mask and invert it (Ctrl+I). You can use a black brush to hide the parts you don’t need but I find it easier to invert the mask, in order to hide everything and then use a white brush to paint the shadow only where it’s needed.
  5. If necessary, adjust the opacity and move its location if it doesn’t look right.
    layer options
  6. Create one more layer on top and use a black brush to paint the additional shadow beneath the front leg. Use a low opacity brush (around 5%) and slowly paint the shadow. Don’t worry when you paint the leg itself, simply add a layer mask and hide it.
  7. At this stage, it should look like this:
    shadow done

Final Tweaks

  1. I wanted to enhance the effect and make it look like it really comes out of the photo. To do that, I decided to lower the saturation and the contrast of the parts which are supposed to be a flat image.
  2. Select the lion layer. Press and hold the Alt key and click on the Adjustment Layer icon (at the bottom of the layers palette). Select Hue/Saturation.
  3. In the New Layer dialog, enable Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask and click OK. I used -20 for Saturation in the Master channel.
  4. Select the lion layer once more, press and hold the Alt key but this time select the Adjustment Layer called Brightness/Contrast.
  5. Use the previous layer to create a clipping mask and in my case, I used Brightness +10, Contrast -15.
  6. The clipping masks are used so that the background doesn’t change and only the lion image is affected.
  7. We don’t need these adjustments to affect the lion head and the napkin, so use a layer mask (the layer mask has already been created automatically) for each adjustment layer and hide the parts which should pop out. Use the softest possible black brush and paint over the head, the napkin and the front leg.
  8. Add some sharpening to the 3D parts and your are done.
    3d finished

Thanks to Worth1000.com for the inspiration to OOB
Modified: August 21, 2010 (done with PS CS2)

4 Responses to Out of Bounds (OOB)

  1. Robert Flamholtz says:

    If you give a tutorial you should not leave out the important pieces like selecting the lion and the bid.

  2. Robert Flamholtz says:

    You left out some significant parts of the tutorial. How about selecting the lion and the bib so they are not painted out

    • agaraga says:

      Thank you for your comments Robert. I’ve been planning to redo this tutorial to improve it some time in the future anyway, so at that time, I will consider how to better describe and illustrate the process.

  3. Hank says:

    Thanks – clearly written – in a readable font size – and to the point.

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