I tried free hand cut out but don't know how to apply. Once I cut what I want no matter what I click nothing happens but the highlighted area? Obviously I'm a beginner.
The selection tools (Freehand, Scissors) only produce a "selection" (which you can understand as a "map" or "mask" of the pixels on which Gimp can act). This selection is attached to the image and applies to any layers (so that the pixels Gimp will act one are those of the active layer, within the selection). Once you have a such a selection, you can either:
- "Edit/Copy" (and paste elsewhere) the selection contents
- Invert the selection ("select/invert") so that the rest of the image is selected instead and hit [delete] to erase it, leaving you with your subject (caution: once you ave done that the selection is on everything but you subject, so you won't be able to change anything in your subject until you invert the selection again (or remove/disable the selection). Before [delete], make sure the layer can be transparent: "Layer/Transparency/Add alpha channel".