Masking images and selections in Photoshop is simple as the program offers users a variety of ways in which they can do it. The clipping mask is one such option. It is also perhaps the easiest option, so novices tend to make use of this technique regularly. What it allows people to do is define a specific mask in multiple layers using the shape of another layer. In other words, it gives people the tools needed to create text out of an image they defined. They can also mask more than one layer using this exact same shape.
The main reason to use clipping masks is to allow text to come through an image. Most uses involve a clipping mask being applied to an image. The bottom layer will contain a shape or text. The image layer on top only displays the shape. This allows text to have an unfamiliar pattern or theme.
How to Use a Clipping Mask
- Open an image in Photoshop. In most cases, the image in question will have a single background layer, which should be locked. Change the name of the layer and it will unlock itself. What this means is users can manipulate the layer in any way they choose.
- Save the image as a PSD file (the official Photoshop file type). This is important because other file types, such as JPG and PNG, will automatically flatten the image and remove any created layers. Every time the file needs turning into an image create a separate PSD and JPG file.
- Create the mask shape using any type of vector shaping tools. Another method is to select an area using the select tool and creating a new layer. This new shape will serve as the masking layer. Take this layer and place it underneath the original image layer.
- On the image layer in the menu towards the bottom right, there is the option ‘Create Clipping Mask.’ Press this option and the new layer appears in the window in the form of an arrow. If done correctly only the content within the masking layer will appear on the top image layer.
The example above only includes one layer. The tool also allows the mask to cover multiple layers. To do this just drag any other layer and place it between the image layer and the masking layer. After it has been applied, it is just a matter of rearranging the order according to the current needs of the project. Graphic designers prefer this method for more complicated projects where they might have to deal with multiple effects and snippets of images at the same time.
The clipping path is often confused with clipping masks, or clipping layers as some people call them. Do not make this mistake. A clipping path is a vector shape that defines the boundaries on an image when determining page layouts. This is an advanced Photoshop tool, but they do not relate to each other in the slightest. M.A.H.