Published on July 26, 2022

Photo inside shape (with pop-out effect)

In this blog I’ll show you how to place a photo inside a shape with a pop-out effect in Adobe Photoshop.

Rather watch the video with instructions? Click here or scroll down to the end of this page.

Click here to download the photo I used.

Step 1: Create background

Open the photo you want to place inside of the shape. Then add a solid color layer. Pick a color, this will be the background color.

solid color

Unlock the background layer (click on the lock icon). Place this layer above the color fill layer. I rename this layer ‘background’.


Step 2: Select subject

Select the background layer and use the quick selection tool to select your subject.

select subject

Then press CTRL+J to duplicate the selected area. You now have a new layer with your subject and a transparent background. I rename this layer ‘subject’.

layer panel

Step 3: Create shape

We’ll now create the shape. I want to create a triangle, so I use the triangle tool, but you can also create a different shape. Create the shape (if you hold SHIFT while doing that, the shape will be perfectly even).

Make sure shape is selected. Pick ‘no color’ for the fill and pick a color you like for the stroke.

create shape

Then select the move tool and press CTRL+T to activate free transform. You can now resize your shape and pick the correct placement. The photo will be inside of this shape, so make sure your photo fits inside of the shape when picking the placement.

resize shape

Step 4: Photo inside shape

Place the shape layer below the background layer. Then select the background layer. Hold CTRL and click on the thumbnail of the shape layer (make sure you click on the thumbnail and not on the layer itself). The shape is now selected, but the background layer should still be selected too.

select shape

Add a mask to the background layer. The subject is now inside of the shape (you should also see the shape in the layer mask).


Step 5: Pop-out effect

Now select the subject layer and add a mask to this layer too. Select the brush tool (opacity 100%) and make sure the foreground color is black.

With the subject layer mask selected, brush over the areas that you want to place inside of the shape. To bring something back, change the foreground color to white and brush over it again.

brush tool

Step 6: Adjust stroke

If you select the shape layer, you can adjust the thickness of the stroke and the stroke type.


To move or resize your shape, select all layers except the color fill layer. Select the move tool and press CTRL+T. You can now move or resize the shape.

And that’s how you place a photo inside of a shape with a pop-out effect in Adobe Photoshop. In the image below, you can see 2 examples with different photos and shapes.

photo inside shape

Want to learn more about editing in Adobe Photoshop? Check out my other blogs or take a look at my YouTube channel

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Photo inside shape (pop-out effect) in Photoshop

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