How to Create a Magnified Cutaway Detail View in Photoshop

Emphasize part of an image by enlarging it for a detailed view

Magnifying parts of an image using Photoshop is an effective way to draw attention to small details on the page. This can be accomplished by selecting a circular area, enlarging it, and then placing it on the original image in a position where it doesn't obscure any important information.

Instructions in this article apply to Adobe Photoshop CC 2019 for Windows and Mac.

How to Magnify Part of an Image in Photoshop

It's best to use a high-resolution file to capture as much detail as possible in the magnified view. To magnify a section of an image in Photoshop:

  1. Open your image in Photoshop, then right click the background layer in the Layers palette and select Convert to Smart Object.

    If the Layers palette isn't visible, select Window > Layers from the top taskbar.

    A screenshot of Photoshop with the Convert to Smart Object command highlighted
  2. Double click the Layer 0 name in the Layers palette and rename it Original.

    Double click the Layer 0 name in the Layers palette and rename it Original.
  3. Click and hold the Marquee tool and select Elliptical Marquee tool.

    The keyboard shortcut for the Marquee Tool is M. Press Shift+M if the Elliptical option isn't already active.

    A screenshot of Photoshop with the Elliptical Marquee Tool highlighted
  4. Select the area that you want to use for the detailed view. After releasing the mouse button, click and drag the selection to reposition it.

    Hold down the Shift key as you draw to keep the selection a perfect circle shape.

    Select the area that you want to use for the detail view.
  5. Select Layer > New > Layer via Copy.

    A screenshot of Photoshop with the New Layer Via Copy command highlighted
  6. Rename this layer Detail Small.

    Rename this layer Detail Small.
  7. Right click the Detail Small layer and select Duplicate Layer.

    You can also copy a layer by dragging it to the New Layer icon in the Layers palette.

    A screenshot of Photoshop with the Duplicate Layer command highlighted
  8. Name the copy layer Detail Large.

    Name the copy layer Detail Large and select OK.
  9. Select the folder at the bottom of the Layers palette to create a new layer group.

    A screenshot of Photoshop with the Layers Group button highlighted
  10. Select both the Original and Detail Small layers and drag them both into the Group 1 folder.

    To select multiple layers at once, hold down the Shift key as you make your selection.

    Select both the Original and Detail Small layers and drag them both into the Group 1 folder.
  11. Select Group 1 in the Layers palette, then go to Edit > Transform > Scale.

    A screenshot of Photoshop with the Scale command highlighted
  12. Select the Chain between the W: and H: boxes in the options bar at the top, then enter 25% for either the width or height and select the Check Mark to apply the scaling.

    You can also use free transform here, but by using numeric scaling, you can note the magnification level in the finished document.

    A screenshot of Photoshop with the Scale commands and Confirm button highlighted
  13. Click the Detail Small layer to select it, then select the Fx button at the bottom of the Layers palette and choose Stroke.

    A screenshot of Photoshop with the Stroke command highlighted
  14. Set the Size and Color of the stroke you want to create, and then click OK.

    A screenshot of the Layer Style window in Photoshop with the Stroke options and OK button highlighted
  15. Right click the Detail Small layer in the Layers palette and select Copy Layer Style.

    A screenshot of Photoshop with the Copy Layer Style command highlighted
  16. Right click the Detail Large layer and select Paste Layer Style.

    A screenshot of Photoshop with the Paste Layer Style command highlighted
  17. Double click Effects directly under Detail Large in the Layers palette, then select Drop Shadow in the Layer Style dialog.

    A screenshot of the Layer Style window in Photoshop with the Drop Shadow option highlighted
  18. Select how you want your drop shadow to look using the settings in this window, and then select OK.

    The Preview on the right side of the screen will give you an idea of what the final effect will look like.

    A screenshot of Photoshop's Layer Style window with the Drop Shadow options and OK button highlighted
  19. Click the Group 1 layer and drag it to the bottom of the list in the Layers palette.

    A screenshot of Photoshop with an arrow indicating dragging a layer group to the bottom of the stack
  20. With the Detail Large layer selected, select the Move tool and position the layer where you want it in relation to the whole image.

    A screenshot of Photoshop with the Move tool highlighted
  21. Select the New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers palette (between the folder and trashcan icons) and move the new layer between the Group 1 and Detail Large layers.

    A screenshot of Photoshop with the New Layer option highlighted
  22. With the new empty layer selected, select the Pen tool from the toolbox.

    A screenshot of Photoshop with the Pen Tool highlighted
  23. Zoom in so that you can see both the small and large detail areas close up.

    Zoom in so that you can see both the small and large detail areas close up.
  24. Click once on the small circle and once on the large circle to draw a straight line between the two.

    Use the arrow keys on the keyboard to make adjustments to the endpoint that is selected. Hold down the Control key as you adjust the line position for smaller increments.

    Click once on the small circle and once on the large circle to draw a straight line between the two.
  25. Click on the large circle again to draw another connecting line on the other side, then right click inside the two lines and select Stroked Path.

    A screenshot of Photoshop with the Stroke Path command highlighted
  26. Select OK.

    A screenshot of the Stroke Path dialogue box in Photoshop with the OK button highlighted
  27. Zoom out to give the image a final check and adjust the connector lines if they look off.

    Zoom out to give the image a final check and adjust the connector lines if they look off.

To keep the image editable, save it in the native Photoshop PSD format. Exporting the image as a JPEG or other file type allows you to import it in other programs, but the layers will be flattened.

A magnified close up of ants crawling on a plate made in Photoshop